Sun-seekers ignore warnings as they head to beaches

Sun-seekers ignore warnings they’ll be fined for breaking lockdown rules as they head to beaches with temperatures set to hit 82F – despite THREE Sage scientists saying we are lifting restrictions too soon

  • Police forces warned Britons they will be fined if they flout lockdown rules before relaxations come into effect
  • Prime Minister Boris says groups of six people can meet up from Monday but must practise social distancing 
  • Supermarkets recorded record spends on sausages, beer, and ice cream as temperatures are set to hit 82F
  • Sage committee members Sir Jeremy Farrar and Prof John Edmunds warn lockdown is being lifted ‘too early’
  • Government announced 324 new Covid-19 deaths yesterday as the R-rate remained between 0.7 and 0.9

Restless Britons have jumped the gun on the next stage of lockdown easing and crowded on to the nation’s beaches today.

Sun-seekers brushed off warnings from police and scientists about breaching restrictions and poured outdoors to soak up scorching temperatures, which was set to climb to highs of 82F.  

From Monday, groups of up to six people will be allowed to meet both in public spaces and in private gardens, where they can even have barbecues. 

But Boris Johnson’s preemptive announcement of the loosening last Thursday has already spurred a wave of revelry across the country.  

Police chiefs have warned their officers face an uphill struggle to enforce the existing rules this weekend, but have attempted to stamp out mass flouting by threatening to impose fines.

Three of the nation’s top scientists – all on the government’s Sage panel of experts steering the crisis response – have also voiced concerns that lockdown is being lifted ‘too early’.

Prof Peter Horby this morning lined up behind Sir Jeremy Farrar and Prof John Edmunds to break ranks and caution measures were being relaxed when the infection rate was still not low enough.

Britons crammed on to beaches this morning to soak up the sun as the country prepares to take further baby steps out of lockdown (Sandbanks in Dorset pictured)

Beach-goers head to the coast early to secure the perfect tent pitch by the sea at Sandbanks in Dorset this morning

The promenade at Sandbanks was bustling early this morning, with cyclists and runners getting their exercise 

Ahead of the next wave of restriction loosening on Monday, thousands of sun-seekers appeared to jump the gun and arranged gatherings amid sweltering highs of 82F

Revellers pitch up on the sand, armed with supplies need to enjoy a sweltering day under the sun

The four Home Nations now have significantly different sets of lockdown rules in place. For example, in England from Monday six people can meet up outdoors but in Scotland from today it is eight people 

How is the lockdown being eased in England from Monday? 

What’s changing?

From Monday, people can meet outside in groups of up to six as long as those from different households continue to socially distance.  

– Can I visit family and friends?

Yes . This means that family groups of no more than six can meet in parks and private gardens for chats and even barbecues.

– How far am I allowed to travel?

There are no mileage limits set for how far you are allowed to drive to visit family and friends in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland, but the general advice is to remain in your local area as much as possible.

However, people in Wales will still not be allowed to travel more than five miles from their home for any reason except work or to purchase essentials.

Great, can we hug?

Sadly no. You still cannot risk infection by being too close. The same goes for handshakes or kissing.

If young children from different households are part of the group, they must not share paddling pools, climbing frames, slides or anything that would encourage them to be closer than two metres to each other. 

Can I stay overnight?

Staying overnight at someone else’s home will still not be allowed anywhere in the UK, while even going indoors for any other reason than to access a garden or use the bathroom is prohibited.

However Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has advised that if the distance travelled to meet someone means that you have to use their bathroom, then ‘perhaps you shouldn’t be doing it’.   

Can we barbecue?

Yes, but you must wash your hands, be careful about passing food or plates and keep 6ft apart.

How about entering their house?

Only if there is no other way of getting to the back of the property. 

What about using the toilet?

You can, but you must thoroughly clean any surfaces you touch.

To be extra safe, you could even use a paper towel to open and close bathroom doors and perhaps consider using a kitchen roll to dry hands rather than a towel.

So what if it rains?

You will have to stand under an umbrella or leave. You cannot shelter in someone else’s home.

Can we camp in the garden?

No, Boris Johnson said he did not want you to stay overnight.

Do I only have to see the same group?

No, you can meet different people at different times, but try not to see too many in quick succession.

Can those shielding take part?

No, they must continue to shield if they’re in the clinically extremely vulnerable group and have had a letter from their GP.

What about the over-70s?

If they are not in the shielding group.

We are a family of six – can we meet anyone else?

No. The guidelines say you can meet only up to six people at any one time.

Can we visit a relative in a care home garden?

It would depend on circumstances and the care home’s management.

– What else will I be allowed to do under the new measures?

In England, Monday’s lockdown easing will signal the reopening of schools to allow students in nurseries, early-years settings, and Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to return to class.

Some shops are also set to reopen, with outdoor retail and car showrooms able to resume operations. 

– When might restrictions be eased further?

Boris Johnson has flagged that more restrictions will be eased on June 15, beginning with the reopening of other non-essential retail shops such as fashion or homeware retail.

Other businesses, such as pubs, hairdressers and cinemas will have to wait until July before they can reopen, the Government has previously said.

– And what’s the timeline elsewhere in the UK?

In Scotland, there is no set timeline as for when more measures might be lifted. The government’s lockdown roadmap stipulates that a number of conditions must be met before any further action is taken, including evidence that the country’s Covid-19 transmission is successfully under control.

Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford is expected to announce on Friday that further plans on lifting restrictions will be unveiled in the coming weeks.

Pending the country’s rate of transmission remaining below one, a host of further restrictions are set to be eased in Northern Ireland on June 8, including the reopening of outdoor sports facilities, car showrooms and some non-essential retail stores.

Outdoor weddings with a maximum of 10 people are also set to be allowed and hotels will be able to start taking forward bookings at their own risk.

