Government reviewing reopening garden centres as many weeks from going out of business

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has warned of "falling behind other countries" if the government does not soon publish an exit strategy from the coronavirus lockdown. Read more: Government reviewing reopening garden centres as many weeks from going out of business

Government reviewing reopening garden centres as many weeks from going out of business

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has warned of “falling behind other countries” if the government does not soon publish an exit strategy from the coronavirus lockdown.

Increasing the pressure on ministers to spell out how they might ease stringent social distancing measures introduced more than five weeks ago, Sir Keir said a continuing delay also risks splitting the four-nation approach of the UK as a whole to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab downplayed any immediate prospect of the government setting out “concrete proposals” this week, although he revealed the government would keep the reopening of garden centres “under very close review”.

Highlighting how many other nations have published “exit plans of one sort or another” – including Wales and Scotland in the UK – Sir Keir told MPs during Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions: “Delay risks not only falling behind other countries, but also the successful four-nation approach so far.”

He added that plans announced by countries such as France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, New Zealand and Australia had revealed “common issues” over the reopening of schools and some business sectors.

Sir Keir urged the government to be “open” with the British public about how the lockdown might be eased.

But he stressed he was not calling for the lockdown to be lifted now, or for ministers to set out a timeframe for easing social distancing measures.

“I said I wouldn’t ask the impossible and I won’t, what I’m asking for is for the government to be open with the British people about what comes next,” Sir Keir said.

In response, Mr Raab – who deputised for Boris Johnson following the birth of the prime minister’s son with fiancee Carrie Symonds on Wednesday morning – said it would be “wrong” for the government to set out “concrete proposals” on easing the lockdown until it had received the latest advice from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

He said this advice was due in the “next week or so”.

Mr Raab also noted how Germany is “now having to think twice about easing up on the measures because of the risk of a second spike” in COVID-19 infections.

He urged Sir Keir not to “abandon” his “rigour” in being guided by the evidence, while also dismissing the suggestion that the Scottish government had set out its own “exit strategy”.

Mr Raab said the document set out by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon last week was “grounded” in the government’s five tests for easing the lockdown.

A spokesperson for Sir Keir later revealed the Labour leader had a “constructive conversation” with Mr Johnson about the COVID-19 crisis, with further talks planned for next week.

As well as the calls from Labour, the government is also facing pressure from its own Conservative MPs to shed light on how the UK’s lockdown might be lifted.

Tory backbencher Sir Desmond Swayne asked Mr Raab if garden centres and nurseries would be allowed to reopen “in short order”.

The foreign secretary reiterated the current advice from SAGE is that “relaxing any of those measures – including the ones he refers to – would risk damage to the public health, our economy, and frankly the progress we’ve made, the sacrifices so many have made, the lives that have been lost”.

But he added: “They looked specifically at garden centres and we will continue, as I’ve indicated earlier, to keep the evidence on each individual measure under very close review.”

Fellow Conservative backbencher Mark Pritchard also urged the government to include garden centres in “phase one” of easing the lockdown.

Mr Raab replied: “It’s certainly very firmly registered that this is an important area for us to look at for the future.”

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Government reviewing reopening garden centres as many weeks from going out of business

Source : Business Matters More   

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Government could limit UK pub drinkers to two pints when lockdown lifts

Britons could be limited to two or three drinks when pubs reopen, a government adviser has suggested. Read more: Government could limit UK pub drinkers to two pints when lockdown lifts

Government could limit UK pub drinkers to two pints when lockdown lifts

Britons could be limited to two or three drinks when pubs reopen, a government adviser has suggested.

Eyal Winter, who is working with the Government on plans for easing the national lockdown, said businesses would need to enforce strict social distancing measures once blanket closures are lifted.

Mr Winter, an economist at Lancaster University, told the Guardian that ministers are deeply concerned that pubs will get very full as the public let loose after weeks of confinement at home. 

“People are starving for pubs,” he told the paper. “They are an important part of British culture.”

He said pub landlords and shop owners would likely have to monitor customer numbers to ensure safe distancing between individuals.

One solution for keeping people out of bars would be to ration beer to two or three pints per person before politely asking punters to go home, he suggested.

The behavioural expert, who has been advising the cabinet office since April, also predicted that cinemas and theatres would need to ensure gaps between seats, meaning they would sell half as many tickets as before.

Therefore, they may need to hike up prices in order to cover revenue losses.

Airlines would likely introduce a similar empty “middle-seat” policy on planes Mr Winter said, with a “low version of social distancing” introduced on all public transport.

Taking an optimistic look ahead, Mr Winter said that he believed the world would return to its pre-virus state within two years – provided no new pandemics strike.

“It will take a lot of time to move back to January 2020, he said. “But we will get there.”

Read more:
Government could limit UK pub drinkers to two pints when lockdown lifts

Source : Business Matters More   

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