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London’s transport network needs ‘FOUR WEEKS’ to prepare for lockdown ending

London‘s transport network could be crippled when the UK eases lockdown measures, a stark report has revealed today.  

The briefing to emergency planners, seen by the BBC, warns the Underground will be ‘rapidly overwhelmed’ if social distancing were maintained, and says police would be under pressure if needed to maintain crowd control.

London’s transport system would need four weeks to prepare for the new challenges, according to the ‘lockdown release’ briefing. 

Militant Rail, Maritime and Transport union bosses presented another hurdle last week, saying there was ‘zero chance’ their workers would return without proper PPE – as London Mayor Sadiq Khan urged Londoners to wear masks when they travel.

Britain is beginning to see a return to some normality as traffic returns to the country’s motorways – but the Government insists it does not want to lift lockdown measures too early while the country is still facing a ‘dangerous moment’ in the coronavirus pandemic.

Masked passengers are seen crowding onto a platform at Canning Town underground station in London this morning

Masked passengers are seen crowding onto a platform at Canning Town underground station in London this morning

Masked passengers are seen crowding onto a platform at Canning Town underground station in London this morning 

Key workers claim they are forced into packed Tubes on a daily basis and say construction workers using the packed trains 'outnumber NHS staff' (pictured: Canning Town this morning)

Key workers claim they are forced into packed Tubes on a daily basis and say construction workers using the packed trains 'outnumber NHS staff' (pictured: Canning Town this morning)

Key workers claim they are forced into packed Tubes on a daily basis and say construction workers using the packed trains ‘outnumber NHS staff’ (pictured: Canning Town this morning)

The revelation comes as: 

  • Boris Johnson is set to signal lockdown will stay until June as he gathers Cabinet to thrash out an ‘exit strategy’
  • Ministers finally admit they will miss Matt Hancock’s 100,000-a-day testing target today as NHS chiefs say the number is a ‘red herring’ and medics and carers are still not being tested
  • Researchers analysing almost 17,000 COVID-19 hospitalisations in the UK found 33 per cent of patients died, 49 per cent were discharged and 17 per cent are still receiving care 
  • The International Labour Organisation reported that some 1.6 billion workers in the informal economy are in ‘immediate danger’ of losing their livelihoods 

More than two dozen transport workers have lost their lives in London after testing positive for coronavirus.

Angry commuters across London’s tube network continue to hit out at Mayor Sadiq Khan as key workers claim they are forced into packed Tubes on a daily basis and say construction workers using the packed trains ‘outnumber NHS staff’.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had previously urged Britons to stay at home and not to travel, but many using Transport for London (TfL) services have claimed that busy tubes are now a daily occurrence, even though people have been asked to work from home where possible.

On Monday, TfL placed 7,000 staff whose work has been reduced or paused as a result of the coronavirus pandemic on furlough. 

The London Mayor last week said he was ‘eating in to cash reserves’ to keep the capital’s services going amid a huge drop in income from fares during the coronavirus lockdown.

Khan, who was accused of ‘risking lives’ after TfL slashed services – forcing commuters that had to travel to work to cram into packed carriages – asked for the grant to help prop up the struggling transport network. 

TfL will access funding from the Government's job retention scheme after Tube journeys fell by 95 per cent and bus use by 85 per cent since last month's lockdown (pictured: Canning Town this morning)

TfL will access funding from the Government's job retention scheme after Tube journeys fell by 95 per cent and bus use by 85 per cent since last month's lockdown (pictured: Canning Town this morning)

TfL will access funding from the Government’s job retention scheme after Tube journeys fell by 95 per cent and bus use by 85 per cent since last month’s lockdown (pictured: Canning Town this morning)

Asked how long TfL might be able to carry on for, Mr Khan told BBC London: 'Probably end of this month' (pictured: Passengers at Canning Town)

Asked how long TfL might be able to carry on for, Mr Khan told BBC London: 'Probably end of this month' (pictured: Passengers at Canning Town)

Asked how long TfL might be able to carry on for, Mr Khan told BBC London: ‘Probably end of this month’ (pictured: Passengers at Canning Town)

Some 7,000 staff whose work has been reduced or paused will be affected in the move amid the huge financial impact of the crisis.

TfL will access funding from the Government’s job retention scheme after Tube journeys fell by 95 per cent and bus use by 85 per cent since last month’s lockdown.

