Coronavirus UK: Revellers in Newcastle and Soho mark Halloween

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Revellers in Newcastle and London tonight went out for drinks to mark Halloween as the Prime Minister unveiled plans to plunge England into a month-long national shutdown. 

Scores of young people packed into makeshift beer gardens in Borough Market, Soho and the Big Market in the North East city wearing ghoulish makeup to celebrate the spooky holiday.

Chaotic scenes ensued in Newcastle, where police enforcing Tier 2 restrictions arrested several drinkers who were partying in the streets after pubs and bars closed for the 10pm curfew.

Meanwhile, Londoners appeared apprehensive as they had a drink with friends on the last Saturday before Boris Johnson‘s draconian lockdown is imposed throughout England.

Tonight the Prime Minister announced that people must stay at home unless for specific reasons such as attending school or college from midnight on Thursday until December 2.

The brutal squeeze will see non-essential shops in England shut until December 2, as well as bars and restaurants despite the ‘absolutely devastating’ impact on the already crippled hospitality sector. 

Childcare, early years settings, schools, colleges and universities will remain open, with the Prime Minister telling a No10 press conference: ‘We cannot let this virus damage our children’s futures even more than it has already’.    

Mr Johnson said it would be a ‘medical and moral disaster, beyond the raw loss of life’ if the NHS was overrun and described the coronavirus pandemic as ‘a constant struggle and a balance that any Government has to make between lives and livelihoods, and obviously lives must come first’.  

However, Sir Keir Starmer tonight called for a second national lockdown to start immediately as the Labour Party claimed vindication for calling for a ‘circuit-breaker’ two weeks ago. 

And the head of the British Chambers of Commerce said the Government’s new raft of restrictions will deal ‘a devastating blow’ to business communities, insisting it will now be ‘much harder’ for firms to survive.   

It emerged earlier this month that the UK economy grew by just 2.1 per cent in August as the recovery from the pandemic’s impact stalled despite Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme. 

A group of young people marked Halloween by heading out to Newcastle city centre ahead of England's new shutdown

A group of young people marked Halloween by heading out to Newcastle city centre ahead of England’s new shutdown

A group of young people marked Halloween by heading out to Newcastle city centre ahead of England's new shutdown

A group of young people marked Halloween by heading out to Newcastle city centre ahead of England’s new shutdown

A group of young people marked Halloween by heading out to Newcastle city centre ahead of England's new shutdown

A group of young people marked Halloween by heading out to Newcastle city centre ahead of England’s new shutdown

Police arrest a reveller as she and her friends party in the streets after the 10pm curfew in Newcastle city centre

Police arrest a reveller as she and her friends party in the streets after the 10pm curfew in Newcastle city centre

A group of young people went out in Newcastle city centre in fancy dress to mark Halloween

A group of young people went out in Newcastle city centre in fancy dress to mark Halloween 

A group of young women dressed as police on a night out in Newcastle on the final Saturday before England's shutdown

A group of young women dressed as police on a night out in Newcastle on the final Saturday before England’s shutdown

A group of young people went out in Newcastle city centre in fancy dress to mark Halloween

A group of young people went out in Newcastle city centre in fancy dress to mark Halloween

A group of young people marked Halloween by heading out to Newcastle city centre ahead of England's new shutdown

A group of young people marked Halloween by heading out to Newcastle city centre ahead of England’s new shutdown

People in fancy dress are seen celebrating Halloween in Piccadilly Circus, London ahead of England's new shutdown

People in fancy dress are seen celebrating Halloween in Piccadilly Circus, London ahead of England’s new shutdown

People in fancy dress are seen celebrating Halloween in Piccadilly Circus, London ahead of England's new shutdown

People in fancy dress are seen celebrating Halloween in Piccadilly Circus, London ahead of England’s new shutdown

Drinkers and diners in Soho, central London enjoyed a final Saturday night out with friends ahead of England's shutdown

Drinkers and diners in Soho, central London enjoyed a final Saturday night out with friends ahead of England’s shutdown

