Boris Johnson’s so-called “culture war” is turning off voters in southern Tory seats, a senior Liberal Democrat said on the eve of a key by-election result.Munira Wilson told HuffPost UK that foreign aid cuts and some MPs’ support for those who boo England players taking the knee were going down “like a lead balloon” in the so-called “blue wall” of Tory seats.Her comments came as voters went to the polls in Chesham and Amersham on Thursday, which the Lib Dems are hoping to win from the Tories for the first time ever.Internal party polling suggested the Lib Dems had narrowed a gap that resulted in a 16,000 majority in 2019 and were neck-and-neck in the polls this week.Pollsters and experts believe the Lib Dems taking the seat would show the Tories are losing their well-off traditional voters as they focus on cementing gains in the largely Brexit-supporting “red wall” former Labour working class areas.Wilson said that even if the Lib Dems fail to win, there will be a big swing away from the Tories and towards her party among socially liberal voters with an internationalist outlook.She told HuffPost UK’s Commons People podcast: “The Tories are now so focused on the red wall and their culture wars that I think really appeal and resonate in those [red wall] seats, that many of those people who, yes, largely voted Remain in the referendum... are looking for an alternative.”The Lib Dem health spokesperson said that voters were also moving on from Brexit, with planning reforms that are opposed by dozens of southern Tory MPs a “huge concern” in areas like Chesham and Amersham.But she said culture war issues are also resonating with Tory voters who are switching to the Lib Dems.“Things like the cut in foreign aid, which I see as part of that culture war,” Wilson said.“Ministers will tell us, well actually it’s really popular and people want us spending that money in the left behind areas.“In these sorts of areas [like Chesham and Amersham] I don’t think it’s an ‘either/or’, it’s an ‘and’- we have a moral obligation to be spending the 0.7% on foreign aid and looking after the world’s poorest, but equally investing in our recovery up and down the country.”Wilson also hit out at Tory MPs like Lee Anderson, who said he would boycott England games at the Euros because players take the knee before matches in support of anti-racism.Home secretary Priti Patel has also accused the England football team of “gesture politics”, while refusing to criticise those who boo the players, saying it was a “choice for them”.This is proving counter-productive in better off, southern Tory-held seats, Wilson said.“I say this as a massive England football fan,” she said.“I think the recent debacle over footballers taking the knee, for most people it’s like, you know, England’s in the Euros, we’re hosting loads of the matches, we should be getting behind our team and not suddenly criticising them for taking the knee.“Lots of people in these seats recognise that there is still an issue with racism in many parts of our society and we should be doing everything we can to combat that.“And yes, taking the knee doesn’t necessarily resolve those issues but it is a symbol and reminding people that this is still an issue and we need to be working together to combat it.“Rather than some of the Tory MPs saying ‘we’re going to be boycotting these matches and we don’t support them’, I just really think that sort of thing goes down like a lead balloon in many of these areas.”Related...All Over-18s Can Book A Covid Vaccination From Friday, Hancock SaysCummings Wants Hancock’s Scalp, But Keir Starmer Is Right To Focus On The PMBoris Johnson Called Matt Hancock ‘Totally F**king Hopeless’ In WhatsApp Message
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All over-18s can book their Covid vaccination from Friday, Matt Hancock has announced.The health secretary said vaccinations would be opened to 18 to 21 year-olds for the first time as part of efforts to jab more people ahead of the delayed final lifting of restrictions on July 19.Hancock told the NHS Confed Conference: “As of this afternoon we have given a first dose of vaccine to four out of every five adults in the United Kingdom.“And the speed of deployment means that tomorrow we can open vaccination to everyone over the age of 18.“I think it’s an incredible achievement on the vaccination side.”NHS chief Sir Simon Stevens first revealed the plan to extend the vaccination programme on Tuesday after Boris Johnson pushed back so-called “freedom day” by four weeks.Stevens said the health service wanted to “finish the job” of vaccinating people over the next month, telling the NHS Confederation conference: “It is now very important that we use the next four weeks to finish the job to the greatest extent possible for the Covid vaccination programme.”The prime minister on Monday said the government aimed to offer all over-50s and the clinically vulnerable their second dose by July 19.As part of these efforts, all over-40s will also be offered a shorter waiting time between their two doses, with the gap cut from eight weeks from twelve.People from younger age groups have also reported being able to bring their second doses forward to around eight weeks after their first, using the NHS website.Related...Boris Johnson Called Matt Hancock ‘Totally F**king Hopeless’ In WhatsApp MessageWhat To Know About The 'Antibody Cocktail' Treatment For CovidThe Problem With Perspex: Why Covid Screens Might Not Be Safe
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“Brevity is the soul of wit/And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes.” Thanks to his latest long, long blogpost, Dominic Cummings has perhaps proved one thing beyond doubt: he’s no student of Shakespeare.With his 7,286 words, wonky screenshots and phone snaps, Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser displayed once more a literary incontinence that only the internet can allow. It was not so much a stream of consciousness as a scream of bumptiousness, laced with venom.Cummings’ new opus was seen as both tedious and treacherous by many Tory MPs, who share a mutual loathing with the ex-Vote Leave chief. The public too appear to have long ago concluded that he is far from a credible witness in any prosecution case against Johnson’s failings on Covid.The mastermind of the £350m-a-week-for-the-NHS on that bus, the genius behind the ‘76 million Turks are joining the EU’ poster, is hardly the man to lead the charge against lying in politics.And there’s no question that Cummings is in many ways his own worst enemy. His renewed character assassination attempt on Matt Hancock was so relentless that it undermined some of the more sensible points he tried to make about the failures of governance at the start of the pandemic. Talk about blogging a dead horse, we get that he hates Hancock already.Yet if you got beyond the word-blizzard, the repeated use of italics for emphasis, the ACRONYMS and bolded out jargon, the obsessive lists of lettered (A to E) and numbered (1 to 4) paragraphs, there were some nuggets that ought to concern everyone well before the public inquiry begins.Hancock’s claim in March to have got PPE supplies “all sorted” was undermined by an official telling Cummings that procurement rules and cost concerns meant masks, gloves and gowns being shipped rather than flown from China. Most damning of all was Johnson’s WhatsApp message, “On PPE it’s a disaster. I can’t think of anything except taking Hancock off and putting Gove on.”Similarly, on delays in getting more ventilators, the PM’s verdict was just as withering: “It’s Hancock. He has been hopeless.” And on the health secretary’s failure to get more Covid testing, Johnson upped the disdain with that eye-catching expletive: “Totally fucking hopless.”It’s worth saying that on the central charge that Hancock “lied”, the jury remains out because there is no recording of what he actually promised in the Cabinet room. Cummings again claimed