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Why failing at school was the best thing that happened to my sons

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why failing at school was the best thing that happened to my sons

Two years ago, my youngest son Conor left school with six hard-won GCSEs. He later became a waiter in a branch of a well-known restaurant chain, where he enjoyed earning his own money. Less so the kitchen confrontations and boil-in-the-bag food passed off as freshly made.

For a long while he was frustrated and unhappy. Then came lockdown. The prospect of spending months at home doing nothing struck fear into him — and me. He had no idea what he wanted to do; only that he had always loved cars.

His older brother Caspar suggested an online mechanic’s course costing £20 — and Conor began studying engines.

When he turned 18 in May, his father (my ex-husband) and I gave him a pushbike from Argos. Cas gave him a tiny 80cc engine from the internet and, in our back yard, Conor set about turning the cheap bicycle into a noisy motorbike.

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Candida Crewe who lives in north Oxford, reveals how her sons achieved their dream careers through unconventional means. Pictured: Candida with sons Caspar, Conor and Erskine

It made a terrible mess and I yearned for him to read a book instead. Like all good pushy parents, I’d hoped for decent grades, university and a safe and secure career. So when he started talking of a vintage car business he’d heard about, I didn’t hold out much hope.

Despite my reservations, Conor turned up there uninvited in hope of a job. He did so on a Wednesday in July; emailed the boss on the Thursday; was invited back to meet him on the Friday.

He started work the next Wednesday. Now he gets up at 6am, catching several buses to get there. He fizzes with excitement every day.

When I met his brilliant boss, he told me he gets applications all the time. When I asked — rather disloyally — why on earth he gave the opportunity to a boy with barely a qualification to his name, he said Conor had shown initiative and application.

And the clincher? That blessed pushbike-turned-motorbike. Conor had shown him a photograph.

The enlightened fellow was clearly of the increasingly popular opinion that official qualifications often bear no relation to a young person’s abilities or qualities, and was prepared to take a risk.

Candida (pictured) said she takes no credit for her son's success, admitting she spent time fussing about reading, revision, grades and UCAS forms, fearing for their futures

Candida (pictured) said she takes no credit for her son’s success, admitting she spent time fussing about reading, revision, grades and UCAS forms, fearing for their futures

It made me think of all those graduates I’ve read about, sending out 250 CVs and not even receiving responses, let alone job offers.

On the evening of our third son’s first day at work, my ex-husband rang to celebrate the fluke that we now had three children in gainful employment.

Erskine, 22, Caspar, 20, and Conor have all, much to my surprise, gained their dream jobs through unconventional means — with no qualifications. Nothing.

‘We must have got something right,’ said my ex-husband, a cork popping in the background.

I’m delighted, but I take absolutely no credit. While I fussed about reading, revision, grades and UCAS forms, fearing for my sons’ futures, their father gave them space to be themselves. He never forced them to do extracurricular activities (unlike the cello lessons and football practice I pressed on them). He encouraged them to focus on doing what they loved, not what society — or their mother — deemed a proper job.

Perhaps this is something other parents like me need to hear now, as many question what will become of their children when the future looks so bleak. Passion is an overused word but, surely, finding and doing what you love still counts for something. It is not all about box-ticking and A grades.

Candida said Erskine (pictured) who was predicted three As at A-level, got employed as a chef after speaking to the head chef at a London restaurant

Candida said Erskine (pictured) who was predicted three As at A-level, got employed as a chef after speaking to the head chef at a London restaurant

Since the pandemic, it has become obvious that nurses, carers, shelf-stackers and delivery drivers are in fact the most valuable members of our society and their pay should reflect that.

Of course, education will always be important. But it is hard to think of poor university students banged up in halls of residence like prisoners. And for what? Remoter and remoter learning, and crashing job prospects.

I did not go to university because I hated school, so was depressed during my A-levels and didn’t pass well enough. My ex-husband left school at 15 and became the youngest-ever member of Magnum Photos — the international photographic co-operative — at the age of 21. He is now a professor of photography. We both love our work. Hypocritically, though, I pushed for our boys to go to university.

We have lived in north Oxford since 2006, with constellations of A stars and Oxbridge and Russell Group university triumphs everywhere you look. Yet despite a prep school start, followed by a superlative state secondary, my sons resisted my increasingly anxious exhortations to toe the line.