The ‘R’ reproduction rate sits just below one between 0.7 and 0.9, and the government announced there were 324 new Covid-19 deaths yesterday, following a pattern of decline. 

Prof Horby, chairman of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) and a Sage member, said Britain could not afford to lose control of the virus.

He told BBC Radio 4 this morning: ‘We really can’t go back to a situation where we’ve got the numbers of cases and deaths we’ve had in the past.’

Speaking about the new test and trace infrastructure, he added: ‘As we know, it’s not yet fully operational so that is where the risk lies.’ 

It followed representations from Sir Jeremy and Prof Edmunds yesterday.   

The development in the easing of the lockdown came as: 

  • Plans to quarantine travellers coming into Britain were falling apart last night as they came under fire from all sides;
  • Border Force and police officials say the system is ‘unenforceable’ and MPs, including Boris Johnson’s former adviser, warned the scheme would ‘hang the Closed sign on Britain’;
  • The coronavirus ‘R’ rate could be as low as 0.5 outside of hospital settings, newly-released documents from the Government’s Sage Committee show; 
  • The Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed that firms would be asked to contribute towards furloughed employees salaries from August, starting with National Insurance and pension contributions before moving to 20 per cent of wages; 
  • After an outcry from Tory MPs Mr Sunak also announced an extension to the separate support scheme for the self-employed – with grants continuing after August, but slightly scaled back;
  • Mr Sunak is also racing to put together a job creation scheme amid fears 2million Britons will lose their jobs when the furlough scheme ends in October;
  • A whistleblower says that the government’s contact tracing system is catastrophically under-prepared, chaotically recruited, and, in many cases, left idle for days at a time – at a taxpayer cost of £1.6million per day
  •  Only about half of people with symptoms self-isolate for a week, scientists advising the Government have suggested, raising concerns over whether future outbreaks can be prevented;
  • National Trust members were left furious as tickets sold out for the phased reopening of its most popular houses within hours, complaining that they did not get priority on spaces;
  • The BBC has received over 40,000 complaints in just two days after Emily Maitlis’ Newsnight rant over Dominic Cummings sparked an impartiality row; 
  • A passenger accused of spitting at Victoria Station worker Belly Mujinga, who then died from coronavirus, will face ‘no further action’ because he tested negative in an antibody test. 

Police chiefs complained their officers face an impossible situation of trying to force the public to comply with existing rules while knowing many of these curbs are set to be dropped on Monday.  

Constables have ordered Britons to obey the lockdown in its current form and not pre-empt Monday’s changes, warning that flouters face fines. 

Northumbria’s Labour Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness said: ‘The PM must have known he was going to create a situation that is difficult to police. The messaging looks like it was rushed forward to help ministers in a difficult position.’

Anthony Stansfeld, the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, said: ‘People should obey the rules – things are only just beginning to open up, so please don’t pre-empt them. 

‘All the relaxation of lockdown is being carefully timed by the Government’s chief scientists for good reason.

‘It’s far better if people wait and do things at the proper time, so please don’t jump the gun. A bit more freedom is coming on Monday, so I urge everyone to be patient.’

Merseyside Police warned that people would be fined if they turned up to parks and beaches in large groups across the city this weekend.

Superintendent Jonathan Davies said: ‘I know people will be tempted to get outside. This is a reminder that the rules on spending time with only one other person from another household remains in place this weekend.’

There are also warnings from forces in UK holiday destinations, as it was revealed that 38 per cent of lockdown breach fines handed out on last bank holiday weekend were for overnight stays, including people using camper fans and second homes.

Devon and Cornwall police warned that they had seen a rise in people travelling into the region to stay overnight. 

Assistant chief constable Glenn Mayhew told The Telegraph: ‘Please remember that mass gatherings and overnights days are still unlawful under COVID-19 regulations and where breaches are reported we will respond and act accordingly.’ 

The Lake District’s assistant chief constable Andy Slattery added: ‘We are still a long way from being ready to welcome visitors in the usual numbers and there are still very clear rules about what is and is not permitted.’

But despite the warnings, photos from parks across the country yesterday show some clearly already had broken the rules. A stretch of riverside in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, was packed with young revellers, who shunned social distancing rules to top up their tans.

And in Christchurch, Dorset, one family took folding chairs along as they gathered in a park.

Supermarkets reported last night that shoppers were already spending record sums on sausages, beer, wine and ice cream in anticipation of weekend barbecues and picnics. Figures suggest we have experience the sunniest springs since records began in 1929.

There is even an outside chance the record for the warmest day of the year so far – 28.2C (82.8F) at Santon Downham, Suffolk, on May 20 – could be broken.

Speaking in response to Boris Johnson’s announcement on Thursday that restrictions would be changed on Monday, former Tory minister Tobias Ellwood said last night: ‘The nation has been incredibly disciplined to date.

‘Is it wise to tell the public that they can have barbecues with friends from Monday before a sunny weekend?’ 

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman defended the decision to announce the change on Thursday, saying: ‘We’ve said that wherever possible we would give a period of notice in advance of changes being made, ideally 48 hours or more.

Sandbanks beach in Dorset, a popular tourist spot, was bustling this morning with revellers 

Sunbathers sprawl out on the sands at Sandbanks in Dorset this morning as the mercury climbs to 82F

‘We’re enormously grateful for the efforts of the British public in sticking by the rules and getting the infection rate down and that does mean that from June 1 we will be able to allow people to have some more social contact in a safe and socially-distanced way. I’m sure that members of the public will show common sense.’

A Home Office source also warned last night that if people breached the guidance this weekend, they risked putting lives in danger by reversing the progress that had been made in tackling the virus. 

There is also the possibility for confusion as while Wales also does not relax its lockdown rules until Monday, Scotland did so from yesterday. 

