Norman Baker: we must hit back against China and its play-dirty regime

THIS is how to battle Beijing: Few understand China’s contempt for our way of life – and their determination to destroy it. NORMAN BAKER says we have no choice but to hit back

In my dealings with China over many years, I have learnt one hard fact: they do not play by the same rules as other countries. They play dirty. 

When I went to Beijing as Transport Minister, I was warned by the Foreign Office not to take my phone or my laptop as it was assumed the Chinese would suck all the information out of the devices if I did.

At the residence of the British Ambassador, I asked him a question about the political situation. He ushered me into the garden and advised me in a low voice that it was almost certain the residence was bugged, and to be very careful what I said.

In China, government policy is very tightly controlled and they do not play by the rules – they play dirty

The visit itself was tightly controlled. A request to travel to Tibet was abruptly refused and the official meeting to agree a document on transport co-operation was more heavily choreographed than Strictly Come Dancing.

This included, just like in the days of the emperor, a row of Chinese officials sitting at right angles to the minister in hierarchical order, none of whom said a word.

It was no mere pantomime, however; this was in deadly earnest. China’s Communist regime has no time for debate, let alone opposing points of view. It despises democracy and wants to see it replaced as the natural form of government.

Covid-19 is not the only contagion spreading across the world from China. Beijing is dedicated to eliminating opposition to its own cruel approach, including criticism expressed in Britain. 

China’s Communist regime, led by Xi JinPing (pictured), despises democracy and wants to see it replaced as the natural form of government

This mean, self-interested cynicism is already changing the way we live and it is time that Western democracies like ours took off their rose-tinted glasses and saw the regime for what it really is. 

We must come together as a free world to tackle it before it is too late.

They know all about this in Hong Kong, of course, where the candle of democracy, already flickering, is about to be extinguished. 

Last week, China’s National People’s Congress drove a tank over the freedoms promised in July 1997, when the Union Flag was lowered for the last time and the territory was handed back to China.

With its 2,980 members, the People’s Congress is supposedly the world’s largest parliamentary body. But all power lies with one man – Xi Jinping. 

The candle of democracy is about to be extinguished in Hong Kong (pictured) by the Chinese regime, as can be seen by the widespread protests over the last week

President Xi may look harmless, but he is anything but. All power in the country rests with him despite 2,980 members in the People’s Congress of China

He might look like Winnie the Pooh, but he is far from cuddly and the thousands of members are simply a pathetic collection of rubber-stamping robots.

You can be sure that any country that invokes ‘the people’ is one where the people are nowhere near the levers of power. They are simply there to serve the machine.

Today, Xi’s government has a surveillance state that makes George Orwell’s 1984 look tame.

Data on hundreds of millions of citizens has been assembled, from their medical histories to their takeaway orders, their methods of birth control to the history of their train journeys. 

Cameras are everywhere, especially in regions populated by minorities like the Uighurs and the Tibetans, places which are so heavily policed, you can see one checkpoint from the next.

The official mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, has claimed the state’s surveillance network is now ‘capable of identifying any one of China’s 1.4 billion citizens within a second’.

So be warned. It is now common for foreigners arriving at a Chinese airport to have their phone taken away for 15 minutes while personal information and contacts are copied and a secret surveillance app installed that extracts emails and texts. 

Many foreigners who arrive at a Chinese airport have their phone taken away for 15 minutes to verify personal information, correspondence and contacts

A new social credit system due to be rolled out from this year will record every action by a Chinese citizen and award and deduct points according to the behaviour expected of them.

Even an activity as harmless as what the Americans call ‘jaywalking’, or crossing the road irresponsibly, will generate an automatic warning text and lose you points.

In the southern city of Shenzhen, a jaywalker can be publicly shamed by appearing in real time on a video screen by the side of the road, along with their name, address and ID number. 

In Beijing’s Temple of Heaven, facial recognition is used to control how much toilet paper you can have: 60cm (2ft) each, and if you need more, you have to wait nine minutes.

Until recently, I served for many years as the President of Tibet Society, the world’s oldest Tibet support group. I am also closely involved with its native Uighur community. 

What the Chinese government is inflicting on these minorities within their borders amounts to cultural genocide – and I do not use the phrase lightly.

In the North West Province, Xinjiang, more than a million Uighurs have been locked up in concentration camps for no other reason than that they are Muslim. 

There they are forced to learn Mandarin, to praise Xi Jinping and the Communist Party and deny their own religion. They are forced to drink alcohol and eat pork. 

They are then, according to a US Congressional report, sent across China to work as what amounts to slave labour in factories producing goods for companies like Coca-Cola, H&M, Adidas and Nike. 

Outside the concentration camps, meanwhile, mosques are demolished and children are removed at an early age from their parents so they can be brought up to be ‘good’ citizens.

In Tibet, a harmless expression of identity such as celebrating the Dalai Lama’s birthday can result in arrest, imprisonment and torture. 

In Tibet (pictured), a harmless expression of identity can result in arrest, imprisonment and torture

The atheist Communist regime has even decreed that Buddhists, including, of course, the Dalai Lama, cannot reincarnate without their permission.

The latest humiliating intimidation is to impose ‘guests’ upon Tibetan families. But these ‘guests’ are from China’s majority Han ethnic group, who invite themselves to stay and act as spies within the household, including pumping children for information. 

I went to the Chinese embassy in London to argue the case for a more humane approach towards the Tibetans. 

It was a fruitless exercise, akin to talking to a speak-your-weight machine. Tibet has always been part of China, the ambassador told me.

Yet we in Britain know that is totally untrue. Because, unlike any other country, our diplomats were present in independent Tibet. We signed treaties with Tibet to which China was not party. 

