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The row over school openings rumbles on. The Mail cites ‘‘evidence from 22 countries on the continent” at an EU briefing which suggests that reopening schools has not been harmful to children and teachers. Millions of pupils in Germany, France, Denmark and Norway are now back at their desks; even hard-hit Belgium has told primary and secondary schools to restart smaller final-year classes:

The decision to reopen schools in 22 EU states, including France where 1.4 million pupils went back to their classrooms, has not caused an increase in coronavirus cases across Europe.

The revelation piles pressure on unions resisting plans to send younger children back from June 1st.

The National Education Union yesterday even claimed it was not safe for teachers to mark workbooks.

The Mail quotes Alan Smithers, Professor of Education at the University of Buckingham: ‘The unions have been asking for evidence, and this is it. So they should start cooperating fully with the Government so that our schools can open again as soon as possible.”

Back in the UK Labour-run Bury Council yesterday became the latest local authority to reject the Government’s timetable for sending children back to class, joining Hartlepool, Liverpool and Stockport. You can watch Julia Hartley-Brewer arguing with a Bury Councillor on her Talk Radio show this morning here.

The Mail‘s online edition adds remarks from Tony Blair on last night’s Newsnight in which he backed calls for pupils to go back to school, saying some children were receiving no education at all.

The Times also has a story about the European education ministers being briefed by the EU at a meeting chaired by Blazenka Divjak, the Croatian Education Minister, who said that social distancing and hygiene measures appeared to be working. The paper points out that many of the UK councils considering delaying reopening are in deprived areas where children are suffering more from school closures.

In the Times‘s Letters pages, Kenneth Baker – Education Secretary for three years under Margaret Thatcher – is one of a number of readers concerned about the effect of ongoing school closures on children’s education.

SIR – The Sutton Trust has shown that 64% of primary school teachers have been giving just three hours of teaching a day during the lockdown. Teachers should go back to working a full day on June 1st.

Already two months of education have been lost; disadvantaged children will find it very challenging to catch up in a year. Hence, the sooner children return to school the better. Other countries are managing to do so safely and so should we.

Former Labour MP Frank Field, writing to the Guardian as chairman of the Frank Field Education Trust, agrees: “To allow this gap to develop unnecessarily, with the closure of schools, will be bordering on the politically criminal.”

Cartoon in the Telegraph on May 17th

Lockdown Isn’t Working

The newspapers are finally starting to take seriously the economic impact of the lockdown.

Today’s Telegraph notes that two million claims for grants, amounting to £6 billion, have been made in the past week under the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

The number of workers on the separate employee furlough scheme has gone up to eight million, an increase of 500,000 since last week. That brings to around ten million the total number of people now having their wages funded by Government borrowing, with a third of private sector workers wages currently paid by the state.

At the same time, with shops and businesses forcibly closed, claims for unemployment benefits soared by nearly 70% in April, according to the Guardian. The number of unemployed people claiming benefits has increased by the most since records began to reach almost 2.1 million in April. The Office for National Statistics says about 856,500 people signed up for Universal Credit and Jobseeker’s Allowance benefits in April, driving up the overall claimant count by 69% in a single month. It’s the biggest monthly increase since records began, while the overall number of people claiming benefits due to unemployment has risen above two million for the first time since 1996. They may shortly be joined by the 6,000 employees of the high street restaurant chain Bella Italia, which has called in the administrators.

Meanwhile, the number of employees on company payrolls plunged by 450,000 at the start of April. The number of vacancies posted by companies looking for new staff has also halved.

By way of contrast, the pre-lockdown headline measurement of unemployment had fallen to 3.9% in the three months to March, with the percentage of people in work at a joint-record high.

The Times reports that “the amount of work done in Britain crashed by a quarter in the final week of March as lockdown came into effect… The figures provide an early glimpse of the wreckage being caused to people’s lives”.

The Mail quotes Martina Kane, from the Health Foundation charity, on the worrying long-term effects of lockdown, especially on the young:

It is concerning that the current crisis is disproportionately affecting employment opportunities for young people. This could have worrying ramifications for young people’s longer term health outcomes. There is strong evidence that unemployment and poor quality work can have a negative impact on young people’s mental health. Financial insecurity can result in poor health both now and later in life.