Drinkers and diners in Soho, central London enjoyed a final Saturday night out with friends ahead of England's shutdown

Drinkers and diners in Soho, central London enjoyed a final Saturday night out with friends ahead of England’s shutdown

Drinkers and diners in Soho, central London enjoyed a final Saturday night out with friends ahead of England's shutdown

Drinkers and diners in Soho, central London enjoyed a final Saturday night out with friends ahead of England’s shutdown

Drinkers and diners in Soho, central London enjoyed a final Saturday night out with friends ahead of England's shutdown

Drinkers and diners in Soho, central London enjoyed a final Saturday night out with friends ahead of England’s shutdown

Revellers head out into Durham in fancy dress on the last Saturday before England's new month-long shutdown

Revellers head out into Durham in fancy dress on the last Saturday before England’s new month-long shutdown

A woman dressed in a costume for Halloween

A man dressed as the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland

Revellers including a woman dressed as a nurse and a man dressed as the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland in Soho

Adam Marshall, director general of British Chambers in Commerce, tonight said market confidence has been ‘hit hard by the unclear, stop-start approach’ taken by administrations across the UK during the pandemic.

He said: ‘Many firms are in a much weaker position now than at the start of the pandemic, making it far more challenging to survive extended closures or demand restrictions.

‘The temporary extension of the furlough scheme will bring short-term relief to many firms, and responds to Chambers’ call for business support to be commensurate with the scale of the restrictions imposed. 

‘The full financial support package for businesses facing hardship, whether through loss of demand or closure, must immediately be clarified and communicated. 

Key points in COVID lockdown Mark 2 

  • Restrictions will start at midnight on Thursday morning and last until December 2. 
  • People can only leave their homes for specific reasons, such as to do essential shopping, for outdoor exercise, and for work if they are unable to work from home.
  • Non-essential shops will be told to shut, although supermarkets do not need to close off aisles as has happened in Wales.
  • Restaurants and bars will be told to close unless they can operate a takeaway service. 
  • Leisure centres, gyms, sporting venues, hairdressers and beauty parlours will have to close, although professional sport will continue. 
  • Key businesses that cannot operate remotely – such as construction – should carry on as before with safety precautions.
  • Places of worship can stay open for private prayer. Funerals are limited to close family only.  
  • The furlough scheme will be extended during the period of the lockdown, rather than ending tomorrow as originally planned. 
  • Exercise is permitted with no limits on frequency, but organised sports – including outdoor activities such as golf – will not be permitted. 
  • When the lockdown lapses the Tiers system will be reinstated, leaving questions about what metric will be used to decide whether areas can have restrictions eased. 
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‘Sustained help must be available to employers, to the self-employed and to the many businesses and individuals that have not been able to access any of the government’s schemes to date.

‘The Government must not squander the time afforded to them through another lockdown to enable mass testing and fix Test and Trace systems – which hold the key to a lasting exit strategy for both public health and the economy.

‘We will be examining the detail of new restrictions and support carefully over the coming days, together with Chamber business leaders across the country. 

‘Business communities will judge them on whether they are clear and evidence-based – and on whether businesses are able to see when these restrictions may come to an end.’

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, added: ‘Lockdown is a decision for government, not business, and firms share the Prime Minister’s ambition to defeat the virus, But for many businesses, a second national lockdown marks the start of a bleak midwinter.

‘With the right support firms will do everything possible to minimise the damage. Across the country they have already shown how resilient they can be in the face of tighter restrictions. And thanks to huge efforts by businesses to make workplaces Covid secure, more of the economy can now stay open.

‘Extending furlough is a vital step. It will bring instant relief and protect jobs. It’s also a breakthrough to hear government support for rapid mass testing. 

‘Affordable fast tests are a game-changer for business, enabling more firms to stay open and operate normally. We must use this lockdown month to prepare and roll-out mass testing as a matter of national urgency.

‘However, some sectors may need more tailored support in the coming weeks.

‘It’s also clear that communication needs to improve. Firms can’t plan on the basis of speculation. Formal business involvement in lockdown planning is now urgently needed, matched by coordination with devolved nations to minimise confusion and build confidence.’

