THE GREAT PUB AND HIGH STREET RESTART
The Mail on Sunday reports good news for pubs and high street shops will be thrown a lifeline in Rishi Sunak’s Budget as he promised to get the tills ringing once again. On Wednesday the Chancellor will unveil £5 billion in cash grants for businesses suffering under the lockdowns. He will announce the new Restart Grants to help businesses reopen. The grants will be on top of £20 billion in direct cash grants already handed out during the pandemic. Hospitality, hotels, gyms, hair and beauty salons will be eligible for up to £18,000 per premises. The Treasury has estimated 230,000 firms will be able to claim for the higher band and 450,000 shops will also be able to apply. The £5 billion pot is available to businesses in England while those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will receive an extra £794 million in funding.
THEY THINK IT’S ALL OVER
The Express reports that tens of thousands of lockdown-weary Brits ignored appeals to stick to Covid restrictions and flocked to parks and beaches as the country basked in the highest temperatures of the year. Health chiefs have urged people to respect Boris Johnson’s “stay home, save lives” order and to not be tempted to flout the rules to enjoy the early spring sunshine. Restrictions introduced on January 4 ban people from leaving their homes to meet anyone outside their household or support bubble and also reaffirm the two-metre social distancing rule. But parks, beaches and other outdoor spaces were packed today and pictures showed gatherings of large groups of people showing little or no regard for the lockdown restrictions.
HOPES FOR JAB PASSPORTS
From the Daily Star: Hopes that vaccination passports might open the way to overseas holidays this summer have been dashed after the World Health Organisation announced that critical unknowns”about the current generation of Covid-19 jabs make international travel unsafe for the foreseeable future. Michael Gove is already leading a feasibility study into vaccine passports for holiday-makers but the EU Commission has said it would take roughly three months to put the essential infrastructure in place. That would potentially mean that the vaccine passport scheme could be operational by May 17 – the provisional date set for allowing travel for non-essential purposes again.
DON’T KISS THE GRANDKIDS
The London Evening Standard reports that Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the Joint Committee of Vaccines and Immunisation (JCVI), said it may not be safe to break social-distancing rules even after having two doses. Speaking on the BBC radio four programme ‘Today’ , Professor Harnden was asked by a listener whether he was allowed to kiss his school-age grandchildren, and he replied ‘no, you need to be really careful and remember that even after the second dose of vaccine it’s not necessarily 100 percent effective. At the moment, we still need to be cautious and obey the rules and I don’t think kissing grandchildren is allowed.’
COVID SUPPORT WILL HAVE TO BE PAID FOR
From the London Evening Standard: Britain’s public finances will face enormous strains in the wake of the third national lockdown, the Chancellor has warned. Ahead of Wednesday’s Budget announcement, Chancellor Rishi Sunak told the Financial Times a bill for the Government’s £280bn investment in coronavirus support will eventually have to be paid, with low interest leaving the nation’s finances exposed. While Mr Sunak did not reveal any details on specific tax measures, the Budget is expected to include a swathe of actions aimed at kickstarting the nation’s economy as lockdown eases over the coming months.
BORIS SHOULD BACK PLAN TO BOYCOTT UNOFFICIAL INDY REF
From the Telegraph: Boris Johnson is being urged by the leader of the Tories in Scotland to back a plan for unionists to boycott a second unofficial referendum on Scottish independence. A second Scottish independence referendum can only be held if it is backed by the UK government and senior Tories are determined to reject it on the grounds that the vote in 2014 was said by the SNP to be a once in a generation event. However, there are concerns the SNP could go ahead with a vote, without the support of Westminster, if the party wins control of the Scottish Parliament at May’s elections. If this happens, senior Conservatives led by leader of the Scottish Conservatives Douglas Ross want Mr Johnson to order supporters of the Union to boycott the vote and so they can present the poll as a SNP vanity exercise. The new approach would come just as the Government turns on the spending taps by tipping hundreds of millions of pounds directly into the pockets of Scottish communities bypassing the government in Edinburgh.