It can now get funding for 80 per cent of the salary of furloughed staff – who will be on the scheme for at least three weeks – up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.

Asked how long TfL might be able to carry on for, Mr Khan told BBC London: ‘Probably end of this month’.

He added: ‘What we can’t afford to do is have to make a decision to cut more services because we can’t pay people. So that’s why it’s really important.’

The RMT said a survey it carried out among 10,000 transport workers revealed ‘widespread failings’ in the protection of staff and passengers.

Two out of five of those questioned said their employer has put profit or business priorities before safety, a third described action to protect them from Covid-19 as poor or terrible, and a similar number said they had not been issued with PPE.

Most said they had not been tested for the virus, and four out of 10 said they have no access to washing facilities.

Rush hour traffic on the M25 in Kent this morning, which is becoming busier by the day as some level of normality seems to be returning to the country

Rush hour traffic on the M25 in Kent this morning, which is becoming busier by the day as some level of normality seems to be returning to the country

Rush hour traffic on the M25 in Kent this morning, which is becoming busier by the day as some level of normality seems to be returning to the country

Traffic is seen building up in the early morning on the A40 Perivale in West London today. On Monday, TfL placed 7,000 staff whose work has been reduced or paused as a result of the coronavirus pandemic on furlough

Traffic is seen building up in the early morning on the A40 Perivale in West London today. On Monday, TfL placed 7,000 staff whose work has been reduced or paused as a result of the coronavirus pandemic on furlough

Traffic is seen building up in the early morning on the A40 Perivale in West London today. On Monday, TfL placed 7,000 staff whose work has been reduced or paused as a result of the coronavirus pandemic on furlough

Traffic builds up on the A102 in Greenwich south east London today. The public have been told they can only leave their homes when absolutely essential, in an attempt to fight the spread of coronavirus

Traffic builds up on the A102 in Greenwich south east London today. The public have been told they can only leave their homes when absolutely essential, in an attempt to fight the spread of coronavirus

Traffic builds up on the A102 in Greenwich south east London today. The public have been told they can only leave their homes when absolutely essential, in an attempt to fight the spread of coronavirus

The government revealed new data showing the numbers of deaths inside and away from hospitals for the first time - but the seven-day average of deaths is falling

The government revealed new data showing the numbers of deaths inside and away from hospitals for the first time - but the seven-day average of deaths is falling

The government revealed new data showing the numbers of deaths inside and away from hospitals for the first time – but the seven-day average of deaths is falling

A spokesman for London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: ‘The easing of lockdown restrictions will undoubtedly pose serious challenges around maintaining social distancing, particularly in London with our high population density and busy public transport network.

‘Life simply won’t be returning to what it was before, and it is vital that the Government now has an open and honest conversation with the public about how we’ll all have to play our part ensuring we maintain appropriate social distancing in all aspects of our daily lives.

‘Whether it’s schools, construction sites or other industries having to stagger their opening hours, or restrictions on the use of the public transport, no options should be off the table.

‘That’s why it is essential we are fully prepared as a country and a city before the lockdown is eased, with a comprehensive package of measures in place to ensure people’s health is protected.’

A spokesperson for London’s Strategic Co-ordination Group (SCG) said: ‘A number of documents are currently being prepared in London that will help to plan for the release of lockdown, as and when it occurs.

‘The document referred to contains a number of planning scenarios based on current social distancing measures to assist planners prepare for the relaxation of the current restrictions. 

‘These should not be seen as what will happen, but it is important that emergency planners understand all the implications and the impact that any changes to lockdown measures could have on individual organisations and the wider public.’

Drivers queue round the block for the ONLY Burger King drive-through open in the UK – as health chiefs warn over ‘worrying’ rise in traffic to highest since lockdown started and Wetherspoon’s plans to reopen its pubs ‘in or around June’

Drivers queued round the block at the only Burger King drive-through open in the UK after health chiefs warned that ‘worrying’ data showed vehicle use was at its highest since lockdown began.

Staff at the fast food restaurant in Havant were seen wearing masks and gloves over their uniforms as they handed burgers and fries to customers in Hampshire on Wednesday afternoon.

It comes as the Director of Heath Protection for Public Health England (PHE), Yvonne Doyle, said there were more motorists than on March 23 – the day the lockdown started.