The TUC union insisted the Government should have taken decisive action sooner.

General secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘The extension of the furlough scheme is long overdue and necessary, but ministers must do more to protect jobs and prevent poverty.

‘Furlough pay must never fall below the national minimum wage. We need a boost to Universal Credit and Government should not abandon the self-employed. And we will not control the virus unless the Government fixes the test and trace system and the scandal of workers asked to self-isolate without decent sick pay.’

The Treasury tonight announced that, alongside the extension of the furlough scheme, businesses which are forced to close in England can receive grants of up to £3,000 per month, while local authorities will be given £1.1billion for one-off payments to firms in their areas.    

Homeowners will also be able to take the option of mortgage payment holidays, which had been due to end on Saturday but have been extended.

Mr Sunak said: ‘Over the past eight months of this crisis we have helped millions of people to continue to provide for their families. But now – along with many other countries around the world – we face a tough winter ahead.

‘I have always said that we will do whatever it takes as the situation evolves. Now, as restrictions get tougher, we are taking steps to provide further financial support to protect jobs and businesses. These changes will provide a vital safety net for people across the UK.’

Non-essential shops are among the businesses set to be affected by the new lockdown.

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: ‘Retail faces a nightmare before Christmas as the Government proposes to close thousands of retail premises under this new national lockdown, denying customers access to many of their favourites shops and brands. 

Drinkers and diners in Soho, central London enjoyed a final Saturday night out with friends ahead of England's shutdown

Drinkers and diners in Soho, central London enjoyed a final Saturday night out with friends ahead of England’s shutdown

A group of young people went out in Soho in fancy dress on the last Saturday before England's shutdown begins

A group of young people went out in Soho in fancy dress on the last Saturday before England’s shutdown begins

Drinkers and diners in Soho, central London enjoyed a final Saturday night out with friends ahead of England's shutdown

Drinkers and diners in Soho, central London enjoyed a final Saturday night out with friends ahead of England’s shutdown

Drinkers and diners in Soho, central London enjoyed a final Saturday night out with friends ahead of England's shutdown

Drinkers and diners in Soho, central London enjoyed a final Saturday night out with friends ahead of England’s shutdown

People were seen enjoying drinks in Borough Market, Southwark ahead of England's new month-long lockdown

People were seen enjoying drinks in Borough Market, Southwark ahead of England’s new month-long lockdown

People were seen enjoying drinks in Borough Market, Southwark ahead of England's new month-long lockdown

People were seen enjoying drinks in Borough Market, Southwark ahead of England’s new month-long lockdown

People were seen enjoying drinks in Borough Market, Southwark ahead of England's new month-long lockdown

People were seen enjoying drinks in Borough Market, Southwark ahead of England’s new month-long lockdown

People were seen enjoying drinks in Borough Market, Southwark ahead of England's new month-long lockdown

People were seen enjoying drinks in Borough Market, Southwark ahead of England’s new month-long lockdown

A reveller holding a beer bottle is seen talking to a Covid marshall in Soho ahead of England's new shutdown

A reveller holding a beer bottle is seen talking to a Covid marshall in Soho ahead of England’s new shutdown

People were seen enjoying drinks in Borough Market, Southwark ahead of England's new month-long lockdown

People were seen enjoying drinks in Borough Market, Southwark ahead of England’s new month-long lockdown

Revellers including a man dressed as the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland enjoying a night out in Soho

Revellers including a man dressed as the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland enjoying a night out in Soho

People were seen enjoying drinks in Borough Market, Southwark ahead of England's new month-long lockdown

People were seen enjoying drinks in Borough Market, Southwark ahead of England’s new month-long lockdown

People were seen enjoying drinks in Borough Market, Southwark ahead of England's new month-long lockdown

People were seen enjoying drinks in Borough Market, Southwark ahead of England’s new month-long lockdown

‘It will cause untold damage to the high street in the run up to Christmas, cost countless jobs, and permanently set back the recovery of the wider economy, with only a minimal effect on the transmission of the virus.

