Tag Archives: lockdown

New pub closure rules can only increase Johnson’s lockdown muddle

Closed: but under what circumstances? Restrictions are now different across the UK and people are likely to catch Covid-19 due to confusion.

Boris Johnson’s ‘local lockdown’ plan is degenerating into incoherence as each tiny part of the UK adds new – and conflicting – Covid-19-related restrictions.

The latest addition to this babble is a restriction on pubs, bars, restaurants and other hospitality venues in England, forcing them to close at 10pm, starting on Thursday (September 24).

Why’s that? Does Covid-19 only come out for a drink after 10 o’clock?

It doesn’t make any sense at all – and in fact will only add to the confusion.

Look at Wales, where six local authority areas have local lockdown rules.

From 6pm on Tuesday (September 22), Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil, and Newport join Caerphilly in having these restrictions: business closures are in line with national restrictions in Wales (meaning they’re different from those in England); you cannot meet indoors with anyone outside your household; you can no longer form a social bubble with another household; you cannot leave the local area without a reasonable excuse; and everyone over the age of 11 must wear a face covering in indoor public spaces unless exempt. I wonder if everybody there knows which indoor public spaces are exempt.

But in Rhondda Cynon Taff, the first four of those restrictions are the same – but the face mask rule doesn’t count. Instead, all licensed premises have to close at 11pm.

In seven local authority areas in northeast England, hospitality venues can only provide table service and take away orders, you cannot meet people outside your household/social bubble in a home/garden; travel is advised only for essential reasons, and a curfew applies to certain businesses between 10pm and 5am.

In seven local authority areas in Scotland, you cannot meet people outside your household/social bubble in a home/garden.

All of the places listed above are next to areas where these restrictions don’t apply – but others (that apply to all areas in their country of the UK) do.

There’s an area of northwest England that is really confusing: restrictions in Bradford are different from Pendle, which in turn differs from Burnley. Nearby Bolton is different again.

Is your head spinning yet?

Schools will remain open in all these places, despite the fact that they are now well-established as the principle route of transmission.

Further restrictions will also be announced in Scotland on Tuesday, while restrictions on households mixing indoors will be will be extended to all of Northern Ireland.

Ye gods!

It’s a lot of effort to be seen to be doing something when in fact – let’s be honest – Boris Johnson and his government are doing nothing to stem the tide of Covid’s second wave.

On Monday,  4,368 daily cases were reported – up from 3,899 on Sunday – along with 11 deaths.

This Site has already reported that a televised briefing by chief medical officer Chris Whitty and chief scientific officer Patrick Vallance warned that, if unchecked, the number of infections could be as high as 50,000 per day by mid-October.

Well, I’ve got bad news for them. Confusing as the restrictions are, none of them are going to stop that disaster from happening.

What we need is a working test, track and trace system that isolates people who have been in contact with those who have been infected – and prevents them from infecting other people.

Sadly, Johnson and his government have put the responsibility for such a system in the hands of profit-grubbing corporates who simply aren’t responsible enough to do it properly.

Johnson has offered to lift his “rule of six” restriction on social gatherings for 24 hours on Christmas Day, if we manage to turn back the new Covid tide – but this seems an empty promise; he knows it won’t happen.

My advice: go back into behaving as if the national lockdown in March never ended – if you can. If you can’t, do everything possible to avoid contact with other people.

You cannot rely on government intervention to save you from the virus.

So it’s up to you to do what you can yourself.

Source: Covid: Pubs and restaurants in England to have 10pm closing times – BBC News

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Is #BorisJohnson thinking of another #lockdown so people can die – alone and uncounted – at home? Will #KeirStarmer support this?

Johnson v Starmer: in Prime Minister’s Questions they make a show of opposing each other but when it comes to depriving people of vitally-needed funds, it seems they are equally homicidal.

It seems Boris Johnson is considering a new tightening of restrictions on the public, in an effort to turn back what he has now acknowledged as a second wave of Covid-19. But is there an ulterior motive?