Erskine was predicted three As at A-level, yet drank and rebelled through sixth form. He did at least sit the exams, achieving a relatively impressive B C C, considering he did no work whatsoever.

Candida said Casper (pictured) who got three Us at A-Level, was offered a role at a tech company after pitching to the managing director

Candida said Casper (pictured) who got three Us at A-Level, was offered a role at a tech company after pitching to the managing director 

I despaired, a bit. But then two summers ago he had the chutzpah to walk into a wonderful London restaurant off the street and ask to talk to the head chef. They said he was in a meeting.

Erskine walked round the block, took a deep breath and went back in. Meeting over, the head chef agreed to talk. He has been employed as a chef there ever since.

Meanwhile, Caspar turned up to all his A-level exams but he doodled and spoilt the papers by writing ‘88 per cent’ in a box marked For Official Use Only.

At the time I wanted to kill him. All that education wasted. What an arrogant, immature idiot!

But all along he had his sights set on a certain cool tech company. Days after getting his A-level results — three Us, obviously — he went to their office on ‘Silicon Roundabout’ in East London, rang the office bell and the receptionist (bless her!) buzzed him in.

Cas, who has a humble manner but also a hint of audacity and ambition, gave the managing director his elevator pitch. He told him he had been computer programming since the age of six.

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Candida said parents should encourage their children to find what they truly love. Pictured: Candida with sons Caspar, Conor and Erskine

Cas omitted to mention that he had gained his computer skills at the expense of schoolwork — but the MD didn’t ask about his grades. He simply offered tests and interviews and, blow me down, the jammy dodger got the job. Then 18, he started on a salary that was more than I have ever earned.

My sons’ achievements despite their results at school are proof to me of a myopic education system. Those with no desire to learn French verbs by rote, say, or quotes from Jane Eyre, are brutally dismissed, even if they have much to offer in other areas.

I love the fact that Lord (Kenneth) Baker, who introduced GCSEs as education secretary, now says our national curriculum is ‘Edwardian’ and unfit for purpose.

Jonnie Noakes, director of teaching and learning at Eton College, said in June: ‘We need to teach people how to be fully flourishing human beings.’ To which I, now reformed, say, hear, hear!

My generation’s assumptions have been turned on their heads. Even my more conventional contemporaries are questioning the watertight belief that university is worth it for every student.

And Covid-19 has hastened and broadened a debate that had been rumbling ever since fees were introduced. Rather than stifling our children under increasingly weighty expectations, we should encourage them to find what they truly love — be that cooking, coding, carburettors or whatever.

May they have the encouragement, good fortune, conviction, courage and self-confidence to go out there and grab their dreams. Walk in off the street, if that’s what it takes. As my own incorrigible, education-resistant, box-eschewing three boys have taught me.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Nearly 100,000 people in England catching Covid-19 every day, ‘worrying’ Government-led study finds

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nearly 100000 people in england catching covid 19 every day worrying government led study finds

Nearly 100,000 Britons are getting infected with coronavirus every day, according to results of Government-led surveillance study that suggests the UK is hurtling towards a second peak that could rival the first.

The REACT-1 project — which has been swabbing tens of thousands of people every week — estimated there were around 96,000 people getting infected every day in England by October 25.

Imperial College London experts behind the research warned cases were just weeks away from surpassing levels seen during the darkest days of the pandemic in March and April. Previous projections have estimated there were slightly more than 100,000 daily cases in spring, which led to over 40,000 deaths in the first wave. 

The study warned infections are doubling every nine days, suggesting there could be 200,000 daily cases by the first week of November. 

Imperial researchers said it was possible that the recent wet and dreary weather had played a role in the surge in infections, by driving people indoors where the virus finds it easier to spread. But they warned it was more likely a small dip in adherence to social distancing rules across the board had opened the door for the highly infectious disease to spread more rapidly.

Imperial’s best guess is that 1.3 per cent of everyone living in England was carrying the disease by October 25, the equivalent of one in 75, or 730,000 people. Covid-19 prevalence was highest in Yorkshire and The Humber (2.7 per cent) and the North West (2.3 per cent).

The study, which will likely be used to pile more pressure on No10 to impose a national lockdown, also estimated the virus’ reproduction ‘R’ rate — the average number of people each Covid-19 patient infects — was nearly three in London, a finding the researchers described as ‘scary’. It was lower in the North West, where millions of people are living under draconian lockdowns.