Until it was invaded by China, the country had its own currency, its own stamps, its own foreign and defence policy, its own government. 

So almost alone, we refused to recognise Chinese sovereignty, until 2008, that is, when idiotic Labour Ministers gave in.

I asked them what they had got in return. The answer was nothing. They hoped it would encourage a more amenable Beijing in future. 

But all the Chinese did was to open the till, bank the concession, and shut the till again, before carrying on as normal.

I don’t think people in this country realise just how deep and wide Chinese influence now runs. I was in Malaysia about a year ago, a country that was once a British colony. It now looks like a Chinese colony. Beijing’s influence is everywhere. That of London and Washington, nowhere to be seen.

With an economy that will soon be the biggest on the planet, the Chinese can afford to buy the silence of those who find the regime distasteful. Abroad, they are allowed to behave like a 19th Century colonial power, stripping poor countries of natural resources and securing oppressive political influence, often for very little in return. 

Under Xi, China has no qualms about engaging in widespread cyber activities to destabilise other countries and steal their economic secrets. Their military capability has increased hugely and now poses a real threat to the nation’s neighbours.

With the help of countries it has bought off, Beijing has managed to get itself appointed to the UN consultative group to select experts to investigate human rights abuses.

What a sick joke. This is the country that shoots its own people if they dare to demonstrate, and then sends a bill for the bullets used to kill them to their surviving relatives.

When the established facts are unpalatable, Beijing simply invents its own. Their virus of lies has now infected our universities. 

Around this country you can find Confucius Institutes on university campuses. The Chinese government would have you believe that these are innocuous cultural bodies. 

But when I undertook a detailed analysis of their activities, I found that their classes banned talk of the three Ts – Tibet, Taiwan and Tiananmen. I found maps that wrongly showed Taiwan as part of China.

More insidiously, I found that universities keen to receive Chinese money were caving in to Chinese pressure, for instance to remove pictures of the Dalai Lama.

In the United States, some Confucius Institutes have been made to close because their activities have been deemed incompatible with the values of a free democratic state. But not in Britain, where insidious self-censorship permeates our Government.

Criticism of China’s appalling human-rights behaviour is almost never mentioned any more. Prime Ministers no longer meet the Dalai Lama so as not to upset the murderous regime.

When Tim Loughton and I, at the time both Government Ministers and both long-standing Tibet supporters, were invited to meet the Dalai Lama privately, we were instructed by the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, not to do so as it was not conducive to good relations with the Chinese.

Tim, who was a good Children’s Minister, protested in a letter to the Prime Minister and shortly afterwards was sacked.

The charge sheet against the Chinese government is long and bloody – too long to list in full. 

But we must not forget massive environmental destruction in Tibet, last week’s aggressive and ominous military incursions into Indian territory, the damming up of rivers now seriously affecting water flow into that country, an aggressive territorial expansion that is claiming rights over almost all the South China Sea, and a stated intention to bring Taiwan fully under Beijing’s control, by force if necessary.

There is a hard lesson that we in Britain need to learn, and quickly: the only thing the Chinese government respects is strength.

The charge sheet against the Chinese government is long and bloody – too long to list in full

That is why their strategy is to strengthen themselves by weakening us, and countries like us. They see democracies as feeble and will have nothing but contempt for the way Britain is opening the doors of its 5G network to Huawei or sharing its nuclear secrets with China General Nuclear as part of deals to renew our creaking energy system.

Can you imagine a British company ever being given privileged access to the Chinese nuclear industry?

Enough is enough. China is powerful, too powerful, but its destructive behaviour can be stopped.

First, we must do much more to protect our critical national infrastructure, even if that means paying a bit more to achieve this. China should certainly be nowhere near our telecommunications and nuclear industries.

Second, we must ban UK companies, universities and research institutes from supplying technology to Chinese companies, all of which can be safely assumed to be fronts for the Communist regime.

Third, we must work together with other democratic countries to put human rights back on the international agenda, including prominently in the UN Security Council.

We should move to prohibit countries with appalling human-rights records from sitting on any UN body set up to deal with human rights. 

More than one million people are locked up in Chinese concentration camps in the North West province in Xinjiang – just because they are Muslim

We should call for an independent investigation into Chinese behaviour in Tibet and Xinjiang, where the Uighurs are.

Fourth, we must adopt our version of the America Magnitsky Act, aimed at corrupt associates of Vladimir Putin. This would allow us to list Chinese officials we know to have committed or facilitated human rights abuses, expel them if they are in the UK, and seize their assets.

Fifth, we should demand the right for our diplomats, our journalists, and indeed everybody else, to wander freely across China, just as their people have the right to visit anywhere in Britain. And until that right is provided, the right of Chinese diplomats to do likewise in the UK should be curtailed.

Sixth, we should require Confucius Institutes to operate to acceptable honest standards or close them down. They should be subject to much more rigorous independent oversight.

It Xi Jinping and China’s regime continues to run unchecked, it will damage our way of life irreparably, as it intends to do

China has presented us with a poisonous cocktail unprecedented in modern world history – a nation with contempt for human rights and a hunger for world primacy which is backed by unparalleled technical capabilities and unsurpassed wealth. 

If unchecked, it will damage our way of life irreparably, as it intends to do.

We have recently marked the 75th anniversary of VE Day. One of the lessons from the 1930s is that when a pariah state emerges, it cannot simply be passively ignored. It needs to be challenged or the inaction of others merely feeds the monster.

It is time for the democratic world to unite to stand up to the gangster government in Beijing.

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McMuffins could be back on the McDonald’s menu very soon

The past few months have been tough on fast food fans.