‘A recent Sage paper reported that closing ‘non-essential’ retail would have minimal impact on the transmission of Covid. This is thanks to the hundreds of millions of pounds retailers have spent making their stores Covid-secure and safe for customers and colleagues.

‘The announced closure will have a significant economic impact on the viability of thousands of shops and hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country. The previous lockdown cost ‘non-essential’ shops £1.6 billion a week in lost sales; now that we are entering the all-important Christmas shopping period, these losses are certain to be much bigger.

‘We have no doubt that retailers will comply with the rules and play their part to ensure the British public can remain safe and have access to the goods they need. Nonetheless, Government must also play its part, providing support to businesses that will be forced to close, otherwise the consequences for local retail will be dire.’

Andrew Goodacre, CEO of the British Independent Retailers’ Association, said: ‘This second lockdown could not be at a worse time for independent retailers as we approach the crucial festive period. Christmas shopping was already starting and will now end up being carried out online.

‘Small retailers need support through this lockdown. The furlough scheme should be reinstated, the grant scheme for all small businesses must be re-introduced and start planning for a ‘shop out to help out’ scheme to be available for when shops reopen.

Police arrest a reveller as she and her friends party in the streets after the 10pm curfew in Newcastle city centre

Police arrest a reveller as she and her friends party in the streets after the 10pm curfew in Newcastle city centre

Police arrest a reveller as she and her friends party in the streets after the 10pm curfew in Newcastle city centre

Police arrest a reveller as she and her friends party in the streets after the 10pm curfew in Newcastle city centre

Police arrest a reveller as she and her friends party in the streets after the 10pm curfew in Newcastle city centre

Police arrest a reveller as she and her friends party in the streets after the 10pm curfew in Newcastle city centre

Police are seen enforcing the 10pm curfew in Newcastle city centre tonight ahead of England's new shutdown

Police are seen enforcing the 10pm curfew in Newcastle city centre tonight ahead of England’s new shutdown

Revellers dressed up as Batman and the Joker in Newcastle on Halloween ahead of England's new shutdown

Revellers dressed up as Batman and the Joker in Newcastle on Halloween ahead of England’s new shutdown

A group of young people marked Halloween by heading out to Newcastle city centre ahead of England's new shutdown

A group of young people marked Halloween by heading out to Newcastle city centre ahead of England’s new shutdown

A group of young people marked Halloween by heading out to Newcastle city centre ahead of England's new shutdown

A group of young people marked Halloween by heading out to Newcastle city centre ahead of England’s new shutdown

A group of young people marked Halloween by heading out to Newcastle city centre ahead of England's new shutdown

A group of young people marked Halloween by heading out to Newcastle city centre ahead of England’s new shutdown

A group of young people marked Halloween by heading out to Newcastle city centre ahead of England's new shutdown

A group of young people marked Halloween by heading out to Newcastle city centre ahead of England’s new shutdown

‘We lost 25 per cent of independent retailers after the last lockdown, and without meaningful support the sector will be decimated by further lockdowns.’ 

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: ‘Today’s announcement, however necessary, will inevitably leave many small firms facing the bleakest winter they have ever seen and the second deep recession in 12 months. Urgent clarity is needed on how small businesses and the self-employed will be supported through this.

‘For the first wave lockdown, FSB encouraged the Government to create financial support schemes for businesses based on three principles – to be as generous as possible, to as many as possible, and as swift as possible.

‘We will now need the Government to match this scale of ambition, incorporating lessons learned from earlier this year – a second wave support package to offset the impact of a second wave of restrictions. This will help the country’s small businesses to make it through to the spring and be able to drive the recovery.’

Pubs and restaurants will also close under the new lockdown plans, and the Campaign for Real Ale has called for further support to be provided while doors are shut.

National chairman Nik Antona said: ‘A second lockdown is a devastating blow for an industry that is currently on its knees.

‘Pubs have already invested thousands to reopen Covid-safe environments despite facing seriously reduced incomes. Simply put, the new lockdown couldn’t come at a worse time.

‘The Government must introduce a robust support package for all pubs and breweries – regardless of their current rateable value.