Overall, the R rate was around 1.6 across England in the most recent week, compared to 1.16 in the previous round. Experts have repeatedly warned it is critical the reproduction rate stays below the level of one to prevent cases from spiralling. 

It comes after another 310 Covid-19 victims were recorded last night and 367 the day before, in the highest daily toll since the end of May. But the 26,688 infections reported yesterday was actually the first week-on-week fall in a month — though the central testing programme is missing asymptomatic and mild cases of the virus, which make up the vast majority of infections.

The REACT-1 study - commissioned by the Department of Health - has been swabbing tens of thousands of people since summer. The latest findings from the most recent phase (round six, in dark blue) show increases in transmission in every region of England

The REACT-1 study – commissioned by the Department of Health – has been swabbing tens of thousands of people since summer. The latest findings from the most recent phase (round six, in dark blue) show increases in transmission in every region of England

Researchers sent swabs to 85,971 volunteers in England between October 16 and October 25. In total, 863 were positive (1.28 per cent) - more than double the 0.6 per cent the week before. Pictured: How cases have surged since summer, according to findings from all six phases of the study

Researchers sent swabs to 85,971 volunteers in England between October 16 and October 25. In total, 863 were positive (1.28 per cent) – more than double the 0.6 per cent the week before. Pictured: How cases have surged since summer, according to findings from all six phases of the study

The study also found prevalence of infection was highest in Yorkshire and The Humber at 2.72 per cent, up from 0.84 per cent the week before. This was followed by the North West at 2.27 per cent, up from 1.21 per cent. Prevalence was lowest in East of England at 0.55 per cent, up from 0.29 per cent

The study also found prevalence of infection was highest in Yorkshire and The Humber at 2.72 per cent, up from 0.84 per cent the week before. This was followed by the North West at 2.27 per cent, up from 1.21 per cent. Prevalence was lowest in East of England at 0.55 per cent, up from 0.29 per cent

Rates of the disease also increased across all age groups, with the greatest rise in those aged 55-64 at 1.20 per cent, up three-fold from 0.37 per cent in a week. In those aged over 65, prevalence was 0.81 per cent, having doubled from 0.35 per cent. Rates remained highest in 18 to 24-year olds at 2.25 per cent

Rates of the disease also increased across all age groups, with the greatest rise in those aged 55-64 at 1.20 per cent, up three-fold from 0.37 per cent in a week. In those aged over 65, prevalence was 0.81 per cent, having doubled from 0.35 per cent. Rates remained highest in 18 to 24-year olds at 2.25 per cent

The study found that the virus' reproduction 'R' rate - the average number of people each Covid-19 patient infects - was 1.6 across England in the most recent week, compared to 1.16 in the previous round. The R is thought to be hovering between 1 and 1.5 in the north and greater than two in the South East and South West. In London it's estimated to be nearly three

The study found that the virus’ reproduction ‘R’ rate – the average number of people each Covid-19 patient infects – was 1.6 across England in the most recent week, compared to 1.16 in the previous round. The R is thought to be hovering between 1 and 1.5 in the north and greater than two in the South East and South West. In London it’s estimated to be nearly three

Reacting to the study, Professor Igor Rudan, joint director of the Centre for Global Health and WHO Collaborating Centre, University of Edinburgh, said: ‘This study should be considered very accurate and reliable scientific evidence that shows that a very large second wave of Covid-19 pandemic is underway. It will inevitably lead to a very large number of infections, severe episodes and deaths in the coming weeks and months.

‘Efforts will be required to reduce the national reproduction number below one again. The measures that were in place over the past two months across most of Europe were clearly insufficient to prevent the new large growth of infected cases and fast spread of the virus. I commend the authors for this excellent effort.’

Dr Simon Clarke, associate professor of cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, said: ‘This latest REACT study contains some sobering numbers… eighteen to 24-year-olds remain the age group with the highest level of infections, but in the 55 to 64 age group, the number infected people has tripled, demonstrating how the virus spreads into more at risk people if left unchecked. We can expect this situation to continue to deteriorate if authorities remain slow to react.’

The study – commissioned by the Department of Health – sent swabs to 85,971 volunteers in England between October 16 and October 25. In total, 863 were positive (1.28 per cent) – more than double the 0.6 per cent the week before.

