Day: 3 April 2021

Why Do the Police Allow Muslim Protestors to Gather Outside Batley Grammar School, But Not Christians in a Church on Good Friday?

We’re publishing an original piece by Rev Dr William J.U. Philip, a Senior Minister in The Tron Church in Glasgow, about the disgraceful behaviour of the Metropolitan Police, who told a congregation of Polish Catholics to leave a church in Balham on Good Friday. Rev Philip was one of a group of Scottish church leaders who brought a Judicial Review against the Scottish Government, forcing them to lift the suspension on worship on March 25th. As he pointed out in his piece, the Government’s guidance does not prohibit collective worship and the congregants weren’t flouting social distancing rules, so the Police really had no excuse.

One has to hope that the Police will issue an apology, and that the Government will reiterate the fact that worship is perfectly lawful, and churches responsible for managing their own worship. But there are surely further questions to be asked as to why this kind of crass and needless harassment of ordinary Christians at worship should be seen as fair game, when by contrast so many other far less managed and safe events are treated by the police with kid gloves. One comment under the video suggested that the service relocate to Batley Grammar School, where large gatherings with absolutely no distancing seem to be entirely permissible. Others asked whether this kind of thing has happened – or would ever happen – in a Mosque during Ramadan, or at any other time for that matter. Quite.

Our police today will reverently sink to their knees before violent, statue-destroying BLM protesters; but they will threaten to arrest and fine those bowing the knee before Jesus Christ on Good Friday.

Worth reading in full.

Plans for Vaccine Passports When Visiting Pubs and Restaurants Ditched – for Now

Plans to force people to show vaccine passports when going to a pub or restaurant have been ditched. Proof of a Covid jab or test will, however, still be required for festivals and sports events, according to reports. The Sun has the story.

Boris Johnson has ditched plans to force customers to show a vaccine passport every time they go into a pub.

In a major boost for the hospitality trade, the PM will exempt bars and restaurants from new Covid safety rules.

Only those attending mass gatherings, such as festivals or major sports events, will be required to provide proof of a jab, test or natural immunity.

Landlords, who can reopen outdoors-only a week tomorrow in England, will soon be free to admit anyone who follows existing guidelines on social distancing and mask-wearing.

Boris’s change of heart came after an angry backlash from 73 MPs who branded the idea “divisive and discriminatory”.

Trials of vaccine passports are still going ahead as planned – the debate over their usage is far from over yet, despite the good news on pubs.

NHS chiefs are developing a new app members of the public will have to show to gain access to sports stadiums, theatres, festivals and nightclubs.

Those without a smartphone will get a paper certificate.

The system will be trialled at nine pilot events over the next few weeks, where experts will also explore how high-tech ventilation and Covid tests on entry are working.

Mr Johnson will study the feedback to help decide how to manage other large-scale gatherings as restrictions are lifted.

Worth reading in full.

Clearly, the idea of domestic Covid passports is not dead. As Fraser Nelson said in the Spectator today: “In theory, the Government is taking soundings. In practice, those involved in Michael Gove’s review have been told that the decision has already been made by the PM: so they’re happening.” While the Government may not force pubs and restaurants to restrict entrance to those with vaccine passports, it will likewise not stop businesses from imposing such limits themselves, as Michael Gove has suggested in an article for the Sunday Telegraph.

At the moment, businesses could set up their own private certification schemes and use them to restrict access. Nightclubs and other venues already police entry. Some may well want to embrace any tool available to signal to visitors they are at low risk of infection.

Also worth reading in full.

Stop Press: The Mirror reports that, while pubs, cafes and restaurants will be allowed to reopen in full without vaccine passports on May 17th, they may be forced to introduce them at some point in the future.

Stop Press 2: This image from the Sun shows where vaccine passports will be required at first.

Matt Hancock Summoned to High Court to Justify Opening Shops Before Pubs

Why is it that pubs and restaurants cannot open at the same time as “non-essential” shops? Matt Hancock has been ordered to the High Court to justify this decision, following legal action by Sacha Lord and Hugh Osmond. The Telegraph has the story.

Matt Hancock has been ordered to the High Court on Tuesday to justify why he is allowing non-essential shops to open before pubs and restaurants.