Revellers dressed up for Halloween have a drink outside a pub in Frith Street in Soho ahead of England's shutdown

Revellers dressed up for Halloween have a drink outside a pub in Frith Street in Soho ahead of England’s shutdown

People gather outside the Market Porter pub in Borough Market, Southwark ahead of England's new shutdown

People gather outside the Market Porter pub in Borough Market, Southwark ahead of England’s new shutdown

People were seen enjoying drinks in Borough Market, Southwark ahead of England's new month-long lockdown

People were seen enjoying drinks in Borough Market, Southwark ahead of England’s new month-long lockdown

People were seen enjoying drinks in Borough Market, Southwark ahead of England's new month-long lockdown

People were seen enjoying drinks in Borough Market, Southwark ahead of England’s new month-long lockdown

‘While an extension to the furlough scheme is welcomed, it does not go far enough.

‘We need more details of how much support will be offered along with a clear road-map out of lockdown to ensure local jobs and businesses are not lost forever.’

Sir Keir Starmer says new national lockdown should start NOW, not on Thursday as Labour claims vindication on calling for circuit breaker two weeks ago – while Tories call Covid crisis ‘Boris’ Suez’ and say: ‘We are f****d!’ 

Sir Keir Starmer tonight called for a second national lockdown to start immediately as the Labour Party claimed vindication for calling for a ‘circuit-breaker’ two weeks ago.

The Labour leader also indicated that his Party will back the Government in a vote on a new England-wide lockdown due to take place in the House of Commons next week.

He welcomed Prime Minister Boris Johnson‘s plans to plunge the country into a second shutdown, but told reporters tonight that it should have happened ‘weeks ago’. 

Sir Keir had previously called on the Government to impose a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown on the UK for two to three weeks, warning that ‘sacrifices’ would have to be made to suppress the virus.  

Meanwhile, London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted that he was ‘furious’ that the Government had ‘dithered and delayed’, saying their ‘indecision will have unimaginable consequences’ for ‘lives and livelihoods’. 

And Leader of the Liberal Democrats Sir Ed Davey called the Tory Government ‘an utter shambles’, tweeting: ‘Through dither and delay they have cost jobs and lives. PM must ensure people have the support they need through this lockdown – and start work on a UK wide plan for Christmas.’  

Tory backbenchers were outraged that the media learned of the new lockdown before the Prime Minister made an announcement in Parliament. In a WhatsApp message seen by the PA news agency, the Prime Minister wrote to MPs to apologise to them and assure that No10 had not informed journalists of the measures yesterday. 

With MPs expected to vote on the measures on Wednesday, Mr Johnson will have to keep backbenchers, with a significant number of them highly sceptical of restrictions, on side.

Senior Conservatives told Matt Chorley of Times Radio tonight that the Prime Minister is on ‘borrowed time’ and ‘totally inept’, while another reportedly said: ‘I think it could be his Suez.’ 

One said: ‘Is this a deliberate destruction of the Tory Party? People only vote for us because they think we don’t care, but are competent. Lose the competence and we’re f****d. We’ve lost the competence. And we are f****d.’ 

But rebel ringleader Steve Baker appeared to have taken on board the dire warnings from scientists after a briefing with No10, telling Sky News: ‘I would encourage all members of the public, and all members of Parliament, to listen extremely carefully to what the Prime Minister says today and over the coming days.’  

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Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: ‘As a sector we are of course devastated to have to close our pubs and are fearful for their future, but we recognise the situation and that the spread of Covid-19 is serious.

‘Make no mistake, this could be the final straw for thousands of pubs and brewers. It will also create major disruption to our supply chain partners whose businesses are now also at severe risk.

‘The level of financial support will need to be same, if not greater, than that provided for the first lockdown earlier this year. This means grants for all pubs sufficient to cover ongoing fixed costs, and compensation grants for Britain’s brewers who will also be permanently devastated by the lockdown.

‘The news of the extension of the full furlough scheme for this lockdown period is welcome, but we await the full detail of it, and will need a full support plan far beyond the lockdown period to save our great British pubs and brewers.’

