#Coronavirus LIVE: Breaking News

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May 28, 2020

Meg Hiller MP speaks out about Cummings

Hackney South and Shoreditch MP Meg Hillier has said that claims by the Prime Minister’s advisor Dominic Cummings that he drove to test his eyesight was “extraordinary on many levels”.

She said: “I have had many constituents contact me who feel upset, angry and let down. They feel it wasn’t fair.

 “He positions himself as someone who understands the country, but good courtesy and manners are important to people.

“In past governments you would have been out on your ear.

“The whole thing has been incredibly damaging at this time, and normally the opposition want government to fall over but at the moment I want the government to succeed in containing this pandemic.”

by Olivia Edwardes

Man reportedly shouted “all Jews must die” to visibly Jewish pedestrian

A Jewish man was reportedly verbally attacked by a man shouting “all Jews must die” on St Ann’s road in Stamford Hill on Sunday afternoon. 

The incident on May 24 was reported by Shomrim Stamford Hill, a volunteer Jewish neighbourhood watch community, who are currently investigating. 

A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “Openly antisemitic threats against observant Jews have become commonplace in North London and there has been no respite even during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are grateful that the police are working closely with Stamford Hill Shomrim, the Jewish volunteer neighbourhood watch patrol, to identify offenders. Deterrence relies on robust investigation and enforcement, without which there will be no end to the wave of anti-Jewish incidents.” 

Local MPs condemn actions of Dominic Cummings

Local MPs condemn Prime Minister Dominic Cummings advisor for breaking lockdown by driving to Durham in March. 

MPs in the boroughs of Croydon, Lewisham, Tower Hamlets and Hackney have spoken out after being contacted by their constituents about the Prime Minister’s adviser Dominic Cummings’ lockdown breach in March. 

Cummings broke regulations by driving his family 260 miles to Durham with Covid-19 symptoms and driving 30 miles on a separate occasion from the city to a nearby beauty spot. 

Croydon MP Sarah Jones responded with a video asking for answers and saying that “everyone has made incredible sacrifices”: 

Both Cummings and Boris Johnson believe he acted “reasonably”, defending him with taking care of his son, however MPs have accused both of double standards. 

Diane Abbott, Hackney MP said: “Ministers need to stop bringing in Dominic Cummings’ four year old child in their attempt to defend Cummings. So many people made difficult decisions about elderly relatives, sick relatives & children but did not breach the lockdown.” 

Aspana Begum, Tower Hamlets MP also said: “Some lost their loved ones & missed funerals. Some missed their first birth with family. Others had arranged care for their elderly parents from other cities. They all obeyed the rules.” 

Constituents have been emailing their local MPs expressing their outrage and concern. Vicky Foxcroft, MP for Lewisham Deptford said in a statement: “Mr Cummings has stated that he made what he believed to be the right decision in difficult circumstances. Yet one quick glance at my email inbox or social media will give you many, many examples of people who, finding themselves in similar or more difficult circumstances, did as the Government had advised and stayed at home to protect the NHS and save lives.” 

Lewisham MP Janet Daby also said: “I have 2 children under age of 6. My husband & I had Covid-19 symptoms, but like thousands of others, we stayed home & followed Govt advice” and then further criticised Cummings for his “unacceptably poor leadership.” 

Ellie Reeves, another Lewisham MP, also questioned Cummings’ decision to drive 30 miles to Barnard Castle in County Durham – something he said he did to check his eyesight – while under lockdown regulations:

Outdoor fitness festival launches virtual running challenge in support of local charities

Outdoor fitness festival Hackney Moves has launched solo online running challenge ‘Hackney Moves For Heroes’ with funds raised being donated to local charities affected by Covid-19.

The fitness event which is usually held on Hackney Marshes and run by Virgin Sport was due to take place on Hackney Marshes between May 15 and 17 before being postponed in April due to the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the main local charities being supported by the challenge is Homerton Hope, the Homerton Hospital NHS hospital trust. The Homerton Hope charity allows Hackney Moves to raise funds to further enhance the NHS’ services and improve the experiences of patients.


May 22, 2020

Man spits at woman and staff at Mile End station

A woman was spat at after intervening in a row between a man and ticket officers at Mile End station yesterday.