cabinet secretary Mark Sedwill said that he and other ministers and officials lacked confidence in Hancock’s “honesty”.But while saying this conversation was “reinforced in written exchanges”, he failed to publish them. We now await for the Commons select committees to get Sedwill’s own version. I recall No.10 admitting it hadn’t contacted the former cabinet secretary (who, let’s not forget, Cummings helped to oust from his job). Surely the MPs have asked him about such a serious charge?Given that Cummings’ blog dropped shortly before PMQs, some have accused Keir Starmer of missing an open goal by failing to quote the “fucking hopeless” claim. Yet I can see why the Labour leader opted not to focus on Hancock, partly because blaming him may end up being Johnson’s alibi come any public inquiry. “Hopeless Hancock” could be reshuffled soon, too.Starmer did quote Cummings, but only on his previous claim that Johnson had a chaotic border policy. He realised that while the personality politics of last year’s sweary WhatsApps may make good newspaper copy, the public are more focused on the here and now of why the Indian variant has been allowed to let rip.Raising again the issue of proper payments for self-isolation (on the day it seems the Cabinet Office has its own internal document urging just that), plus the ending of business rate relief and full furlough, showed he was talking to immediate concerns not historic ones. Hospitality and small businesses groups contacted Starmer after PMQs thanking him for raising their lack of support and clarity, I’m told.And Starmer’s strategic target is of course the PM himself. That’s why Labour talks about ‘the Johnson variant’ of the virus and it’s why it will keep hammering its message that lax border controls may have undermined all the hard work of both the public and the NHS’s vaccine programme.Yet there was material in the Cummings blog that will come in useful in attacking Johnson. We learned for the first time that the PM had texted to his advisers “how do we win the herd immunity argument?” The full text of that was frustratingly not reproduced (and Johnson is bound to argue he didn’t go ahead with that argument anyway).The account of how Johnson runs meetings, avoiding conflict, failing to ask proper questions to officials, “doing a thumbs-up and pegging it out of the room before anybody can disagree”, sounded all too realistic. This at least proved the PM is as blithe in private as he is in public, but it’s a worrying lack of leadership nevertheless. Starmer, in the G7 statement later, had a wounding line that Johnson was a “host, not a leader, a tour guide, not a statesman”.For his part, Johnson in PMQs showed again why he’s a formidably cynical politician. Every question was batted away with “Brexit, vaccines, flip-flop Starmer, Brexit, vaccines, flip-flop Starmer”. His jibe that “Captain Hindsight needs to adjust his retrospectoscope” was actually pretty funny.Faced with such spin and sleight of hand, Starmer can only hope that the public will one day tire of the jokes and the failures of governance. He needs to combine the air of being a grown-up in the room with his own message of optimism, just as Joe Biden persuaded Americans that the crazy years had to be followed by calm good government.If Labour can at the next election persuade the voters that it is Boris Johnson who was “fucking hopeless” in keeping Covid under control, that’s a much bigger prize than giving Dominic Cummings the scalp of the health secretary. The party needs big answers on big issues like childcare, social care and life chances too. But Starmer at least has his eyes on the real target.Related...Hancock Confirms Plan To Make Covid Vaccines Compulsory For All NHS And Care WorkersBoris Johnson Plans To Quit As PM To ‘Make Money And Have Fun’ By 2026, Cummings ClaimsBoris Johnson Called Matt Hancock ‘Totally F**king Hopeless’ In WhatsApp Message
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Aviators are President Joe Biden's go-to sunglasses. Russian President Vladimir Putin's new pair was made by Randolph USA.
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Matt Hancock has confirmed that Covid vaccination is to be a condition of employment for care home staff and that the government will consult on a similar rule for NHS staff.The health secretary told MPs of the move, despite opposition from Labour, trade unions and others who fear it could prove counter-productive.Speaking in the Commons, Hancock said: “The vast majority of staff in care homes are already vaccinated but not all, and we know that the vaccine not only protects you but protects those around you.“Therefore we will be taking forward the measures to ensure the mandation as a condition of deployment for staff in care homes and we will consult on the same approach in the NHS in order to save lives and protect patients from disease.”He added that he would now consult on whether all healthcare staff, including those in the NHS and domiciliary care, should face similar rules.“The principle of vaccination for those in a caring responsibility is already embedded and indeed there is a history going back more than a century of vaccination being required in certain circumstances, and I think these are reasonable circumstances.“So, we will go ahead for those who work in care homes and we will consult for those in domiciliary care and on the NHS.”He added that he had no wider proposals to make the vaccinations compulsory for the public, but did say that the state had a lesser “duty” toward those who had refused to be jabbed.Former minister Steve Baker suggested carers should have a right to choose between the vaccine or daily lateral flow tests, but Hancock replied: “It is a matter of risk and we know the vaccine reduces that risk very significantly.”The prime minister’s official spokesperson said that no vote by MPs would be required to enact the change.  “I don’t believe this is something that would be voted on in parliament,” he said.England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, has said doctors and care workers have a “professional responsibility” to protect their patients, just as they already have a “duty” to get jabbed for hepatitis B.But the backlash against making Covid vaccinations effectively compulsory for care home staff began in earnest, with some in the sector warning it would make it harder to attract badly-needed employees and could lead to some quitting.The GMB union claimed more than a third of carers would consider leaving their jobs if vaccinations become compulsory.NHS figures to June 6 show overall that 84% of staff in older adult care homes in England have had one dose of vaccine, and almost 69% have had both jabs.But the data shows that in Hackney, east London, for example, just 66.7% of staff in older adult care homes have had their first dose, with only 58.6% of staff in the borough having both doses.Dr Susan Hopkins, strategic response director for Covid-19 at Public Health England, told MPs “people may vote with their feet, and not want to have the vaccine, and therefore not work in a care home, and that could lead to staff supply issues in care homes”.She told the Science and Technology Committee: “I will remain a little bit concerned that we will have shortages of care staff once the mandate has come in, but I’m sure that the vast majority of care workers do want to do the right thing and get vaccinated to protect the elderly under their care.”Research published last month by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) found Black African and mixed Black African staff are almost twice as likely to decline a vaccination as white British and white Irish participants.Reasons included concerns about a lack of research and distrust in the vaccines, healthcare providers, and policymakers.Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: “The only way out of the pandemic is for everyone that can to have their jabs. Encouragement has the best results and research shows coercion makes the nervous less likely to be vaccinated.