The first national lockdown he imposed, back in March, meant many people died alone at home – unnoticed by the authorities who were struggling to cope with hospital admissions or by neighbours, friends and relatives who were under what amounted to house arrest.

Here’s one such example:

Notice that this death was not due to Covid-19 infection. It was due to denial of Universal Credit. The lockdown meant this person was unable to seek or secure any help at all.

Remember that Universal Credit sanctions were suspended after the lockdown started, but there was no amnesty for those who were already under sanction.

How many more deaths were there? I don’t know, but to demonstrate that this wasn’t an isolated incident, here’s another:

Ms Farrell added the following:

Yes – Johnson does have blood on his hands, and will have more to wash off if he imposes any further lockdowns without checks on vulnerable people, including those who are being denied benefits.

But that blood should be shared with all those who rejected the idea of a Universal Basic Income for everybody, at least during the lockdown.

This would have ensured that nobody fell through the cracks in provision – as the examples above show obviously occurred.

Labour leader Keir Starmer was among those who opposed the establishment of a UBI – and may therefore have to join Johnson in the virtual washroom, soaping the blood off himself.

A friend of This Site made the point in a tweet responding to his attempt to publicise his virtual conference, Labour Connected:

He’ll do neither. His inactions so far indicate that this Red Tory leader wants vulnerable people to die, just as much as Johnson does.

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Image of #Whitty confronting #Johnson over #Covid19 goes viral. What WAS he saying?

Whitty furious: but what was the UK’s chief medical officer saying to the prime minister who has bungled our defence against Covid-19 so badly?

Remember the old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words? It seems the above image of Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty tearing Boris Johnson a new one has merited many thousands more:

That last tweet seems the most likely to be true, profanity-ridden though it is.

The image accompanied a Spectator article by Robert Peston in which that “magazine” heralded a report by the Office for National Statistics that is likely to say Covid-19 is on the march again everywhere, not just in regional pockets.

It is also likely to say that while the illness is rising in all age groups, it is now most prevalent in young people aged 17-29.

The article goes on to discuss the latest plan to stop the march of the virus, by forcing pubs, clubs and restaurants nationally to turf out customers at 10 pm or reverting to closing them altogether for a couple of weeks.

Apparently the name devised for this is “circuit breaker lockdown”, the aim being to interrupt the progress of the virus by stopping its flow along an established route.

Bit of a misnomer, that, as closing pubs at 10pm isn’t going to stop Covid being spread through them.

In any case, the damage has already been done; it’s fixing the barn door after the chicken has come home to roost.

The simple fact is that Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock and their cronies (who don’t like being challenged, according to London Mayor Sadiq Khan, remember) should not have reopened pubs in the way they did after such a haphazard campaign to keep a lid on the virus.

And that’s what I suspect Whitty was saying when the image was captured.

The article does highlight the real aim of Johnson’s Covid-related restrictions on our freedoms:

The priority of the Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, is to suppress the incidence of the virus to a level that doesn’t prevent the NHS from treating other diseases and conditions.

So the idea is to infect the whole nation, piecemeal – presumably in the hope of eventually achieving that mythical “herd immunity” Johnson mentioned to Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby back in March.

And never mind how many people die or suffer permanent health consequences as a result. Charming.

Peston, and the Spectator, also suggests that Johnson and his government “moved too late to prevent the first wave”, and “eventually applied the sledgehammer of total lockdown at huge economic cost”.

This seems characteristic of many right-wing periodicals; they are deserting the Tories – and in fact have started to criticise them hotly over the Covid fiasco.

Guardian article points out that the same magazine – The Spectator – ran a “Where’s Boris?” cartoon on its front cover “featuring a distant blond dot on a tiny boat bobbing rudderless and oarless on a stormy sea”.

The Daily Mail had reached a similar conclusion. “Boris: We’ve Failed” the front-page headline blared, with the paper claiming it had warned of a “looming test crisis five months ago”.

“Too often the government has over-promised and under-delivered,” concluded a leader in the Times on Friday morning. “Policies have had to be swiftly abandoned after the exposure of entirely predictable problems,” the centre-right broadsheet continued, adding the A-level fiasco and the problems with the contact-tracing app for good measure.

