World News

Off-licences to stay open during lockdown as they’re deemed ‘essential’

Off-licences, public loos and credit unions will stay open after being added to the list of "essential shops" during the coronavirus shutdown.

The updated list clarifies which businesses can stay open after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the shutdown of "non-essential" stores in the UK in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Other shops and stores that will stay open include cash points, car rental services, banks and post offices.

Boris Johnson had already announced that supermarkets, pharmacies and newsagents were allowed to stay open as they are classed as essential.

The PM announced to the nation this week that residents will only be allowed to leave their homes for shopping for basic necessities — and that these should be kept as infrequent as possible.

He said: "You should not be going shopping except for essentials like food and medicine — and you should do this as little as you can. And use food delivery services where you can.

“If you don’t follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.”

The lockdown has also seen the closure of libraries, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship.

Mr Johnson has said people can now only go outside for shopping, one form of exercise a day, for a medical need, or to travel to or from work.

The government has however encouraged online shopping, retailers will still stay open for online orders and that people can still have items delivered to their homes.

Although, Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury's are among the supermarkets whose websites have crashed since the lockdown announcement due to an overload of shoppers.

Sainsbury's introduced a new delivery policy on Monday to ensure the elderly and most vulnerable are given priority.

Many supermarkets are taking steps to ensure the most vulnerable have access to essentials.

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Woman, 21, dies of coronavirus despite having ‘no underlying health issues’

A 21-year-old woman has died of coronavirus despite having no underlying medical conditions, her family has said.

Chloe Middleton reportedly had no underlying health problems, and her family have described on Facebook the "unimaginable pain" they are going through after her shocking death.

Chloe’s family are urging people to follow government advice to stay at home.

Mum Diane Middleton, from High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, wrote on Facebook: "To all the people out there who think it's just a virus please think again.

"Speaking from a personal experience this so-called virus has taken the life of my 21-year-old daughter."

  • Nurse who contracted coronavirus killed herself after fearing she spread disease

Chloe's aunt wrote: "My beautiful, kind hearted 21 year old niece Chloe has passed away from Covid-19. SHE HAD NO UNDERLYING HEALTH ISSUES.

"My loved ones are going through the most unimaginable pain, we are shattered beyond belief.

"The reality of this virus is only just unfolding before our very eyes. Please, please adhere to government guidelines. DO YOUR BIT. Protect yourselves and protect others!"

She continued: "The virus isn't spreading, PEOPLE are spreading the virus.

"Life as we know it has changed dramatically but unless we all act now to protect ourselves and others, the longer this turmoil and anguish will go on. Rest in peace Chloe. Until we meet again…"

The more stringent guidelines issued by the government are aimed at slowing the rate of infections to give NHS staff a chance to treat more severe cases

The measures, outlined by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a special broadcast on Monday, include people only leaving their home for "essential purposes" – which included buying essential food, exercising once per day and – for key workers only – going to work.

The Prime Minister's orders will last for an initial three weeks, when it will be reviewed to see how effective they have been.

  • Coronavirus symptom tracker will act as 'early warning radar device' to medics

Speaking during the special TV broadcast, which was watched by over 27 million Brits, Mr Johnson said: "Without a huge national effort to halt the growth of this virus, there will come a moment when no health service in the world could possibly cope.

"Because there won't be enough ventilators, enough intensive care beds, enough doctors and nurses."

"If you don't follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.

"We will look again in three weeks, and relax them if the evidence shows we are able to.

"But at present there are just no easy options. The way ahead is hard, and it is still true that many lives will sadly be lost."

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NHS coronavirus volunteer army gets 170,000 sign-ups overnight

More than 170,000 Brits have signed up overnight to volunteer with the NHS and help defeat coronavirus.

Stephen Powis, NHS England medical director, says he's "bowled over" by the public's willingness to help health workers on the front lines.

"Overnight 170,000 people have signed up – that's three a minute to help the NHS," he told BBC Breakfast on Wednesday. "It's an absolutely astonishing response.

"This is a health emergency, we can all play a role in ensuring we get on top of coronavirus and at the same time expand capacity in the NHS."