“The government’s sledgehammer approach now runs the risk that some care staff may simply walk away from an already understaffed, undervalued and underpaid sector.”GMB national officer Rachel Harrison said: “The government could do a lot to help care workers: address their pay, terms and conditions, increasing the rate of and access to contractual sick pay, banning zero hours, and ensuring more mobile NHS vaccination teams so those working night shifts can get the jab.“Instead, ministers are ploughing ahead with plans to strong-arm care workers into taking the vaccine without taking seriously the massive blocks these workers still face in getting jabbed.”Mike Padgham, chairman of the Independent Care Group (ICG) which represents care homes in Yorkshire, said “it will put people off coming into the service”.“The second problem is people who are already working in the service who might not want the vaccine. We are so stretched for frontline staff. It sounds easy to redeploy them but it isn’t easy to replace them when you redeploy them. And I think people will be put off.”Director of public health for Gateshead, Alice Wiseman, told Times Radio she backed the move, saying: “This is a really difficult decision because nobody ever wants to take away an individual’s right to have that choice.“But we do make some vaccines mandatory in other aspects of healthcare. So, for example, we ensure all surgeons have their hep B vaccination, and it’s really important that we do this where we’re protecting those people who we are caring for.”Related...Boris Johnson Called Matt Hancock ‘Totally F**king Hopeless’ In WhatsApp MessageMatt Hancock Denies Lying To Boris Johnson About Covid PandemicTwo Covid Vaccine Doses 'Highly Effective' Against Delta Variant Hospitalisation
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Perspex screens that have sprung up in some offices and restaurants do not prevent the spread of Covid and could actually increase transmissibility, officials have told ministers.Ministers have been told the screens should be scrapped, according to a Whitehall document setting out recommendations to ministers on how England can eventually “live with Covid”.The draft document says the transparent plastic screens are often incorrectly positioned and could make matters worse by blocking airflow that helps disperse any virus droplets.It also recommends a boost in financial support for self isolation and suggests the government needs to decide whether to encourage people back to the office after the July 19 final easing of restrictions, remain neutral, or to continue to recommend home working where possible.HuffPost UK understands that there are no current plans to introduce any of the proposals, while Downing Street said the document “doesn’t reflect the latest government thinking”.But the prime minister’s official spokesperson said: “The Health and Safety Executive [HSE] will keep its guidance under review based on the latest evidence, and should that evidence necessitate a change, it would be changed.”A senior Tory suggested ministers should urgently address the issue of plastic screens, after the document obtained by Politico London Playbook suggested that they can actually increase the risk of Covid transmission by blocking airflow.Ministers have been given clear guidance that the screens, which are in place in the House of Commons chamber and a vast array of businesses from offices to restaurants, should be scrapped, Playbook reported.Senior Tory Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown suggested ministers should urgently update guidance to urge businesses to scrap the screens.“I think it’s an interesting finding and I suspect before too long those screens everywhere will disappear,” the treasurer of the backbench Tory 1922 committee told HuffPost UK.Asked whether the government should make an announcement on the findings quickly, he said: “Yes I think it should.”According to Playbook, the draft document also criticised the government for failing to sufficiently support people to self isolate if they have Covid.The existing isolation policy only has a “low to medium” effect because people on low incomes and in precarious jobs are not supported to isolate, meaning there are “barriers” and “disincentives” to staying at home.It recommends that ministers improve support to help stop the spread of Covid, Playbook said.Clifton-Brown supported the recommendation, suggesting people with a positive test should be given support of up to “hundreds” of pounds, while also facing random spot checks to ensure they are self isolating.“I think it’s a mixture of incentives and enforcement,” the Cotswolds MP said.“People have got to know that there’s a real chance that somebody is going to knock on their door at a random time to make sure they are there.“But in return they will get a payment of a few hundred pounds.”The document also reportedly said the government needs to decide whether to urge people to go back to work when restrictions are lifted on July 19, whether to remain neutral on the issue, or to encourage people to work from home.It also suggests drawing up minimum standards of ventilation for offices and that face masks may still be required.A UK government spokesperson said:“We have paused at step three [of the road map out of lockdown] for up to four weeks due to the new Delta variant, and we will continue to assess the latest data on this variant over the coming weeks.”Related...Boris Johnson Called Matt Hancock ‘Totally F**king Hopeless’ In WhatsApp MessageBoris Johnson Plans To Quit As PM To ‘Make Money And Have Fun’ By 2026, Cummings ClaimsHow Many Deaths Is Boris Johnson Willing To Tolerate To Keep His New Freedom Day Pledge?
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Boris Johnson wants to leave office in order to "make money and have fun" his former chief advisor Dominic Cummings has claimed.
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Bombshell messages were published by the prime minister's estranged former chief adviser Dominic Cummings.
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Boris Johnson called Matt Hancock “totally fucking hopeless” in a WhatsApp message to Dominic Cummings, the former No.10 adviser has claimed.Cummings published what he claimed was a WhatsApp conversation with the prime minister on March 27 2020, just after the UK was ordered into its first coronavirus lockdown.In an initial message, Cummings explained to Johnson that the United States had ramped up Covid testing rapidly while the UK was lagging behind.86/ Evidence on the covid disaster: as the PM said himself, Hancock's performance on testing, procurement, PPE, care homes etc was 'totally fucking hopeless', & his account to MPs was fiction: https://t.co/lur4Ddrddypic.twitter.com/JVGLCSov7v— Dominic Cummings (@Dominic2306) June 16, 2021“US has gone from 2,200 tests a fortnight ago to 27,000 a week ago to 100,000 yesterday,” Cummings wrote at 12.09am.“This is what we said we should do.“Instead we are still stuck on about 5,000-7,000 and Hancock [is] saying today he’s ‘sceptical’ about getting to 10,000 by Monday which he said would ‘definitely’ happen on Tuesday.“This means tens of thousands of NHS staff aren’t at work over the next critical three weeks - apart from my earlier point re: testing being integral to escape plan...”Johnson replied six minutes later: “Totally fucking hopeless”.The screenshot posted by Cummings then showed three missed calls from Johnson at 12.29am, which the aide explained was “the PM calling me to say he’d tested positive [for Covid”.“I couldn’t find my phone buzzing, we spoke minutes later,” he said in a blog.Downing Street and the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) have been approached for comment.This is a breaking news story and will be updated. Follow HuffPost UK on Twitter here, and on Facebook here.