We’re Not Going On a Summer Holiday

The summer holiday picture remains confusing. The Sun reports Transport Secretary Grant Shapps’s comments in the Commons yesterday that ministers are looking at “travel bridges” so people can fly to countries with low numbers of Covid infections. But it wasn’t all good news: he also warned that the Government is planning to fine travellers £10,000 if they break whatever quarantine restrictions are put in place.

But if you’re thinking about staying in the UK for your holiday, better not leave your home just yet. The Spectator’s Kate McCann told an alarming story on Twitter yesterday: “Ros Pritchard, Director General of the British Holiday and Home Park Association, says they have had ‘vigilantes’ reporting people staying on holiday home sites. The ‘tourists’ were in fact NHS staff who were being given accommodation to help them do their jobs.”

Trump’s Miracle Cure

The Mail and others report the news that Donald Trump has been taking hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus prophylactic. The paper publishes a letter written by White House physician Dr Sean Conley in which he says, “After numerous discussions, he and I regarding the evidence for and against the use of hydroxychloroquine, we concluded the potential benefit from the treatment outweighed the relative risk.”

Common Cold May Provide Immunity

The Times reports on research published in the academic journal Cell which suggests that merely having suffered from the common cold in the past may confer some immunity against the virus:

Scientists have found cells that can fight the new coronavirus in the bloodstream of people who have only been infected with other coronaviruses that cause colds. The finding raises hope that some may have a degree of protection already and could explain the apparent randomness in how severely the virus strikes.

The research looked at ‘T-cells’ which spot other cells that have been infected.

Dan Davis, professor of immunology at the University of Manchester, said: “When a cell is infected with a coronavirus, the virus’s protein molecules are chopped up into very small pieces. And those small pieces are put up at the surface of the cell. When T-cells see these molecules that have never been in the body before they multiply, then they go and respond to those infected cells.”

Nightingale Dead On Arrival

“This nightingale is no more! He has ceased to be!”

Why is a new Nightingale hospital being built, given that almost none of the ones that have been built so far are being used? According to the Midweek Herald in Devon, work began on transforming a HomeBase in Exeter into a Nightingale on May 6th.

“NHS leaders in Devon say that they hope that Nightingale Exeter will not be needed but if or when it is, it will be ready,” reports the paper.

Lord Gumption Speaks

Watch this YouTube video of Jonathan Sumption setting out the case against lockdown on the BBC. “The current rationale for the lockdown is incoherent,” he says, matter-of-factly.

This appearance, like Sumption’s comment piece in the Sunday Times, led to ignominy being poured on his head. (Welcome to the club, m’Lud.) Read his robust reply to his critics in today’s Spectator.

Tory MP Likens Government Response to Morecambe and Wise Sketch

The Telegraph‘s Camilla Tominey reports on some rumblings of discontent from Conservative MPs at Boris’s first meeting with backbenchers since the lockdown was put in place which took place yesterday. One disgruntled MP came up with a good analogy to describe the Prime Minister’s response to the pandemic:

Summing up the mood on the back benches, one former minister on Monday likened his own party’s handling of the crisis to the famous Morecambe and Wise comedy sketch featuring legendary pianist and composer Andre Previn.

The respected MP told the Telegraph: “It’s like when Previn turns to Eric and says: ‘You’re not playing the right notes’ and Eric grabs him by the lapels and replies: ‘I am playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order.’ Everything has been the wrong way round.”

Citing the newly-introduced 14-day quarantine period, the MP added: “That should have happened at the beginning of the crisis, not at the end.”

Is the Nation Suffering From OCD?

Jack Nicholson playing an obsessive-compulsive character in As Good As It Gets

Interesting email from a psychiatric nurse who liked my suggestion yesterday that there’s something cult-like about the behaviour of those who’ve enthusiastically embraced their incarceration:

The citizens of this country are going to have huge problems in the phases of loosening lockdown with OCD and risk assessment.

Some background. I am a retired psychiatric and general nurse, with a sociology degree gained when sociology wasn’t a load of lefty nonsense (1970s). I had an unusual career. I left my job as an NHS Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) in 1996 to become self-employed as the first independent CPN in the country, working as a contractor to the NHS alongside a small private clinical practice. Having previously been a training officer in the NHS, I gradually developed the training side of the business, which became my sole focus for the last few years until my retirement two years ago.

About nine weeks ago, our Government said: “500,000 of us are going to die.” We all experienced terror. If we are told something powerfully and often enough, we will believe it. If we link what we are told to an emotional state, we will believe it more. If we link it to a negative emotion, such as fear, we will believe it so much that we don’t feel the need to question it.