She told the daily Downing Street briefing the numbers were ‘worrying’ and urged people to only leave their homes for ‘necessities’ amid fears failure to stick to the rules could result in a second wave of coronavirus.

In addition to the risks presented by inessential travel, PHE has warned that those who are seriously overweight are at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Journeying out for high calorie food, therefore, compounds these health risks.

Mororists were pictured queueing round the block at the only open Burger King drive-through site in the UK in Havant today

Mororists were pictured queueing round the block at the only open Burger King drive-through site in the UK in Havant today

Mororists were pictured queueing round the block at the only open Burger King drive-through site in the UK in Havant today 

As well as Burger King, many other fast food chains and pubs are clamouring to welcome customers, with Wetherspoons claiming its bars and hotels would re-open ‘in or around June.’

JD Wetherspoon yesterday said it aims to raise £141million as part of a share placement scheme so it can re-open as the summer begins.

The company said it would raise the amount through the issue of up to 15.7 million shares at 900 pence per share.

Chairman Tim Martin was forced to close all 900 pubs and furlough 40,000 workers before Britain went on lockdown.

He was among the last on the High Street to shut up shop, with drinkers downing their final pints on March 20 – just three days before a shutdown was imposed by law.

But Public Health England’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam appeared to dash hopes of pubs re-opening anytime soon.

Asked about the re-opening of pubs, beaches and garden centres, he told the Downing Street press conference: ‘At various different points they might involve the congregation of individuals and one has to be very painstaking and careful about thinking through some of these before we make the wrong move to relax measures.

‘I think we have to be extremely surefooted and extremely painstaking about this.

‘This virus will absolutely come back … this is with us for quite some time, potentially for as long as until we get a vaccine.

‘So from that perspective we have to be really careful and really surefooted and I’m just not going to suggest for a moment that any of this should be rushed.’

Burger King has said it is trialling the reopened drive-through at the Hampshire site with the view that more could reopen in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, fellow fast food giant KFC has announced it will reopen another 80 branches for delivery as Britain continues to edge out of lockdown.

The fried chicken chain said 100 of its stores up and down the country will be able to bring orders to customers’ homes from next Monday.

Meanwhile, DIY retailer Wickes has revealed it will be reopening six stores with strict social distancing measures in place from tomorrow in Pudsey, Cheltenham, Preston, Sevenoaks, Cricklewood and Hailsham.

Phone data has also suggested Britons are making more journeys on the roads than they were a week ago.

Speaking in Number 10, Ms Doyle said the latest government slide detailing transport use was ‘worrying’.

‘This is a transport slide which shows the use of various forms of transport,’ she told the press conference.

‘As we have seen up to now very dramatic falls in most modes but there has been an uptick in motor vehicles.

‘The message here really is that we are still passing through this peak and this use of motor vehicles is the highest working day use since March 23 and we really have to be vigilant that most people are making use efforts to stay at home and save lives and this is slightly worrying.

‘So please do stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives and go out for the necessities and the transport data will reflect that.’

The government’s lockdown rules state that people should only leave their home for one of four reasons: To get food supplies, medicine, to exercise or to get to work if they cannot work from home.

There is growing evidence to suggest that some Britons have had enough of lockdown restrictions with more people also being seen in the nation’s parks than in previous weeks.

The Government has insisted it does not want to lift lockdown measures too early as the country is still experiencing a ‘dangerous moment’ in the coronavirus pandemic.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab pointed to a reported increase in Covid-19 cases in Germany when discussing social distancing measures at the daily Downing Street press conference.

Mr Raab said a similar uptick in the UK ‘is a very real risk and it is vital we proceed carefully’.

He added: ‘We mustn’t gamble away the sacrifices and the progress that we have made – we must continue to follow the scientific evidence and we must continue to take the right decisions at the right moment in time.’

The Foreign Secretary said he ‘did not know’ whether the five tests for lifting lockdown had been met and said the country was at a ‘delicate and dangerous moment in this challenge’.

He explained that the UK was still ‘coming through the peak’ of the virus and said people need to maintain the current measures ‘until we are out of the woods’.

Prof. Van-Tam also urged caution on the reopening of schools and said ministers would have to be ‘very careful indeed’. He said it was ‘premature’ to be discussing heading back to the classroom, but did say the idea was ‘in the mix’ in talks over easing the restrictions.