But the past two weeks there’s been a light at the end of the (burger-less) tunnel, as McDonald’s has slowly been reopening stores – albeit with a limited menu.

But now it seems there’s more good news, as the fast food giant has announced that more menu items could be on the way very soon – including the return of the humble McMuffin.

A statement sent to from McDonald’s UK and Ireland CEO Paul Pomroy explained the chain plans to reintroduce the breakfast favourite soon.

It said: ‘Over the coming months, we will explore how to extend the menu, increase our opening hours and reintroduce those much-missed McMuffins at breakfast.’

However, it stressed that McDonald’s will do so very cautiously and guided by information from the government and health officials.

It added: ‘Working with our employees, franchisees and suppliers I want to ensure we only move forward to the next stage of reopening at the right time, when we are confident it is safe for us to do so.’

Currently the chain is operating with reduced staff and a limited menu in order to adhere to social distancing measures.

Other new measures include perspex screens in key locations in the kitchen and service areas, as well as protective (non-medical) equipment for staff – including gloves and face masks for customer and courier-facing positions

Last week, McDonald’s reopened more than 30 restaurants for drive thru, following on from the 15 restaurants it reopened for delivery on 13 May.

Although, all the locations are currently in the South East of England.

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Tyson Fury hits back at Dillian Whyte ‘bashing’ claims saying he’s only so mouthy as he’s protected by the lockdown – The Sun

TYSON FURY has told Dillian Whyte to keep his trap shut – and reckons he is only being mouthy because he is "protected" by the coronavirus lockdown.

Londoner Whyte continued his war of words with the Gypsy King this week by claiming he knocked him down in sparring.

But Fury hit back at Whyte, who cannot return to England after flying out to Portugal for a training camp, where he remains.

Fury said on Twitter: "Funny how everyone wants to fight during Covid-19, when there are no sports events happening.

"Also I have a contract with the @bronzebomber first and when I win that I'll have the fight with Joshua as undisputed comes before mandatory. Happy hunting."

Whyte, who beat Anthony Joshua early in his career, had gone on the offensive to bait Fury.

He told Sky Sports: "It makes me angry and it frustrates me because Tyson Fury refused to fight me in a mandated fight for the WBC diamond belt."

The Body Snatcher added: "Me and Tyson Fury sparred and I bashed him about and dropped him on multiple occasions. Simple as that."

But is is unlikely that the pair will get it on until at least the end of 2021, if at all.

Fury will fight Deontay Wilder first, followed by Joshua.

The coronavirus lockdown has put those dates back even further.


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Emmerdale is back filming with six lockdown specials to keep show on air

Emmerdale has returned to filming as members of the cast are back on set, recording six special episodes following our favourite characters in lockdown – meaning that the soap will stay on air beyond the already completed episodes.

Filming was underway yesterday (Wednesday 20 May) at Emmerdale’s studios in Leeds involving a pared back crew to ensure health and safety protocols and social distancing measures are strictly adhered to by the team on set. The six episodes will be recorded over a two week filming period.

New ways of working to protect the crew and cast have been introduced by ITV Studios in accordance with pan-industry return-to-production protocols for TV drama which ITV’s Health and Safety team and medical advisers have been working on in consultation with the Government. The guidelines underpin everything ITV Studios are putting in place for the cast, crew and production team to adhere to whilst filming.

The measures will include social distancing, filming units staying together to work in designated studios with crew using their own sanitised equipment, office staff continuing to work from home to ensure fewer people on the ground, no location filming, scripts featuring a smaller number of actors and fewer scenes to avoid camera moves.  

The crew have also attended a meeting with the company’s medical adviser and participated in a health and safety induction which saw the new working environment procedures explained in detail.

The new episodes will ensure Emmerdale stays on air in June bringing the audience topical stories from much loved characters. Inevitably, with time on their hands the characters will begin to think about what’s important in life.  

We’ll see resentments and past feuds resurface, old wounds further exposed, relationships scrutinised, with doubts and insecurities laid bare. Some seize the opportunity lockdown presents to heal divisions, whilst others get some sizzle back into their lives!  

With the backdrop of the pandemic, the characters also reflect the nation’s immense gratitude and thanks for the NHS with the weekly clap for carers and the people working on the frontline keeping our country safe.

The six new episodes – Cain and Aaron (Jeff Hordley and Danny Miller), Chas and Paddy (Lucy Pargeter and Dominic Brunt), Sam and Lydia (James Hooton and Karen Blick), Marlon, Al and Ellis (Mark Charnock, Michael Wildman, Aaron Anthony), Mandy and Vinny (Lisa Riley and Bradley Johnson) and Jimmy and Nicola (Nick Miles and Nicola Wheeler) – will be recorded over a two week period and directed by Ian Bevitt.

The writers are Adam Sales, Jo Maris, Paul Roundell, Karin Young, Samantha Doland De Vaux, and Chris Gill.  The episodes are produced by Laura Shaw and Kate Brooks with Executive Producer, Jane Hudson.  

Jane Hudson explained: ‘Lockdown has created an opportunity for us to focus on what is important in our lives. When we first discussed commissioning these episodes back in March the writers instantly rose to the challenge. 

‘Seven weeks into lockdown and the scripts have an added poignancy and meaning.  The response from everyone at Emmerdale to filming these episodes has been fantastic and we’re really grateful for their support.’

John Whiston, Managing Director of Continuing Drama for ITV Studios and Head of ITV in the North has been overseeing the soaps plans to return to filming.

