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RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: In what universe does closing the hospitality sector ‘protect the economy’?

Grim Reaper Matt Hancock prefaced his Commons announcement of yet another ruinous lockdown in London, Hertfordshire and Essex with a blood-curdling warning about a new super strain of coronavirus which has just been identified by ‘the science’.

Presumably, this ingenious variant only attacks people in pubs not gyms, and restaurants not shops.

Even so, it’s still not as clever as the initial virus, which ‘experts’ assure us is able to work out to the last Scotch egg whether or not drinkers are having a ‘substantial meal’ with their pint.

It would also appear that Covid-19 will be knocking off for the holidays.

As of last night, the Government had no plans to cancel the five-day armistice over Christmas.

Presumably the new super strain of coronavirus announced by Matt Hancock yesterday only attacks people in pubs not gyms, and restaurants not shops

So, from next Wednesday, we will be set free to play football in No Man’s Land and mingle with our families, at least until the flares signalling the resumption of hostilities are fired at midnight on December 28.

After that, it’s everybody back in the bunker or YOU’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!

Hancock said bayoneting London and part of the Home Counties into Tier 3 was essential to ‘protect the economy and the NHS’.

To which we can only respond with a hollow laugh. Who’s writing his scripts: Lewis Carroll?

In the Looking Glass world where we have all been held hostage since March, words mean whatever Hancock and his fellow ministers choose them to mean.

It’s all gone Humpty Dumpty.

In what parallel universe does forcing the hospitality sector to close during its busiest time of the year ‘protect the economy’.

Boris Johnson is preoccupied with securing a free trade deal with the EU which will give British business continued access to the single market — at the same time as across the country we’re not even allowed to attend Christmas market 

Plunging pubs and restaurants into Tier 3 will, at a conservative estimate, cost them £3 billion between now and New Year.

Even that astronomical figure might be wildly optimistic. 

Gary Murphy, the landlord of The Mitre, in High Barnet, told Sky News that the stop-start lockdowns this year had already robbed him of £500,000 in lost takings. 

He’s had no income personally since March and in the stop-start periods when the pub has been allowed to open, he’s only been able to break even.

Now, like countless other pubs and bars, he will have to pour away thousands of gallons of beer, dump food already in stock in anticipation of the Christmas rush and cancel orders from equally hard-hit suppliers.

Just down the road from The Mitre, the guv’nor of my daughter’s local has spent £60,000 this year on making his boozer Covid-compliant — everything from frequent deep cleansing to erecting a marquee in the garden and buying patio heaters. And he’ll never get a single penny of it back.

On Friday lunchtime, I ventured into the West End of London for my first meal out since September. 

For the past three months, a gammy leg has meant I’ve been confined to barracks. While half the country has been in lockdown, I’ve been in crockdown. Just as well I went when I did.

Even though I’ve now recovered, I won’t be going to a restaurant again in a hurry. And if and when London ever emerges from Tier 3, the only question outstanding is whether there’ll be any restaurants left.

Local cafes and curry houses are already on life support. The Government’s latest decision to force them to pull down the shutters once more has slapped a Do Not Resuscitate order on thousands of family businesses.

Even well-known upscale establishments are in trouble. 

Langan’s Brasserie, a fixture of the London scene since 1976, closed for good last month. Restaurants both grand and humble have strained every sinew and spent a small fortune on trying to stay within the rules. To no avail.

Scott’s, where I lunched on Friday, has installed discreet temperature sensors, glass screens, hand sanitisers, removed a number of tables and staff all wear masks. I felt safer from infection in there than I would in any NHS hospital.

Local cafes and curry houses are already on life support. The Government’s latest decision to force them to pull down the shutters once more has slapped a Do Not Resuscitate order on thousands of family businesses

Local cafes and curry houses are already on life support. The Government’s latest decision to force them to pull down the shutters once more has slapped a Do Not Resuscitate order on thousands of family businesses

Yet, as of tonight, the restaurant will have to close as the entire hospitality industry is frogmarched back into cold storage.