Prevalence of the virus among people aged 55 to 64 increased more than threefold in the last week and in the over-65s – who are most vulnerable to Covid-19 – the rate doubled.

Professor Paul Elliott, director of the programme at Imperial, said the findings were ‘worrying’. He believes that Brits have universally relaxed how strictly they have been following social distancing rules.

Although these may only have been small changes, he warned: ‘A little shift in everybody’s behavior can have a big effect [on the trajectory of the virus].’

Professor Elliot added: ‘The findings paint a concerning picture of the situation in England, where we’re seeing a nation-wide increase in infection prevalence, which we know will lead to more hospitalisations and loss of life.

‘We’re also detecting early signs that areas which previously had low rates of infection are following trends observed in the country’s worst-affected areas.

‘Now more than ever we must all work together to curb further spread of the virus and avoid subsequent overwhelming of the health service.’  

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Daily Covid-19 infections hit 24,701 in first DROP for a month but deaths rise to 310 

Britain’s daily number of Covid-19 cases dropped week-on-week on Wednesday for the first time in a month.

Health chiefs announced 24,701 more infections, down slightly from the 26,688 positive coronavirus tests last Wednesday. 

It means it was the first time the daily number of cases has fallen on the amount recorded the week before since September 28, when the tally was affected by a counting blunder. 

But deaths are continuing to rise. Another 310 coronavirus victims were recorded today, up from the 191 posted this time last week. Wales today recorded 37 deaths — its highest amount of coronavirus in a single day since April.

The disparity between the official testing figures and REACT-1’s estimates may be explained by multiple factors.

REACT-1 is technically four days out of date, because it only covers up to October 25.

So the virus may have slowed down somewhat in those five days as local lockdowns start to take effect.

Although this is unlikely to have played a very significant role because official testing is only catching a fraction of the true infections.

It is more likely the case that it is a blip in the official testing programme, which is struggling to swab more than 300,000 people a day.

Most people suffer very mild or no Covid symptoms at all, so they never reach out to get a test.

The REACT-1 study has the benefit of randomly testing people regardless of their symptoms, therefore painting a more accurate picture of the current crisis. 

 

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The study found that the virus’ reproduction ‘R’ rate – the average number of people each Covid-19 patient infects – was 1.6 across England in the most recent week, compared to 1.16 in the previous round.

The R is thought to be hovering between 1 and 1.5 in the north, which has been bearing the brunt of the second wave of infections and where swathes have been under Tier Three local lockdowns. 

However, the R is thought to be greater than two in the South East and South West, which have up until now managed to dodge the worst of the crisis, and nearly three in London.

Experts have repeatedly warned it is critical the R rate stays below the level of one to prevent cases from spiralling. 

News that it is almost three times greater than that in the capital was described as ‘scary’ by Professor Elliot.

The high R numbers in the south are to be interpreted with caution, though, because they have wide confidence margins.

This is because transmission is a lot lower in the south compared to the north, so pinning down a precise R number is more difficult.

Professor Elliot added: ‘It’s a scary number in London, but an imprecise estimate. Putting a lot of attention to the exact R is unwise because of low prevalence but our study shown signs of sustained increase [in transmission].  

‘In the South there is rapid increase [in cases] and rapid growth, but at much lower levels in the North. I’d say the South is where the North was a few weeks back.’ 

The team at Imperial concluded that the current three-tiered lockdown system was either ‘not working, or not being adhered to enough’.

Professor Elliot said: ‘It’s possible the latest lockdown measures have not trickled through into our data. 

‘But, as of today, seeing increased rates across the country, be it behavioral or current policy, it [the current strategy] is not sufficient enough.’

Steven Riley, an infectious disease expert who co-led the study, warned the country was hurtling towards a repeat of the crisis in spring.

He said: ‘There’s a clear trend that hospital admissions are rising exponentially. Our data shows this exponential rise is to continue over the next two weeks.

‘Comparing [the winter wave] to the very peak in March is difficult, it’s probably still a bit lower [now] and the overall rate of growth is still lower.

‘But being slightly lower and slightly slower than March still means it is going up quickly and is already at a high level.’

Professor Riley said there ‘had to be a change’ in either public adherence or policy changes before Christmas to avoid another catastrophic death toll. 

