World News

Nicola Sturgeon closes Scottish border to the rest of the UK in Covid-19 battle

Scotland's borders have been closed to people from England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Eire.

The extreme measures have been taken by SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, who has plunged the country in to strict multiple-tiered lockdown measures in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Non-residents will only be allowed in to the country – and vice versa – with a 'reasonable excuse'.

The new rules came into effect from 6pm on Friday and also made it illegal for people from tier three and four areas to leave their local authority unless it is for essential reasons.

Edinburgh Live reports that Scots also aren't allowed to travel to other parts of the UK under the news rules, which could see Brits illegally coming in and out of Scotland hit with a £60 fine.

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The new travel guidance reads: "Under current Scottish regulations, given the state of the epidemic in these countries, unless you have a reasonable excuse (see exceptions) you must not travel between Scotland and England, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Wales.

"This applies to people who live in Scotland and to people who live in any of these countries who are thinking of coming to Scotland."

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Miss Sturgeon has also encouraged Scots not to take a holiday this year, making it illegal for people to travel out of their tier three or four local authority to travel to an airport.

She said: "I know people have been asking why are we making it against the law depending on where you live to travel to an airport, but not against the law to fly to another country.

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"Just because it's not against the law… does not mean we think it's ok to do it right now.

"This is a global pandemic and it's for that reason that we have in recent months repeatedly advised people not to travel overseas unless its for an essential purpose."

Last month, she plunged Scotland in to a two-week 'circuit breaker' lockdown that banned pubs from opening between 6pm and 6am.

It coincided with the school half-term, and was intended to "apply a brake to the virus for 16 days from Saturday 10 to Sunday 25 October across Scotland".

With Christmas approaching, it is expected that Sturgeon will work alongside Prime Minister Boris Johnson to agree to a plan that will allow families to spend time together, even if just for a few days.

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World News

Over 70% of Brit pubs and restaurants ‘could be forced to close next year’

Almost three quarters of British pubs and restaurants could go bust by the end of next year, a shock report reveals.

The nation's boozers are feeling the squeeze from the coronavirus pandemic, with England currently experiencing a second national lockdown.

Trade bodies representing pubs and hospitality businesses claim the sector expects a shocking 72% of firms to become unviable and close next year.

The British Beer & Pub Association, the British Institute of Innkeeping and UKHospitality say they have conducted market research showing thousands of companies need the Government to do more to support them.

The survey found that the tiering system used across England was particularly damaging to pubs and hospitality businesses. Before the national lockdown it included a 10pm curfew for all pubs which were open, and other restrictions depending on what tier a business was in.

December is thought to be a key months for the survival of pubs and hospitality businesses due to the seasonal increase in trade over the festive period.

Industry bosses want the Government to adapt the current tier restrictions by relaxing the ban on households mixing in tier two, alongside a modest extension to the 10pm curfew.

A joint spokesman for the three organisations said: "The evidence is here to see of the devastating, long-term impact the Government's restrictions are having on hospitality and pub businesses.

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"Without a change in approach and more support from Government, much of the sector could be gone within a year – that means businesses and jobs lost plus much-loved venues closed forever.

"We recognise that local restrictions will need to be based on local risk levels, but to ensure our sector can bring people together properly this Christmas and beyond, and crucially provide them a safe environment to socialise in, we believe the tier system should be fine-tuned.

"Those pubs and hospitality venues facing tier three restrictions currently have an impossible task of trying to remain viable as businesses.

"In recognition of this, the Government must enable wet-led pubs to re-open in tier three where they do not serve food, as well as significantly enhance the grant support for those businesses not viable across all tiers, but especially those in tier three.

"This will ensure their very survival so they can re-open once more when we are through the worst of this crisis."

The pub and hospitality industry has been hit harder than most by the coronavirus pandemic.

Boozers were initially shut completely when the first Covid-19 lockdown began in March before they were reopened with certain stipulations.

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World News

Loved-up couple’s violent rage turns quiet pub into carnage as punters evacuated

A violent couple who caused carnage in a quiet East Yorkshire pub last Christmas have narrowly avoided jail.

Owners of The Black Swan in Pocklington were forced to close early on December 21 last year after Adam Peka, 32, began "throwing punches".

Peka's girlfriend Rachael Westmoorland, 38, did not stop him as he launched himself at customers and door staff, Hull Live reports.

Both pleaded guilty to affray and appeared at Hull Crown Court on Tuesday, November 11.