All this at a time when, as I mentioned on Friday, 290,000 jobs are likely to be lost permanently as a result of the reaction to Covid.

That was before the lockdown which starts tonight. If it goes on for any length of time, expect tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of restaurant staff to join them on the dole. Yet there’s no logic to any of this. 

A Cabinet which only a couple of months ago was paying us to Eat Out To Help Out is now behaving like a bunch of Kentucky Fried headless chickens.

We’re told it’s to ‘protect the NHS’ from becoming overwhelmed. But according to official figures, the mortality rate is actually falling. 

Last Thursday, there were just 12 Covid-related deaths in London. On Saturday, the death toll had tumbled to five — yes FIVE — out of a population of more than nine MILLION.

They still won’t tell us how many died with corona and how many from it. Widespread anecdotal evidence suggests the figures are being deliberately inflated to justify the Government’s illogical, incoherent over-reaction.

And if the NHS is about to be ‘overwhelmed’, why are the dedicated Nightingale hospitals, built at warp speed and considerable expense, largely standing empty?

While coronavirus cases are increasing in London, there were just 12 Covid-related deaths in London last Thursday. On Saturday, the death toll had tumbled to five — yes FIVE — out of a population of more than nine MILLION

While coronavirus cases are increasing in London, there were just 12 Covid-related deaths in London last Thursday. On Saturday, the death toll had tumbled to five — yes FIVE — out of a population of more than nine MILLION

None of it makes any sense. Why, for instance, is it safe to work out in a gym, or shop in a supermarket, but not to eat a meal in a socially-distanced bistro or enjoy a swift half in a boozer?

Is it any wonder that, increasingly, fewer and fewer people believe a single word ministers and their tame ‘experts’ say. To use football parlance, they’ve long since lost the dressing room.

Why is a Conservative — a Conservative government — hell-bent on punishing and alienating its traditional supporters, especially in the licensed trade? Go figure.

Meanwhile, Boris is preoccupied with securing a free trade deal with the EU which will give British business continued access to the single market — at the same time as across the country we’re not even allowed to attend Christmas markets.

At this rate, anyway, these turgid negotiations could be purely academic. Thanks to Grim Reaper Hancock and ‘the science’, if these lockdowns last much longer, we won’t have an economy left to protect.

Police force couple to pull the plug on their Winter Wonderland display 

Police have stepped up their war on Christmas lights. 

On Friday, I brought you news of a home owner in Staffordshire who was threatened with a £10,000 fine because spectators attracted by his Chevy Chase-style display broke Covid-19 social distancing rules.

Now we learn that a couple who turned their bungalow into a Winter Wonderland, complete with illuminated reindeers and giant glowing turtles, have been forced to pull the plug by the ever-vigilant Avon and Somerset Plod.

The Old Bill haven’t yet got round to Jeremy and Mandy Voakes, who for the past 20 years have installed 150,000 fairy lights at their home near Morecambe to raise money for the NSPCC.

The ever-vigilant Avon and Somerset Plod have forced a couple to pull the plug on a Winter Wonderland display at their bungalow

The ever-vigilant Avon and Somerset Plod have forced a couple to pull the plug on a Winter Wonderland display at their bungalow 

Their dazzling spectacular consumes so much electricity that the tumble drier has gone on the blink and they’ve had to switch off the underfloor heating, just to be on the safe side. 

It’s so bright that RAF fighter pilots are using the house as a navigation marker, rather like World War II bombers returning from night raids over Germany relied on Lincoln Cathedral to plot their safe course home.

How long before Jeremy and Mandy have to shut it down — not because of Covid but in the name of national security? 

If the RAF can spot the property from 30,000ft, so can potential enemy aircraft. 

With sabre-rattling between Britain and France escalating over Brexit, and talk of gunboats in the Channel, a possible ten grand fine for breaking corona rules will be the least of their problems.

In the event of a shooting war breaking out, their Winter Wonderland would become a prime target for an Exocet missile down the chimney.

Boom, boom, out go the lights!


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