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Tory threat to our cinemas as their failure to cope with Covid hits entertainment industry

“Delayed AGAIN???” Daniel Craig wonders whether the new James Bond film, No Time To Die, will ever see cinema release.

I don’t want to have any “it’s not their fault” mewling over this.

Cineworld is not the only venue for the creative industries that is suffering as a result of the Johnson government’s failure to get a grip on Covid-19.

But while BoJob and his buddies funnel money hand over fist to their chums in fake firms, set up in a pretence at treating/preventing the disease, they’re letting our artists and entertainers go to the wall.

They’ll say it’s because they haven’t got a legal means of helping but I think they just want to end fun in our lifetime.

Cineworld is set to temporarily close its UK cinemas in the coming weeks.

The firm is writing to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden to say the industry is now “unviable”.

The firm says it has been hit by delays in the release of big-budget films, putting 5,500 jobs at risk.

The premiere of James Bond film No Time To Die has been postponed twice and is now due for release in April 2021.

Philippa Childs of entertainment and broadcasting union Bectu said: “The delay in the release of the Bond film along with the other delayed releases has plunged cinema into crisis.”

In a socially-distanced country, cinemas simply aren’t viable. Current guidelines mean operators should “organise seating to ensure two-metre distancing can be maintained; where two metres is not viable, one metre with risk mitigation is acceptable. Mitigations should be considered and those introduced set out in the risk assessment”. In Scotland, the two-metre rule must be maintained strictly.

That means only a handful of people can attend any auditorium at any time and it becomes unviable to employ the staff needed to run a venue.

It’s not often that I agree with this tweeter any more, but I’ll make an exception in this case:

Cineworld expects to make 5,500 staff unemployed while the 120-venue chain is closed – throwing them on the scant mercy of the Johnson government.

The hope is that they will be able to re-employ those members of their former staff who survive a winter of Covid-19 and the Tories’ harsh benefit conditions.

If that happens, I hope the company doesn’t take the easy – and very Tory – option of using this as an opportunity to cut staff pay and conditions. That would be a step too far.

Source: Cineworld to shut down UK screens after Bond film delay – BBC News

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Black MP Dawn Butler forced to close office because of racist violence

Dawn Butler: here’s an MP who actually cares about her constituents’ lives, suffering appalling treatment – and a lack of overt support from her party’s leadership.

Labour’s Dawn Butler has been forced to close her constituency office due to a torrent of racist abuse and vandalism that escalated after she voiced her support for Black Lives Matter.

It seems bricks have been hurled through the windows of the office on High Road, Willesden, and staff have been attacked inside. She said the continual security risk, alongside spiralling rent costs, forced her to close the office.

But she assured residents that her constituency work is continuing as normal.

Quoted in the Evening Standard, she said:

“I continue to receive on an almost daily basis threats of violence and death threats.

My staff have been attacked in the office, verbally assaulted coming and going from work, bricks have been thrown through the windows and the frontage has been smashed.

I have had to work extensively with police and security staff to simply try and create a safe working environment for my employees. Many of these incidents were not made public in order to not encourage copycat attacks.

The Standard reported that Ms Butler had reported a torrent of racist abuse to police after she spoke in support of Black Lives Matter:

One email reportedly sent to her said “There will come a time when you can’t breath[e], and we will all be happy,” while another allegedly said: “Come the revolution you will be one of the first.”

Supporters of Ms Butler were quick to offer their support.

Her party leader was less keen. Keir Starmer had to be prompted before he would say anything:

He still waited nearly 24 hours after the closure became public knowledge before he voiced his own lukewarm support. And he’s been called out on it:

Racists will see Starmer’s reluctance as tacit support for their attacks – and who can say they’re mistaken in that?

The new New Labour leader has shown a spectacular failure to understand the issue of racism, both within his party and in the UK as a whole.

Or perhaps he really is a racist himself.

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Covid-19: pubs close after positive tests – because drunks can’t do social distancing

This is what happens when millions of people are given a chance to mess things up in a big way.

Pubs across England – that opened on Saturday because Boris Johnson told them it was safe – are closing again after finding out it wasn’t.

Either staff or customers have tested positive for Covid-19 since they reopened. This does not suggest that these people caught the virus at those pubs.

It merely suggests that anybody who was in those pubs at the same time may soon test positive themselves.

The Guardian lists a few establishments that have announced they have closed again:

The Lighthouse Kitchen and Carvery in Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, said a customer had tested positive and it was making its way through a list of people who were in the premises on Saturday.

The Fox and Hounds in Batley, West Yorkshire, said it would be closed until further notice after receiving a call from a customer on Monday to say they had tested positive for coronavirus.

The Village Home pub in Alverstoke near Gosport, Hampshire, said it had also had a case of coronavirus, adding that “some of us are in isolation”.

These are only the pubs known to the Guardian writer at the time the report was filed, obviously. Who knows how many more have discovered Covid-19 in their midst – or are about to?

The reason can be attributed to something mentioned in another article from The Guardian, that it is ‘Crystal clear’ drunk people can’t socially distance:

Drunk people are unable to properly socially distance, the chairman of the Police Federation has said as pubs reopened in England for the first time since lockdown.