He enthused: ‘It’s brilliant that Jane and the team at Emmerdale have risen to the challenge of getting these episodes shot using the new protocols for filming drama while observing the Government’s social distancing guidelines. Also, it will be great to see what the likes of Chas and Paddy and Jimmy and Nicola have got up to while they’ve been going through lockdown the same as the rest of us!’

If you’ve got a soap or TV story, video or pictures get in touch by emailing us [email protected] – we’d love to hear from you.

Join the community by leaving a comment below and stay updated on all things soaps at our homepage.

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Chelsea stars pictured back at Cobham for the first time

So THAT’S what five-player training looks like! Chelsea stars back together at their Cobham base as Premier League clubs begin group sessions under new regulations as part of Project Restart

  • Premier League clubs voted for a return to group training from Tuesday
  • A vote was held on Monday following discussions between players and officials 
  • Stars are now able to work together in small groups but no contact is allowed
  • Officials hope to resume games in June but season may not finish until August
  • Just SIX anonymous Premier League players and staff test positive for virus

Chelsea players and some staff returned to Cobham on Tuesday afternoon to begin small group training, in line with the Premier League’s return-to-training protocols and UK Government guidelines on social distancing. 

Premier League shareholders voted unanimously on Monday in favour of a return to socially distanced training, with players allowed to work together in groups of five.

Officials needed at least 14 positive votes to press ahead with phase one of the return to training, in which all contact between players remains banned.

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard leads a group of five players in a jog on Tuesday afternoon

Premier League stars are now able to work together in small groups but no contact is allowed

L-R: Tammy Abraham, Willian, Mason Mount and Andreas Christensen were part of one group

And Chelsea wasted no time in taking advantage of the new guidelines, with their players pictured working together in small groups at the club’s training ground.

Manager Frank Lampard and his assistants were present as members of the squad got back together, the work primarily on fitness for the time being.

Lampard’s squad are potentially on a tight schedule with June 12 still being mooted as a prospective return date, despite a number of top players, including Raheem Sterling and Danny Rose, expressing misgivings.

Lampard has insisted he will take the views of his players into account with regards to training

Olivier Giroud (C) looked in good spirits as he warmed up alongside his team-mates

Reece James (L) and Michy Batshuayi showed off their skills in close proximity to one another 

And Lampard has insisted he will take the views of his players into account as he looks to strike the right balance between a rigorous training programme with reduced staff levels, and his players’ specific physical and psychological needs.

Lampard added: ‘It’s been a job for us as staff to plan how phase one will look because it will be quite different due to the restrictions on how we can work.

‘It’s good for the players because they will be wanting to get back training in the right conditions; we know it’s difficult circumstances for everyone so it’s going to be a challenge to make sure that we get it right.

The Blues’ training ground was finally full of activity for the first time in two months 

Ross Barkley (C) and Marcos Alonso (R) were seen working with assistant manager Jody Morris

‘Our job from the coaching side is to make sure we’re careful with the players. The first steps will have to be very careful but all managers will be thinking a similar thing.

‘You can’t just tell them we’re going in this direction because this is something that’s affected everyone and their families.

‘Football has been put in its place. Everyone wants to get back playing, we all miss it, but we need to know the players are comfortable.’      

Midfielder Jorginho was all smiles as he stretched out alone ahead of Tuesday’s session

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Australia heads back to the pub as cafes and restaurants also open

Australia heads back to the pub: Bars, cafes and restaurants reopen in some states Down Under as country continues to ease coronavirus lockdown

  • Australian states of New South Wales and Northern Territory have eased more lockdown restrictions today 
  • Pubs allowed to reopen in both places, though NSW has a limit of 10 customers and drinks must be with food
  • Cafes and restaurants have also reopened, while group exercise is permitted in parks and on beaches 
  • Australia has confirmed 7,019 cases of virus and 98 deaths, with just a handful of new cases per day
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Pubs, cafes and restaurants reopened across two Australian states on Friday as the country’s coronavirus lockdown eased further – albeit with safety precautions still in place. 

Eateries and coffee houses in the most populous state of New South Wales – which includes Sydney – opened their doors early to punters, though were only allowed to let ten people at a time inside with social distancing in place.

Pubs followed later, though with the same restrictions including the caveat that those wishing to order a drink must also order food. The measures prompted many to keep their doors shut.

Over in the Northern Territory, which includes the city of Darwin, pubs were also allowed to reopen with no capacity limits – though punters must still order food with their drinks and social distancing must be maintained.

Three friends enjoy a beer over a plate of food at Soy Restaurant in Bondi Beach, New South Wales, after cafes, restaurants and pubs were allowed to reopen with restrictions in place as the country eases lockdown rules

Three women enjoy a glass of wine over pizza at a restaurant in Bondi Beach, New South Wales, as lockdown eased. Eateries are only allowing up to 10 people inside while drinks are only allowed to be served with food

A chef at Speedo’s Cafe in Bondi Beach hands over two plates of food for customers who are now allowed to dine in at restaurants following weeks of takeaway only services

A barman pours beers from taps for customers at the Hero of Waterloo pub in Sydney, Australia, after the state of New South Wales was allowed to relax its lockdown rules

Pubs are only allowed to serve drinks with food, can only let 10 people inside at a time, and must maintain social distancing – but even so, the move comes as a welcome respite for many Australians who have been kept at home for weeks

A bartender pours a glass of beer for a customer at a restaurant in Sydney as lockdown measures in New South Wales ease

People also took to parks and beaches in New South Wales to exercise in groups of up to 10 people, which had previously been banned.

Australia has confirmed just 7,019 cases of the virus and 98 deaths, with only a handful of new cases each day. Several states – including Southern Australia and the Australian Capital Territory – have zero active cases.