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When June 21 was announced as the potential date for the grand unlocking, clubbing was all anyone could talk about. The government even released a Clip Art-esque graphic, showing two dancers living their best life under a disco ball.But when Boris Johnson announced that the final stage of lockdown would be extended until July 19 during Monday evening’s press conference, not a whisper was made about the nightlife industry. It was “just another kick in the teeth” for the likes of Jeremy Joseph, the owner of G-A-Y, and others in the industry who have been preparing to reopen. “When people talk about hospitality, they talk about bars, they talk about restaurants, but everybody is ignoring nightclubs and actually, it’s the nightclubs that have the biggest costs and the biggest rents,” he tells HuffPost UK. “We’re just completely ignored.”London’s Heaven nightclub, G-A-Y’s largest venue, has been closed as a club since March 14 2020. Although the venue has hosted some smaller, seated events, they’ve had to stick to a capacity of 255. The venue usually hosts up to 1,625 people. “The bills and the majority of costs that you have are the same whether you’re at full capacity or lower capacity, so all we’re doing at the moment is reducing our losses, we’re not making money,” explains Joseph.G-A-Y’s bars, which have been able to reopen under the guidance, have subsidised Heaven to allow the nightclub to stay open, but it’s still been a struggle, he says. “We’re working day by day to survive, every bill we get in, we pay as we go along. We’re trying to keep our heads above water.”Nightclubs across the country have been crippled by the pandemic. A recent report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Night Time Economy found that over three-quarters (78%) of all employees in the sector had at some point been on furlough. More than half (51%) of nightclubs have been forced to make staff redundant since last year, compared to 32% of bars and 26% of pubs, where restrictions have been less severe. Beyond providing 1.3 million jobs, the night time economy is home to a considerable body of freelance workers, particularly in clubs, where promoters, DJs and bouncers are usually self-employed. However, the report found that only 36% of self-employed nightlife workers have been able to claim the Self Employment Income Support Scheme.It concluded that “without urgent government support, nightlife businesses face extinction.” Joseph doesn’t want to reopen Heaven until it’s safe to do so, but says better financial support for the nightlife industry is urgently needed to keep venues from folding. He’s not convinced clubs will be allowed to go back to 100% capacity after July 19 and says Boris Johnson should create a roadmap for their reopening with incremental stages, rather than promise a date he can’t commit to. “It’s just completely insane. He has absolutely no idea what he’s doing. He doesn’t talk to the industries involved,” says Joseph of the prime minister. “He certainly hasn’t talked to us, and we’ve given him the opportunity many times.”Bill Brewster, who was one of the founding residents at London’s Fabric and has spent more than 30 years working as a promoter and DJ, is also worried about the longterm impact on the industry. He personally lost “thousands of pounds at a stroke” after Monday’s announcement.  They have shown time and again, this government doesn’t give a shit about our industry.Bill Brewster, promoter and DJ“Even a delay of a fortnight would’ve been costly, but this is so much worse,” he tells HuffPost UK. “They have shown time and again, this government doesn’t give a shit about our industry.”Other industries – such as the wedding sector, which launched an awareness campaign, #WhatAboutWeddings – have pointed out disparities in the pandemic guidance. Brewster argues the same can be seen for the nightlife industry. “What really was the point of doing test events which proved transmissibility was relatively low, when we end up in this position?” he asks. “We’re being punished because Boris Johnson was so desperate to make a trade deal with India, that he didn’t close down the borders fast enough.“By all means, change the dates and obey the data, but do not throw a whole industry to the wolves. Where’s the support? Full crowds allowed at Wimbledon where, of course, there are plenty of Tory voters and donors, but nothing for us?”Even for those who have found interim work, the restrictions faced by bars and clubs make for a very different livelihood. Osayuki Omo-Uwamere, who DJs under the name Yuki Love, performs at club nights, as well as celebrity and corporate launch parties. Some of these have continued throughout lockdown, but the atmosphere has changed. “My job is basically to get people to dance and create that atmosphere so it’s a weird one when bouncers are constantly reminding people whilst I’m DJing that they are unable to dance and that if they do they will get kicked out,” she says. “It’s mad.” A lot of the venues and clubs that I DJed in before the pandemic will probably never open their doors again and that’s the sad part.Yuki LoveIf club closures continue, she believes people will find alternative outdoor spaces, venues and pop-ups to enjoy live music and DJing.“We’re seeing that a lot now and I’m DJing at these type of events,” she says. “It’s the club and venue owners who are going to be the most affected by all of this. A lot of the venues and clubs that I DJed in before the pandemic will probably never open their doors again and that’s the sad part.”The lockdown delay also comes as a blow to avid clubbers like Ellie Campbell, 27, and based in Dalston, London. She moved to the capital specifically for the nightlife and thinks the latest extension “really oversteps the line”.“Considering the June date has been set in stone for such a long time, it’s adding insult to injury for those who have waited patiently to get back to normality and expand their networks again. Until clubbing and live music returns, social lives for those in their 20s are still seriously curbed by the restrictions,” says Campbell.“I do have concerns about how nightlife will ever recover without adequate government support for the industry, which doesn’t seem to be a priority. Myself and my peers have made sacrifices about our living and work spaces to enjoy the vibrant nightlife of the big city, so 18 months on and to still be in this situation just makes me feel we’re in suspended animation and are very much being treated as an afterthought. ” HuffPost UK put the concerns raised by our interviewees to the government, asking specifically about the lack of financial support businesses say they’ve received. A Treasury spokesperson said that local authorities have nearly £1bn of discretionary grant funding remaining, which they’re encouraged to use to support nightclubs and other hard-hit businesses.“Nightclubs have received Restart Grants worth up to £18,000 per venue to support them over the past few months,” they added. “Nightclubs will also benefit from business rates relief worth 75% across the whole year for most businesses, a VAT cut, and the furlough scheme.  “We are committed to helping businesses and individuals through the pandemic and deliberately went long with our support to provide certainty over the coming months.”But the question remains, if the industry does survive, will it have any workers left? The APPG report found that 85% of people working in the nightlife sector are considering leaving it.Joseph says the mental health impact on workers has been catastrophic. He personally lives alone and hasn’t been able to enjoy other lockdown restrictions easing because he can’t afford to test positive and have to self-isolate at the moment. Lockdown continues for him, without contact with friends and family. “He [Boris Johnson] makes me feel worthless. He makes what I do feel like it’s worth nothing,” he says. “At the moment I’m working seven days a week to just survive and I’m done. I was done months ago. My love for this job has completely gone and I will never get it back. I just want to escape now. I don’t want to be here any more. And [Johnson] has done that by the way he’s treated people and the way he’s treated this industry.” Useful websites and helplinesMind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill).CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) offer a helpline open 5pm-midnight, 365 days a year, on 0800 58 58 58, and a webchat service.The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email [email protected] Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0808 801 0525 (Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on rethink.org.READ MORE:Coronavirus Is Threatening LGBTQ Businesses. Here's Why It's Vital We Protect ThemHere's What Those Mass Event Trials Found About Covid RiskThe Wedding Rules You Need To Know From June 21June 21 Is Delayed And If You're Gutted, That's UnderstandableThe Riskiest (And Safest) Activities As Unlocking Approaches
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You’re reading The Waugh Zone, our daily politics briefing. Sign up now to get it by email in the evening.It’s barely three weeks since Dominic Cummings gave his evidence to MPs, yet it already feels like a long time ago. Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser may have electrified Westminster but he left the public just shrugging its shoulders in contempt, leaving barely a trace.Still, Cummings’ real impact may have been in highlighting the need for the PM to be extra-cautious about Covid, heeding the warning signs when case numbers spike and forcing him to really listen to his medical and scientific advisers.We also have Cummings’ testimony to thank for getting on record Johnson’s frustration last autumn that he hadn’t acted more like “the Mayor from Jaws”. And today, Labour pounced on that phrase to ram home what it thinks is one of his biggest blunders of the pandemic: not closing the borders to India.In possibly his best speech since taking the job of shadow home secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds said that the 14 day delay in putting India on the “red list” was a “fortnight of failure” driven by Johnson’s desire to have a photo-op with Narendra Modi. It was not the India variant, nor the Delta variant, but “the Johnson variant”.Moreover, Thomas-Symonds said Johnson’s Jaws mayor tribute act had had tragic consequences with “British people..attacked in their thousands” by the shark of Covid. He even conjured up the image of Keir Starmer as police chief Martin Brody from that same movie: “eyes on the shark, doing everything to keep people safe”.Some in Labour have been pushing hard for months to ram home this attack line about the need for tighter borders. It turns Johnson’s “take back control” Brexit mantra into a judo throw aimed at knocking him off his balance. Allied with more state funded support for the aviation and travel industry, it is at least a coherent strategy and one that anticipated imports like the Delta variant.Though it avoids the “hindsight” charge, there are pitfalls. One risk is that Labour can appear to be banking on the virus outpacing the vaccines in coming weeks, in the hope of proving itself right about Johnson’s border failure. Without careful handling, that could turn out to be an even worse look than an opposition which relies on increases in unemployment to win power.Then again, as I mentioned last night, there is a real risk entailed in the PM claiming July 19 is a “terminus” date. Michael Gove highlighted the implicit logic of that approach this morning when he refused to deny that hundreds of deaths would now be tolerated once the final unlocking happens.“Hundreds” is of course much less than the “thousands” (or “tens of thousands” the PM referred to at one point yesterday) that would have died if the June 21 unlocking had gone ahead. Yet the Sage papers released on Monday night made for grim reading. Even with a five-week delay, one model estimates between 31,200 and 62,900 extra deaths by December 31.Those death numbers are much, much higher than the worst winter flu outbreaks, even though that’s the comparison increasingly made by ministers. On ConHome’s Moggcast, Jacob Rees-Mogg said “you can’t run society just to stop the hospitals being full”, but he also said deaths were the key metric - and on this measure the Indian variant could yet wreak havoc.Rees-Mogg has proved he has more lives than Gavin Williamson in his current post and that may in part be because he reflects the lockdown sceptic views of some backbenchers. The PM too is more of a Mayor Vaughn than a Chief Brody. He is clearly braced for more fatalities, the question remains just how many he will tolerate, and whether he will tell us what the number is.But just how many excess deaths will the public tolerate? The phrase you’ll hear in coming weeks is that we all have to “learn to live with” Covid. For the families of those who fall prey to this awful virus, that may sound like learning to die with Covid. And even Boris Johnson’s famed political skills may have trouble with that soundbite.Related...Boris Johnson Condemns ‘Disgraceful’ Video Of BBC’s Nicholas Watt Being Chased By Anti-Lockdown ProtestersRees-Mogg Lambasted Over Claim Lockdown Can’t Continue ‘Just To Stop The Hospitals Being Full’Adele Pays Tribute To Victims And Survivors Of Grenfell Tower Fire On Fourth Anniversary Of Tragedy
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Cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg has come under fire from Labour after he suggested that lockdown curbs can’t continue “just to stop the hospitals being full”.The Commons Leader told ConservativeHome.com’s “Moggcast” podcast that “the NHS is there to serve the British people, not the British people there to serve the NHS”.He also suggested that protecting the health service should no longer be the government’s top priority and that patients entering hospital for a few days was “not very important”.Rees-Mogg said that “infections are not what matters any more”, adding that the number of deaths from Covid should be the key consideration as the UK came out of the pandemic and ministers weighed up the need for personal freedom.The minister was asked about the prospect of the Indian variant of Covid spreading further in the absence of two doses of vaccines for all adults, and the prospect of hospitals being “clogged up” as they struggled with a backlog of non-Covid cases.He replied: “Ultimately, the NHS is there to serve the British people, not the British people there to serve the NHS, and therefore we may need to spend more money on hospitals but you can’t run society just to stop the hospitals being full.