The legal action has been brought by nightclubs operator Sacha Lord and Pizza Express founder Hugh Osmond to try to force the early opening of hospitality venues.

According to High Court documents seen by the Telegraph the pair are challenging “the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps) (England) Regulations 2021 to the extent that those Regulations provide for non-essential retail businesses to reopen before indoor hospitality businesses”.

The order from Mr Justice Swift says that “the Secretary of State shall by 10am on Tuesday April 6th, 2021 file and serve his response to the application” from the pair.

Although Mr Hancock has been summoned to the High Court, it is likely that officials in his department will have to attend court on his behalf. 

“Non essential” shops will be able to open from April 12th, while indoor hospitality businesses will have to remain closed until at least May 17th. Mr Osmond has said that this case offers “some hope… for those of us who cherish British freedom and who crave a return to rational and democratic governing”. He continued:

In a democracy, evidence and rationality should still matter, and so too should transparency, challenge and accountability. 

Government has been given an easy ride in Parliament with the official Opposition being nowhere to be seen.  

This has led to arbitrariness, randomness and a complete lack of logic in the rules, and we’re starting to see it being accompanied by something even more sinister: an arrogance, and a sense that ministers are above scrutiny.   

The Government left us no choice but to take it to court and regardless of the eventual outcome of the case, I am grateful to Mr Justice Swift (whose name seems so apt) for recognising that this is a truly urgent matter affecting the lives of millions of people, that simply cannot wait.

The Telegraph’s report is worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, has congratulated Sacha Lord and Hugh Osmond on Twitter for forcing the Health Secretary to justify opening non-essential businesses, but not indoor hospitality businesses, in court.

More Than Five Million People Fully Vaccinated in UK

More than five million people in the UK have received both doses of a Covid vaccine – just under 10% of those aged over 18. Over 30 million people have also received their first jab. BBC News has the story.

More than five million people in the UK have received a second dose of a Covid vaccine.

The latest figures show an additional 246,631 second doses, bringing the total to 5.2 million.

It means 9.9% of over-18s have received both injections. First doses have been given to 31.4 million people.

As the vaccination programme takes effect, daily reported deaths fell to 10, their lowest number since September 14th.

However, reporting lags may mean lower than usual figures for deaths because of the bank holiday.

The UK also reported another 3,423 confirmed coronavirus cases.

In a post on Twitter, Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed the “milestone” in the vaccination programme, adding: “I urge everyone to take up their second dose as soon as they are offered it.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it meant that 50% of over-80s have now had their second jab.

Worth reading in full.

Police Shut Down Good Friday Church Service and Threaten Worshippers With £200 Fines for Breaking Covid Rules

Police interrupted a Good Friday church service yesterday, threatening worshipers with £200 fines for breaking Covid rules. Standing behind the lectern, one officer said the service was “unlawful”, adding: “You need to go home.” The Sun has the story.

Cops shut down a Good Friday church service and threatened the congregation with fines.

Two officers were filming striding up to the lectern yesterday to tell worshippers to go home.

They said there were too many people in Christ the King Church, which serves a Polish congregation, in Balham, South London, at 6pm yesterday.

One officer said: “At this moment in time you need to go home.

“Failure to comply with this direction to leave and go to your home address, ultimately could lead you to be fined £200 or, if you fail to give your details, to you being arrested.

“It’s Good Friday and I appreciate you would like to worship, but it is unlawful.”

Police officers stand at the lectern order the congregation to go home

 The church has responded, saying that the police “brutally exceeded their powers”.

We believe… that the police brutally exceeded their powers by issuing their warrant for no good reason, as all Government requirements were met.

We believe municipal police officials have been misinformed about the current place of worship guidelines, claiming that the reason for their intervention is the continued ban on public celebration in places of worship in London due to the lockdown on January 4th, 2021.

We regret that the rights of the faithful have been wronged on such an important day for every believer and that our worship has been profaned.

The Sun highlights that “current guidelines do allow worshiping in churches to go ahead, with proper safety reviews and social distancing in place”.

Worth reading in full.

A video recording of this events has been posted on Twitter, and can be watched here.