Places of worship were also allowed to reopen in New South Wales, provided they keep congregations to a maximum of 10 people. 

Many Catholic churches across the state opened for private prayer, confession and small-scale masses.

‘The celebration of mass is the highest form of Catholic worship and to not be able to physically gather these past two months has been very difficult for Catholics,’ Sydney’s Archbishop Anthony Fisher said in a statement.

Many Jewish synagogues and other Christian churches decided to keep their doors closed.

The easing of some quarantine measures in New South Wales state came just a day after the national statistics office reported unprecedented record high job losses and Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned that worse was still to come.

‘While there isn’t too much to be celebrating with the difficult circumstances we face, and particularly yesterday’s unemployment numbers, it is welcome sign that we are on the way back,’ Morrison said on Friday.

Exercise in outdoor areas in groups of up to 10 people will also be allowed in New South Wales from today, prompting people to return to Bondi Beach despite the rain and cold

Groups of swimmers raced into the cold water on Bondi Beach early in the morning in New South Wales as eased restrictions mean that exercise in groups of up to 10 is now allowed 

Swimmers at Bondi Beach strapped on their costumes for a dip in the ocean early in the morning after New South Wales relaxed restrictions on group exercise

Exercise groups also took advantage of Sydney’s parks as they enjoyed the first day of relaxed lockdown restrictions

A group of dog walks exchange hugs near Bondi Beach on Friday as lockdown measures ease, allowing people to socialise in groups of up to 10 people

Early morning traffic is seen on the Harbour Bridge in Sydney as people return to work with more businesses allowed to open

Despite the easing of measures, New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian has urged people to be cautious, fearing a spike in cases and deaths. Pictured is a sign in Sydney warning people who feel ill to stay at home

In Sydney, locals braved a cold, wet morning to catch up with friends and family over a coffee as cafes, restaurants and bars opened under the proviso they limit patrons to 10 at any one time.

‘It is such a treat,’ said Jess Best, who met up with a friend in a cafe in the city’s eastern suburbs. ‘To be able to sit down with other people around and chat to my friend. I can have a normal morning, not hiding away in my home.’

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian cautioned people to remain vigilant and maintain social distancing.

‘Easing restrictions has failed in so many places around the world and I don’t want that to happen in NSW, I want people to have personal responsibility for the way we respond,’ she said.

NSW and Victoria, the country’s second most populous state, reported a total of 29 new cases on Friday, a bump up from the recent daily average of fewer than 20. 

Officials said on Friday that only 50 people remained in hospital.

Medics have credited lockdown measures adopted in March, including closing the country’s borders and ordering people to stay home unless on essential business, with constraining the virus’ spread.

State and territory leaders across the country are now rolling out a three-stage plan, following different timetables, to remove lockdown measures.

Morrison wants the bulk of restrictions gone by July to revive a national economy that had experienced more than two decades of uninterrupted growth before the pandemic. Most economists are now forecasting a recession.

A journalist downs a pint live on air as he celebrates pubs being allowed to reopen in Australia’s Northern Territory, where crowd limits are not in force

A group of people dining in at Macelleria Restaurant in Bondi Beach, Sydney

A sign at a pub in New South Wales warns people that social distancing must be observed and that only 10 people are allowed inside at any one time as lockdown is eased

Customers sit at a table and stand to buy coffees at a cafe displaying a sign offering free coffees to law enforcement and medical staff in Sydney

A sign advertises dine in services at a cafe in New South Wales after indoor areas were allowed to reopen, provided no more than 10 people are inside at any one time

Customers sit at a restaurant on the first day of eased New South Wales lockdown restrictions

In NSW, schools are slowly reopening, private households will be able to have five guests, public gatherings were expanded to 10 people from two and public swimming pools reopened with a maximum of 10 people allowed in the water.

‘It’s amazing to be able to swim again,’ said Jenny Finikiotis as she emerged from at the Bronte Swimming Club’s ocean pool. 

‘The water is so warm, it’s crystal clear and the best it has been all summer, probably because there has been no one here swimming in it.’ 

In the Northern Territory, where case numbers have been low and there have been no deaths, pubs opened with no restrictions on patron numbers.

‘I think I’ve earned one and I think I lot of territorians out there have earned a beer as well,’ Chief Minister Michael Gunner said, pouring a beer at the Cavenagh Hotel in Darwin as the clock struck midday.

Victoria, which reported 21 new cases, is currently retaining most of its lockdown measures.

Morrison is hoping the resumption of some businesses will help get the economy on a firmer footing, a goal that has been partly overshadowed by a diplomatic spat with China, Australia’s largest trading partner, over Australia’s push for an international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus.

China earlier this week suspended the export licences of several of Australia’s largest beef processors and proposed tariffs of 80 per cent on Australian barley shipments, in what many viewed as retaliatory actions.

‘When it comes to our relationship with China, it is built on mutual benefit,’ Morrison said on Friday.  

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It’s a … ! Look Back at the Best Baby Gender Reveal Moments

When it comes to celebrity gender reveals, creativity abounds! Several stars — including Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, Jessica Simpson and Jessica Alba — have gone above and beyond to let their fans and loved ones know what the sex of their babies will be.

The formula is simple enough: Stuff a unique prop — think balls, balloons, piñatas, desserts, boxes and more — with colored powder, confetti or frosting of a certain hue to signify the impending arrival of a little boy or a little girl.

The execution of each A-lister, however, varies greatly from couple to couple. Where Ryan Lochte and Kayla Reid used a wrapped box filled with pink balloons to announce the news that their second child would be a girl, The Bachelorette’s Melissa Rycroft and Tye Strickland opted for a cupcake filled with a blue frosting for their second little boy.