“Otherwise you’d never let us get in our cars and drive anywhere or do any of the other things that people want to do. There has to be some proportionality within that. The government doesn’t have the right to take charge of people’s lives purely to prevent them seeing the doctor.”He went on: “Actually, otherwise we’d never be allowed in our kitchens where a disproportionate number of accidents in the home take place or our bathrooms, so we’d become very hungry and very smelly on that basis.”Rees-Mogg, who spoke just hours before Boris Johnson confirmed the final removal of Covid restrictions would be delayed from June 21 to July 19, added that with the older population jabbed young people who caught Covid were less of a worry.“If everybody in the top nine categories has had the double vaccination and has had two weeks afterwards, people below those categories aren’t at a particular risk,” he said.“Infections are not what matters anymore. Two things that matter: can the NHS cope and the number of deaths. Overwhelmingly important is the number of deaths. People going into hospital for a couple of days and coming out again, it’s not very important. If they’re dying, it’s very important.”Shadow health minister Justin Madders said: “Rees Mogg spends so much time with nanny he thinks the nanny state lurks around every corner. Comparing a pandemic with accidents at home is a ludicrous analogy to make and shows a complete detachment from how this virus has affected people.“His statement that it’s not the government’s job to protect the NHS is foolish in the extreme and of course contrary to his own government’s policy for the last year. The mask has slipped if he doesn’t think the NHS is worth protecting. As for his comments that people going into hospital with Covid for a few days is ‘not very important’, has he even heard of Long Covid?“His claim that ‘infections are not what matters any more’ is plainly contrary to the advice of the government’s scientific advisers, because it is rising infections from the Delta variant that has delayed Freedom Day, which is entirely down to the government’s negligence.”No.10 refused to endorse the cabinet minister’s remarks, preferring to underline that the government’s four tests for each stage of its “roadmap” out of lockdown still applied.One of those tests is that “infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS”, and a rapid increase in hospital admissions in recent weeks has put it in doubt.The other key test – that “the assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants of concern” – has not been passed, chief medical officer Chris Whitty confirmed on Monday.Asked if Rees-Mogg was representing the government’s position by saying society couldn’t be run to avoid hospitals being full, the PM’s official spokesperson replied: “The position we’re using is the four tests.“And on that basis, we don’t meet those four tests and so that is why we are not proceeding.”He added that ahead of the July 19 date: “We will decide using the four tests when we come up to that period a week beforehand.”Related...PM Border Failures Make It ‘Likely’ No Brits Will Have Foreign Holidays This Summer, Labour WarnsBoris Johnson Condemns ‘Disgraceful’ Video Of BBC’s Nicholas Watt Being Chased By Anti-Lockdown ProtestersAll Over-18s In England Should Be Offered Covid Vaccine By End Of This Week
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Newsnight’s political editor Nicholas Watt has been flooded with messages of support after a video surfaced of him being harassed and chased by anti-lockdown protesters in London.In the clip, the journalist – who was wearing a BBC lanyard – was confronted by an unmasked mob near Downing Street shouting “traitor” and other slurs close to his face.He was then forced to turn around and run towards a line of police officers as some of the group chased him.The footage has been condemned by fellow journalists and MPs, including the prime minister and home secretary, Priti Patel.Boris Johnson called the scenes “disgraceful”, tweeting: ”Disgraceful to see the hounding of Nick Watt doing his job.“The media must be able to report the facts without fear or favour – they are the lifeblood of our democracy.”Disgraceful to see the hounding of Nick Watt doing his job.The media must be able to report the facts without fear or favour – they are the lifeblood of our democracy.— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) June 15, 2021Priti Patel also commented, tweeting: “The video of @BBCNewsnight’s Nick Watt being abused by a mob is appalling and distressing,” she tweeted. “This behaviour is never acceptable.”Patel added: “The safety of journalists is fundamental to our democracy. This month the government launched a consultation to better understand the nature & volume of threats and abuse against journalists who are operating in the UK.”The video of @BBCNewsnight's Nick Watt being abused by a mob is appalling and distressing.This behaviour is never acceptable.— Priti Patel (@pritipatel) June 15, 2021The BBC said in a statement: “This behaviour is completely unacceptable.“All journalists should be able to carry out their work without intimidation or impediment.”Many others also tweeted their support for Nicholas and condemned the behaviour of the protesters.Absolutely horrific. Solidarity with Nick Watt. It is a fundamental principle of any democracy that journalists are free to do their jobs without intimidation. https://t.co/J5bRhZsnFs— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) June 15, 2021Have only just seen the disgusting footage of @nicholaswatt being abused by anti-lockdown protestors.This is sadly just part of wider abuse directed at the media in recent years. Several political parties share the blame for not stamping out that culture.#solidaritywithnick— Paul Waugh (@paulwaugh) June 15, 2021What happened to Nick Watt is far from an isolated incident, as many news reporters will confirm. I was at a job only a few weeks ago where broadcasters were harassed by aggressive anti-lockdowners (though on a smaller scale). BBC journalists kindly shared their security with me— Robyn Vinter (@RobynVinter) June 15, 2021I have been interviewed by @nicholaswatt on many occasions and he is always unfailingly polite and professional. He doesn't shy away from asking tough questions either.I am horrified by the video of him being abused for doing his job. A free press is integral to our democracy.— Angela Rayner (@AngelaRayner) June 15, 2021Crowds had gathered in Westminster to protest against the government’s extension of coronavirus restrictions in England by four weeks.The Metropolitan Police issued a statement, saying they are aware of the video.They said: “The behaviour shown in the video is unacceptable. Members of the public, of any profession, have the right to go about their day without being subjected to verbal harassment or actions that put them in fear for their safety.“In this instance, while officers were nearby as part of the policing response to the ongoing protest, they were not in the immediate vicinity of the incident.“It was not clear at the time exactly what had taken place but after reviewing the video footage, a number of possible offences have been identified and an investigation has been launched.”Anyone with information is asked to call 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