According to a union official, the man became aggressive and began threatening staff when they refused to open the barriers as he didn’t have a ticket.

The man threatened to break their noses and spat at both the woman and the staff after they asked him to step back so they could deal with the situation at a safe distance. He then proceeded to spit at the woman’s face before leaving the station.

TSSA official for London Underground, Lorraine Ward, said: “Spitting has always been considered an assault, but following the tragic story of Belly Mujinga and heightened fears over the highly contagious coronavirus, more must be done to prevent such horrendous acts of violence against transport workers and passengers.” 

The British Transport Police were called and they collected samples of the attacker’s spit from the woman’s face and arms, and conducted a search of the local area, however he still hasn’t been found.

The incident follows the death of UK rail worker Belly Mujinga, who died in April from Covid-19 a few days after being spat at by a man claiming to have the disease, and taxi driver Trevor Belle, who also died from the virus after being spat at by a fare-dodger.

May 21, 2020

Mayor ‘depressed’ at messy Hackney parks after weekend

Local councillors and the Mayor of Hackney have said how depressing it was to see rubbish left behind in the borough’s parks after the weekend.

Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville spoke out about the issue, saying it was “very depressing to see parks and green spaces treated like this, especially given how important they are to residents at this time & the hard work of Hackney council staff to keep them open & well maintained.”

In a later tweet, he appealed for more respect towards the parks and the workers who clean them:

Hackney councillor Jon Burke and Brockley councillor Sophie McGeevor also expressed their anger on Twitter.

May 20, 2020

Popular fast food chains in Tower Hamlets and Croydon to open their doors for takeaway and delivery this week

Pret a Manger, Burger King and Costa Coffee alongside others reopened from May 18 to customers wanting to order via delivery apps in some east London boroughs.

This move from fast food chains is prompted after an announcement from McDonald’s late last week that more branches will reopen nationwide for McDelivery and drive-thru as lockdown eases. McDonald’s drive-thru’s have also opened this week in select areas around London, however east London boroughs are yet to see an available drive-thru open. 

The following chains are now accepting orders for their whole menu via UberEats, JustEat and Deliveroo: 

  • Pret A Manger located on Shoreditch High Street reopened this week alongside 29 others London-branches. 
  • Burger King gradually reopened 50 restaurants nationwide, including one located on Croydon Church Street for delivery. 
  • Pizza Express opened 13 London branches including one on Croydon George Street.
  • Subway is also open for delivery via UberEats and other food delivery apps from branches in Stepney Green, Shoreditch, Croydon and Thornton Heath. 
  • Additionally, Costa Coffee prepares to reopen for takeaway, drive-thru and delivery nationwide, with drive-thru now open in Croydon and delivery available in Whitechapel. 
  • Five Guys, KFC, McDonald’s all reopen their doors for delivery and drive-thru this week outside of east London boroughs. 

May 19, 2020

Local government shows support for national speeding campaign

Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville has expressed his support for the three-week campaign targeting speeding drivers, which is set to be launched on May 25 as lockdown restrictions ease.

He spoke out on Twitter, saying: “Our streets shouldn’t be mini-race tracks, all speed restrictions still apply & people not cars must come first.”

The planned speed enforcement activity will take place in areas where speeding and serious road traffic incidents are known problems.

Detective Superintendent Andy Cox has been tweeting regular updates on speeding offences and measures.

Waterworks Festival poses threat to wildlife

An electronic music festival set to run at Lee Valley Waterworks Centre Nature Reserve will disturb wildlife, Hackney councillor Jon Burke has warned.

Burke voiced his concerns about the Waterworks Festival, scheduled for August 22, on Twitter.

In his letter to councillor Sharon Waldron, he said: “Waterworks Festival promoters have sought to emphasize the location of the event within “secluded parkland area”, which will enable organisers to “achieve unparalleled sound quality”. I am deeply concerned that this will ultimately transpire to be a euphemism for high levels of noise, which will inevitably cause disturbance to sensitive wildlife, including roosting and nesting birds, bats, and prey animals.”

Many other locals have been raising awareness about these issues on Twitter under the Hashtag #WaterworksFestival.