Carly Waddell and Evan Bass and Jason Aldean and Brittany Kerr, meanwhile, used their big reveal as a chance to bring their families closer together. Bass’ sons from a previous union, for instance, had a heck of a time hitting a pink confetti-filled piñata while Aldean’s daughters took aim at baseballs enclosed with the secret of their newest sibling’s sex.

Ultimately, it’s a moment of wonderment, shock and awe as each couple’s future is decided in an instant. Jana Kramer’s husband, Mike Caussin, even broke down in tears to learn that he would welcome his first son with the “I Got the Boy” singer after the musician suffered multiple miscarriages.

Relive those sweet moments and plenty more as you scroll through for major gender reveal inspo below!

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Back to work day: Commuters pack onto Tube and trains

Back to work day: Commuters pack onto Tube and trains – but social distancing proves IMPOSSIBLE on limited services – after Boris Johnson urged workers to return today

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced lockdown was easing and that people should return to work today
  • People have found the alterations unclear and they have caused confusion and called instructions too vague
  • Under the new rules you can take unlimited exercise and also sunbathe – but not see both parents together

London Mayor Sadiq Khan was today urged to get a grip and increase levels of trains and buses urgently as stomach-churning video and photographs showed commuters crammed in like sardines this morning.

Boris Johnson has said that anyone who cannot work from home should attempt to return to their workplace – but social media videos make it crystal clear that public transport has not been ramped up enough to help them travel safely.

Reacting to the chaos Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News today: ‘We do not want to see crushes on public transport and are urging people to make alternative arrangements’.

In London services commuters faced waits of up to 20 minutes on Tube lines when the gaps between services during rush hour should be three to five minutes as unions threatened to shut down the network if it is overwhelmed today. 

Traffic was also very heavy on the approach to the Blackwall Tunnel – the main route across the Thames between south and east London – as more people, especially construction workers and tradesmen, headed back to work to pay the bills. 

Blogger Jay Bits took to Twitter this morning to share footage of crowds of people getting off a bus in east London this morning and told MailOnline he capital’s mayor and Boris Johnson had to ‘sort this’ because lives are at risk.

He said: ‘You lot claim to care about the public I just watched and 86 bus at Stratford bus station pull in and not one person Is social distancing because there’s to many people on buses either put out more buses at peak times or just go back to lockdown’.

Good Morning Britain showed footage of a packed Central Line platform this morning where social distancing had gone out of the window in a familiar picture mirrored at many of the capital’s stations.

There is growing anger that those being asked to work and help the economy recover are being put in danger. Sadiq Khan’s Transport for London has also asked passengers to wear some form of face mask when using public transport in the capital but there were very few in sight this morning as people as PPE remains scarce and expensive.  

The Prime Minister is trying to get people back to work on the day it was revealed that the UK economy contracted by 2 per cent in the first quarter of 2020 after plunging 5.8% in March as the coronavirus crisis took hold, the Office for National Statistics has said. 

Serious questions are being raised about public safety after footage of crammed buses and Tubes emerged today when people were urged to go back to work

Leytonstone station in east London was packed with Tube travellers even before 7am as people had to wait up to 20 minutes for trains in the capital

Workers are clearly without access to masks despite being asked to use them when going on the Tube 

Social distancing was also impossible with Tube platforms even crammed on non-Zone 1 stations such as this one on the Central Line 

Traffic was also very heavy on the approach to the Blackwall Tunnel – the main route across the Thames between south and east London – as more people, especially construction workers and tradesmen, headed back to work to pay the bills.

As people returned to work today, it also emerged:

  • Holiday firms are ‘bullying’ customers into handing over thousands of pounds for trips that look set to be cancelled due to coronavirus lockdown – as Matt Hancock warns trips abroad will not be possible this year 
  • GDP fell by 5.8% in March as the coronavirus dealt a hammer blow to the economy – and analysts expect worse to come
  • Leaked Treasury plans reveal Britons face pay freezes and tax rises to cover £300bn bill for coronavirus;
  • The property market will reopen today to help 450,000 people complete their moves; 

Gemma Collins was left lost for words after she received a video of a people flouting social distancing rules in a busy London tube station yesterday,.

The TOWIE star, 39, shared a clip of Holborn station on Twitter and expressed her confusion by writing: ‘Huh. Just been sent this of holborn station today.’

The clip shows Londoners during rush hour ignoring Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s advice to keep a two metre distance from each other.

Britons face pay freezes and tax rises to cover £300bn bill for coronavirus, leaked Treasury plans reveal as it emerges that one in three firms may NEVER reopen 

England has eased the coronavirus lockdown and its people are now able to return to work, sunbathe, move home and meet one friend or family member in social bubbles.

Boris Johnson announced changes to the guidelines on Sunday, seven weeks after imposing the draconian measures on March 23.

The alterations to the rules has caused considerable confusion and anger with ministers’ scrambling to clarify the guidelines early this week.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has urged London Mayor Sadiq Khan to boost the number of train services ‘as quickly as they can’ amid fears of chaos on the railways today.

In London, ministers are concerned the reduced Tube service will be rapidly overwhelmed as figures showed the network will only be able to take 15 per cent of usual commuter levels if full social distancing is to be maintained – even if 100 per cent of services are running.

Nationally, this figure falls to just 10 per cent of normal passenger levels with full social distancing in play.

Close contact: The clip shows Londoners during rush hour ignoring Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s advice to keep a two metre distance from each other

Bustling: The TOWIE star, 39, shared a clip of Holborn station on Twitter and expressed her confusion by writing: ‘Huh. Just been sent this of holborn station today’

Passenger numbers in the capital were already up eight per cent on Monday and are likely to rise significantly over the coming days as Britain slowly emerges out of the lockdown.