On Tuesday evening, Health Secretary Matt Hancock issued a call to arms, urging fit and healthy Brits to sign up to a National Help Service of 250,000 NHS Volunteer Responders

Live updates on COVID-19 cases near you

England: 4,792

  • London: 2,433
  • Midlands: 808
  • South East: 590
  • North West: 496
  • North East and Yorkshire: 446
  • East of England: 452
  • South West: 278

Scotland: 499

Wales: 418

Northern Ireland: 149

The volunteers will help the overstretched NHS to cope with the pandemic by delivering medicine and supplies to those at home in self-isolation after testing positive for COVID-19.

"We are seeking a quarter of a million volunteers, people in good health, to help the NHS, for shopping, for delivery of medicines and to support those who are shielded to protect their own health," Mr Hancock said.

"The NHS responders is a new scheme set up so that people can come and help and make sure the NHS and the local services that are needed can get all the support that they can."

The home is now the "front line" in the battle against coronavirus, Mr Hancock said.

Volunteers will be carrying out simple but vital tasks, including:

  • Delivering medicines from pharmacies
  • Driving patients to appointments
  • Bringing them home from hospital
  • Making regular phone calls to check on people isolating at home

Campaign leader Dr Nikki Kanani said: "This is a once-in-a-lifetime moment where a single action from one person can be the difference between life and death."

People wanting to volunteer for the National Help Service can sign up here.

Yesterday the UK death toll surged by 87 to 422, the highest daily total of the outbreak so far. There are now 8,077 confirmed cases.

The same day, the military delivered much-needed medical supplies to hospitals in the capital, including 50,000 face masks.

The NHS has warned that London hospitals could run out of intensive care beds within four days, while former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says there could be one million cases in the UK by next week.

British authorities have bought 3.5 million "game-changing" antibody tests that will reveal not just that someone has COVID-19 at present, but whether they've had it in the past.

It's believed that once someone has had coronavirus they become immune to it and will be able to safely return to work.

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Army ‘needed’ to enforce coronavirus lockdown as police struggle with ‘sickness’

A top cop has cast doubt on the ability of officers to enforce Prime Minister Boris Johnson’scoronavirus lockdown and has said the army may be needed.

Met Police Federation chairman Ken Marsh said the military might be needed to uphold the new strict coronavirus measures demanded by Boris.

In his unprecedented address to the nation, the Prime Minister said people could be fined if they could not prove they had a good reason to be outside.

The fines could also be ramped up if many ignored the new rules, he warned.

But Met Police Federation chairman Ken Marsh said the plans would be difficult to enforce and that there were already “large amounts of sickness" among officers in London.

The chief also said the Government’s promised 24,000 officers were not yet ready to help with the demands.

He told the BBC: “As you quite rightly point out, we haven’t seen one of the 24,000 officers that we lost across the country.

“So it will be very, very challenging and very difficult for us with what’s put in from of us.

“But we don’t actually know what is being put in from of us yet other than we’re going to be asked to disperse crowds, it’s going to be a real, real challenge.”

Mr Marsh continued on Sky News, where he stressed the army might be needed to maintain law and order.

He added: “The army is already in place on the outskirts of London and across the country. And I don’t doubt again for one minute that they will be called if needed.

“Because if we start losing large numbers in policing terms, through isolation and actually having COVID-19, then they are going to step in and support us in some way.

“It could be tailored in quite quickly and I would save that everything is on the table.”

In his address to the nation, Mr Johnson said people would not be allowed to leave their homes unless it was for one of four reasons.

  • Caring for a vulnerable person, or attending a medical appointment
  • Travelling to or from work if you cannot do so from home
  • Exercising once a day – such as running, walking or cycling, alone or with the people you live with
  • Shopping for food – as infrequently as possible

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Britain sizzles in 18C conditions after freezing temperatures overnight

Temperatures in the UK could reach a sizzling 18C today despite the nation being ordered to stay indoors.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson banned people from leaving their homes on Monday night as he announced an unprecedented new series of measures to tackle the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

People will only be allowed to step outside if they are going shopping for basic necessities, to exercise once a day, medical needs, and travelling to and from work, but only if it is absolutely impossible to work from home.

It means many Brits will have to go out exercising in order to enjoy the sunshine that has been forecast for today.

The weather has been chilly for the start of the day across the country with temperatures as low as -5C in the early hours of the morning.