Which brings me to OCD.

People with OCD believe that if they think something it must be true and, as a corollary, what they think is what will happen. On several occasions, I saw new mums with OCD who believed they were going to smother their babies because, crucially, they were thinking how awful it would be to do such a thing (the “obsession”). They thought, “If I’m thinking it, I will do it.” So they tried not to think about it. How? By developing behaviours designed to block such thoughts, or to keep themselves away from their baby (the “compulsion”). In therapy (if they will come, which they usually won’t), we ask them to do what seems crazy: think about smothering their baby more, not less. If they’re brave enough to do this, they find all the reasons why they don’t want to, and won’t, smother their baby. Think it through properly, don’t avoid thinking about it.

In my early career, I made the mistake of arguing with OCD sufferers, trying to convince them that terrible things were not going to happen. This is pointless, as they will always reply: “But it might happen!” I learnt to say, “Yes, it might,” which, of course, freaked people out: “Don’t say that! What kind of a therapist are you? You’re supposed to make me feel better!” I followed up, though, with: “How likely is it? What could stop the terrible thing from happening? What’s the evidence? Rather than others calming you down with pointless reassurances that nothing terrible will happen, how can you calm yourself down?” (People with OCD are far too reliant on others to provide them with reassurance.) And, crucially, “As you can’t be 100% sure that the terrible thing won’t happen, how can you get along with life while living with the remote possibility that it could, like you do with so many other potential dangers?”

We are abysmal at risk assessment. I used to run courses on positive risk management with care and health organisations (why it’s OK to take risks, because they have benefits). The Covid crisis is the ultimate and logical conclusion to our risk-averse culture. How often do we hear the words: “You can’t do that! It’s against health and safety!” And yet, the Health and Safety Executive is about the only Government body I know which has a sense of humour. It used to send out a regular “Health and Safety Myths” email, analysing all the things workers had been told by their bosses they couldn’t do because of “health and safety”, but pointing out that the danger was minor, and, importantly, not doing whatever it was created more danger. Example: teachers at a school were told no longer to use step ladders to access books on a high shelf, in case they fell off the ladder. Results: (a) they stood on chairs instead and fell off; and (b) the children’s education was damaged, because they couldn’t read the interesting books on the high shelf.

On risk management courses I used to talk about fear of flying. Someone in the group would always say they were terrified of planes, but still went abroad for holidays. I would ask how they got to the airport. “Eh? We drove!” I would point out that far more people are killed driving to airports than they are on planes, but this cut no mustard, because, of course, we only read in the news about plane crashes (precisely because they are so rare), not about car crashes (because they are so common). Also, newspapers don’t report safe plane landings. So, as in so many other aspects of life, we end up with completely erroneous notions of how dangerous things are.

As a nation, we are going to need to be taught effective risk assessment and risk management skills if we are to succeed in coming out of lockdown. We keep looking for a “no risk” route out, when in reality reducing one risk almost always creates another. We tend to believe that a hazard in the present is always worse than a hazard in the future; that a physical hazard is worse than a mental or emotional hazard. We rarely ask the key risk assessment questions:

How likely is it?
How soon will it happen?
How serious is it?

I used to call these the “PIG Issues”: Probability, Imminence, Gravity.

Pulling this together, it’s as if we’ve suddenly become a nation of OCD sufferers: fuelled by our Government and our awful media, we’ve been taught to be mindful all the time of the terrible things which could happen. We’re presented constantly with images of mass graves, accounts of what happens in Intensive Care Units, etc. and so ruminate on these dangers. The more we think of these things, the more we believe them to be important and true – probable, rather than improbable. And our anxiety reinforces them: “I feel frightened. What is there to be frightened off? Yes: that!” Our anxiety “proves” our belief that we are in danger. Our danger-reduction strategies – like mask-wearing – prove, by temporarily reducing our anxiety, that we are right to feel danger. Then we seek certainty that the feared things won’t happen: “Unless the Government can give me absolute 100% certainty that my child will not get COVID-19 at school, I’m not taking the risk” Boris asked us to do our own risk assessments – “Stay Alert” – but we have become, over the past few years, a nation dependent on others to manage risks for us.

Unless we can undo years of mollycoddling, over-management and disempowerment, we will never go back to work or to take off our masks.