The developments came as two members of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group (Sage) appeared to agree that the lockdown measures are being lifted too early.

Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust and Sage member said in a Twitter post that he ‘agreed with John’ on the clear science advice, appearing to reference Sage colleague Professor John Edmunds, who said on Friday the Government was ‘taking risks’ by relaxing measures from Monday.

Sir Jeremy also said the newly-introduced NHS test and trace system needed to be ‘fully working’ before measures were eased.

He wrote: ‘Covid-19 spreading too fast to lift lockdown in England. Agree with John & clear science advice.

‘TTI (test, trace and isolate) has to be in place, fully working, capable dealing any surge immediately, locally responsive, rapid results & infection rates have to be lower. And trusted.’  

Here are the total number of fines issued by police forces in England between March 27 and May 25 for alleged breaches of the coronavirus lockdown laws:

  • Avon and Somerset: 325
  • Bedfordshire: 302
  • British Transport Police (BTP): 331
  • Cambridgeshire: 132
  • Cheshire: 193
  • City of London: 70
  • Cleveland: 303
  • Cumbria: 436
  • Derbyshire: 243
  • Devon and Cornwall: 906
  • Dorset: 737
  • Durham: 155
  • Essex: 227
  • Gloucestershire: 245
  • Greater Manchester: 309
  • Hampshire: 261
  • Hertfordshire: 269
  • Humberside: 126
  • Kent: 125
  • Lancashire: 765
  • Leicestershire: 365
  • Lincolnshire: 221
  • Merseyside: 519
  • Metropolitan: 1,035
  • MoD Police: 36
  • Norfolk: 368
  • North Yorkshire: 1,032
  • Northamptonshire: 384
  • Northumbria: 243
  • Nottinghamshire: 188
  • South Yorkshire: 391
  • Staffordshire: 53
  • Suffolk: 261
  • Surrey: 632
  • Sussex: 757
  • Thames Valley: 878
  • Warwickshire: 40
  • West Mercia: 177
  • West Midlands: 442
  • West Yorkshire: 881
  • Wiltshire: 189

Total: 15,552

Number of fines issued by police forces in Wales in the same timeframe:

  • BTP: 15
  • Dyfed-Powys: 816
  • Gwent: 91
  • North Wales: 256
  • South Wales: 217

Total: 1,395 

Professor John Edmunds said many experts would ‘prefer’ to see the number of Covid-19 infections drop before measures such as a relaxation on social interaction restrictions were introduced.

Latest data from the Office for National Statistics suggests there are an estimated 54,000 new coronavirus infections a week in England outside of hospital and care settings, equating to nearly 8,000 per day.

The so-called R value, or reproduction rate, is currently between 0.7 and 0.9, and must remain under one to avoid a rise in infections – a key test on whether lockdown measures should be eased, with the Government stressing the need to avoid a second wave of cases which would threaten to overwhelm the NHS.

Prof Edmunds, speaking during a Science Media Centre briefing, said the decision to relax certain rules came with a degree of risk.

He said: ‘I think many of us would prefer to see the incidence driven down to lower levels because that would mean we have fewer cases occurring before we relaxed the measures.

‘If we had incidents at a lower level, even if the reproduction level went up a bit, we wouldn’t be in a position where we were overwhelming the health service.

‘I think at the moment with relatively high incidents, relaxing the measures and with an untested track and trace system, I think we are taking some risk here.

‘Even if that risk doesn’t play out and we keep the incidents flat, we’re keeping it flat at quite a high level.The Government has launched its track and trace system designed to limit the spread of infection by ordering contacts of those who become infected with coronavirus to isolate

Prof Edmunds, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, supported the decision to essentially substitute a ‘blanket approach’ to containing the virus with a targeted one, adding it saw a return to ‘some level of normality’.

He added: ‘None of us think, who have looked at this in any great detail, that that will be sufficient to be able to hold the reproduction number below one.

‘We all think we will have to have quite significant numbers of wider social distance measures in place.

‘The basic reproduction number for this virus is perhaps three, maybe even more, so we cannot relax our guard by very much at all.’

He said there was a need to try and get the economy restarted, to get people back to work and to provide a boost to people’s mental health.

But he said even if track and trace kept the R-value at about one, it would still result in around 8,000 community infections a day in England.

A whistleblower told the Daily Mail that the government’s track and trace system, designed to keep the UK out of lockdown, is in chaos –  chaotically recruited, ill-prepared and, in many cases, left idle for days at a time . 

‘There’s absolutely no chance it’s ready,’ the 38-year-old whistleblower from Manchester said. ‘If it does happen [this week]… there will be catastrophic and continued failings from that day onwards. This is serious – it’s a pandemic, and lives are at risk. I’m genuinely worried about how we are about to be set loose on the public’. 

The easing of lockdown restrictions combined with good weather has allowed attractions to look at reopening to limited numbers of visitors, with the National Trust among those announcing a phased reopening.

The charity will begin by opening around 29 gardens and park properties opening from June 3, with only visitors who have booked in advance allowed entry to limit numbers and keep the public safe.

But the move has sparked fury amongst paid members after tickets to the stately gardens sold out within hours, with some complaining they were not given priority on spaces.

Spaces for the following week will now be released every Friday, and the organisation has asked people to be considerate to others and only book one slot a week.

One member, Laura Smeaton, told The Telegraph: ‘Disappointed that the page to book to visit said ‘page not found’ every time I checked this morning despite other NT sites being able to book. Just tried again now and all sold out. As a key worker and national trust member, can you not keep a number of tickets aside?’

Another, Sophie Chuter, added: ‘Really disappointed that as an annual national trust member I can’t even get booking when they reopen. Surely members who have already paid should have priority?’