But Met Office meteorologist Alex Deakin said large parts of Britain move into the teens by 3pm.

Parts of north-west Scotland will remain "soggy" said Mr Deakin, with yellow weather warnings in place until Wednesday.

He described Tuesday beginning with a "chilly night under clear skies, [and] for some a touch of frost in places".

  • Coronavirus travel guidelines as government warns against UK holidays

The south saw the lowest temperatures overnight from Monday with "towns getting close to freezing" while "rural areas through England and Wales saw -2, maybe even as low as -4 or -5 in some spots".

Temperatures have quickly climbed as Tuesday unfolds, Mr Deakin said.

The persistent breeze in the north will make it "cooler than these temperatures would suggest", including 15C in Glasgow.

"But for England and Wales, well we could easily with some sunshine get into the mid teens, 17, 18 is possible," he added.

The latest weather front, which could see 10 consecutive days of sunshine and highs matching the Mediterranean, is thanks to a 500 mile-wide "Portuguese pulse" of warm air.

And with some reports suggesting temperatures could reach 21C in the near future, bookmakers have been slashing the odds on spring being the hottest ever.

From 6pm today until midday on Wednesday heavy persistent rain in north-west Scotland may lead to impacts from flooding, warns the Met Office which has issued weather warnings.

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Coronavirus: ‘Unless we follow the new rules, people will die’

Boris Johnson announced earlier tonight that he is bringing in strict new measures in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus.

Social distancing is set to become law, with the police able to break up gatherings of more than two people and all public events except funerals cancelled.

But it is believed the draconian measures, which will be reviewed in three weeks' time, will help slow the spread of Covid-19 and ease the growing pressures on the NHS.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "The Prime Minister is right to call for people to stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives."

  • UK coronavirus lockdown: 11 rules explained as PM urges Brits to 'stay at home'

He added: "This is the right response to the coronavirus pandemic, and one we have been calling for.

"There now needs to be clear guidance to employers and workers about which workplaces should close – and the Government must close the loopholes to give security to all workers, including the self-employed, as well as renters and mortgage holders.

"We welcome these moves and will be working to ensure everybody has the protection and security they need."

And Labour's Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said in a video posted to Twitter: "I want to speak directly to Londoners: these rules are not optional.

"These instructions have been put in place to stop the spread of the virus and must be followed at all times to save lives."

He added: "These unprecedented circumstances call for extraordinary measures. Unless we follow these rules, people will die."

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said new coronavirus restrictions "amount to a lockdown".

"I am not going to sugarcoat it in any way," she said. "Coronavirus is the biggest challenge of our lifetime."

She said the new measures are "not done lightly".

"Stay at home," she said. "That is the message I gave yesterday and I am reinforcing that message now."

The Liberal Democrats added: "Many people will be anxious about the steps the government has taken, but it's the right decision to restrict our normal way of life to tackle this crisis.

"We urge people to play their part #StayAtHomeSaveLives."

While Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage struck a more downbeat tone, saying: "So we are to be locked down – and a new testing regime will begin.

"Will the planes keep coming from Milan, Tehran and Beijing?

"I expect so. It's all too late."

And the government's Health Minister Nadine Dorries, who was the first MP to be diagnosed with coronavirus, tweeted: "Please do as the PM asks. This is about saving peoples' lives.

"There is nothing more important. The PM mentioned the police.

"We really don't want to go there. Please, please, #StayAtHomeSaveLives."

A call that was echoed by former chancellor Sajid Javid, who famously quit government earlier this year in a row with Boris Johnson.

He said: "This could not be more serious. Please stay at home to save lives."

And Mr Javid wasn't the only former political rival to support the PM.

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, who previously criticised the speed of the Government's efforts to shut down the movement of people, tweeted: "This is absolutely the right decision by @BorisJohnson.

"It takes 2-3 weeks before these measures likely to feed into the rate of new infections but at last we have hope the tide will now start to turn. Massively ramping up testing is the next vital step."

Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley also took to social media to react.

He tweeted: "Not soon enough but a welcome announcement from the Prime Minister.

"More guidance is now needed on the detail and should be provided quickly for the many people who are fearful and will have
questions about the way this applies to their own situations – as well as on enforcement."

Not everyone was impressed with the Prime Minister's decision.