CCTV footage of the incident was played to the courtroom.

Owners at the pub said they were forced to close at 10.30pm and evacuate customers, resulting in a loss of takings between £2,000 and £2,500.

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The pub usually was scheduled to close at 1am.

"Due to the risk of further injuries to the customers and door staff we had to close," the owners said in a statement.

"The pub usually picks up at around midnight due to other pubs in Pocklington being closed at that time but we had to close."

A member of the pub's door staff, who was injured during the incident, said he feared his career "was over".

He said: "I work as door staff when I'm back in the country but I have another career that I have worked hard for that sees me working overseas.

"After this, I was in hospital for three days due to pressure in my head and I didn't know if I would be able to go back.

"It was very distressing worrying that it could be the end of my career."

The court heard Westmoorland was not directly involved in the incident but did not make an effort to quell Peka's violence.

Judge John Thackray spared the couple an immediate prison sentence, instead handing Peka an eight-month sentence suspended for 18 months, and Westmoorland a year-long community order.

She will have to complete 50 hours of unpaid work and Peka will have to complete 100 hours of unpaid work and pay £100 in compensation at £150 a month.

The judge told Peka: "Looking at the CCTV it is obvious something upset you that evening but whatever it was your reaction was out of proportion.

"You both behaved disgracefully and it is only your good fortune that more serious injuries were not caused."

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World News

England’s city streets deserted on sombre first day of month-long Covid lockdown

Today marked the beginning of England's second lockdown, and the difference on the streets of cities across the country was striking.

In normal times on a day like today people would be seen going to work, seeing their friends or even starting their early Christmas shopping.

But shops, restaurants, pubs and a whole array of other businesses have now been forced to close amid rising coronavirus cases across the country.

Meanwhile anyone found out and about without a good reason could be slapped with a £200 fine.

Leicester city centre was much quieter than in recent weeks, although a number of people could still be seen walking around the city centre, while the market was largely deserted apart from traders themselves.

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Loughborough town centre is also usually bustling with life at midday on a Thursday. But today barely anyone could be seen, Leicestershire Live reports.

It was a similar picture for the town centre in Coalville with empty streets, shops, restaurants and very few people in sight.

Hinckley was one of the busier town centres in the county, but only the odd person could be seen walking through the centre.

And it wasn't just the city and the various towns around the county that were empty, the M1 was barely used through the county. The picture below shows the junction at Copt Oak at around midday.

Meanwhile these photos, taken less than 24 hours apart, show busy Newcastle nightlife spots which have now been completely deserted.

On Wednesday night, revellers packed the Bigg Market to enjoy their final night of freedom before England entered a second national lockdown.

Large queues formed outside of city centre bars such as Passing Clouds, Bijoux and The Mile Castle as partygoers braved the cold.

There was a heavy police presence in the Bigg Market as many pubs and bars were fully booked up until closing time at 10pm, Chronicle Live reports.

Santa hats and costumes were donned by drinkers eager to enjoy their last night of freedom before new restrictions came into force.

Ticketed events were held in venues across the city with predominantly students flooding onto the streets.

Pubs and bars were "ram packed", with students telling Chronicle Live that social distancing was not being observed in some venues.

Fast-forward to Thursday evening and the Bigg Market was a vastly different scene.

Not a soul could be seen as it appears residents are obeying the new restrictions telling them to stay at home.

Under new rules, hospitality venues have been forced to close their doors for the second time this year. Some venues are able to stay open for takeaway and delivery services.

Non-essential shops are also shutting down with some able to provide click and collect services.

The lockdown is set to be reviewed on December 2, with Boris Johnson today insisting the country will return to the tier system then.

Speaking from Downing Street, the Prime Minister said: "There is light at the end of the tunnel."

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World News

Boozers go wild for last night on the lash before second lockdown shuts pubs

Revellers in England made sure their local pubs, bars and restaurants went out with a bang before the second lockdown.

As the clock strikes midnight England will enter its second lockdown in a bid to control the spread of coronavirus.

At 10pm, every pub, bar and restaurant across the nation will have rang the bell for last orders and keep their doors closed until at least December 2.

It has been five months since Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the hospitality industry could reopen after the first lockdown.

Businesses have fought hard to recoup losses but now prepare for another major blow as punters are told to stay at home for another month.

Punters queued for Wetherspoons pub, George's Meeting House in Exeter on Tuesday evening after the chain slashed the price of all real ale pints to just 99p to avoid having to pour beer down the drain.