A spokesperson for the Trust explained that while most tickets are booked by members, the organisation’s charity status means that their homes and parks have to be ‘available to everyone ‘

Almost all properties in the South East sold out on Friday morning, with sites around the rest of the country performing well too as families look to go on their socially-distanced days out in months.

All houses and buildings remain closed to the public at the moment, with car parks in some busier locations needing to be pre-booked beforehand. 

Four nations, four lockdowns: How different rules now apply in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (so who’s following what science?) 

ByJack Maidment, Deputy Political Editor For Mailonline 

Long-awaited changes are being made to the UK’s coronavirus lockdown with the four Home Nations now adopting different approaches to the loosening of draconian rules. 

Boris Johnson set out his plans which mostly only relate to England at a Downing Street press conference last night with those changes coming into force on Monday. 

But more limited changes in Scotland came into force today while Wales and Northern Ireland are also doing their own thing. 

Below is a breakdown of how different rules apply in different parts of the country. 

The UK’s four Home Nations are now subject to different sets of coronavirus lockdown rules

ENGLAND 

Perhaps the most eye-grabbing change announced by Mr Johnson last night was that as of Monday groups of up to six people will be allowed to meet up outdoors. 

Social distancing rules to stay at least two metres apart remain in place but the six people can be from different households. 

This is a much more flexible approach than has been taken in Scotland and Wales. 

These group gatherings can take place either outdoors in a public park or within a private garden but people have been told to be careful if guests need to travel through a house to get to a garden. Barbecues are allowed. 

England’s new rules mean there is no limit on how far people can travel from their home. 

Meanwhile, people can also exercise as much as they want – a change which was announced by Mr Johnson in his first wave of loosening. 

When it comes to shops, all non-essential premises will be allowed to start reopening from June 15. That means most High Street stores like clothes shops and shoe shops. 

Other businesses, such as pubs, hairdressers and cinemas will have to wait until July before they can reopen, the Government has previously said. 

Primary schools and nurseries will begin their phased reopening from June 1 while some year 10 and 12 students will be able to return to secondary schools from June 15.   

SCOTLAND 

Nicola Sturgeon’s lockdown changes came into force as of today, in time for what is expected to be a sunny weekend with highs of up to 80F. 

The First Minister’s plans allow groups of up to eight people to meet up outside. 

However, they must all be from just two households. Similar to in England, these gatherings can either take place in private gardens or in outdoor spaces like parks.  

One difference is that people are not supposed to go into someone else’s house – even if it that is the only way to get to the garden. 

Social distancing rules remain at the two metre figure while there is no legal limit on travel away from home. 

However, the Scottish government has encouraged people to ‘stay local’ which means not travelling more than approximately five miles. 

Ms Sturgeon has advised that if the distance travelled to meet someone means that you have to use their bathroom, then ‘perhaps you shouldn’t be doing it’. 

People in Scotland are also allowed to exercise as much as they want outside. 

Scotland’s easing will enable people to visit garden centres and play some sports where social distancing can easily be maintained, such as golf and tennis. 

There is less clarity north of the border on when non-essential shops could reopen with the Scottish government yet to set a date for the return of the High Street. 

Scotland’s education plan is also much more cautious than England’s with schools not expected to start reopening until August 11. 

In Scotland, there is no set timeline for when more measures might be lifted. 

WALES 

First Minister Mark Drakeford set out his plans for lockdown loosening this morning. 

Outdoor gatherings will be permitted from Monday but only with people from two different households. 

However, the number of people who can meet up outdoors in a socially distanced way is unlimited. 

The Welsh plan also allows people to use gardens for their gatherings although like in Scotland people are not allowed to go into other people’s homes. 

In Wales there is a broad five mile limit on travel away from home although the Welsh government has stressed travel should remain ‘local’ and not generally further than five miles, seemingly giving some room for interpretation. 

People in Wales are also allowed to exercise as much as they want outside but no date has yet been set for the return of non-essential shops. 

However, Mr Drakeford said today that non-essential retail businesses that can comply with social distancing rules should start to prepare to reopen over the next three weeks.

Mr Drakeford said a decision on whether they will reopen will be taken at the next review of lockdown measures on June 18 and will depend on scientific and medical evidence.

No date has yet been set for the reopening of schools. 

NORTHERN IRELAND 

Northern Ireland was the first of the four Home Nations to move on loosening rules relating to socialising. 

Groups of between four and six people are allowed to meet outdoors. 

They can all be from different households and social distancing at two metres must be stuck to.

Gardens are allowed to be used for those gatherings but access to another person’s house is not permitted. 

People can travel as far as they want from their home – just like in England – with no restrictions on the amount of outdoor exercise allowed. 

Some non-essential shops are expected to begin reopening from June 15. 

Pending the country’s rate of transmission remaining below one, a host of further restrictions are set to be eased in Northern Ireland on June 8. 

That could include the reopening of outdoor sports facilities, car showrooms and some non-essential retail stores.

Outdoor weddings with a maximum of 10 people are also set to be allowed and hotels will be able to start taking forward bookings at their own risk.

However, there is a longer wait for schools with pupils not expected to return to the classroom until the new academic year begins in September.

Source: Read Full Article

Mystery as quiet suburb begins to stink like a 'dead body'

Mystery as quiet suburb begins to stink like a ‘dead body’ and no one knows why

  • The smell was reported by residents at the Carlyle Gardens Retirement Village 
  • They said their town of Condon in Queensland smelt like a ‘dead body’ for weeks 
  • Townsville City Council have said the origins of the foul odour remain unknown 

A quiet suburb has been plagued with a foul smell for the past few weeks which has been compared to the odour of a dead body.

The smell was reported by residents at the Carlyle Gardens Retirement Village in the Townsville suburb of Condon, Queensland. 