However, bosses at Transport for London (TfL), which has lost £4billion during the pandemic, have warned that increases in services will only be gradual, with 70 per cent of services eventually restored – but not until May 18.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Shapps said: ‘I have spoken to, communicated with the mayor and his deputy mayor over the weekend. I am encouraging them and working very closely with TfL to boost those services just as quickly as they can and there’s more to go there.

‘It is worth reiterating, even if those services ran at 100 per cent of pre-Covid levels, we would still only be able to take perhaps on the TfL 15 per cent of existing, usual commuter levels – so it is important that everybody looks for alternative means of transport.’

It marks the latest row between the Government and Mr Khan, who has been accused of a series of failings throughout the crisis – from scenes of packed Tube trains early on in the lockdown to a row over a lack of personal protective equipment for bus drivers. Some 42 TfL workers have died of coronavirus, though not all necessarily because of the jobs.

Yesterday Mr Shapps also confirmed he is working with tech firms to integrate ‘crush data’ into transport apps so travellers can avoid using the busiest services in the coming months.  

Under the new rules you can take unlimited exercise, sunbathing and meeting one person from another household in a public space will also be permitted in England from Wednesday, as long as the two-metre rule is respected.

While golf clubs, tennis courts and angling have been given the green light, but clubhouses will remain closed.

Restrictions on how far people can travel to get to the countryside, national parks and beaches in England have also been lifted – but people have been warned to respect local communities, keep their distance from others and avoid hotspots or busy areas.

Advice on avoiding public transport aside from essential journeys remains in place, and staying overnight at a holiday or second home is also not allowed.

Fines for those who break the rules will now start at £100 in England, and will double on each further repeat offence up to £3,200. Stricter rules remain in place in the rest of the UK.

Meanwhile, The Daily Telegraph said a Treasury document estimated the UK’s deficit could reach £337 billion this year because of the pandemic, compared to the forecast £55 billion in the Budget announced in March.

It said the assessment, drawn up for the Chancellor Rishi Sunak and dated May 5, warned that filling such a gap through tax rises would be ‘very challenging without breaking the tax lock’.

The paper said measures including income tax hikes, a two-year public sector pay freeze and the end of the triple lock on pensions may be required to fund the debt.

It comes after Mr Sunak announced the furlough scheme, currently supporting 7.5 million jobs, will be extended until the end of October, although employers will be expected to pick up a share of the bill from August as the economy reopens.

And the human toll of the Covid-19 pandemic was laid bare in official figures indicating a toll of more than 40,000 coronavirus-related deaths in the UK.

The analysis by the PA news agency includes deaths from Covid-19 and where it has been mentioned on the death certificate as a factor. 

The move to unlock the housing market will enable buyers and renters to complete purchases and view properties in person, while visiting estate agents, developer sales offices or show homes will also be allowed.

The Government estimates more than 450,000 buyers and renters have been unable to progress their plans to move house since lockdown measures were introduced in March.

Millions of self-employed workers will be able to apply for grants of up to £7,500 from Wednesday, with payments due to land within six days, the Government has said.

A new report by the Institute for Public Policy Research said financial measures brought in to deal with the lockdown were protecting landlords and banks more than families.

Office for National Statistics data showed care home deaths accounted for some 40% of coronavirus-related fatalities registered in England and Wales in the week ending May 1. 

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick added: ‘Spending time outdoors, exercising or just enjoying the countryside is essential for our physical health and wellbeing. The restrictions have impacted everyone, but particularly those without much living space or a garden.

‘We want to make life as healthy, bearable and social as possible, whilst controlling the virus and saving lives. That is why we have worked to find safe ways to enable more people to spend more time outdoors.’

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MCU Fans Look Back on the Worst 'Endgame' Theories They Had Before the Movie

The first anniversary of Avengers: Endgame had some recently insightful new analysis, if also looking back in embarrassment at speculation before the movie released.

Any MCU fan can say that about every movie in the franchise released since 2008. However, Endgame had many more theories because of how big it was as a cultural event.

On social media, fans took time out to remember some of the worst theories they dreamed up in early 2019. While some sharp fans initially guessed the deaths of key Avengers, not everyone realized the magnitude of the plot, including complex time-travel.

One thing fans learned is things were a lot more tragic than they initially planned. There was even one interesting theory about Thanos a few fans got wrong.

What were the top ‘Endgame’ theories from last year?

No doubt many remember the months just before Endgame released and how wild the speculation was on social media. As seen from places like Vulture last year, many media analysts predicted the Soul Stone would play an important factor in the story.

They also guessed correctly an Avenger would die, not knowing it would be more than one.

As said on Reddit recently, that attempt to capture the Soul Stone on Vormir had theories some fans managed to never guess. A fan noted they thought Tony Stark and Steve Rogers would go to Vormir together to capture the Soul Stone.

Everyone knows only Rogers went, along with destroying theories some X-Men would make cameos on the planet.

Theories like this were only just the beginning. Others were far more interesting, if not necessarily too far removed from what really happened. Only one theory from some about Thanos seemed impossibly off the rails.

A few other interesting theories that could have been more interesting

More theories were brought up on the above Reddit theory, perhaps embellished slightly after looking back a year. Thinking about Nebula possibly being a villain crossed fan minds back then. Other media outlets speculated on her being a secondary villain for Endgame, yet her trajectory became more surprising.

It turns out she became a sympathetic character and a big help in the end during the time heist. Perhaps fans should have seen that coming, if being deceived by her actions going back to Infinity War.

