Day: 14 May 2021

Crowds at Concerts and Sporting Events Could Plummet if People Face Long Waits in “Socially” Distanced Queues, According to ONS Data

While most Brits continue to support Covid restrictions, most would be put off going to concerts and sporting events if they had to spend hours in “socially”-distanced queues and wear face masks throughout, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). “Britons love to queue, but not that much,” says Gabriella Swerling in the Telegraph.

The weekly ONS survey on the social impacts of Covid for May 5th to 9th found compliance with measures to stop the spread of the virus remained generally high.

However, new questions revealed that most adults were nervous about attending organised events as lockdown restrictions ease. 

Between April 28th and May 3rd, the ONS asked adults how the pandemic had affected the likelihood of them attending such events.  It found 41% would feel more positive about attending if an event required people to show proof of a negative Covid test.

In comparison, 71% said they would be less likely to attend an organised event if they had to spend an extra two hours in a venue while a socially-distanced queue was formed.

Researchers also found that having no social distancing, being told to wear a face covering during an entire event and not being able to eat or buy food also made people less likely to want to attend.

Reports suggest that whether people want to spend hours queuing or not, audience numbers at large events will be capped even after the “end” of lockdown on June 21st. Football’s UEFA is said to have already been told by the Government that crowd sizes at upcoming events will be limited to 45,000.

The Telegraph report is worth reading in full.

Women Forced to Wear Face Masks During Labour, Charity Finds

Nearly one in five pregnant women are being forced to wear a face mask during labour, according to research by the charity Pregnant Then Screwed. Some of these women have described the experience as the most terrifying of their lives. They were first seen by their children while masked. For months, a number of hospitals also banned the presence of birth partners for all but the hours of active labour. It is no wonder there was an increase in the number of pregnant women considering freebirth without a medical professional present in 2020. The Guardian has more.

Women described feeling unable to breathe, having panic attacks or even being sick during labour because they were made to wear a face covering [while in labour].

The research was carried out by the charity Pregnant Then Screwed, who surveyed 936 women who gave birth during December. It found that 160 of those who went into labour were made to wear a face covering. This goes against current joint U.K. guidance, published in July 2020 by the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

The guidance says that women should not be asked to wear a face covering of any kind during natural labour or during caesarean births because of the risk of harm and complications. Rosie, 39, from London, said she felt as if she was dying because she was in so much pain during advanced labour with her third child, born in December. Yet maternity staff instructed to keep on her face mask.

She told BBC News: “I was feeling claustrophobic and the mask was making me feel really nauseous and making me panic as well. I’m pushing my baby out, I have this mask on my face, and the feeling of claustrophobia is just massive.” 

She said she couldn’t express herself because while struggling to breathe it was hard to talk and staff couldn’t see her whether or not her lips were moving. “I was frightened that amongst everything else that was happening I was then going to be sick inside the mask,” added Rosie, who has a condition called emetophobia, which is a fear of vomiting. At one point she ripped off the mask but was told to put it back on.

Natalie Titherington, from Oldham, says she was not aware of the guidance on face masks during labour when her baby girl was born last December. She said the birth was the most terrifying experience of her life. “I was gasping for air. I felt completely suffocated. I’m never going to be able to forget the feeling of not being able to breathe, and the fear and panic I felt while wearing a mask.”

Titherington says she was made to wear a face mask while she was in advanced labour, around 8cm dilated and having regular and very painful contractions.

“Someone put the mask on me and I said: ‘You can’t be serious,’ and she replied: ‘Yes,’ and then I remember having a contraction,” said Titherington, who has flashbacks of her traumatic birth and has been unable to wear a face covering since because it triggers the memory of struggling to breathe.

She ended up having an emergency caesarean and was told to wear the mask during the entire surgery, which goes against the official guidance.

Worth reading in full.

Lockdown Easing Postponed – in Scotland!

Scotland’s Supreme Leader, Nic Sturge-On, has announced that the lockdown rules in place in some areas will remain in force after Monday. The Sun has more.

The Scots First Minister revealed Glasgow and Moray will remain subject to tougher Level 3 restrictions on Monday as the rest of mainland Scotland drops to Level 2.

It means people in Glasgow will be no longer allowed to mix in each other’s homes from Monday as planned.

And those in the affected areas shouldn’t travel in or out of them either.

The slamming on the handbrake is over fresh fear the India variant is driving an [upsurge in cases] in Scotland’s second largest city.

Some 80.4 cases per 100,000 people were recorded in Glasgow in the seven days to May 11, with experts warning of a “loss of control”.

Speaking to the Scottish Parliament today, Ms Sturgeon told MSPs that “pressing pause” would ensure that coronavirus measures would not have to be reimposed at a later date.

She said: “I know how disappointing this will be, but pressing pause for a few days will hopefully avoid a situation in which we have to impose even more restrictive measures over the next few weeks.”

Initially, both areas will remain at Level 3 for a week, with a further decision made at the end of next week.

It heralds the return of local restrictions for Scotland after parts of the central belt were subject to tougher measures last year.

They will have less freedoms than counterparts in other areas of Scotland, who will be able to mix indoors in groups of six from three households.

