The Spectator

Portrait of the week: Shopping bans in Wales, soft drinks in Scotland and stowaways at sea


Wales, entering a 17-day ‘firebreak’, closed most shops by law but then tried to stop supermarkets selling ‘non-essential’ items such as bedding, kettles and smoke alarms. At the beginning of the week, Sunday 25 October, total deaths (within 28 days of testing positive for the coronavirus) had stood at 44,745, including 1,166 reported in the past week, compared with 819 the week before. In England, Nottingham entered the most severe restrictions,Tier 3, taking the number of people so restricted to 7.9 million (in Liverpool, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, South Yorkshire and Warrington). About 54 Conservative MPs from the north of England wrote to the Prime Minister asking him to ‘show us the way out’ of restrictive measures; 14 signatories kept their names secret. Scotland was to introduce five tiers on 2 November, from Zero (nearly normal) to Level 4 (strict lockdown). The Scottish government considered placing North and South Lanarkshire in Level 4 and making pubs in the central belt serve soft drinks only and close at 6 p.m.

Sixteen members of the Special Boat Service descended from helicopters under cover of darkness to regain control of a 748ft oil tanker, Nave Andromeda, three miles off the Isle of Wight, ten hours after seven Nigerian stowaways were reported to have shown violence. Hampshire police arrested them on suspicion of ‘seizing or exercising control of a ship by use of threats or force’. The 22 crew had locked themselves in the ship’s citadel. France and Spain had earlier refused a request by the master for the stowaways to disembark. A man, a woman and two children, aged five and eight, drowned when a boat carrying migrants sank off Dunkirk; 15 others were taken to hospital. More than 7,400 migrants have reached England in small boats this year.

Some Conservative MPs supported a campaign by the footballer Marcus Rashford for children entitled to free school meals also to benefit from food vouchers over half-term and in the Christmas holidays.

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