Some residents compared the smell to that of a dead body while others think it smells like raw sewage. 

The origins of the mysterious odour are unknown but residents theorised there may be a fault at nearby sewage substation.

However Townsville City Council said there were no leakages found. 

The smell was reported by residents at the Carlyle Gardens Retirement Village in the Townsville suburb of Condon, Queensland (pictured)

One resident from the village, Jeff Williams, 71, claimed the local council has done nothing to address the odour. 

‘It smells like a dead body …. we’ve been smelling it for weeks, I’m surprised council haven’t done something about it,’ Mr Williams told the Townsville Bulletin.  

He said he has woken up at night and the smell made him want to vomit. 

There have been problems in the past with foul smells coming from a nearby chicken farm but Mr Williams said this odour was much worse. 

‘I disagree that the smell is that of a chicken farm, it’s been around for 10 to 11 years and I’ve smelt it, it’s unpleasant, but not quite dead body unpleasant,’ he said. 

Some residents compared the smell to that of a dead body while others think it smells like raw sewage (pictured: the suburb of Condon)

A Townsville City Council spokesperson said they have not received complaints about a sewerage leak but did receive a complaint about a smell coming from the suburbs wastewater treatment plant. 

‘As a result, council implemented odour measurement and monitoring in the immediate area, however this has found no discernible levels of odour,’ the spokesperson said. 

The council said they will monitor potential sources of the odour which are positioned closer to properties.  

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Clarks to axe 900 jobs as high street store closures loom

SHOE shop Clarks has said it plans to cut 900 office jobs as part of a major shake-up.

The 195-year-old British retailer has announced 160 redundancies across its global operations, with 108 of the job losses at its headquarters in Street, Somerset.

⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates

The retailer said it plans to create 200 new roles, but expects that roughly 700 employees will leave the business over the next 18 months.

It comes weeks after it announced that around 10 shops will be shut for good after the coronavirus lockdown is lifted.

Clarks says that it is helping staff who've lost their jobs today to find alternative employment within or outside the business.

It will focus future operations around three ranges of shoes – Clarks Originals, Clarks Collection and Cloudsteppers by Clarks – to "ignite our emotional connection with consumers".

Giorgio Presca, chief executive officer of Clarks, said: "This is helping us move fast to get ahead of the changes in the ways that our consumers live their lives, so that we are there for them every step of the way.

Which shops can stay open during UK lockdown?

  • Food retailers
  • Pharmacies
  • Hardware stores
  • Corner shops
  • Petrol stations
  • Shops in hospitals
  • Post offices
  • Banks
  • Newsagents
  • Laundrettes
  • Pet shops

"We are a business that walks its own path, and we are evolving to put our brand and consumers at the heart of everything we do.

"This will ensure that our organisation is made to last, empowering our people to contribute to a great future for the company."

It's the latest phase of the retailer's "made to last" strategy that it announced at the end of last year.

The first round of jobs were axed at the time of the announcement, with 170 employees leaving the company globally.

Clarks closed the majority of its stores across the globe as Government's dealt with the coronavirus pandemic.

Some shops in China and Europe have reopened, but all 347 UK stores remain temporarily shut.

Although the retailer expects to reopen most of these stores once the UK Government says that it's safe to.

Many other high street retailers have been negatively impacted by the outbreak, with some announcing stores will remain shut when the lockdown is lifted.

Bella Italia and Cafe Rouge are on the verge of collapse, putting 6,000 jobs at risk.

Restaurant chains Carluccio's and Byron have also hired insolvency advisers to prepare for permanent closures or to go out of business.

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Buyers face mortgage crisis as firms withdraw or lower offers

First-time buyers face mortgage crisis as firms withdraw or lower offers fearing post-lockdown house-price crash

  • Number of 10% deposit mortgage deals dropped from 780 in March to just 87 
  • The average first-time buyer needs £24,189 for a 10 per cent deposit
  • This rises to £36, 284 for a 15 per cent deposit, according to Moneyfacts report
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

First-time buyers looking to get on the property ladder following the coronavirus crisis may face a £12,000 gap in their finances as banks offer only high-deposit mortgages. 

The Government reopened the housing market last week after it was effectively shut down in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

But because of fears of a collapse in house prices, banks are demanding more cash up front from would-be buyers. 

First-time buyers looking to get on the property ladder following the coronavirus crisis may face a £12,000 gap in their finances as banks offer only high-deposit mortgages 

A report issued by financial analysts Moneyfacts showed that the number of mortgage deals for customers with a 10 per cent deposit has dropped from 780 in March to just 87, according to The Telegraph. 

The average first-time buyer needs £24,189 for a 10 per cent deposit. This rises to £36, 284 for a 15 per cent deposit, according to a report by Rightmove, the property website. 

This means buyers could need more than £12,000 up front to buy the same home they were interested in before the crisis struck.  

There are also only 30 different mortgages available to borrowers with a five per cent deposit, down from 393 before the property market was forced to close. 

The Government reopened the housing market last week after it was effectively shut down in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

For customers available to raise a 15 per cent deposit, there are 251 deals available.  

Analysts from Deutsche Bank have said that house prices could fall by more than a fifth.

And in what they termed their ‘worst case scenario planning’, Lloyds Bank said prices could fall 30 per cent in the next three years. 

Banks are also worried that buyers may not be able to meet their monthly mortgage payments after household finances were badly damaged by the coronavirus outbreak.

Should you make your move? With the freeze on property sales finally over, find out if now REALLY is a good time to buy or sell with our definitive guide

  • Estate agent Knight Frank says prices may have dropped by 5% since lockdown
  • It forecasts a further 2% fall by the end of the year before prices begin to recover
  • Lloyds says ‘severe scenario’ could see prices fall by 10%  by the end of the year

 By Miles Dilworth for the Daily Mail

It was a different world when Valerie and Paul Sanders* agreed to buy a £700,000, four-bedroom home in Orpington, Kent.