Overnight stays are also allowed under Level 2, but are banned in Level 3.

Worth reading in full.

Vaccine Passports May Not Be Needed for Cinemas, Theatres and Restaurants

The Government’s domestic vaccine passport plans could be scaled back even further as a review on the scheme later this month is expected to report that certification will not be needed at cinemas, theatres and restaurants. Vaccine passports are, however, still likely to be introduced for a range of other venues, along with caps on numbers attending large events. MailOnline has the story.

Pubs are already excused from having to check the vaccine status of punters amid an outcry and now more businesses are set to avoid measures critics say will have a constricting effect on business.

A review is expected to report on the scope of any domestic passport scheme by the end of the month.

But ministers questioned their health benefits at a meeting on the subject last week, the Telegraph reported. 

It also said that there were feared that physical passports for those without smartphones might be a forgery risk.

Amid nosediving hospitalisation rates across England a source told the paper: “This different reality has prompted people saying, ”Well actually, I saw the benefit of it before but do we really need it?'”

However, strip clubs are expected to be one area where passports are required.

The Sun reported today that “adult entertainment venues” will join stadium events and large crowd venues like nightclubs in requiring proof of vaccine status.

They are due to reopen from June 21st under Step Four of the lockdown easing. 

Perhaps the Government did listen to those thousands who marched against vaccine passports in London last month after all.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Merriam-Webster has enlarged its definition of “Anti-Vaxxer” to include “a person who opposes vaccination or laws that that mandate vaccination”. How long before it enlarges it again to include “or opposes mandatory vaccine passports”?

Stop Press 2: Turns out, Merriam-Webster has been defining “Anti-Vaxxer” that way since 2018.

Commons Speaker Speeding up the Reopening of the House

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker of the Commons, hopes to speed up the reopening of the House so that Parliament may return to normal sooner than was previously anticipated. Guido Fawkes has the story.

A new message sent to MPs says he will now encourage the Commons Commission on Monday to implement “all changes possible” under the current Government guidance, due to the reduction in the Covid alert levelPreviously he was dragging his feet…

The changes he wants [include]:

~ The Chamber: Subject to final public health advice the chamber should consider moving from 2m social distancing to 1m+

~ Catering: Introduction of the rule of six – up from the current situation of tables with just one chair

~ Terrace Pavilion to open indoor and outdoor

~ Smoking room to be opened…

~ Non-pass holders: It is hoped the Commission will be able to support a limited return of access for non-pass holders for a greater variety of business reasons

Sir Lindsay has also requested that overseas committee visits resume.

Worth reading in full.

This comes as pressure from Tory backbenchers grows for Parliament to return to normal. Some MPs believe this could encourage companies across the country to speed up their reopenings. The Express has the story.

Peter Bone (Conservative, Wellingborough) told MPs: “I am afraid Parliament isn’t working. It is not holding properly the Government to account and it strikes me that Parliament should lead.

“So, could we have a statement from [Jacob Rees-Mogg] the Leader of the House telling us that Parliament – and particularly the House of Commons – is going to be restored to normal process and that we will end virtual proceedings?

“We won’t have hundreds of votes in the Deputy Chief Whip’s pocket and we’ll have proper voting and we’ll end social distancing in the chamber.

“We really need to lead and get Parliament back doing its job properly.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg says that he “hopes” the House will be back to normal from June 21st.

The Express report is also worth reading in full.

Portugal, on Government’s Travel “Green List” From May 17th, May Not Lift Ban on British Tourists Until May 30th

As if the Government’s travel “green list” wasn’t limited enough, there are reports that Portugal may not lift its ban on European tourists until at least May 30th – two weeks after travel restrictions are eased in Britain. This decision would force many to cancel their holiday bookings. The Mail has the story.

Portugal had been expected to lift its ban on European tourists entering its borders – including U.K. holidaymakers – from this Sunday.

But there was confusion amid reports the ban could be extended to May 30th.

It would mean Britons with holidays booked there next week – to coincide with the U.K.’s own travel ban being lifted on Monday – face having them cancelled.

It would also block thousands of football fans who have booked tickets for the Champions League final in Porto on May 29th.

The match had previously been due to be held in Istanbul but was moved following talks between U.K. ministers and UEFA organisers after Turkey was added to England’s travel “red list”…

Officials in Lisbon suggested the Portuguese cabinet talks about Covid concerned extending the country’s official “state of calamity” and would not change the lifting of the travel ban.

They said it related to its ability to introduce emergency Covid legislation and would not include tourism, which they said was still expected to be given the green light from Sunday. 

A formal announcement clarifying the situation is expected on Friday.

It came as the BBC reported that the Portuguese Government will require U.K. football fans to fly in and out of the country on the day of the match. Fans will also have to stay in a “bubble” while in the city.

The country’s Cabinet Affairs Minister, Mariana Vieira da Silva, said: “They will be moved to the stadium and from the stadium to the airport, being in Portugal less than 24 hours.”

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: MailOnline is reporting that holidays in Portugal are back on: “Portugal confirmed today that British tourists will be allowed to enter the country from next Monday, after it held crunch talks with the EU about non-essential travel.”

News Round Up