The study also found prevalence of infection was highest in Yorkshire and The Humber at 2.72 per cent, up from 0.84 per cent the week before.

This was followed by the North West at 2.27 per cent, up from 1.21 per cent.  Prevalence was lowest in East of England at 0.55 per cent, up from 0.29 per cent.

Rates of the disease also increased across all age groups, with the greatest rise in those aged 55-64 at 1.20 per cent, up three-fold from 0.37 per cent in a week.

In those aged over 65, prevalence was 0.81 per cent, having doubled from 0.35 per cent. Rates remained highest in 18 to 24-year olds at 2.25 per cent.    

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Home from home at The Roseate Villa Bath 

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home from home at the roseate villa bath

With foreign travel akin to a spin of Russian Roulette in the quarantine stakes, a mini break in the UK is a welcome opportunity to get away and explore hitherto undiscovered British hot spots. Myself, partner and my Dad packed light and headed off to the West Country and to Bath, widely considered to be Britain’s most beautiful small city and famed for the archaeological wonder from which it takes its name – the Thermae Bath spa.

The Roseate Villa, Bath

The Roseate Villa, Bath

 Where to stay:

On arrival we headed to the sweeping curve of Henrietta Road and to our pit stop for the long weekend, the charming Roseate Villa, a luxury boutique hotel with a stunning view of the tree-filled Henrietta Park. From the minute we stepped through the door we felt like we’d found a home from home. Now it’s important to mention here that the COVID precautions in place, whilst stringently observed, did not impact nor dampen the atmosphere of our stay. We felt safe but really looked after, and that’s the essence of the Roseate Villa – the friendly, personalised care and attention with which the staff look after you. Unobtrusive but there if you need them. If you have any reservations about getting away during this time this really does put you at ease. The rooms are exquisitely furnished, comfortable and afford beautiful views of the park and hotel garden. My father was so comfy it was hard to prise him out of his room in the afternoon!

The luxurious home comforts on offer at the Roseate Villa

The luxurious home comforts on offer at the Roseate Villa

The luxurious home comforts on offer at the Roseate Villa

The luxurious home comforts on offer at the Roseate Villa

The luxurious home comforts on offer at the Roseate Villa

The luxurious home comforts on offer at the Roseate Villa

 I loved the subtle and personalised touches that the staff brought to our stay. For example, I’m vegan, often a very real challenge when you are staying in hotels, but sitting next to the homemade shortbread by the kettle in our room were also homemade vegan biscuits. There was plant milk in the fridge which was an extremely thoughtful touch and great news for anyone with food allergies. Breakfast was ordered the night before and delivered to your table, with fruit and juices in clever little sealed jars sitting alongside well-stacked plates of cooked breakfast. It looked great but above all it meant that everything was personalised and safe. It was also delicious and all either homemade on site (all the bread was freshly baked at the hotel and the preserves made there too) or it was locally sourced.

Freshly baked bread every morning.

Freshly baked bread every morning.

 The hotel is renowned for its afternoon teas (and extensive cocktail menu) so it would have been rude not to partake. Seated on the front lawn we enjoyed our fill of homemade sandwiches, cake and teas – and yes there was a bespoke vegan tea too. Anything we couldn’t eat (and there was plenty) was packaged up in recyclable boxes for later. An after dinner cocktail (or two) finished off our day perfectly.

From cream teas to after dinner cocktails.

From cream teas to after dinner cocktails.

From cream teas to after dinner cocktails.

 Where to visit:

Surrounded by breath-taking, rolling countryside it’s hard to know where to start when heading out to explore Bath. We began with a stroll into town (under ten minutes from the hotel) and to the pretty Parade Gardens in the centre. With views of the River Avon and the famous Pulteney bridge and weir, this beautiful park boasts a Victorian bandstand, pet cemetery and amongst others, a quirky statue of Bladud and his pigs. It’s a breath of fresh air in the city centre and a stone’s throw from The Colonnades and Bath Abbey – also must visits. To really immerse ourselves in the history of the city we jumped on a local bus tour, hopping off to take in the splendour of The Royal Crescent and to visit the Jane Austen museum. Shopping is most definitely a lure with the best of the best larger and smaller independent stores inhabiting the high street, and don’t miss the local markets where local crafts are on offer.