Of course they’re not willing to shift loyalty away from the Tories altogether… at least, not yet.

Labour leader Keir Starmer, for all his attempts to drag his party back into Tory orbit (and perhaps because of it) has failed to impress anybody apart from the most fervent haters of the man he replaced, Jeremy Corbyn. That party will need to find a new leader with a drop of socialism in his blood and a penchant for a decent soundbite. That’s not happening any time soon.

But just look at that picture.

This Writer has never seen a middle-aged bald man look so ready to smash somebody else’s face in – and I make that statement as a middle-aged, bald man myself.

It seems clear that Johnson is at a crossroads – but has probably sold his soul to the devil already. He’s on a road to a Hell of his own making – the question now is whether he’ll drag us all down with him.

Source: With scientists divided, it’s time for politicians to decide | The Spectator

Local lockdown to hit northeast England – but why was it first announced on TV?

Speaking too soon: Robert Jenrick announces restrictions on northeast England, on the Peston TV show.

BBC news has announced – around midday today, September 17 – that the northeast of England will be subjected to stronger Covid-19-related restrictions because of increased infections there. It’s not quite a local lockdown but close.

I knew this last night because Robert Jenrick announced it on television, on Robert Peston’s ITV political chat show.

The only reason I didn’t publish a story straight away was fatigue (I had been awake for around 19 hours on the trot by then) – and also I wanted to know what Commons Spaker Lindsay Hoyle would have to say about this breach of regulations:

Some are saying this is another example of Dominic Cummings-style “government by media”, although I can’t see any advantage for the Tories in doing this.

Who benefits from Jenrick’s announcement, which came just 13 hours (and a bit) before the statement in Parliament?

The people of the northeast? No – the difference in timing still isn’t enough for them to properly prepare, if they need to.

The government? No – this is an admission that a government policy has failed.

Robert Jenrick? No – he was announcing something that nobody wanted and is more likely to be resented for it. In any case, he’s widely considered to be as bent as a nine-bob note (see his record of corruption on planning matters).

Robert Peston benefits, because the announcement was on his show.

But what’s the tactical advantage for the Tories? Are they trying to set up some kind of divide-and-rule rivalry between Peston and Piers Morgan, whose breakfast show can’t get government spokespeople because they’re afraid he’ll rip them to shreds?

That seems pointless because the Tories lose more than they gain, if they get another reprimand from Speaker Hoyle.

Perhaps Jenrick was speaking on his own initiative – a loose cannon, as it were.

If so, let’s hope he shot himself in the foot.

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Inhumanity of the Tories’ Covid-19 benefit sanctions is revealed

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Sanctioned during lockdown: it seems the Tories allowed benefit sanctions to run on through the early lockdown months, meaning people were deprived of cash with no means of supplementing their income.

The Tories took food out of the mouths of more than 36,000 people after they said they had halted benefit sanctions.

Ongoing sanctions were allowed to run on after the Covid-19 lockdown began.

Some of the people affected were left with no money at all, and some had been deprived of their income for nine months.

Official figures show 36,277 Universal Credit claimants were under a sanction in April, as Covid-19 was peaking, when the lockdown was at its height and when there were absolutely no opportunities for alternative income. That comparable with the averages between January and March.

And 25,460 were still under sanction in May.

More than 1,700 of those released from a sanction in May had been on it for no less than six months.

It seems a miracle that many of these people didn’t die of starvation.

Or have they?

Experience shows that the Tories would not check, even if they had been warned that this might happen.

The last thing they want is to actually prove that they have been causing benefit claimant deaths by cash deprivation.

Source: DWP docked 35,000 people’s benefits at height of coronavirus despite ending sanctions – Mirror Online

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Child homelessness numbers when Covid-19 hit the UK shame us all. What will they be by Christmas?

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Stop evictions: this is a years-old image – still relevant today because of cruel Tory policies that push poor people onto the streets.

How did the fifth-richest nation on the planet manage to allow nearly 130,000 children to be homeless when a killer virus swept over the country?