John Apter said it was “crystal clear” revellers would not adhere to the one metre plus rule as restrictions were eased on Saturday.

Images from London’s Soho showed packed streets into the early hours of Sunday.

Apter, who was on shift in Southampton where he dealt with “naked men, happy drunks, angry drunks, fights and more angry drunks”, said: “What was crystal clear is that drunk people can’t/won’t socially distance.

“It was a busy night but the shift managed to cope. I know other areas have had issues with officers being assaulted.”

Considering this footage of Soho on Saturday, it seems the man has a point:

This Writer has been enjoying virtual pub nights since the lockdown began.

I used to go out every Thursday; now I just buy take-out tinnies and get on a video call with a few friends.

It’s not the same as being there.

But it’s a lot less dangerous.

Source: Several pubs in England close after positive coronavirus tests | World news | The Guardian

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Coronavirus: here comes the second wave as first UK hospital closes A&E due to overloading

The snake: this image was probably created to denote Donald Trump but it works equally well for Boris Johnson, especially as we are no seeing a new spike in Covid-19 infections, exactly the expected time after Johnson relaxed lockdown rules. He must have known what would happen.

As predicted two weeks ago, when Boris Johnson blithely told us all to go back to work, here comes the second wave of Covid-19 infections that he caused:

An NHS hospital has been forced to close its accident and emergency department to new admissions as a result of high numbers of patients with coronavirus.

Weston General Hospital, in Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset, stopped accepting A&E patients at 8am on Monday morning.

Dr William Oldfield, medical director said: “This is a clinically led decision and we are being supported by our system partners to ensure that new patients receive the care and treatment they need in the appropriate setting, and we are continuing to provide high quality care to existing patients who are being treated in the hospital.”

So there you have it.

We know that Covid-19 takes around 14 days to gestate inside human beings and, right on time, 14 days after Boris Johnson relaxed the lockdown, here it is back again.

He still wants to reopen schools to Reception-age pupils who won’t have any understanding of social distancing rules, next Monday.

So if you’re a parent being told to send your child back, you now know that it will be to bring Covid-19 home to you.

I would urge you to rely on your instincts as a parent (as Boris Johnson described the actions of Dominic Cummings recently) and protect your child by ignoring the demand.

Of course the social media are full of this latest development:

Source: Coronavirus: UK hospital closes A&E and no longer accepting new patients | The Independent

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Coronavirus: ‘Don’t call us’ say DWP as Universal Credit Claim line is overwhelmed

This is what happens when you create a system to stop people claiming benefits – and then need to pay them to millions of people.

The Tory government could just switch to a Universal Basic Income system that is straightforward and cheaper – but for some reason it doesn’t seem to want to do that.

I wonder why not?

Instead – well, read about the shambles for yourself:

From Thursday, a new frontline team will be in place to proactively call customers where additional information is required.

Customers applying for universal credit are being advised to sign-up online, where they can share details such as salary and national insurance information for the DWP to assess.

It said claims will then be reviewed, and where additional details are needed, it will get in touch with you over the phone or via your online portal.

The move, it said, is designed to take some of the worry and frustration out of submitting a claim, while speeding it up by putting an end to long call wait times.

More than 1.2 million people have applied for Universal Credit in the past three weeks, and in the past seven days more than 5.8 million calls have been made to its helpline, equivalent to three times the average per day.

That’s an awful lot of people signing up to wait five weeks before they get any money.

And they’ve overloaded the system.

On April 8, the DWP admitted access to its phone lines had to be “controlled” in order to stop critical services like NHS 111 collapsing.

Now, it is asking people to avoid its phone lines altogether.

That is not the statement of an organisation that wants to help.

It is an organisation that only wants to help itself.

Source: Universal Credit claimants sent urgent message by DWP as millions more sign up – Mirror Online

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Jewish Chronicle to close, with staff redundancies. The quality of UK media has improved

Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard: I bet he’s not smiling now.

Forgive This Writer if I view this announcement with quiet satisfaction.

The Jewish Chronicle was among the publications that libelled me as an anti-Semite in 2018.

Even after IPSO ruled that it was wrong, editor Stephen Pollard saw fit only to add a line at the end of the story, as it is viewed online, saying that I had protested my innocence.

As a professional reporter, my view is therefore that the JC was not a serious news publication, being used more to promote its bosses’ biases than to present facts.

You have only to examine its campaign of hate against the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn to understand why I would take this view.

I see this development as an improvement in the UK media landscape.

And I don’t think I’m alone…

https://twitter.com/natgibbons69/status/1247862053487992832

The bad news is that the papers’ owner, a charitable organisation called the Kessler Foundation, seems to want to find a way to keep the JC going somehow. Let’s hope that doesn’t come to pass.

Some tweeters have professed sympathy for back-office staff, who they hope will find employment with somebody more reputable soon.

As for the reporters and editor… well, it will be interesting to see if any other media organisations employ them, in the sense of knowing what slimy rock they crawl under.

Source: Jewish Chronicle and Jewish News to close and staff laid off | Media | The Guardian

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Coronavirus: Failure to answer a simple question about NHS cuts shows depth of Tory health betrayal

Gove: he always looks a little gobsmacked but his response to this question has to be seen.