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So it’s been confirmed. The final part of the roadmap out of England’s lockdown has been delayed by another month due to rising Covid cases. And while some won’t be that put out by the news, for others it’s been a huge kick in the teeth.Festival organisers and those who work in the events industry, as well as nightclub owners whose establishments have been shut for well over a year, have been struck the hardest blow. And those with weddings booked aren’t too happy either – while celebrations for over 30 are now allowed, social distancing measures mean someone’s big day might not run quite as they planned.As well as extending the delay, the news has widened the Covid divide. With life returning to normal for many people, it can feel even harder for those having to wait a little longer. “The reported changes may negatively affect some people, while the majority of others may not be affected at all,” says Professor Ivo Vlaev, an expert in behavioural science at the University of Warwick.“Those who will lose something – those with businesses and livelihoods in areas who hadn’t yet been allowed to open, or maybe because they booked wedding or other celebration – will feel disappointed.”That feeling also comes from the way things have been communicated, he adds. “Do not promise someone something, unless you can deliver it, because people will feel a sense of ownership and sense of loss when you take it away.”Box of wedding confetti arrived today. Completely deflated. Most ppl will want to either have the wedding they paid for, or not have it — pretty sure no one wants a half-arsed wedding with awkwardly spaced tables, no dancing & avoiding their loved ones. Awfully managed & cruel— Emma Gannon (@emmagannon) June 14, 2021The earlier easing steps have already returned many people’s work and lives to relative normality. Then there are those, whisper it, who are actually happy about the further delay – it’s normal to want more and less lockdown at the same time – and who will feel safer as a result of not yet having to head to busy events and social gatherings. But the sense of loss is very real for some people right now, made harder by the fact others don’t seem to be impacted by the news at all. As well as the financial and practical implications for people’s jobs and plans, the reason why the news hits hard emotionally is because of what is described in psychology as ‘loss aversion’, says Prof Vlaev – where we dislike losses far more than we like gains of an equivalent amount.“The opportunity to gain something is highly pleasurable, but the fear of losing something is emotionally intense and provokes strong negative feelings,” he explains. “Our aversion to losses leads to what is known as the endowment effect or mere ownership effect, which is the observation that people who own something tend to evaluate it more positively than people who do not. “So, the mentality of some people may be: ‘You [the government] promised me my freedoms and associated pleasures after 21st June, now you are taking it away’.”Maybe it's just because I don't go to nightclubs or get invited to big parties but I'm struggling to see the torment. I can go to the shops; meet friends for dinner; go round to see family. It's hardly nightmarish. pic.twitter.com/IOmyVApQ3D— Sam Freedman (@Samfr) June 14, 2021Humans are creatures who like to rationalise and have an explanation for why something happens, says Prof Vlaev, so if you are struggling, understanding the government’s reasons for the change in plan is key.Monday’s announcement from Boris Johnson confirmed that the June 21 unlockdown had been delayed by four weeks to avoid a third wave of Covid that would cost “thousands” of deaths. The aim is to get more people vaccinated with first and second doses during this window of time and also to track the impact of the Delta variant on hospitalisations and deaths.If people are given a credible reason for why something unpleasant is happening then they experience less distress and their wellbeing takes less of a hit. Prof Vlaev suggests. “The worst thing is unexplained and random pain.”The government needs to communicate “clear and robust reasons for the policy”, he adds and while the disappointment some people are feeling will erode trust going forward, for many others, attitudes towards social contact will remain unchanged. “For them, this will be life-as-usual a bit longer.”Covid-19 is more than a news story – it has changed every aspect of life in the UK. We are following how Britain is experiencing this crisis, the different stages of collective emotion, reaction and resilience. You can tell us how you are feeling and find further advice and resources here.Related...What The Lockdown Extension Means For YouThis Is The New Roadmap For Lifting Covid Restrictions In EnglandThe Wedding Rules You Need To Know From June 21Will Lockdown Be Extended Again?
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The Delta variant, first seen in India, was already thought to be about 60% more infectious than other widespread versions of the coronavirus.
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The UK jobs market brightened in April and May, data showed, with unemployment falling, payroll numbers rising and pay increasing.
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You’re reading The Waugh Zone, our daily politics briefing. Sign up now to get it by email in the evening.Just when you think you’ve got it beat, Covid-19 somehow comes back stronger. Like Arnold Schwarzenegger but without the charm, this Terminator of a virus has an “I’ll be back” menace that risks undoing all the hard work of the UK’s stunning vaccine rollout.The epic battle between the vaccines and the virus certainly has high stakes. Perhaps that’s why Boris Johnson sounded unusually nervous as he announced he would indeed be postponing ‘Freedom Day’ by another four weeks. Instead of the sunshine of Midsummer Merrie England, there was a blizzard of scary charts of projected hospitalisations.Fluffing his lines, the PM referred to “the adults of this company” (he meant “country”) and then wrongly declared the new unlocking date was July 29th (correcting it later to July 19th). Polling shows most of the public are relaxed about a delay, but Johnson is acutely aware that the 24% who are unhappy include several of his own backbenchers, and it showed.Nowhere was this more telling than in his repeated reassurance that the Freedom Day Mk II was the real deal. He was “pretty confident” that July 19 will be “the terminus date” (he said “terminal date” too). June 21 was always a “‘not before’ date”, whereas this was much firmer, he suggested. This was not a defeat for lockdown sceptics, it was a victory, he seemed to imply.That spin may or may not work on Tory MPs, but it could paint the PM into a corner for the first time in months. Ever since he bowed to Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance’s plan for a cautious roadmap, he has been able to fall back on their insistence that all four tests have to be met (the new variant test was particularly shrewd) and that “data not dates” will drive his decisions.But now with talk of “terminal” and fixed timelines, it feels like dates not data is the new approach. Steve Baker, Mark Harper and Sir Charles Walker, who will probably vote against the delay, have much more concrete evidence of a breach of faith should that July 19 date somehow slip again.Whitty and Vallance gave the PM invaluable backing at the press conference. The chief medical officer in particular pointed out that even without the Indian variant, the very restoration of unrestricted indoor mixing of “households that are unrelated” was always going to lead to an uptick in cases. He added there had to come a point where fatalities switched from “deaths averted” to deaths delayed”, as with flu.Patrick Vallance even suggested that locking down beyond July 19 would be counter-productive. And he made the case for that date containing