Johnson warns of local lockdowns ‘for some time to come’

Boris Johnson warned England faces the prospect of more local lockdowns to tackle coronavirus, as the prime minister urged the public to act with restraint when pubs and restaurants reopen on Saturday.

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference on Friday, Mr Johnson said “great progress” had been made against the “vicious disease”.

But he added that events in Leicester — the first English city to undergo a local lockdown this week after a spike in virus cases — would likely be seen elsewhere. “We always said there would be local outbreaks requiring local action,” said Mr Johnson. “This is to be expected and will, I’m afraid, be a feature of our lives for some time to come.”

Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, said that another nationwide lockdown — like the one introduced on March 23 — would be the last resort.

Mr Johnson cited the success of

Read More

Over a barrel: pub landlords caught between fear and need to open

It will be the biggest round of drinks in local history. Harvey’s, the independent Sussex brewer, is standing the equivalent of 216,000 pints of beer to pubs reopening again this Saturday after 15 barren weeks of lockdown.

It is a moment of trepidation as well as excitement for publicans, eager to make up for lost time, but wary of what the future holds in the age of Covid-19.

For an industry that has seen almost a quarter of pubs close in the past decade, Boris Johnson’s order for bars, restaurants and other hospitality businesses in England to shut down in March was a devastating blow.

With some of the most lucrative summer months already lost and the need for social distancing and other restrictions still in place, landlords worry about the prospects of an institution so deeply entwined in British social and cultural life.

“We are opening half way through

Read More

Quarantine exemption list fails to ease travel industry concerns

The UK tourism industry branded 2020 “a write-off” on Friday even though ministers said travellers in England could visit 59 overseas destinations without having to self-isolate for 14 days on their return from July 10.

The list of countries dubbed safe by the British government includes almost all of Europe, with the exception of Portugal and Sweden, along with a dozen other countries, including Australia, South Korea and Vietnam.

Citizens returning from the US, China and Middle East will still be required to quarantine for two weeks under the latest guidance. British passengers could have to self-isolate on arrival in countries that still have a quarantine policy, such as New Zealand, after plans for bilateral “air bridges” with other countries were dropped.

The list was meant to be published on Wednesday but the timetable has slipped — to the consternation of the travel industry.

Inbound tourism is one of the

Read More

Leicester’s dark factories show up a diseased system

Covid-19 has found its way into the neglected cracks in our economies. In the US, Europe and Asia, poor working conditions in care homes, meat plants and factories have helped to spread the virus. This week, a campaign group blamed clothing sweatshops in the English city of Leicester for contributing to a local surge in cases.

The story of Leicester’s garment district is worth knowing, because it reveals something important about how the British economy evolved in the decade between the financial crisis and this pandemic. It also demonstrates what it will take for the country to “build back better”, as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised to do this week.

In 2018, I investigated Leicester’s clothing industry: a bizarre microeconomy where £4 to £4.50 an hour was the going rate for sewing machinists in many factories (£3 for packers). Tiny sweatshops were crammed into crumbling old buildings and

Read More