Staying Sane

For those of you beginning to go insane in virtue of being lockdown sceptics, rather than enthusiasts, this website seems to be quite therapeutic. I get several emails like the one below every day. This one is from a wine merchant in New Zealand:

Each morning when I awake (from a night of restless, worried sleep, clutching my pillow tight) the first thing I do is load your website and spend an hour or so, reading your latest daily missive and as many of the links as I have time for. It feeds my soul. It helps my mental state immeasurably to get through the coming day with the correct amount of grim humour at the sheer absurdity of where we find ourselves, and to know that there is also shared common outrage among the global rational and well balanced. Simply put, it is the one of the few thing keeping me sane at the moment – along with my family. My wife and I are libertarians and have been struggling to understand how so many of our fellow citizens can hold their liberty so lightly, and with such great irrationality throw away what looks like it could end up being a generation of progress and burden our children with indulgent profligacy, over something that, while terrible, in the big scheme of things is so innocuous that it is not, or rather it should not be, a threat to our systems of freedom and economy – our way of life.

Chin up, mate. If the worst comes to the worst, you can always drink your stock.

Shopping Aint What It Used To Be

A sad email from a reader who’d just visited his local garden centre:

I’ve just read your piece on the future of our High Streets. Today I visited our local garden centre, which isn’t exactly momentous news. But it got me thinking about what the short term future holds for retail in general. My visit was not pleasant, which I’ll come on to, and that concerns me. Once the lockdown is further lifted we will need to get our economy moving. But the salient point is that, thinking back to happier times, most of the retail places I visited was in part or wholly, for pleasure. For example – coffee. I can make this at home but I go to our local café for the atmosphere, to meet and be with people. And it’s a similar story for restaurants, nik nak shops, you name it.

Coming back to today, my wife and I were faced by a young chap in the car park wearing a surgical mask, even though I understand the risk of infection in the open air is negligible. Inside the garden centre we were greeted by the usual tape on the floor to keep us the required distance apart but again, everyone sported the sinister masks. And this is the truly bizarre part – several also wore plastic visors of the type a groundsman might wear for strimming duties. The reason for this flummoxed me. When it was time to pay there was a single till with a chequerboard area marked out in front. We were instructed, admittedly very politely, to deposit our trolley in this area and move away. The lady on the till then emerged from behind her plastic screen, reached for the trolley at arm’s length and, after drawing it back to safety, totted up our purchases.

The reason I think this rather odd experience is important is that for most of us shopping should be a pleasure. If it isn’t, who will go? Supermarkets and similar will survive as we all need provisions. But what of the others? Will we really be piling in and kick-starting the economy if the experience is anything like mine today?. I suspect many will either do without or shop online. That’s a terrible thought and I hope I’m wrong.

Alternative Daily Briefing

Interesting suggestion from a reader about how sceptics might get their message across more effectively:

As an alternative to the daily Government press briefing have you considered doing a Lockdown Sceptics press conference? Three people to present the case against the lockdown in a similar format to the Government’s daily briefing, but with the opposite message.

It could be led by Jonathan Sumption, Simon Dolan, you, Dan Hannan, Luke Johnson. Lead presenter puts forward an 8-10 min powerpoint setting out the case. We have a scientific expert just like the Government (Dr. Giesecke? Knut Wittkowski?) Then we could have questions… started by Peter Hitchens? Brendan O’Nielll? James Delingpole? then open it up and deal with flak from the MSM.

A dissenting press conference with us acting as the real opposition would bring publicity, offer a direct counterpoint to the Government propaganda, and allow us to present the full case in its entirety rather than piecemeal fragments on Twitter.

Quite a good idea, but doing these daily updates and maintaining this site, not to mention my three other jobs, leaves me with no time for anything else. If someone else wants to organise it, I’d be happy to do one of the presentations.

Has the NHS Stopped Buying Drugs?

A reader writes:

Just on a call with a colleague who mentioned a call she’d been on with senior [major drug company] UK staff who are forecasting an income squeeze till year-end because, quote, “The NHS has stopped buying drugs.” This team is in oncology, so the assumption must be that cancer treatments have taken a huge dent, because elective treatments are being put off, and because new diagnoses are not coming into scope. If the treatment downturn is significant enough that it is already feeding through into pharma sales and orders, it must be huge.

Lends credibility to Professor Karol Sikora’s claim that if the lockdown lasts six months there will be at least 50,000 extra deaths from cancer.