He also doubted it was possible for young children to keep two metres away from one another in a classroom environment.

Prof. Van-Tam’s comments come hours after Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said schools would reopen in a ‘phased manner’, but that the Government did not have a fixed date in mind for this.

Wetherspoons plans to reopen its pubs ‘in or around June’ after being closed in coronavirus lockdown 

By Lara Keay

Wetherspoons plans to start re-opening its pubs and hotels ‘in or around June’, it was revealed yesterday.

Chairman Tim Martin was forced to close all 900 pubs and furlough 40,000 workers before Britain went on lockdown.

He was among the last on the High Street to shut up shop, with drinkers downing their final pints on March 20 – just three days before a shutdown was imposed by law.

There were threats to stage a nationwide boycott of the chain when Mr Martin claimed closing pubs was ‘over the top’ and that supermarkets posed a bigger risk of spreading coronavirus than bars.

He later refused to pay workers until he received the appropriate government bailout and sparked further fury and accusations of hypocrisy when he told workers to get jobs at Tesco instead.

His pub in Crystal Palace, south London, was daubed with the words ‘pay your staff’ after the Brexit-backing boss refused to pay staff until his government money came through. 

Wetherspoons Chairman Tim Martin (pictured with Prime Minister Boris Johnson in July last year) was forced to close all 900 pubs and furlough 40,000 workers when Britain went on lockdown on March 23

Wetherspoons Chairman Tim Martin (pictured with Prime Minister Boris Johnson in July last year) was forced to close all 900 pubs and furlough 40,000 workers when Britain went on lockdown on March 23

Wetherspoons Chairman Tim Martin (pictured with Prime Minister Boris Johnson in July last year) was forced to close all 900 pubs and furlough 40,000 workers when Britain went on lockdown on March 23

JD Wetherspoon said it aims to raise £141million as part of a share placement scheme so it can re-open as the summer begins.

The company said it would raise the amount through the issue of up to 15.7 million shares at 900 pence per share.

But Public Health England’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam yesterday appeared to dash hopes of pubs re-opening anytime soon.

Asked about the re-opening of pubs, beaches and garden centres, he told the Downing Street press conference: ‘At various different points they might involve the congregation of individuals and one has to be very painstaking and careful about thinking through some of these before we make the wrong move to relax measures.

‘I think we have to be extremely surefooted and extremely painstaking about this.

‘This virus will absolutely come back … this is with us for quite some time, potentially for as long as until we get a vaccine.

‘So from that perspective we have to be really careful and really surefooted and I’m just not going to suggest for a moment that any of this should be rushed.’

Mr Martin, a Conservative Party donor and ardent Brexiteer, caused even more controversy last month when he said he would catch coronavirus because his ‘chances are good’.

Drinkers are pictured at JJ Moon's in Tooting, south London, on March 20, the final day Wetherspoon was open nationwide

Drinkers are pictured at JJ Moon's in Tooting, south London, on March 20, the final day Wetherspoon was open nationwide

Drinkers are pictured at JJ Moon’s in Tooting, south London, on March 20, the final day Wetherspoon was open nationwide 

The 64-year-old said: ‘If someone offered me the opportunity now to have it under supervised conditions, I think I’d probably take it because your chances are very, very good.’

He told Sky at the time: ‘Supermarkets are very, very crowded. Pubs are much less crowded.

‘There’s hardly been any transmission of the virus within pubs and I think it’s over the top to shut them. That’s a commercial view but also a common sense view.’

He claimed that a nationwide shutdown was ‘draconian’ and that it didn’t offer ‘health benefits’.

Mr Martin had hoped he could get away with introducing social distancing in his pubs, with a ‘regulars only’ policy in some.

He said that people would be able to keep their distance more easily as footfall dropped with some unable to leave the house due to underlying health conditions.

The news was met with a mixed response on social media, with some desperate to get back to their favourite pubs and others continuing to threaten a boycott.

One person asked if they could pre-order drinks ahead of the possible June re-opening.

But someone else wrote: ‘I’m planning to socially distance from Wetherspoons and Tim Martin for a very long time indeed.’

Another person commented: ‘I most certainly will not be spending money in a Wetherspoons after all this is over. #TimMartin.’

Courtesy DAILY MAIL

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