May 18, 2020

BAME women make up 55 percent of UK pregnancy hospitalisations with Covid-19

Hackney MP Diane Abbott has raised the plight of pregnant BAME women, who are four times more likely to be hospitalised with Covid-19 than white women, as new findings show.

55 percent of pregnant women who were hospitalised with Covid-19 between March 1 and April 14 were from a BAME background. 

She spoke out about the issue on Twitter:

Immigration Bill rushed to Parliament today

In a later tweet, Abbott signalled her intention to vote against the Immigration Bill, which the government will bring before parliament today.

She said she was “proud to vote against this Immigration Bill”:

Wendy Pettifer, Hackney Labour Party Socialist, said: “It’s an absolute shocking travesty that at a time where with one hand the government is approaching the NHS, with the other they’re bringing a legislation to restrict the rights of our workers to stay here.”

The Immigration Bill aims to form a “high skill” economy, according to Home Secretary Priti Patel, and the BBC says that “the immigration bill repeals EU freedom of movement and introduces the new framework […] for who can come to live in Britain.”

May 15, 2020

Victoria Park set to have new opening times

Tower Hamlets council has announced new opening times for Victoria Park from tomorrow onwards. 

It will now be open from 7am to 5pm (east side) and 7:30am to 5pm (west side) and can be used for exercise and recreation alone, with people from the same household or to meet one person from a different household.

Social distancing measures are still in place, including a mandatory 2m (6ft) distance between people from different households.

Trade Unions furious over demands that teachers should return to school

Trade Unions and local politicians are furious over demands in a Daily Mail article that teachers should go back to teaching and “be heroes.”

Hackney MP Diane Abbott spoke out on Twitter about the issue:

Unite the Union member Caragh Skipper spoke out against journalist Isabel Oakeshott on Twitter as well, who demanded that teachers should “step up” and show the “same bravery” as NHS workers, as “the risk in schools is nothing like the risk in hospitals.” 

May 14, 2020

Local councils face £10billion funding crisis

Croydon MP Steve Reed and Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville raised awareness of the funding gap of local councils which would lead to cuts of over 20 per cent to local services and jobs.

Reed spoke out about the issue on Twitter, saying that “the Government must stop backtracking on their promise to fully support communities through this crisis.”

In a letter addressed to Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick, he said: “Council leaders are deeply concerned about the fragile state of local authority funding as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The funding crisis is so urgent that many councils report they only have funding available to continue operating at current levels of activity for a few more weeks.”

Glanville also spoke out about the issue on Twitter, highlighting its importance.

Glanville also addressed a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, saying: “The financial impact of this crisis on our income will be profound. Hackney Council alone is expecting a £37.2 million reduction in income this financial year due to losing commercial waste income, parking income, commercial rent and the expected loss in Council Tax income, to name just a few.

“Without the funding to meet this gap, and ultimately to fund our frontline services to respond to the crisis, we will not be able to continue to meet the needs of our residents. This gap ultimately threatens the long-term financial stability of the Council.”

May 13, 2020

McDonald’s delivery reopens as restrictions ease

McDonald’s reopened 15 pilot restaurants offering delivery via UberEats across the UK this morning. 

After the fast-food chain’s closure eight weeks ago, McDonald’s will begin offering deliveries across the southeast region of England, including Dalston.

In an email address to customers, Paul Pomroy, chief executive officer of McDonald’s UK and Ireland, said: “There has been an incredible response to news of our reopening and we know many of you are eager for us to extend our reopening plans at a faster pace. The wellbeing of our employees, suppliers and delivery partners’ couriers is my top priority and we will only extend our plans at a pace that enables us to create a safe working environment for our teams.”

From 11am today, customers will be able to order McDelivery with a £25 order cap as restaurants will continue to follow the government’s social distancing rules in their kitchens. 

Pomroy has not indicated when their restaurants are set to reopen, however, he has said that 15 more restaurants will reopen in the coming week. Drive-thrus may reopen from 20 May maintaining the £25 order cap, with plans to fully operate all drive-thrus by early June. 