Latest NHS App Woes

Latest NHS track-and-trace device may need a rethink

In news that will surprise NO ONE, the rollout of the NHS’s tracing app has been delayed. Apparently, the version being tested on the Isle of Wight will not be the version rolled out nationally. They need to wait for the second version to be completed. Didn’t Matt Hancock say it would be launched nationally in mid-May? Looks like that’s one target he’s not going to meet.

A survey by the British Computer Society finds that 75% of IT experts predict the NHSX coronavirus app won’t work.

In any event, it looks like the app is on its way to being sidelined, with Matt Hancock’s announcement in the Commons yesterday that track-and-trace will now rely on people reporting when they’re ill and who they’ve had contact with by… making a telephone call:

Today I can confirm that we have recruited over 21,000 contact tracers in England. This includes 7,500 health care professionals who will provide our call handlers with expert clinical advice. They will help manually trace the contacts of anyone who has had a positive test and advise them on whether they need to isolate.

The work of these 21,000 people will be supported by the NHS-COVID 19 app which we are piloting in the Isle of Wight…

How will the app “support” those workers exactly, given that what is being piloted in Isle of Wight isn’t what will be rolled out nationally?

Meanwhile, the Health Service Journal has a story about an email sent by NHSX’s Chief Executive, Matthew Gould, which suggests he knows who’s going to get the blame for this fiasco. In an email leaked to the Journal with the subject “Launching websites and apps”, Gould writes: “We are losing goodwill and credibility because we keep doing non-compliant builds and launches. We have to do better.”

Time to dust off that CV, Mr Gould.

Did a 14 Year-Old Schoolgirl Invent the Lockdown Policy?

Yesterday, I pointed out that no country locked down its citizens in response to the flu pandemics of 1957-58 or 1968-70 and, as I’ve said before, quarantining whole populations in response to a pandemic has only been tried once before – in Mexico in 2009 in response to the H1N1 scare. And the policy was abandoned after 18 days due to rising social and economic costs. Moreover, numerous public health bodies advised against indiscriminate quarantining to mitigate the impact of a pandemic before 2020, including the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2019. The WHO specifically recommended against whole-population quarantining as a strategy for managing the outbreak of a flu-like virus in a report it published in 2019. The WHO report, which you can read here, even stopped short of recommending the quarantining of exposed individuals.

So why the last-minute change of plan?

I’m clearly going to have to devote a chapter in my book to this mystery – and I suspect the main culprit will be the WHO for praising the Chinese authorities’ better-late-than-never over-reaction, which involved mandatory testing of millions of people, imprisoning those who tested positive in purpose-built “hospitals”, and boarding up those who tested negative in their homes for weeks on end. Because the WHO’s Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, is in thrall to Xi Jinping, he encouraged governments around the world to mimic China’s response. In this way, a totalitarian dictatorship called the tune that the rest of the world danced to. Incidentally, the Chinese authorities have agreed to an “independent” investigation into the origins of coronavirus on the condition that it’s led by the WHO. Isn’t that a bit like getting the monkey to investigate the organ-grinder?

But a post on the blog of the American Institute for Economic Research has drawn attention to another suspect in the investigation into this mystery: a 14 year-old high school girl. Her name is Laura Glass and in 2006 her dad, Robert Glass, was working as a scientist at the Sandia National Laboratories. He and his daughter, then 14, co-authored a 2006 paper entitled ‘Targeted Social Distancing Designs for Pandemic Influenza‘ and this paper, apparently, was referenced in a proposal about how America should respond to a pandemic drafted by by two doctors working for the US federal government in 2006, along with a team at the Defense Department. The New York Times has more.

So how did a 14 year-old come to co-author an influential academic paper? According to the Albuquerque Journal, she conducted a high school science experiment that leant weight to the idea that quarantining populations, including shutting schools, would suppress the spread of a flu-like virus:

Laura, with some guidance from her dad, devised a computer simulation that showed how people – family members, co-workers, students in schools, people in social situations – interact. What she discovered was that school kids come in contact with about 140 people a day, more than any other group. Based on that finding, her program showed that in a hypothetical town of 10,000 people, 5,000 would be infected during a pandemic if no measures were taken, but only 500 would be infected if the schools were closed.

The fact that the lockdown policy was based, in part, on a high school science experiment is symptomatic of how how little real scientific expertise was involved in devising it. The two doctors who took up this cause were a Department of Veterans Affairs physician and an oncologist turned White House adviser, and the Defense Department officials were just garden-variety bureaucrats.