Some of the more complex villains becoming allies is a twist the MCU has done well. Nevertheless, some people had a more wild theory about Thanos.

Yes, more than a few thought Thanos would do something similar to what his daughter (Nebula) did: Become an ally. How wrong everyone was, if many still considering his actions a form of good in his own head.

Is it true many thought Thanos would help The Avengers?

Those who guessed right about Nebula seemed to assume Thanos would see the light himself. A small number of Reddit users admitted they thought Thanos would become an Avengers ally in the end.

How they thought the story would become interesting with Thanos turning good is a bit perplexing. Then again, such a twist could have taken everyone by shock to offer a happy ending rather than a semi-tragic one.

Either ending would have likely received similar emotional reactions. Maybe it would never outdo one of the biggest theories last year: The thought Captain America would die.

Den of Geek voted it “very likely” Captain America would sacrifice his life to capture the Soul Stone so Tony Stark could live. The twist of Stark dying and Steve Rogers going back in time to be with Peggy Carter was one of the great surprise endings of all time. 

If anything, though, the thought any death will stay permanent was probably logical thinking gone over the top.

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Back to work, owners make changes so workers feel safe

Generators in high demand to accommodate working from home: Generac CEO

Generac President and CEO Aaron Jagdfeld discusses the recent increase in generator demand amid coronavirus.

NEW YORK  — Before the coronavirus outbreak, furniture deliveries at Sunnyland Outdoor Living meant two employees sitting side-by-side in a truck. Now, one will be driving the truck while the second follows in a car.

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And when Sunnyland’s workers reach a customer’s home: “We’ll deliver outside — we won’t go inside people’s houses,”  Brad Schweig, the retailer’s vice president for operations, said.


Employee safety is a priority as small and midsize businesses rehire laid-off employees and get back to work and many owners realize that supplying masks and gloves won’t be enough.

Many staffers are anxious about increased contact with others that could make them more vulnerable to catching the virus — feelings owners understand they need to consider. They’re staggering work hours and shifts to cut the number of people onsite. They’re also redoing floor plans and operations to minimize contact — a step that also helps keep customers safe.

Georgia has already allowed businesses like hair and nail salons, restaurants and gyms to open with social distancing restrictions. Alabama has allowed some limited openings, and Texas and Colorado permitted many companies to reopen on Friday. Around the country owners are recalling laid-off workers although they can’t resume full operations yet; with government loan money arriving, companies can pay their workers again.

Xuan Le wears a mask as she works on the nails of Deriana Hayward at Envy Nail Bar on Friday, April 24, 2020, in Savannah, Ga. Gov. Brian Kemp announced this week the resumption of elective medical procedures, as well as the reopening of certain clos

The steps businesses are taking are in line with recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Some of it is common sense that we should have been doing long before this,” says Louise McCullough, who hopes to soon reopen her dog care company, Paws Chateau in Huntington Beach, California.

Before the virus struck, clients would walk their dogs into Paws Chateau and hand the leashes over to staffers. Now McCullough is creating a safe space where dogs will be unleashed by owners outside the building, and then staffers will wipe the dogs down with pet-safe antiseptic soap and take them inside.

Wolf’s Ridge Brewing, a restaurant and bar in Columbus, Ohio, is a large establishment, with three kitchens. Co-owner Bob Szuter is using all three even though his business right now is limited to takeout and delivery. On a busy Friday or Saturday night, this allows for just four to five staffers in each kitchen instead of the usual 15 or 20.

Szuter recalled about 25 staffers after the company received government loan money, bringing the workforce to about 50. As he plans for how Wolf’s Ridge will operate safely when the state allows restaurants to resume table service, Szuter is including staffers in the process.


“It’s going to be a negotiation with them. We’re asking them, ‘hey, what do you guys feel comfortable doing?’” Szuter says.

Atrend, an audio equipment manufacturer that’s now producing protective gear for health workers, has spread its 22 employees across its 50,000-foot warehouse in Chicago — they’re no longer working side by side. And while they used to take coffee and lunch breaks together, those traditions are on hold.

“They’re in the break room by themselves — their breaks are all staggered,” CEO Kevin Hundal says.

Staffers are also now getting more than a “good morning” as they arrive. Hundal is taking staffers’ temperatures, and if someone has a reading of 100.4 degrees or higher, he’ll send them home.

Monitoring employees’ symptoms, which can include taking temperatures, is something the CDC is encouraging employers to do. But as owners take on that new routine, they may find themselves dealing with confidentiality issues, says Hagood Tighe, a labor law attorney with Fisher Phillips in Columbia, South Carolina.

Healthy Female driver after being testing her body Temperature during Coronavirus pandemic

“If employers are doing that, they need to be doing it in such a way that an employee’s privacy is protected,” Tighe said. That means testing in a private area, something that may be difficult in a business with close quarters.

Staffers’ anxiety is as important a concern for owners as their physical safety. As Front Burner Group’s 20 Texas restaurants serve sit-down diners again, in addition to the masks and gloves employees will wear, one staffer will be sanitizing surfaces throughout the establishments — and wearing a white coat so everyone can see the disinfecting process.

CEO Randy DeWitt and his managers learned how anxious staffers are when they started recalling laid-off workers. Some don’t want to come back, including one with a child with respiratory problems.


“When we contacted people, I would say one out of 10 said, I’m too nervous,” DeWitt says.

Schweig, the Sunnyland Outdoor vice president, was himself nervous about one staffer who wanted to come back to work; she’s in her late 70s, the age group believed to be most vulnerable to the virus. Schweig told her he will pay her to stay home.

“It’s not worth risking her health to come back now,” he says.


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