Pomroy said: “I want to reiterate the restaurants, drive-thrus and their car parks remain closed, we will only be serving food via Uber Eats this week…I want to thank the franchisees, managers and employees who are busy preparing for this reopening and wish them all the best for what will undoubtedly be a busy return to the communities in which they operate.”

Man arrested for sexual assault in Hackney

A 26-year-old man from Stamford Hill has been arrested in connection with sexual assaults in Hackney on Monday.

He was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault and attempted sexual assault on February 14, 2019 on a 254 bus and on February 4, 2020 on a 253 bus.

He has been bailed pending further enquiries to date in early June. 

May 11, 2020

Lewisham Mayor raises concerns over community store food shortage

Mayor of Lewisham Damien Egan has raised concerns on behalf of volunteer run charity shop Evelyn Community Store in Deptford after visiting them today. He said that the volunteers at the store are in need of money to buy fruit and vegetables and are low on fresh food. He has urged people in the community to donate if they are able to do so.

EastLondonLines reported recently that staff at the store were concerned about food shortages due to the coronavirus crisis and decided to start a Just Giving page in an attempt to raise money. So far, they have raised just 25 percent of their £10,000 target by receiving £2,580 from 82 donations.

New lockdown measures spark criticism

The Mayor of Hackney, Philip Glanville, has expressed his concerns about the changes to lockdown announced last night, warning “it will lead to more confusion about the rules and ultimately to more resentment growing between citizens, as well as authorities.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the next phase of lockdown last night during a televised address and announced that the government would be easing some of the restrictions while still extending lockdown until at least June 1.

The new rules and measures have also been criticised by other local representatives, including Tower Hamlets MP Apsana Begum, who tweeted about the issue.

Tubes in Canary Wharf are already packed with commuters after workers have been encouraged to go back to work.


Critics have also pointed out that the government hasn’t published any guidance on how workers will be kept safe at work.

What will change: 

This week, social distancing measures will continue until Wednesday, May 13, where it is recommended to work from home if possible and avoid public transport.

From Wednesday onwards, people working in industries including construction and engineering are being encouraged to go back to work if safety measures are in place. 

Unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise are allowed, and household members will be allowed to play sports.

On June 1 at the earliest, shops may begin to open if the numbers allow it, and schools could begin phased reopening. 

On July 1 at the earliest, the hospitality industry and public places may begin to reopen.

Rules on meeting family have also been changed and now allow two people from different households to meet outside if they are 2m (6ft) apart. However, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “We are not moving to a stage where we say that households can mix inside the home.”

Pavement widened in Hackney as social distancing measure

The pavement has been widened on Stoke Newington High Street in Hackney and was extended north of Brooke Road, giving additional pavement space in front of stores, including Iceland and Savers.

Stoke Newington & Stamford Hill West Mutual Aid tweeted about the social distancing measures.


Residents keen for their street to receive similar treatment can make their views known on this site run by the council.

May 7, 2020

Higher levels of Covid-19-related deaths among BAME communities

Croydon MP Sarah Jones has spoken out about figures released today from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) showing people from BAME backgrounds are over four times more likely to die from Covid-19 than white people.

Jones said: “We […] have people that are living in bad housing, that’s overcrowded, and who are living in poverty. These things have meant that this pandemic has affected those who are poorer, and from BAME backgrounds more than other people, and we need to get to the bottom of why that has happened so that we can put it right and make sure those levels of inequality are not seen again.”

The statistics from ONS have taken age into account and show that black males are 4.2 and black females 4.3 times more likely to die from a Covid-19 related death than white males and females. 

They say that it is due to socio-economic disadvantages and other circumstances that have yet to be explained, that people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups (BAME) are proven to be more affected by Covid-19.

People of Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian, Chinese and Mixed ethnicities are statistically seen also significantly more at risk than people from white ethnicities, with people from a Bangladeshi and Pakistani background over 3.3 times more likely to die from Covid-19.

Pavement to be widened in Deptford

Residents in Deptford keen to maintain social distancing will be given extra pavement space.

Brockley councillor Sophie McGeevor tweeted about the project, led by Lewisham Council, today after barriers went up on Deptford High Street.

Residents keen for their street to receive similar treatment can make their views known on this site run by the council.

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