I must try and interview Laura Glass for my book.

YouTube Censors Epidemiologist Knut Wittkowski

YouTube has appointed itself the world’s censor-in-chief during this crisis, but even our own Lord Chamberlain would have hesitated before muzzling Knut Wittkowski, former Head of Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Research Design at Rockefeller University. (You’ll recall that I linked to his excellent interview in Spiked a couple of days ago.) The New York Post reports that YouTube removed a video of him talking about the virus that had racked up more than 1.3 million views.

The video was produced by the British film company Journeyman Pictures and YouTube hasn’t informed them or Wittkowski why it’s been removed. ”They don’t tell you,” he says. “They just say it violates our community standards. There’s no explanation for what those standards are or what standards it violated.”

Fortunately, the American Institute for Economic Research has put the video back up. You can watch it here.

#IDAHOBIT

Sunday was International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia, or IDAHOBIT. As Douglas Murray relates in his latest Telegraph column, the Metropolitan Police spent part of Sunday broadcasting their support for these causes. “We truly value and respect the unique qualities of everyone in the Met and are proud to celebrate this day”, the Met tweeted, following up with the hashtag #IDAHOBIT.

BBC News marked the occasion with a piece by Ben Hunte, the corporation’s LGBT correspondent, entitled: ‘I’m scared of being buried as the wrong gender.’ Here’s an extract:

Lucy, 21, from the north-east of England, is transgender and has severe heart issues. After years spent living as a woman, she says she has “no doubt” her parents would bury her as a man if she was to die from coronavirus.

“They’ll shave my long hair, put me in a suit, use my birth name and call me ‘he’ all the way through the funeral. The thought of my family doing it makes me feel so sick, but I know they will.”

Someone should tell Lucy to stop worrying – her chances of dying from coronavirus are less than one in a million.

A Military Fast Jet Pilot Writes…

Not Boris Johnson

Bullish email from a former military fast-jet pilot. He thinks he could have made a better decision about how to respond to the pandemic than the British Prime Minister:

I have spent most of my life in aviation as a military fast jet pilot and then as a captain for Thomas Cook until I was forced into redundancy last year. As aviators we have many skills including decision making in difficult situations. We have many tricks of the trade and most processes involve some sort of pneumonic. The latest one in Thomas Cook was FORDEC. It all starts with FACTS – you must must must start with as many facts from as many different sources as possible. Next comes OPTIONS – scope out how you can play the scenario out whilst considering the RISKS and BENEFITS of each option. Finally DECIDE, EXECUTE and then CHECK constantly to see if stuff has changed – the FACTS, for instance.

I’m guessing you know where my story fits into the current situation? This is not rocket science (ha). If required, a fast jet pilot can run through this in about five seconds!

I was also a CRMI crew resource management instructor and we had a whole history over 110 years of past accidents and incidents to learn from.

My common thread is that we have simply lost sight of the big picture. There is no voice of reason breaking through in the MSM. Where is Nigel Farage when you need him?

At the end of the day, as my father used to say, “Life Is A Near Death Experience”. Enjoy it as much as you can and let’s get on with the show.

Round-Up

And on to the round-up of all the stories I’ve noticed, or which have been been brought to my attention, in the last 24 hours:

Small Businesses That Have Reopened

Last week, Lockdown Sceptics launched a searchable directory of open businesses across the UK. The idea is to celebrate those retail and hospitality businesses that have reopened, as well as help people find out what has opened in their area. But we need your help to build it, so we’ve created a form you can fill out to tell us about those businesses that have reopened near you. Please visit the page and let us know about those brave folk who are doing their bit to get our country back on its feet. We’re up to 500 now – keep ’em coming. And if you want a laugh about what to look forward to when the lockdown us over, check out this video.

Theme Tune Suggestions

Just one today, but what a corker: ‘Throw the R Away‘ by the Proclaimers.

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the last 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. I’ve now got two journalists helping out and I’d like to pay them something, so if you feel like donating please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links I should include in tomorrow’s update, email me here. The site’s total page views have passed one million and it’s averaging 54,000 visitors a day. We’re having an impact…

And Finally…

Listen to James Delingpole telling me about being threatened with arrest at Sunday’s Hyde Park rally in our latest London Calling podcast. And watch this spoof of the daily Downing Street press briefing by comedy due Larry and Paul. Wait for the Peston question…