Labour MP Neil Coyle tweeted: "If there's no support for self-employed people and no penalties for employers insisting workers come in, Johnson's announcement is insufficient to ensure compliance.

"He's acted late and the broadcast also sadly seemed like an apology for the ensuing NHS crisis in advance."

Labour's shadow security minister Nick Thomas-Symonds also raised concerns over mental health aspects of the Coronavirus Bill – including a person being detained on the say-so of a single doctor.

He described this as a "significant change" while Conservative former minister Andrew Mitchell intervened to ask: "Is he also saying once the immediate crisis is over, anyone who has been sectioned under that regime should be immediately the subject of the existing regime?"

Mr Thomas-Symonds replied: "Yes, absolutely."

Labour former minister Kevan Jones said he understood the pressures on doctors and suggested having one sign it off but with a requirement for a second to review the case within a certain number of days.

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Coronavirus: British army delivers supplies as people urged to stay home or face lockdown

Britain sent in the army to deliver protective equipment to hospitals on Monday and told people to stay at home and heed warnings over social distancing or the government would bring in more extreme measures to stop the coronavirus spread.

With some doctors saying they felt like “cannon fodder,” the government said the military would help ship millions of items of personal protective equipment (PPE) including masks to healthcare workers who have complained of shortages.

Deaths from the virus in Britain jumped to 335 on Monday as authorities step up action to try to limit the spread of the disease and prevent a repeat of the death toll seen in other countries where thousands have died.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to update the public later on Monday, but not through his usual news conference, a BBC reporter said.

In a letter pleading with Johnson to increase PPE supplies, more than 6,000 frontline doctors said they were being asked to put their lives at risk with out-of-date masks, and low stocks of equipment.

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Nando’s shuts all restaurants over coronavirus crisis as diners stay indoors

Nando's is to slam shut all of its restaurants across the UK over the coronavirus crisis.

The popular chain made the announcement on Twitter and said it was the "best course of action".

It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson demanded the closure of restaurants, pubs, clubs, gyms and theatres.

A Nando's spokesperson wrote in the tweet: "The health and safety of our customers and team is our highest priority.

"We have decided that the best course of action right now is to temporarily close our restaurants until further notice.

"We will keep you updated on our channels. We'll see you soon."

It comes after other food outlets including McDonald's and Starbucks also shut their doors.

Fast food giant McDonald's said all of its restaurants would be closed by 7pm today.

Chief Executive Officer Paul Pomroy said it would distribute food to "those in needs", with emergency workers in line for free meals and drinks.

In a statement he said: "Over the last 24 hours, it has become clear that maintaining safe social distancing while operating busy takeaway and Drive Thru restaurants is increasingly difficult and therefore we have taken the decision to close every restaurant in the UK and Ireland by 7pm on Monday 23rd March at the latest.

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"We will be working closely with community groups across the UK and Ireland to distribute food from our restaurants to those most in need, and ahead of closing tomorrow evening, will ensure frontline health workers and emergency services personnel do not have to pay for any food or drink in our restaurants on sight of their work pass.

"But I have been clear throughout this that we would only continue to operate whilst it was safe for our people and together with our franchisees, we feel now is the time to make this decision to temporarily close. I want to thank every single one of our 135,000 employees.

"I am so proud of them all for adapting so quickly to a constantly evolving work environment, taking every step to keep our customers, couriers and teams safe and looking after each other so very well.

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"We will continue to update you thorough our website, social media channels and email alerts in the coming weeks but in the meantime we thank you for your continued support and custom."

On Sunday, the UK death toll reached 281 with an 18-year-old understood to be the youngest victim so far.

  • Coronavirus
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  • Piers Morgan
  • Starbucks
  • The Chase
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‘We must do whatever we can to hep each other through pandemic’

The Three Musketeers were gallivanting around France nearly 400 years before Covid-19 threatened to overwhelm it.

But their legendary motto is even more relevant today as coronavirus also threatens to overwhelm the UK: “One for all, all for one.”

Each one of us must be for all. By isolating as we are told, so this awful disease cannot be passed on.

And all of us must be for one. Looking out for that one person who might be forgotten in his or her isolation.

They are likely to be old, but they may be young and vulnerable. And either way, they will need the support of all of us.