The statistic should be a source of national shame, even though I’m not convinced by the Mirror‘s claim that it is the worst level of child homelessness in 14 years.

This Site reported in December 2018 that 131,000 children were set to be living in bed and breakfast accommodation that Christmas.

But I think a worse figure is yet to come.

Earlier this week, This Site commented on claims that reports of people living on the streets have rocketed since the Covid lockdown was enforced in March.

Children weren’t mentioned specifically but you can be sure that they were among those who had been turfed out into the gutter.

And how many children will be forced out of the protection of their home when the moratorium on evictions ends on Sunday (August 23) and landlords are again able to throw tenants out for no reason at all?

This Site has a tradition that I try to continue every year: in December I report the number of children set to be homeless at Christmas.

Every year since I started – back in 2012, if I recall correctly – that number has increased by tens of thousands.

I shudder to think what it will be by Christmas 2020.

Source: Homeless children hit 14-year high as 130,000 stuck in B&Bs and temporary shelter – Mirror Online

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Covid lockdown seems to have been perfect opportunity for Tory cruelty to care home residents

Matt Hancock: he says care home residents are now getting good support, but resident’s representatives say his new guidance lacks clarity and leadership.

It seems people living in care homes were doomed, no matter what happened – the instant the Tories announced the Covid-19 lockdown.

We already know that the government condemned more than 20,000 people to death by sending people with the virus out of hospital and back to their homes, which did not have the facilities to treat them safely.

Now MPs have been told that the lockdown has had a brutal effect, even on healthy residents.

The isolation imposed on them by the Tories has had a devastating effect on their mental health.

They’ve lost weight, the ability to speak, and memory – meaning they aren’t able to recognise relatives after months in isolation.

They are losing the will to live, according to evidence given to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Coronavirus.

It seems the Tories imposed lockdown conditions that turned care homes into the equivalent of prisons, with each inmate – sorry, resident – treated as though they had been thrown into isolation cells.

No risk assessments were carried out to consider the effect this would have, as vital support networks including visits from relatives were cut off.

It seems Health Secretary Matt Hancock cried crocodile tears for the care home residents whose lives he has ruined.

He said new guidance had been published last month, allowing visits by relatives for the first time since the lockdown.

He said it was possible to “carefully and safely” allow visits to care homes, based on “local knowledge and circumstances” for each care home.

Relatives’ and residents’ representatives say these guidelines lack clarity and leadership.

The whole package seems emblematic of the Tory approach to the Covid-19 crisis: say one thing – do another.

Source: Care home residents facing prison-like conditions and ‘losing will to live’ since lockdown, MPs hear | The Independent

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Were the Tories complicit in the great Covid-19 maternity pay dodge – or just incompetent as usual?

Cheated? If this (left) was a working mother who was pregnant in March, then it’s possible the government has colluded with her employer to cheat her out of her maternity pay.

Thousands of pregnant women may have been cheated out of maternity pay because the Tory government didn’t act fast enough to prevent employers from doing it.

The government changed rules in April, to ensure pregnant women and expectant fathers did not lose out on maternity/paternity pay if they had been furloughed on 80 per cent of their normal wage and had seen their pay fall below £120 a week (the cut-off point for wages below which the benefit isn’t payable).

But the same government imposed lockdown in March, meaning dodgy employers had a window of opportunity to put expectant mothers on a lower rate of pay that would eliminate their entitlement to 39 weeks of maternity pay worth thousands of pounds.

Pregnant women were classed as clinically vulnerable. They should have been sent home on full pay, but research by the Labour Party shows many were put on Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) instead.

That is set at £95.85 per week, meaning any mother-to-be who has spent eight weeks shielding on that rate of pay would automatically miss out on maternity pay.

Sneaky, isn’t it?

Labour is calling for the regulations to be changed to ensure that people who were wrongly put on SSP in this way do not miss out on their maternity payments.

And the Tory government is refusing.

The Department for Work and Pensions is saying that anybody who has been affected in this way is welcome to take their case to an employment tribunal.