They were cash buyers and the vendor was moving into rented accommodation; there was no chain, no hold-ups.

But with the exchange scheduled for March 23, the day the UK entered lockdown, the sale became one of around 450,000 deals put on ice.

Estate agent Knight Frank says prices may have dropped by 5 per cent since lockdown. It forecasts a further 2 per cent fall by the end of the year before they begin to recover

After the Government restarted the property market last Wednesday, the couple are now among thousands of buyers and sellers grappling with how to progress their home move in an unrecognisable market.

‘Have house prices dropped?’ Valerie, 71, asks. ‘If so, by how much? And should we now press ahead and buy the house or put in a lower offer? 

‘We don’t want to buy it and then find in four months’ time the value has dropped by 10-20 per cent.’

Money Mail has spoken to property experts across the country to help you navigate the confusion.

WHAT IS HAPPENING TO PRICES?

Knight Frank says prices may have dropped by 5 per cent since lockdown. It forecasts a further 2 per cent fall by the end of the year before they begin to recover.

But Lloyds Banking Group has said a ‘severe scenario’ could see house prices fall by 10 per cent by the end of the year and 30 per cent over three years, although a 5 per cent fall by the end of 2020 is more likely.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) says it does not expect a recovery until next Easter at the earliest.

AS A BUYER, SHOULD I RENEGOTIATE?

Buyers can renegotiate the price before contracts are exchanged. Last week Money Mail revealed some were already seeking discounts of up to 20 per cent.

Property expert Henry Pryor says a responsible approach should be sought. ‘Just say: ‘Sorry, the deal doesn’t work like it did before,’ This is about accepting the reality of a global crisis.’

But Jeremy Leaf, a North London estate agent and former chairman of RICS, says he is yet to see any of his clients try to renegotiate. 

Mortgage lenders may ask to revalue the property if a lower price is agreed.

But if you pull out of a deal after exchange, you may be in breach of contract and vendors can sue for losses and could keep your deposit.

Virus could cost us our dream home 

Ben Smith and Maia Eyal had agreed an offer for £723,000 on a home before the coronavirus pandemic hit

Ben Smith*, 28, and Maia Eyal, 27, thought they had found their dream family home before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

With a wedding on the horizon and Maia seven months pregnant, they were delighted to have agreed an offer for £723,000 on a detached home in Barnet, North London, in late February. It would have been a marked improvement on their small, third-floor flat in Watford.

But hitting the restart button after the Government lifted its ban on home moves has proved difficult.

The couple, who both work in the airline industry, have since been furloughed and taken pay cuts. Their mortgage offer has been reduced from £419,000 to £350,000, which means they can no longer afford the new property.

They have placed a new bid of £675,000 and are nervously awaiting a response.

‘We thought we’d found the perfect place,’ says Ben. ‘We’re worried our new bid might not be accepted, which would mean having to find somewhere else. 

That could be hard because not many places have been coming on to the market recently. We might have to look at something temporary.’

* Not their real names. 

WHO CAN TAKE ADVANTAGE?

‘Second-steppers’ may find the discount on the larger property they wish to buy is greater than the fall in value of their existing home.

Rob Houghton, chief executive of comparison website Reallymoving, says while negative equity is a risk for those who bought recently with small deposits, those who bought their first home more than five years ago can withstand any short-term price dip.

This could free up stock for first-time buyers, but they may find it harder to get a mortgage. 

Lenders have cut offers for those with deposits of 10 per cent or less by more than 90 per cent, says data firm Moneyfacts.

WILL MY MORTGAGE BE WITHDRAWN?

Banks are reviewing offers to households whose circumstances have changed during the lockdown, and could withdraw deals even if contracts have already been exchanged. 

Pay cut mortgage trouble 

Furloughed homeowners could struggle to remortgage when their existing deal expires, experts warn.

Many lenders are asking borrowers to provide a letter from their employer confirming they will still have a job when the Government’s job retention scheme ends.

But Dominik Lipnicki, of Your Mortgage Decisions, says many employers are unwilling to do so and ‘this can prove a real issue in obtaining a mortgage’.

The furlough scheme means the Government pays 80 per cent of workers’ income up to £2,500 a month, equivalent to £30,000 a year. 

Employers can choose to top up the remaining 20 per cent.

But borrowers on a mortgage which relies on their full earnings may not be able to get a new deal.

It could mean more homeowners rolling over on to more expensive standard variable rates.

This could lead to loss of deposit

Anyone who has been furloughed since agreeing a mortgage may have to renegotiate their offer. 

You may have to take a small loan or a longer mortgage term.

Most banks have said they will count furloughed income towards affordability checks, but Virgin Money does not.

Lenders are clamping down on borrowers using bonuses and commission to support their income, while the self-employed are also having their applications scrutinised in greater detail.

SHOULD I HOLD OFF ON SELLING?

Banks have restarted physical valuations and property website Rightmove reported a 111 per cent week‑on-week increase in new sales listings on the day the market reopened. 

But Steven Wayne, of Benjamin Stevens estate agents, says it is important your property does not get ‘lost in the crowd’. 

He says it will take a few weeks for buyers to get used to the idea of visiting homes again, so if you list now, you might jump the gun. 

He adds: ‘You only get one chance to make a first impression.’

WHAT ARE THE NEXT HOT PROPERTIES?

There has been a surge of interest in rural areas or smaller towns as households adjust to working from home. 

Savills says there has been a rise in buyer registrations in Winchester in Hampshire, Newbury in Berkshire, Canford Cliffs in Dorset and the East Neuk of Fife on the east coast of Scotland. 

