Andy Richardson: 'Pubs - Covid transmission hotspots? Whodda thunk it?'
Having so comprehensively mismanaged the return to school, the Government is getting in early.
In under a month, the great Covid-19 holiday will be over. It’ll be time to hand dinner money to bullies, destroy a new pair of shoes, form clandestine WhatsApp groups and begrudgingly learn maths. Ah joy.
The Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has offered to work with the Government to encourage youngsters back. Unions understandably want safeguards. They watched the death of public transport workers in horror and must prevent similar. It would seem to be a simple enough equation: make schools safe then they re-open.
Something may have to give, however, and pubs are in the frontline. It will come as a surprise to precisely nobody that they have emerged as hotspots for community transmission. Whodda thunk it? All those people, all that drink, all that fuzzy relaxation of rules and the neglect of social distancing after a fourth pint… While restaurants can manage such interactions, it’s more difficult in pubs and they are being lined up as a sacrificial lamb.
Still, there is brighter news for beavers. In Devon 15 beaver families have been given the right to remain on the River Otter. It’s unclear what any resident otters thinks, though the beavers have increased the fish biomass and improved the water quality.
Migrants crossing the Channel have had no such luck. It’s the silly season and time to pick on those less fortunate. The number crossing the Channel each day is less than a fifth of the number of people who died daily during the peak of the pandemic. Still, a new policy to encourage on-water skirmishes that will inevitably lead to some boats being upturned is afoot. Cynics might say the Government needs a distraction after a disastrous economic report showed the UK suffered more damage than any other G7 nation, with GDP falling by 21 per cent against others whose falls are between 7.6 per cent and 13.8 per cent.
There are allegations of cronyism, too, after PPE contracts worth more than £180 million were awarded to companies owned or run by prominent Tory supporters. New planning laws, meanwhile, may lead to less affordable housing and allow developers to run riot.
Earlier this summer, Oliver Dowden pledged £1.5 billion to save theatres. Like the cheque that’s in the post, the money hasn’t yet arrived and venues are currently slashing staff numbers.
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