Views of Bath Abbey

Pulteney Bridge and Weir

From left: Views of Bath Abbey, the Pulteney Bridge and Weir 

Where to eat:

The Roseate Villas helpfully recommended a couple of restaurants for us to pre-book prior to arrival and our favourite was without doubt the Bathwick Boatman, which is nestled by one of the prettiest outreaches of the River Avon. An old rowing clubhouse, now home to an unpretentious restaurant offering a simple, rustic menu made with the best local produce. The food was incredible and the service friendly and attentive. If the weather permits try to book a place on the outside terrace with views of the river. You won’t regret it. https://bathwickboatman.com

The Bathwick Boatman terrace.

The Bathwick Boatman terrace.

 

Prices: 

 Rooms at The Roseate Villa Bath start from £150.00 per room per night, for more information visit www.roseatehotels.com 

For a dog friendly room there is an additional supplement and special ‘woof’ boxes are provided by the hotel for your pooch’s arrival.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Don’t lock Britain down again, plead business chiefs, MPs and medics

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dont lock britain down again plead business chiefs mps and medics

Business leaders, campaigners and MPs last night pleaded with Boris Johnson to resist a devastating new lockdown.

They warned that it would wreak economic carnage and devastate thousands of businesses. It came as scientists said up to 85,000 could die in a second virus wave.

With Emmanuel Macron announcing a new national lockdown for France, the FTSE 100 plunged to its lowest point in six months as the threat of stricter curbs sent shockwaves through the City.

Business leaders, campaigners and MPs last night pleaded with Boris Johnson to resist a devastating new lockdown

Business leaders, campaigners and MPs last night pleaded with Boris Johnson to resist a devastating new lockdown

Julian Metcalfe, the founder of Pret and Itsu, said another lockdown would be ‘impossible’, adding: ‘Society will not recover if we do it again to save a few thousand lives of very old or vulnerable people. 

‘The young people of this country will be paying for this for the next 20 to 30 years. It’s terrible what’s happening. Just because France does this with its socialist government, doesn’t mean we have to.’

As a new alliance of scientific experts warned against an ‘increasingly panic-ridden’ response to the pandemic, which could see vital treatment for other medical conditions postponed, scientists dramatically ramped up pressure for a circuit breaker-style lockdown, or even a return to full national curbs. 

Julian Metcalfe, the founder of Pret and Itsu, pictured with wife Brooke De Ocampo, said another lockdown would be 'impossible',

Julian Metcalfe, the founder of Pret and Itsu, pictured with wife Brooke De Ocampo, said another lockdown would be ‘impossible’,

On a dramatic day:

  • Mr Macron announced a second national lockdown for at least the whole of November;
  • Germany announced a four-week shutdown of restaurants, bars and theatres;
  • Another 310 coronavirus deaths were recorded in the UK, but the daily number of cases dropped week-on-week for the first time in a month;
  • It emerged that up to 10 per cent of the population could be tested for coronavirus every week after government officials asked local health chiefs to deploy 30-minute saliva kits;
  • Figures showed that fewer than 20 people aged under 40 have died from coronavirus since the second wave began; 
  • NHS bosses said hospitals in some parts of England were treating more Covid-19 patients than at the peak of the pandemic;
  • A Cabinet minister warned that the Government was prepared to prevent large families meeting at Christmas, while a police chief advised families to avoid making plans;
  • A major study said up to 50,000 cases of cancer had gone undiagnosed during the pandemic and the NHS could take two years to recover;
  • Police said members of the public had a ‘civic duty’ to inform on neighbours and businesses flagrantly breaching virus restrictions.

A leaked Sage committee document yesterday revealed that ministers had been told to prepare for a ‘worst-case scenario’ of 85,000 deaths this winter in a second wave, with 500 deaths a day for at least three months and more than 300,000 people hospitalised.

Hotelier Sir Rocco Forte said  a circuit breaker would be a complete disaster that would bankrupt industries

Hotelier Sir Rocco Forte said  a circuit breaker would be a complete disaster that would bankrupt industries

Meanwhile, a Government-commissioned study suggested that nearly one million people in England were currently infected with coronavirus – and that the country stood at a ‘critical point’. The Imperial College London research said there were an estimated 96,000 new infections a day, cases were doubling every nine days and the national R rate was up to 1.6.