Rightmove director Miles Shipside says high demand could boost values for properties with home offices or large gardens. But premiums placed on transport links may diminish.

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This Morning fans shocked as interior designer Kelly Hoppen gives Phil and Holly a tour of huge, ‘messy’ monochrome home – The Sun

THIS Morning fans were left shocked today as interior designer Kelly Hoppen gave Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby a tour of her huge but "messy" monochrome home.

Kelly, 60, has been offering the likes of Alesha Dixon and Josie Gibson advice on how to make the best use of their space during lockdown in video calls on the ITV show.

But she received mix reviews when she opened her own doors, as viewers spotted piles of dishes on the counter and shelves brimming with books, ornaments, plants and boxes.

The talented designer revealed she lives in a stunning house in central London and prefers grey, black and white interiors.

She told Holly, 39, and Phil, 58, that her kitchen is her favourite room in the house, as it features a breakfast bar that runs the length of the room.

Kelly, who joked it doubles up as her boozing bar, zoomed in on tupperware boxes, two jars of marmite, a coffee machine with two pots of pods and jars of spices.

A half empty bottle of wine, bowl of apples and trays of cartons and tablets were tucked into various corners.




Moving into her living room area, fans spotted boxes shoved behind the sofa and Kelly admitted she stores her project work around the house.

But people at home were left scratching their heads over her "cluttered" living space.

One fan said: "Put your washing up away you messy sod!"

Another wrote: "Kelly put your pots away! What a messy kitchen"


More fans were stunned by how many books she had, with Kelly telling Holly and Phil that she only bought books that matched the colours in her home.

Another fan more wrote: "I quite like stacked books, but something about this just looks a little messy…"

And another said: "Why would you have 300 cupboards, when hide your microwave in one of them and then leave everything else on the f*****g worktops!? "

Kelly explained: "Right so this is the kitchen it kind of slices through to the main room, I use my breakfast bar as a bar. As you know I'm not a fan of cooking.



"The breakfast area is one of my favourite places to sit."

Kelly explained she liked to pick a neutral pallet and then add lots of different textures in that colour.
She added: "This is the way I love to live, texture can be just as important as colour. Here I've got what looks like marble but it's ceramic.

"I think it's really important to actually go around your house and find all the vases that you put flowers in, and put pencils in, make the surfaces nice, and whatever you're looking at make it nice, turning a desk facing the window."

She added: "I've got some really nice containers, there are so many great bargains on the high street, buy baskets and people can use them to put the toys away after the kids go to bed.

"It's a good opportunity to go through what you don't use and give things away to charities and make your homes work."

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Coronavirus: Heartbreak as people put yellow hearts in their windows for lost loved ones – The Sun

GRIEVING family and friends are putting yellow hearts on windows in poignant tributes to loved ones taken too soon by the coronavirus.

An inspirational Facebook group has also been set up to allow people to share their memories of "amazing hero dads", "beautiful mums", and "lovely grandads" to show that victims are "not just a government statistic".

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The group was initiated by the Gompertz family after their grandmother, Sheila, died from Covid-19.

Hannah Gompertz said the sunshine-coloured hearts represent and honour someone who has been killed by the new disease.

She explained on Facebook last week that "very sadly our Grandma has passed away after contracting Coronavirus.

"Our Grandad wanted people to understand not only the number of people who have died due to this virus, but how many people have been affected due to the loss of a family member or friend.

"He suggested that there could be a yellow symbol that individuals who have been affected by loss display in their windows, to show how the country is covered with families that have lost somebody and been touched by this pandemic."

Yellow symbols…[will help] people realise the extent of this personal and national tragedy.

Hannah's thoughtful grandfather, David, told her that "although every day on telly we hear the number of people that have died, these are just numbers that don’t mean that much.

"But if every family that lost somebody dear put a yellow symbol in their window, on their door or the pavement, people would realise the extent of this personal and national tragedy.”

Hannah shared a yellow heart on Facebook group "Yellow Hearts to Remember – Covid 19", saying her family "hopes that if you are mourning someone, that you find comfort in solidarity."

'FOUGHT HARD'

As a result there has been an outpouring of love, heartbreak – and plenty of yellow hearts – shared through the page, as people struggle to come to terms with loved ones dying away from friends and family, sometimes within days of falling ill.

One woman paid tribute to her dear dad who “lost his fight in a care home; he’s not just a government statistic but much loved by my Mum and all the family. 

“This page is a lovely way to honour loved ones who most people have had to say goodbye to in the most heartbreaking ways.”

Another daughter posted that her brave mother had beaten brain aneurysm “but Covid-19 robbed me of her this time.

“She fought so hard for five days then had to hospitalised for the final two days, as she had breathing difficulties.

“No goodbye was said as she passed away without me by her side, my heart has been broken into a million pieces.”

And one daughter posted a picture of her “wonderful dad”, aged 82, who had been in lockdown in his nursing home, near Chester since March 16, “where we thought he'd be safe”.

A great-grandad was hailed as a “rescuer, rock, storyteller, comedian, creative, fighter for justice, problem solver, friend and mentor to many and my lovely Dad”.

Others refer to the “horrible, awful virus” which has claimed precious relatives – one of whom sang to raise funds for charity, while others were “fit and well with no underlying health problems”.

Emma Hilton praised the group as “such a lovely idea [but] it's so very sad that so many people have lost loved ones too soon.”

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Premiership Rugby savaged as damning report lists 52 recommendations to fix in wake of Saracens salary cap cheating – The Sun

PREMIERSHIP RUGBY has been savaged in a damning report into the sport’s organisation.

In a landmark 57-page review, prompted by Saracens’ shameful cheating of the salary cap last year, there were a whopping FIFTY-TWO recommendations in how to fix rugby.