It might just be a kind word over the phone or Skype. It might be fetching and carrying food or medicine. But whatever it is, we must step up to the plate.

There are already help groups forming all over the country.

An army of three million volunteers is about to be mobilised – just as the real Army has been mobilised to come to our aid in the worst crisis since World War Two.

  • Boris Johnson tells nation to stay away from their mums this Mother’s Day

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Up and down the land, acts of kindness big and small are being performed. Most people appreciate that this time, we really are all
in it together.

Our lives are changing so fast our heads are spinning. We must recognise our lives will never be the same again.

Today, Boris Johnson tells sons and daughters that the best present they can give on Mother’s Day is to stay away from Mum.

The PM is right. It would be foolhardy to put Mum at risk, today of all days.

There are always the selfish fools. The idiots who went out on Friday night to drink the pubs dry, the shelf-stripping panic buyers who bought £1billion more groceries than they needed over the last three weeks.

They should examine their consciences and ask themselves if they are proud of what they have done.

Proud of reducing a nurse to tears because they took the last scraps of supermarket food they did not need – but she did, after a long and exhausting shift.

Proud of depriving an old lady of a roll of toilet paper because they have stockpiled all that was left, knowing – yes, knowing – that pensioners cannot afford to hoard.

But empty streets and shopping centres, and trains and buses with few passengers, show most people are following the advice given.

These are frightening times. And they are likely to get even scarier as this invisible killer moves unseen among us.

We will get through it by pulling together, displaying the same indomitable British spirit that saw off a more tangible killer 75 years ago.

It will take, as our PM at the time said, blood, sweat, toil and tears. And some of us will not be here when it’s over.

But we must all resolve to emerge better people for it.

A people truly all for one, and one for all.he

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Bin collections scrapped amid coronavirus as councils tell families to go to tip

Multiple bin collections have been cancelled across the UK as Brit families are told – take your own trash to the tip.

The coronavirus crisis has forced councils to dramatically scale back everyday services and household bin collections are one of the first to go.

And while some lorries may still be turning up to collect your bags and people are being urged to contact their local council, the new message amid the outbreak is clear: don't let the litter pile up, put it in your car and take it to your local dump yourself.

One of the councils taking the extraordinary step includes Cambridge City Council, who said it would suspend all garden waste collections from Monday until May 4.

The council wrote on its website: "The suspension of green bin collections will allow crews to concentrate on emptying blue and black bins during the coming weeks.

"It will also assist with any future staff sickness or self-isolation issues."

Households' concerned over whether their rubbish will be collected should contact their local authority online, where councils should be detailing the changes on a dedicated webpage.

Cheshire West and Chester and Derby City Councils won't collect food or garden waste which is emptied every fortnight, but general household waste and recycling will still be picked up.

Derby is also stopping scrapping collections of bulky waste.

Derby is anticipating the pandemic will hit recycling and waste collections in mere weeks from now.

In Hackney, East London, households are being asked not to put personal waste into bins until they've been stored for 72 hours.

While some local authorities have already made alterations to the service, others are yet to.

When it comes to people who are self-isolating, councils are asking them to place personal waste which may be contaminated with bacteria into plastic bags, tie it up and then place it in another bin bag.

This could include used tissues and cleaning materials.

This should then be stored at home for 72 hours before being put in the wheelie bin.

This is to lower the risk of passing the virus on to someone else.

Brighton and Hove Council even asked local people to offer to take their neighbours rubbish with them in the car to the tip if the are unable to.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government said: "The Government stands ready to do whatever is necessary to support councils in their response to coronavirus.

"We are working with them and the waste industry to ensure that waste collections are prioritised to protect the environment and human health."

The news comes as Boris Johnson has ordered pubs and restaurants across the country to close as the Government announced unprecedented measures to cover the wages of workers who would otherwise lose their jobs due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Prime Minister said that nightclubs, theatres, gyms and leisure centres should close their doors from Friday night to slow the spread of Covid-19 and prevent the NHS coming under unsustainable pressure.

At his daily Downing Street press conference, the Prime Minister said the measures were needed to reduce "unnecessary" social gatherings by 75% in order to have an impact on the infection rate.

"The speed of our eventual recovery depends entirely on our collective ability to get on top of the virus now and that means we have to take the next steps on scientific advice," he said.

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