This will just gum up the tribunal system for no very good reason, and I can’t conceive of any good reason a government department would want to do that.

So we come to the question in the headline: were the Tories incompetent in failing to close this loophole in employment practice? Or were they complicit in helping employers cheat thousands of parents out of thousands of pounds?

Incompetence would be bad enough.

But from where I’m sitting, the Tories are guilty of something much worse.

Source: Pregnant women wrongly sent home on sick pay during pandemic, Labour says | Coronavirus outbreak | The Guardian

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Tory back to work plan may endanger millions of people with disabilities

Bearing in mind that two-thirds of all the people who died of Covid-19 had disabilities, I reckon they know what they’re talking about when they say Boris Johnson’s latest plan puts them in danger.

But then, killing people with disabilities was the plan, wasn’t it?

So shielding – where people with serious illnesses or disabilities are given extra help to stay isolated from the rest of the population – is going to end on August 1, meaning many more of these people may be exposed to the virus.

And with their illnesses, exposure may be fatal.

Scope’s James Taylor explains it in the BBC news piece:

“Millions of disabled people at greater risk of coronavirus feel their fears are not being taken into account.

“Disabled people must be able to have flexibility about returning to their workplace.”

He criticised the government’s advice that decisions about going back to workplaces should be made my employers, saying it will “create inconsistency”.

He added that it also “does little to reassure those disabled people who fear being forced to choose between protecting their health and paying the bills”.

A Scope survey of 1,115 people with a disability or other health condition found half of those that responded feel anxious about shielding being paused.

Of those surveyed, 67 per cent think the government’s plans for easing lockdown did not take their needs into consideration, while 59 per cent said they are concerned about feeling forgotten by the government.

Moreover, 41 per cent think life will be worse for disabled people after the pandemic.

That’s if they survive the pandemic, of course!

It seems – despite a few mealy-mouthed words of comfort, the Tory government is still trying to eliminate the so-called “useless eaters”.

Source: Back to work advice ‘alarm bells’ for disabled people – BBC News

Leicester’s local lockdown was triggered by Tory rush to reopen schools

Closed: Leicester has gone back into hard lockdown after the Tory decision to reopen schools gave it the highest Covid-19 spike in the UK.

What a silly gang of Tories!

Matt Hancock has had to humiliate himself – and his government – by admitting that the spike in Covid-19 cases that triggered a decision to put Leicester back in lockdown was a result of the Tory decision to reopen schools.

In their haste to get adults back to work by removing their need to stay at home and care for their children, the Tories have worsened the situation.

We should keep a close eye on Leicester’s death statistics, as any that happen as a result of this spike will be the responsibility of Boris Johnson, Gavin Williamson and Matt Hancock and they should be punished for them.

Here’s a BBC report:

Stricter lockdown measures have been announced in Leicester because of a rise in coronavirus cases in the city.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said non-essential shops will shut on Tuesday, and schools will close for most pupils on Thursday.

The loosening of restrictions for pubs and restaurants will also not be taking place in the city on Saturday.

Mr Hancock said Leicester accounted for “10% of all positive cases in the country over the past week”.

He said the decision to close non-essential retail was based on clinical advice, and added that “children had been particularly impacted” by the local outbreak.

Five Leicester schools have closed since the beginning of June because of the number of coronavirus cases.

Let’s add some flesh to those bare bones:

The comment about the Labour Right refers to the fact that Keir Starmer has withdrawn any opposition to the reopening of schools in England after sacking former shadow Education Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey. Boris Johnson’s joyful response was to threaten to fine anybody who withholds their children from school when term starts in September.

Of course the restoration of the lockdown has given humorists an opportunity to take some more shots at Dominic Cummings – and quite right too – so we’re seeing lots of this sort of thing, especially after Boris Johnson threatened to take action against people trying to leave Leicester by road:

https://twitter.com/cmpd_date/status/1277865604217810945

Can anyone deny the validity of this assertion?

It all boils down to this:

Source: Leicester lockdown tightened as coronavirus cases rise – BBC News

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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