In future, anyone found guilty of trying to cover up over-payments to players should hand back titles and face suspension — with lifetime bans also mentioned.

Prem chiefs hired Lord Myners, a former Government minister, to find out how to bring the sport up to scratch — and he did not hold back.

He said clubs should not “act as judge and jury for fellow competitors” — as was the case when Sarries were relegated and fined £5.36million last year.

He also claimed players need to take more responsibility over controversial co-investments with club owners.

Myners’ recommendations included:

  • Giving disciplinary panels more flexibility over the range and severity of sanctions, including suspensions and the removal of titles.
  • Greater transparency to deepen scrutiny.
  • Greater accountability for Premiership club’s boards and executives, plus for players and agents.
  •  Increased reporting obligations on clubs.
  • Stronger investigatory powers into potential salary-cap breaches.
  •  Making the regulations easier for clubs to understand, and for Premiership Rugby to administer.

Now it is up to ten of the 12 top-flight clubs, plus promoted Newcastle, to vote through the changes.

Myners said: “It is important my recommendations should be viewed as a package of measures which, if taken together, will go a long way to restoring the integrity of the regulations.

“They should not be viewed as a menu of options from which to pick and choose.”

Myners, who was told by the clubs that they wanted to scrap the marquee-player rule, also added that owners should face stronger punishment for cheating.

He said: “If a club owner is found to have seriously and systematically breached the regulations, it should be possible for the panel to deem them not fit and proper to own the club and to put the club into stewardship.”

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Mystery as body of woman found on M4 as cops shut motorway near Swansea – The Sun

A POLICE investigation has been launched after a woman's body was found on the M4 motorway near Swansea.

Emergency crews were scrambled to the busy road between junctions 47 and 48 after the grim discovery was made at around 4,30am.

The motorway was closed in both directions for several hours causing long queues but has since reopened.

Police said they have now launched an investigation into the "sudden death".

They have not released any details of the woman's age or how she died.

A South Wales Police spokesman said: “Shortly after 4.30am this morning officers were called to an incident on the M4 motorway between junctions 47 and 48.

"Officers are investigating the sudden death of a woman whose body was located on the carriageway.

"The motorway was closed in both directions for several hours with local traffic diversions put in place.

"The motorway has since reopened."

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A weird night as UFC 249’s only ring girl

UFC octagon girl Brittney Palmer has shown just how hard it is to know what to do in the coronavirus world, responding with a classy act at UFC 249.

The sole ring girl working the fan-less event due to social distancing guidelines, Palmer didn’t have to make the full trip around the octagon, instead holding up the card for the next round to keep some of the normalcy of the sport despite the fights going down in front of empty seats.

One of the more high profile ring girls in the UFC, Palmer was excited to be back, sharing a picture on Instagram before the event with the caption, “Hello old friend. Feels good to be back.”

On an eerie night with no fans in the stands, social media played its part in the broadcast.

A news reporter at Canadian news outlet 680 News was seemingly made uncomfortable with Palmer blowing kisses to the camera without wearing a mask — calling for Palmer to switch it up.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B__Cr00Jjqz/

With advice on best practices during the coronavirus pandemic circulated as easily as the virus itself, it’s hard to know what people find out of bounds as videos of people blowing kisses going viral during the pandemic as the world deals with enforced separation from family and friends.

Although it would be easy to ignore the advice while she was working, Palmer took it on board and switched it up. Post-fight, Palmer shared her gratitude about being back ring side.

“I truly love this sport and love what I do,” she wrote. “Those were some epic fights [Saturday] night and exactly the show we all needed. People are asking how it felt with no audience while being by myself; no audience felt like we were on a movie set and being alone felt like the good ole WEC days. I’m just so happy to be back to work and grateful as heck.”

The 32-year-old Palmer is a fan favorite as she reportedly trended on Twitter after appearing on the broadcast.

With over 1.1 million followers on Instagram, Palmer often posts bikini shots, workout videos and behind the scenes photos from her modeling career.

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Police watch on as more than 150 travellers attend funeral for two teen boys despite social distancing rules – The Sun

MORE than 150 travellers were seen attending the funeral for two teenage boys this morning despite social distancing rules.

Police watched on as large crowds gathered outside a Cork church to mourn the loss of two brothers from the Cash family who died in America but were brought home to be laid to rest.

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The mourners were seen mingling outside Farranree Church on the north side of the city as the funeral mass took place inside.

Concerned locals watched on, claiming the group showed little or no regard for social distancing.

Many were seen shaking hands, embracing and standing in groups as the funeral cortege made its way to the church, the Cork Beo reported.

The publication said people appeared to have travelled great distances to attend the funeral as cars and camper vans seen parked outside the church displayed registrations from different counties around Ireland and from the UK.

The two young men reportedly died in America and had been brought back home to be laid to rest.

The cortege, which included two horse-drawn carriages and scores of vehicles, started at O'Connor's Funeral Home on Shandon Street before making its way to the church in the heart of Farranree for the 11am funeral mass.

The two men were then taken to St Catherine's Cemetery in Kilcully on the outskirts of the city for burial.

Officers of the An Garda Siochana were in the vicinity of the church, directing traffic and watching over proceedings.

Although funerals are still allowed to take place, masses are limited to immediate family members only, under current government restrictions.

The number of people attending the mass and the burial should not exceed 10 according to government guidelines.

When at funerals, mourners must observe the social distancing guidelines.

According to Public Health England: "Mourners should avoid any direct face to face or physical contact, for example hugging each other unless they are part of the same household."

But due to the high level of deaths, some councils have shortened funerals to just 20 minutes long.

Locals showed a similar fury last month when mourners for travelling community elder Alfred Loveridge, 82, ignored social-distancing rules as they paid their respects at his graveside.






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