Demand was so high that many beers were unavailable to order via the app, with others being removed from the menu as the night progressed.

The Ice Wharf's beer garden in Camden, north London was as rammed as social distancing would allow as pals seized their final opportunity to catch up over a drink.

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John Newman, co-owner of The White Horse in Witcham, East Cambridgeshire, told Cambridgeshire Live: "We’ll have a last hurrah for the month and then see how we come out the other end."

The pub had been opening only on Fridays and weekends after the pandemic slashed footfall but made an exception for Wednesday's send-off.

Like its namesake The White Horse in Eaton Socon, St Neots, also had its tables booked out by supportive locals wanting a final night of revelry.

John said that since re-opening in July, they have had to rely on volunteers who organised a rota amongst themselves.

The co-owner said: "They’ve really been a godsend to us, it’s been absolutely fantastic.

"This is a 160-year-old pub and we don't want to be the ones who are known as the last landlords."

It all got a bit much for one man exiting Pipers in Newland Avenue, Hull as he was snapped vomiting just yards away from the bar shortly before closing.

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As everyone at Piper's was met with the full force of the 10pm curfew, a group of young people looked to be preparing to continue their nights elsewhere.

Regulars at the Melbourne Inn, Plymouth were through the doors before midday and admitted they would not pass up the chance to get merry together for the last time in a while.

Punter Golly, 75, told Plymouth Live: "I don’t drink at home, so I shall probably leave here p*ssed tonight.

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"Some people drink at home, and I find that quite boring on your own. The place to get drunk and have a good time is in the pub.

"That’s where most of my fun is. It's a good crowd and still busy, even though we’ve got to sit down and all this.

"The lockdown has to be done. It's sad, but it's for the best."

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World News

Takeaway pints banned under new lockdown rules as pubs and restaurants to close

A change in lockdown rules has banned takeaway booze for Brits, meaning restaurants selling takeaway meals will not be allowed to sell beer, wine or other alcohol during the second Covid-19lockdown.

Punters will not be able to get a takeaway pint or a glass of bubbly from their local throughout the lockdown, despite Brits being allowed to buy a bev earlier on in the year.

Lockdown rules clarifying Boris Johnson’s nationwide closure of hospitality venues states the takeaway of alcohol will not be permitted.

Pubs, restaurants and bars will be able to open however only if they have a kitchen and can provide a delivery service.

The rules state: "Hospitality venues like restaurants, bars and pubs must close, but can still provide takeaway and delivery services.

"However, the takeaway of alcohol will not be allowed."

Boris’ decision is a tough pill to swallow for the hospitality sector, which has already been decimated by the coronavirus crisis.

During the first lockdown, chains such as Pizza Express, Pizza Hut, Bella Italia, Frankie and Benny’s and Giraffe were forced to cut back or shut up shop.

The Prime Minister addressed the nation on Halloween from Downing Street, announcing a total lockdown across England from November 5 to December 2nd.

He closed all non-essential shops, gyms, and beauty facilities, as well as pubs, restaurants and entertainment venues for a second time.

Tens of thousands of people were placed on the government’s furlough scheme, which was due to expire on October 31 but has been extended throughout November and December.

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CAMRA’s National Chairman, Nik Antona, said: "The second lockdown is a devastating blow for an industry that is already on its knees.

"Pubs across the country have already invested thousands to reopen COVID-safe environments despite facing seriously reduced incomes.

"We also need a clear route map out of lockdown which is based on evidence, otherwise we will see many pubs and breweries close their doors forever."

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World News

Kind Brit drinkers happy to pay more for pints to help struggling pubs stay open

Kind-hearted Brits are happy to pay 10 per cent more for a pint to help the hospitality sector – with Londoners willing to fork out a whopping 22 per cent extra for their beer.

A survey of 2,000 UK adults revealed almost four in 10 (37 per cent) would spend more on food and drinks than they would at the start of the year.

Overall, they are prepared to pay 11 per cent more for a Sunday roast, and 10 per cent more for a pint.

However, city dwellers in London will accept the highest increase per pint (22 per cent), followed by those in the North East (15 per cent).

The research, by Barclaycard Payments, surveyed consumers and hospitality workers on the impact the 'new normal' has had on their day-to-day life.

Konrad Kelling, head of small business at Barclaycard Payments, said: "While the hospitality industry is undoubtedly facing a challenging road ahead, it's heart-warming to see how committed the great British public is to supporting their local pubs and restaurants.