the Goldilocks calculation of just how hot or cold to make the roadmap porridge. Giving over-18s their first jab and pushing unlockdown closer to the school holidays certainly added some sugar, as did a lifting of the cap on wedding numbers.Still, for Keir Starmer, the talk of 19 July as a “terminal” date is an opportunity for a Judgement Day on Johnson’s competence. If the vaccination programme can’t sufficiently flatten the Delta variant spike, he is sure to step up his own attack line that Johnson’s failure to stop flights from India is the real culprit. Already today, the Labour leader hardened his rhetoric to say it was a “pathetic” border policy that had postponed freedoms.Starmer’s clear aim is to drive a big wedge between the excellence of the NHS vaccine rollout and the government’s wider failures. It’s unclear whether it was the PM’s desire to keep alive post-Brexit trade talks with Narendra Modi that prompted his inaction, but the suggestion that he recklessly undermined both the NHS’s programme and public sacrifices is a toxic one.Today’s failure to offer extra financial support to businesses added extra political risk too. Those firms which were hanging on by their fingertips will now face having to pay their share of furlough bills, with no extra income to fund them. Add in the self-employed already upset and an Opposition that was pro-enterprise could make inroads.To oversee one Covid wave is a misfortune, to allow two begins to look like carelessness. But to trigger a third wave, squandering all the good work of your own vaccine success story, could be seen as unforgivable by a public which has to date been incredibly forgiving of its prime minister.Related...Lockdown Extended For Four Weeks To Prevent 'Thousands' Of DeathsWhat The Lockdown Extension Means For YouAll Over-18s In England Offered Covid Vaccine By July 19, Says Government
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"By Monday the 19 of July we will aim to have double jabbed two thirds of the adult population," PM Boris Johnson said at a press briefing.
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The 30-guest limit at weddings in England has been lifted, despite a four-week delay to the ending of lockdown.From June 21, people can have more than 30 guests at a wedding, “provided social distancing remains in place”, Boris Johnson announced at a Downing Street press conference on Monday – welcome news to the many couples who have postponed their celebrations time and time again.The news came as Boris Johnson confirmed he was delaying the end of England’s lockdown, with July 19 now the date earmarked for remaining restrictions being lifted.He told the Downing Street press conference that the spread of the Delta variant meant the government and public “faced a very difficult choice” between continuing with Step 4 of the roadmap on June 21 or giving the NHS “a few more crucial weeks” to get all remaining vaccinations administered.“And since today I cannot say that that we have met all our four tests for proceeding with Step 4 on June 21, I think it is sensible to wait just a little longer,” he said.It is not yet confirmed if there will be an upper limit on guest numbers, but the Mirror has reported that capacity limits may be the highest number of people wedding venues can accommodate while still being Covid-secure.“I am sorry for all the disappointment that’s going to be caused by going a bit slower as we are today,” the prime minster told a journalist and bride-to-be who said she had already twice postponed her wedding.The reporter had questioned why testing and vaccination status could not be used to open up weddings in the same way as football matches, and said weddings felt “bottom of the priority list despite being significant life events without which some people cannot progress with their lives.”Boris Johnson, who married his wife Carrie in a secret ceremony in Westminster Cathedral on May 29 attended by 30 people, said he was sorry for the “many, many businesses” affected by delays – adding “it’s a few weeks that I think is worth it to get those jabs in”.Related...This Is The New Roadmap For Lifting Covid Restrictions In EnglandThe Riskiest (And Safest) Activities As Unlocking ApproachesStop Judging Us For Wanting A Big Wedding
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England’s long-awaited exit from lockdown has been delayed, with Boris Johnson warning a spike in cases of the Delta variant could lead to a surge in hospitalisations.  This is the new timeline for reaching stage 4 of the government’s roadmap.Stage 4 – July 19The prime minister had hoped to lift the remaining social distancing rules on June 21.But speaking at a press conference on Monday, he confirmed this date has been pushed back to July 19.There will be a check point on June 28, where the government will review the infection data, if it still looks bad then the current Covid rules will be kept in place until July 19.Confirmation, or otherwise, of the July 19 unlocking will be made on July 12.The previous three stages of the unlocking, were as below.Stage 1 – March 8 Two people were allowed to meet for a coffee or picnic and were allowed to meet one other from another household outdoors.All schools and colleges returned.Care home visits indoors resumed, with residents allowed one regular named visitor.The government’s ‘stay at home’ order remained in place. March 29 The rule of six on socials gathering returned. It allowed six people from up to two households to meet outside or in private gardens. The stay at home advice was replaced by new guidance to “stay local where possible”.People were asked to work at home if they could, however, and the overseas travel ban remained in place. People were allowed to travel to meet someone but not stay overnight. Outdoor facilities such as tennis courts, golf courses and basketball courts reopened.  Stage 2 – April 12 Non-essential retail and personal care businesses, such as hairdressers and nail salons, reopened. Pubs and restaurants reopened but only for outdoor hospitality, although table service was compulsory.Public buildings, including libraries, reopened.People were allowed begin to exercising indoors with the reopening of gyms and swimming pools.Driving lessons resumed. Weddings and funerals resumed with guests of up to 30 and wakes could include 15 people. People were allowed to stay in self-contained holiday lets or camp sites where facilities are not shared, but only with members of their own household.  Stage 3 – May 17Pubs and restaurants could begin hosting people indoors.Gatherings outdoors were allowed for up to 30 people. The rule of six/group comprised of two households was also extended to include indoor settings.Overnight stays were permitted. The ban on international travel was lifted, replaced with a traffic light system with different destinations rated green, amber or red.Hotels and museums could reopen. There were also new rules on entertainment venues, such as cinemas and theatre, and indoor sports venues. Indoors venues could host 1,000 people or be half full, whichever number was lower. Outdoors, a maximum capacity of 4,000, or half full whichever was lower, was allowed. For larger football stadiums, such as Wembley, the crowd could be as large as 10,000 or the venue be a quarter full. Exercising indoors in larger groups was allowed, so, for example, exercise classes could resume. Related...Boris Johnson To Hold Downing Street Coronavirus Press Conference
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