It suggested the virus is spreading fast in the South of England and urgent action was needed to bring it under control.

The Mail has been told that ministers are looking at the possibility of tightening Tier Three restrictions in many areas, which could include ordering the closure of restaurants.

More than a million people living in Nottinghamshire are to be plunged into the toughest Tier Three rules from tomorrow, with tattoo parlours, tanning and nail salons, piercing services, museums and galleries all ordered to close.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly stated his determination to avoid a return to the ‘nuclear deterrent’ lockdown that shut down Britain in the spring. But fears are growing that the pressure from Mr Johnson’s scientific advisers will prove overwhelming if cases continue to rise.

Charlie Mullins, the former Tory donor who runs Pimlico Plumbers, warned the country cannot afford another lockdown

Charlie Mullins, the former Tory donor who runs Pimlico Plumbers, warned the country cannot afford another lockdown

Business chiefs last night urged caution. Josh Hardie, deputy director-general of the CBI, said that while public health came first, there could be ‘no hiding from the potentially devastating impact on firms and individuals if Tier Three is rolled out nationally’.

Hotelier Sir Rocco Forte added: ‘A circuit breaker would be a complete disaster. The industry is already at death’s door. It would bankrupt industry and bankrupt the Government.’

Fears of more crippling lockdowns sparked a rout on global stock markets yesterday, dragging shares in Britain’s biggest companies to the lowest level since April.

Yesterday, business groups and company bosses joined Tory MPs in northern seats in urging the Prime Minister to resist calls to extend curbs by shutting shops and restaurants, or to bring in a national ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown.

John O’Reilly, chief executive of Rank Group, which owns 77 Mecca bingo halls and 51 Grosvenor casinos, said: ‘For hospitality businesses like ours, this is death by a thousand cuts. The long lockdown, local restrictions, the 10pm curfew and now renewed lockdowns through Tier Three are causing enormous economic damage to businesses.’

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Roger Barker, director of policy at the Institute of Directors, said: ‘Full-scale lockdowns are a painful prospect for business. Controlling the virus is crucial for the long-term health of the economy, but there’s no denying the challenges that Covid restrictions represent for many firms.’

Ian Cass, managing director of small business group the Forum of Private Business, said: ‘If Tier Three were introduced across England, then many business owners will be asking themselves whether they are better off closing down for good and walking away.’

Charlie Mullins, the former Tory donor who runs Pimlico Plumbers, warned: ‘The Government is not in the real world – they don’t understand businesses and they need to listen.’

He added: ‘We can’t afford to do another national lockdown. The Government’s got it all wrong – we can’t keep trying to hide from the virus, we need to find a way to work with it. Boris has lost his bottle and it’s all an overreaction.’

Luke Johnson, former chairman of Pizza Express, said: ‘There is obsessive maniacal focus on Covid cases and deaths, but not on the collateral damage of lockdown – business are failing, unemployment and suicide are rising, and heart problems and other treatments not being dealt with.

‘It is very easy for those on the public sector payroll, members of Sage, civil servants, politicians and local authority staff to arbitrarily commit to lockdowns, because they personally will never face the prospect of losing their job because of it.

‘If you’ve grown a business over 20 years, put your life and soul and home on the line only to see your entire life’s work and all those destroyed, it’s a bleak experience. But that is the prospect facing an increasing number of entrepreneurs.

‘It’s truly heart-breaking.’

Environment Secretary George Eustice said there was 'no point having a lockdown in those parts of the country where the incidence of the disease is very low'

Environment Secretary George Eustice said there was ‘no point having a lockdown in those parts of the country where the incidence of the disease is very low’

Some 55 Tory MPs in the newly formed Northern Research Group this week wrote to the PM to demand that he draws up an exit plan for how areas can get rid of restrictions. A senior figure in the group last night said its members would ‘lose our s**t’ if ministers gave in to demands to close more businesses such as restaurants.

Downing Street last night insisted the Prime Minister was sticking to his strategy of controlling the virus through local lockdowns. A spokesman said: ‘As a responsible government, we continue to prepare for a wide range of scenarios, including the reasonable worst-case scenario.’

Environment Secretary George Eustice said there was ‘no point having a lockdown in those parts of the country where the incidence of the disease is very low’.

But he was unable to give a timeframe for how long tiered restrictions were expected to last. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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