CALM SEA CONDITIONS AS MIGRANT BOATS ARRIVE
From the Daily Mail: Dozens of migrants packed onto three boats were today detained at Dover by Border Force as people smugglers took advantage of calm conditions across the Channel. It is understood up to 70 migrants attempted the crossing on Saturday as Britain basked in glorious 59F (15C) temperatures in another weekend of early Spring weather. The migrants were brought to the Port of Dover by the Border Force, with images showing at least three children among them. A fourth inflatable boat attempting the crossing was towed back to France by French authorities, reports have claimed.
FORMER DAILY MIRROR EDITOR BACKED CAMPAIGN OF TERROR
The Times reports that a former Fleet Street editor who secretly supported Irish republicanism has come out of hiding to explain why he believes the IRA bombing campaigns of the 1970s to 1990s were justified. Roy Greenslade, a former editor of the Daily Mirror, wrote a media column for The Guardian and is now emeritus professor of journalism at City University, London. He reveals today that he was in complete agreement about the right of the Irish people to engage in armed struggle— even as the newspapers he worked for denounced the IRA’s terror campaigns. “I came to accept that the fight between the forces of the state and a group of insurgents was unequal and therefore could not be fought on conventional terms.”
NO MORE SOCIAL APARTIED AND SOCIAL STIGMA SAYS SADIQ KHAN
From the Guardian: Housing developments are often segregated by tenure, with flats let at affordable rents, shared ownership homes and open market properties given separate, key fob-protected floors or separate blocks. With facilities including courtyards, communal lounges and roof gardens are also sometimes divided along the same lines. But now Mayor Sadiq Khan’s new London Plan – which is due to be formally adopted within two weeks – states that developments should maximise tenure integration and recreation space should “not be segregated by tenure. A spokesman for Khan said: ‘The mayor wishes to see mixed developments, preferably where affordable housing is spread throughout new developments rather than concentrated in separate blocks and floors.’ Anger is growing among campaigners and planning experts about the routine approval of segregated developments, which they say create a form of social apartheid, and leave a damaging legacy of socialstigma.
FLEXIBLE FRIEND COURTESY OF BORIS JOHNSON
The Express writes: Boris Johnson is drawing up plans to offer commuters flexible season tickets to encourage them to go back to their offices.The Government intends to relax its work from home message from June 21 and will introduce new flexi-tickets to help persuade people to return to their places of work. These can be used two to three times a week and will save commuters hundreds of pounds. The Prime Minister Boris Johnson is keen to get workers back to their offices in order to help revive the high street economy, which has been devastated by the pandemic.
TIME TO GET UP AND GET FIT
The Daily Mail reports that few of us are getting as much exercise as we should during the pandemic and new research shows that 70 per cent of people in the UK lead a completely sedentary lifestyle, spending more than 11 hours of the waking day either sitting or lying down. Overall, 69 per cent lead a completely sedentary lifestyle, spending an average of 11 hours and 12 minutes sitting or lying down during the daytime. More than four in ten people – 43 per cent – regularly drive to their local shop, while the farthest most people are prepared to walk before getting in the car is just two-thirds of a mile. And bosses may be disturbed to find that the average Brit working from home spends almost four hours sitting on the sofa and a further three hours and 48 minutes lying on their bed. The study by Body Balancer of 2,000 adults found this inactivity is harming health with 42 per cent saying their lifestyle leaves them feeling exhausted, 39 per cent struggling with insomnia and 37 per cent suffering anxiety.
The Independent reports: Sections of canals in Venice have been left almost dry by exceptionally low tides just months after the lagoon city was hit by flooding. Boats and gondolas have been beached and could be seen sitting on the muddy banks after water levels plummeted to -48cm. In December, high tides flooded St Mark’s Square, causing damage to shops and other businesses. And in November 2019, Venice suffered its worst flooding in more than 50 years when the water reached 187cm. More than 85 per cent of the canal city was submerged and St Mark’s Basilica was flooded for only the sixth time in 1,200 years.