A spokesman for UKHospitality added: ‘Public health objectives are, rightly, the motive for the new measures, and for that reason we entirely support whatever proportionate action is necessary.

‘The costs to hospitality businesses of a second lockdown will be even heavier than the first, coming after periods of forced closure, the accumulation of mass debt and then significantly lower trading due to the restrictions of recent weeks. The sector was hit hardest and first, and this recent shutdown will hurt for months and years to come. The extension of furlough for a further month does help to protect our workforce during this difficult time.

‘If hospitality, the sector that is our country’s third largest employer, is to survive and help drive economic recovery, it will need equivalent – or more – support than that of the first lockdown.

‘Hospitality businesses have already been pushed to the limits, with many closures already. For those that have survived, viability is on a knife edge, as is the future of the tens of thousands of businesses and hundreds of thousands of jobs that depend on hospitality, including through its supply chain, right across the country.

‘It is critical that businesses are given a lifeline to survive the winter, before being given the support to enter a revival phase in 2021, as the nation’s prospects improve. A clear roadmap out of lockdown and through the tiers will also be vital for businesses to plan their survival, and the safeguarding of hundreds of thousands of jobs.

‘It is important to remember that some parts of hospitality, such as nightclubs, have not even been allowed to re-open. The support for those, now that potential reopening has been kicked further into the future, must be redoubled to ensure that they are not lost forever.’

Ian Wright, chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, said: ‘Confirmation that the furlough scheme will be extended is extremely welcome news for food and drink businesses who continue to feed the nation.

‘However, we need further clarity that the food supply chain will be supported sufficiently.

‘Without further reassurance, thousands of jobs will be under threat as businesses consider closing their doors for good.

‘The economic impacts of this decision threaten calamity unless we see further details of a rescue package in the next 72 hours.’

On a night which is traditionally one of the busiest for bars and nightclubs, Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association also bemoaned the impact. 

‘The announcement from the Prime Minister today will leave night time economy businesses facing a ‘financial armageddon’. It is the most horrific of Halloweens,’ he said.

‘It’s frightening to think that given the gravity of the situation, we are still being given limited communication, consultation or time to respond, or plan around these decisions.

‘The entire night time economy consisting of thousands of businesses and hundreds of thousands of workers are suffering.

‘Their plight is being made even worse by the huge void in financial support for the sector.

‘Many of our businesses have experienced extreme financial hardship, been presented with unmanageable operational measures and have in some cases been forced into complete closure since March.’

People were seen enjoying drinks in Borough Market, Southwark ahead of England's new month-long lockdown

People were seen enjoying drinks in Borough Market, Southwark ahead of England’s new month-long lockdown 

Drinkers and diners in Soho, central London enjoyed a final Saturday night out with friends ahead of England's shutdown

Drinkers and diners in Soho, central London enjoyed a final Saturday night out with friends ahead of England’s shutdown

Drinkers and diners in Soho, central London enjoyed a final Saturday night out with friends ahead of England's shutdown

Drinkers and diners in Soho, central London enjoyed a final Saturday night out with friends ahead of England’s shutdown

A group of young people marked Halloween by heading out to Newcastle city centre ahead of England's new shutdown

A group of young people marked Halloween by heading out to Newcastle city centre ahead of England’s new shutdown

Drinkers and diners in Soho, central London enjoyed a final Saturday night out with friends ahead of England's shutdown

Drinkers and diners in Soho, central London enjoyed a final Saturday night out with friends ahead of England’s shutdown

People were seen enjoying drinks in Borough Market, Southwark ahead of England's new month-long lockdown

People were seen enjoying drinks in Borough Market, Southwark ahead of England’s new month-long lockdown 

People were seen enjoying drinks in Borough Market, Southwark ahead of England's new month-long lockdown

People were seen enjoying drinks in Borough Market, Southwark ahead of England’s new month-long lockdown

Elsewhere, Jace Tyrrell, chief executive of New West End Company, described a lockdown of non-essential travel and retail as ‘a true nightmare before Christmas for West End retailers’.