It was a stroke of genius: a simple question from the press that skewered Michael Gove and NHS boss Simon Stevens over cuts to the health service since 2010.

Andy Woodcock, editor of The Independent, used a televised press conference to ask whether the government regretted cutting the number of NHS beds and failing to increase the number of nurses.

It was a valid question, because the NHS has lost more than 11,000 beds since 2010 as a result of Tory cuts and closures. Last I heard, private health providers were set to make £2.4 million per day by renting 8,000 beds to the public provider.

Why not just nationalise them, as has been done in other countries?

And Brexit alone has cost the UK 10,000 nurses since 2016.

You can watch the video on Skwawkbox to see the response – stunned silence from Gove and stumbling dissembling from Stevens.

This is exactly the kind of question that the press should have been asking the Tory governments of the last few years, but haven’t.

Better late than never, some might say.

Let’s just hope they keep it up.

Source: Video: simple question on the effect of NHS cuts leaves Gove gobsmacked and reduces NHS boss Stevens to gibberish | The SKWAWKBOX

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Coronavirus: Tories push on with A&E closures that ‘will only result in death’

This takes Tory ignorance to new homicidal levels.

It seems the Conservative government is pressing ahead with the closures of Accident and Emergency departments and intensive care units in hospitals across London (the rest of the UK isn’t mentioned) despite the fact that the UK is in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic.

The likely result is summed up by GMB union organiser Helen O’Connor, who said: “The removal of these services at existing major acute hospitals will only result in death.”

That’s even though the Tories are planning to open a special Covid-19 hospital in the Excel Centre in east London to care for an additional 4,000 patients afflicted with the disease.

It seems these lunatic toffs really don’t have a clue what they’re doing or what it signifies for the fight against the virus.

Source: Government is pressing ahead with A&E closures despite Covid-19 – LabourList

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Coronavirus: disabled people are in danger of losing benefits while fighting the disease

This is a serious concern.

The Department for Work and Pensions is in the habit of cutting off people’s benefit claims with the slightest excuse.

Claims have been cancelled because the claimants have suffered medical emergencies and were in hospital at the time – even before the coronavirus crisis began.

This Writer has already heard from someone who had to report to the DWP before a deadline – but failed to meet it because of the huge number of people trying to claim Universal Credit online or by telephone. That person’s benefit was cut off – but luckily it was subsequently restored.

Not everybody can count on that, though.

People on disability benefits may often be on medication including immuno-suppressants, which make them susceptible to Covid-19.

So it is entirely likely that they could fail to meet the reporting requirements – or indeed reassessment requirements – because of the pandemic.

And what if they need treatment for a prolonged period of time? People automatically lose benefits if they are in hospital for longer than (as far as I can recall) 28 days.

And in the face of these concerns, the Department for Work and Pensions has refused to provide any reassurance.

Past experience of the DWP suggests only one thing:

These bureaucrats will merrily strip the sick and disabled of their benefits, even if they are fighting for their lives against this killer virus.

Source: Coronavirus: Disabled woman fears benefits could be stripped while she fights COVID-19 – Disability News Service

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With so many others closing, why not hairdressers? Because they haven’t been told to

I was talking to an acquaintance the other day – a person of senior years who fits into several of the coronavirus “at risk” categories.

“Oh yes,” she assured me. “I’m self-isolating.”

Great!

“I was only telling my hairdresser about it at the salon today.”

What?

I mean, what?

Yeah. She was absolutely staying away from contact with any other people who could possibly pass on Covid-19 to her – apart from any other people who happened to be at the hairdresser’s at the same time as her. And she didn’t think there was anything wrong with that.

And here’s the thing:

Even the National Hair & Beauty Federation (NHBF) – that represents hairdressing salons – knows that people who attend such establishments are putting themselves at risk.

Why haven’t they closed?

Well, some have done so voluntarily.

But most have not – because the government hasn’t told them to do it.

See, without an order from Boris Johnson’s administration, hairdressers can’t get access to the financial help that has been put in place for businesses.

That’s why the NHBF has asked for salons to be put on the list of businesses that must close.

Don’t take my word for it. See for yourself:

The Government issued instructions on Friday 20 March about which businesses must close but made no mention of hair salons, barbershops or beauty salons. The NHBF has urgently contacted a number of key government officials and departments (see details below) to ask for all salons and barbershops to be immediately added to the list of businesses that must close.

This is not a decision we have taken lightly and we fully understand how worried everyone in our industry is at the moment. Our priority is to protect our industry, colleagues, business owners, employees and clients from the further spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Some salons and barbershops have already taken the decision to close, and we believe that this is the right decision. Stylists, therapists and barbers are inevitably in close contact with a wide range of clients which means they cannot follow the government’s social distancing guidelines.

My own experience with my acquaintance tells me that the NHBF is right.

It’s vital that the government puts hairdressing salons on the ‘closed’ list – otherwise people like her will blithely put themselves in danger without a second’s thought.

Source: Coronavirus: NHBF update 22 March 2020 – National Hair & Beauty Federation

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