Companies Could Enforce ‘No Jab, No Job’ Under Government’s Vaccine Passport Plans

Vaccine passports could be used by companies to ban people who have not been vaccinated from working for them, according to Government sources. Ministers are reportedly “resigned” to the fact that some bosses will enforce a ‘No Jab, No Job’ rule. This news comes alongside reports of the Government attempting to stem the growing concern among MPs about vaccine passports by adding a “sunset clause” to plans which would impose a time limit on the scheme. The Times has the story.

Vaccination passports could be imposed on the public for less than a year, according to plans being drawn up by Downing Street to head off a Tory revolt.

Boris Johnson will give the green light on Monday to the development of a system of “vaccine certification” as he looks to reinvigorate the economy. …

A senior Government source has… said that ministers were “resigned” to the fact that companies will be able to bar people who have not been vaccinated from working for them under plans for vaccine passports. The source said they would not legally be able to stop companies from demanding them as a condition of employment.

A number of UK companies have already made it clear that people will not be able to work for them unless they have been vaccinated against Covid – Pimlico Plumbers being one of the most widely reported examples. A recent survey – cited in the Times – found that over 50% of managers favour refusing work for those who have not been vaccinated.

The Chartered Institute of Management conducted a survey recently that found that more than half of managers wanted to make coronavirus vaccinations mandatory for staff returning to work. Unions oppose the approach.

Although ministers have been clear that they will not make certificates mandatory for offices, there are no plans to forbid bosses from establishing their own schemes.

Worth reading in full.

Danish Vaccine Passport App “Will Cause Domino Effect” Across Europe

The Danish developers of a new Covid passport app say that its technology will cause a “domino effect” across Europe. The company is currently in talks with a number of European countries, possibly including the UK. Sky News has the story.

The company behind a Danish Covid passport app says its rollout will cause a “domino effect” across Europe.

Netcompany is developing an app which will be ready for use in Denmark by May.

It will show whether a person has been vaccinated against Covid as well as recent test results.

The firm’s Chief Executive Andre Rogaczewski said international interest in the technology is “very high”.

“We are talking to at least a dozen of countries, and most of them in Europe right now,” he told Sky News.

The UK could be among them, although no details have been confirmed. …

Denmark was the first country in Europe to confirm it will use digital passports.

Mr Rogaczewski said: “I think that’s going to start some sort of domino effect. We will see more countries in Europe following suit.”

There have been suggestions that the technology could be incorporated into the existing NHS Covid app.

Trials of vaccine passports are expected to begin in the UK next month at venues such as theatres and stadiums, despite growing opposition to the idea from MPs.

Sky News’ report is worth reading in full.

News Round Up

The List of the 73 MPs Opposed to Vaccine Passports

The Mirror has published a list of the MPs and Peers who have signed a pledge to vote against vaccine passports. It’s a coalition unlike any other, with ex-leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn’s name appearing alongside that of Sir Iain Duncan Smith, ex-leader of the Conservatives. Thatcherite John Redwood appears alongside former shadow chancellor John McDonnell and ex-Lib Dem leader Tim Farron. The presence of 41 Conservative MPs on this list will have put the wind up Boris since it would mean that if the Lib Dems, the Scottish Nats and Labour vote against, it would be enough to defeat the measure in the House of Commons. Indeed, Boris has extended an olive branch to the rebels tonight, offering to time-limit the passports for one year. Let’s hope that doesn’t win any of them over.

Conservative

Mark Harper MP
Steve Baker MP
Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP
Harriett Baldwin MP
Esther McVey MP
Adam Afriyie MP
Bob Blackman MP
Sir Graham Brady MP
Nus Ghani MP
Andrew Mitchell MP
Peter Bone MP
Ben Bradley MP
Andrew Bridgen MP
Paul Bristow MP
Philip Davies MP
Richard Drax MP
Jonathan Djanogly MP
Chris Green MP
Philip Hollobone MP
Adam Holloway MP
David Jones MP
Simon Jupp MP
Andrew Lewer MBE MP
Julian Lewis MP
Karl McCartney MP
Craig Mackinlay MP
Anthony Mangnall MP
Stephen McPartland MP
Anne Marie Morris MP
Sir John Redwood MP
Andrew Rosindell MP
Greg Smith MP
Henry Smith MP
Julian Sturdy MP
Sir Desmond Swayne MP
Sir Robert Syms MP
Craig Tracey MP
Jamie Wallis MP
David Warburton MP
William Wragg MP
Sir Charles Walker MP