Teaching unions are already demanding the CLOSURE of schools in new national lockdown – in defiance of Boris Johnson’s plan to keep them open when restrictions start Thursday 

Teaching unions are already calling for schools to shut in defiance of Boris Johnson’s insistence on Saturday that they will remain open during a new national lockdown. 

The National Education Union’s joint general secretary Kevin Courtney called for schools to be included in new lockdown restrictions and said it would be a ‘mistake’ to allow them to remain open. 

As for higher education, Jo Grady, the general secretary of the Universities and College Union (UCU) said it would be ‘incomprehensible’ to allow in-person teaching to continue.  

However, Mr Johnson confirmed at Saturday evening’s Downing Street press conference that schools, universities and colleges would remain open as he announced a new nationwide lockdown. 

He said the country could not afford to allow the virus to ‘damage our children’s futures even more than it has already.’   

However, Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, said it is ‘very welcome’ that schools would remain open and added it would have been a ‘disaster’ if they were to close. 

Her comments were echoed by the prominent headmistress Katharine Birbalsingh, who said it was ‘wonderful’ that schools will remain open. 

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The West End employs one in 10 Londoners, and this year’s run up to Christmas is shaping up to deliver ‘some of the most difficult trading periods we’ve ever experienced’, he said.

Mr Tyrrell added: ‘Many jobs have already been lost, and many more are at risk, unless trading levels increase or furlough is reinstated.

‘In addition to emergency support to cover lost wages, the Government must make an immediate announcement that it will maintain essential support measures such as continued business rates relief after April next year.

‘Retailers and the public need to be reassured that there is light at the end of the tunnel, as continued uncertainty and stop-start measures are undermining confidence and worsening an already catastrophic situation.’ 

Charlie Mullins, founder and chairman of Pimlico Plumbers, said: ‘With this latest lockdown the business community has been sold down the river by a government that is supposed to be on our side, and I thought understand that the wellbeing of the nation depended on the survival of the economy.

‘Sadly, Boris has lost track of these basic Conservative principles and has crumbled under the pressure of the job and the scientific voices whispering in his ear.

‘He also looks like he’s playing politics with the livelihoods of the south of England by imposing a national lockdown instead of adding a fourth tier to the worst parts of the country.

‘The Government is so desperate to curry favour in its newly won over north that it is chucking a net over us all to avoid being accused of favouring London and the south, over the areas where the virus is truly out of control.

‘Boris would do well to remember where his constituency is.’

Derek Cribb, chief executive of IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed), said: ‘Government must urgently fix the unfair disparity between employee and self-employed support.

‘Right now, the self-employed can claim just 40 per cent of their earnings compared to 80 per cent for employees through the extended furlough scheme. This cannot stand as we enter a second national lockdown.

‘Crucially, Government must also make sure it extends the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme to all self-employed people. The gaps in support in the first lockdown – such as limited company directors and the newly self-employed – led to the biggest drop in self-employed numbers on record. Many thousands lost their freelance businesses and were driven onto Universal Credit.

‘Now, those limited company directors and other excluded self-employed who made it through on their savings face financial calamity if they do not get support in this second lockdown. Government must urgently increase the amount paid through SEISS and extend it so that all of the UK’s 4.6 million self-employed are supported.’    

Stephen Phipson, chief executive of manufacturers’ organisation Make UK, said: ‘Industry will accept this decision and carry on supporting the national effort as it has done since the very start of the crisis. The fact we now have more ventilators and medicines in hospitals, PPE in care homes and food on supermarket shelves is down to their great efforts.

‘However, this Halloween is far from a treat for manufacturers and there will be further consequences for some industries that have already been severely impacted and which may still require sector specific support.

‘Given this could not have come at a worse time for jobs, Make UK welcomes the decision to extend the job retention scheme at 80 per cent of salaries which has played such a key role so far in protecting as many jobs in our sector.

‘Given this crisis has some time to run Government is going to have to continue to adopt a flexible and fast paced approach to policy for all sectors of the economy, not just those forced to close.’  

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