"Whether that's by accepting higher prices for food and drink or by increasing the amount they tip hardworking staff.

"At Barclaycard, we are working closely with hospitality clients impacted by current circumstances and are offering bespoke payments support packages to help them navigate the challenges ahead."

Despite measures in some areas of the country preventing customers popping into their local pub for a drink, it is clear the watering holes are valued in their communities.

A fifth (20 per cent) of Brits think their local pub means more to them than before.

The increased value felt by customers during this time, has been put down to the appreciation of hardworking staff (43 per cent), concerns for the future of pubs within the community (41 per cent) and the opportunity for social interactions where possible (32 per cent).

It has also led to one in four Brits (26 per cent) continuing to visit pubs at least once a week where they can.

Those that are able to are returning after missing their local pub (32 per cent), supporting businesses who have suffered lost revenue (27 per cent) and to help give a boost to the economy (24 per cent).

The younger generation, (those aged 18-34), were found to be most eager to support their local pubs and restaurants, with almost half (48 per cent) open to higher prices and over a third (34 per cent) now likely to increase the amount they tip for staff.

And the rise of table service is helping bar staff are keeping fit – with staff averaging 7,442 steps while burning 622 calories per shift.

Matt Tebbutt, chef and broadcaster, says, "The hospitality sector could never have been ready for what has happened over the past six months.

"But, having spent so much time working in the industry and of course visiting many venues regularly as a customer – I never doubted that the staff and customers would do their best to help keep these businesses open.

"Not only is hospitality full of some seriously hardworking people, but they're resourceful, creative and constantly ready to adapt.

"While we should all keep safety as a priority – it's important that those of us who can – do our bit to help the locals we love."

Cetin Guvenli, general manager of Cotswolds pub The Kingham Plough, added: "Like so many other businesses across the UK, nothing could have prepared us for the impact of a global pandemic.

"It's been an incredibly difficult time having to quickly adapt our business in order to re-open and keep customers and staff safe.

"Implementing social distancing measures and enhancing our cleaning regimes have all come with challenges, but both our regular customers and those coming for the first time have been supportive throughout.

"There will inevitably be challenges ahead, but with the support of our customers and community – we are confident we can get through it."

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Wales set to face two-week circuit breaker lockdown ‘from this Friday’

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A letter leaked online suggests plans have already been drawn up to shut all pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops in Wales for two weeks from this Friday.

The rumoured shutdown would start at 6pm on October 23 and end on November 9, according to the letter – written by the Confederation of Passenger Transport’s regional director for Wales John Pockett who has since confirmed it is genuine.

The supposed letter, dated October 16, reads: “The Welsh Government will announce on Monday a ‘circuit break’ lockdown to begin at 1800 on Friday 23 October and continue in force until 0001 on Monday 9 November.

“We have met with officials this morning, but as this is a very fast moving situation with decisions still to be made by ministers, much of the detail has not yet been agreed by the Government.

“Nevertheless I wanted to let you know what we know so far.”

It goes on to claim the lockdown would take Wales "back to where we were in March" by closing pubs, restaurants and hair dressers.

It goes on: "It covers the half-term break (Friday 23 October – Monday 2 November) but some schools will reopen on 2 November.

"Ministers have not yet determined the details on this; it seems that primary schools will reopen, but a decision on secondary schools (or at least some or part of individual schools) will be made over the weekend."

He said public transport would be for "essential journeys only" and the Welsh Government was yet to decide what level of services would run during the lockdown.

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The letter added: "I appreciate that this information is very limited and I am sure that you will have questions, but that, at the moment, this is very much as we know.

"I assure you that we will keep members fully informed as we receive more details from the Government."

Mr Pockett told PA Media the letter was genuine, but said he was "surmising" what would happen.

"The letter is genuine and it contains what I assume or surmised would be the position. It was me advising my bus operator members to be prepared for something and this is what it may well be," he said.

"It could be more; it could be anything. I think other associations have communicated with their members in the same way."

Asked about the specific details of the lockdown, Mr Pockett said: "I've not seen the detail either – that's me surmising – but that's what my common sense tells me.

"I understand what the Government wants to do is cause as little disruption to schools as possible, so you start it as soon as the schools finish for half-term."

On Friday, First Minister Mark Drakeford said the Welsh Government was looking "very carefully" at introducing a circuit-breaker lockdown with a decision due to be announced on Monday.

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