UK investigation into Downing Avenue Covid lockdown events finds ‘failures of management’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to make a statement at Parliament on January 31, 2022 in London, England.

Dan Kitwood | News from Getty Images | Getty Images

LONDON – The preliminary findings of an inquiry into Covid-19 lockdown parties at Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office and home have sharply criticized Downing Street culture.

The 12-page interim report, released in redacted form on the government website on Monday, makes clear that lockdown parties “should not have happened” while others “should not have unfolded as they did”.

In a series of damning conclusions, senior official Sue Gray’s partial findings said there were “faults in leadership and judgment by various parts of No. 10 and the Cabinet Office at different times” and some of the behavior was “difficult to justify.”

It also noted that excessive consumption of alcohol was “at no time appropriate in a professional workplace” and some employees wanted to raise concerns about behaviors they observed but felt unable to do so.

“At least some of the assemblies in question represent a serious failure to live up not only to the high standards expected of those who work at the heart of government, but also to the standards that were expected at that time from the whole of the British public,” says the report.

Gray said it was unable to produce a meaningful report after the Metropolitan Police controversially asked them to provide “minimal clues” about parties they are also investigating.

The Met’s move provoked a backlash from British lawmakers, who accused the police of trying to influence the political process and “whitewashing” the report.

After multiple reports of various gatherings and alleged parties at government buildings, the latest revelation in recent weeks has been that an event was being held during the lockdown to celebrate Johnson’s birthday on June 19, 2020.

Johnson so far resisted demands for his resignation from across the political spectrum, despite public anger over the long and growing list of alleged lockdown violations.

In response to Gray’s interim report, Johnson told lawmakers assembled in the House of Commons that he regretted the way the matter had been handled and accepted that it was time to review the codes of conduct.

“First, I want to apologize,” Johnson said on Monday afternoon. “I’m sorry for the things we just didn’t do right and also for the way this matter was handled.”

Acknowledging that apologizing is not enough, Johnson said he would set up a prime minister’s office with a permanent secretary.

“I understand it and I will fix it,” Johnson said, prompting a chorus of jeers from opposition lawmakers.

Opposition Labor leader Keir Starmer said that “the Prime Minister thought we were all fools by routinely breaking the rules he had laid down”.

“He cheerfully treats what should be a mark of shame as a welcome shield,” Starmer added, noting that Gray’s report shows there are 12 cases that have reached the threshold for a criminal investigation.

The Prime Minister is expected to address all Conservative MPs at a meeting tonight.

What happens next?

Many lawmakers loyal to Johnson, including his closest colleagues, had repeatedly said they would “wait for the results” of Sue Gray’s report before passing judgment on their leader.

Conservative politicians’ oft-repeated phrase has allowed the Prime Minister to buy some time to campaign for support from lawmakers to stave off a no-confidence vote – which will be triggered when 54 Tory MPs send letters of no-confidence to the chairman of the 1922 Committee, one influential group of backbenchers addressing leadership challenges.

Continue reading

Britain’s Boris Johnson is threatened with a vote of no confidence. Here’s what it takes

It is not known how many letters were sent to the 1922 leader, Graham Brady, as the letters are kept secret, although a number of politicians have publicly stated that they no longer have confidence in Johnson’s leadership.

It will now be closely observed whether the required 54 letters from Brady will be declared after Gray’s results are published. If enough no-confidence letters are received, a vote of confidence would be triggered.

If a majority of Tory MPs voted to support Johnson in the vote, current rules mean that no new vote can be called for another 12 months, although the 1922 Committee is reportedly considering changing that rule to include two votes allow per year.

Should Johnson lose the vote, he would be forced to resign and a Conservative leadership contest would begin. In that case, Johnson would not be admitted as a deposed leader.

Of course, another alternative would be for Johnson to resign of his own accord, but he shows no sign of intending to do so.

Some lawmakers may prefer to wait and see how the Conservative Party fares in local elections in May, allowing them to gauge public anger at Partygate. However, opinion polls have already shown that trust and support for Johnson and his administration have fallen.

party over?

Johnson’s leadership was under immense pressure after weeks of media reports (dating back before Christmas) of several parties and gatherings attended by government employees, including at times Johnson.

One gathering in particular captured Johnson when it took place in May 2020, at the height of the first lockdown, when the general public was only allowed to meet one other person from outside their household outdoors.

Johnson admitted before Parliament in early January that he had attended the party – dubbed the ‘bring your own boek’ gathering in Downing Street’s garden, to which around 100 people were reportedly invited.

But he told lawmakers he only attended the party for 25 minutes to thank “groups of staff” for their hard work and that he “implicitly believed this was a work event,” a comment made by opposition politicians was mocked.

The opposition Labor Party was scathing at Johnson’s leadership and his comments on his participation in the party in May 2020, calling for the Prime Minister to resign.

As Johnson offered the nation his “sincere apologies” for attending the event, Labor leader Starmer said Johnson’s explanation for his attendance was “so ridiculous that it is actually offensive to the British public” as he urged Johnson to ” do the right thing and resign.”

China’s Covid lockdown guidelines ship costs larger

Freeman H. Shen, Founder, Chairman & CEO of WM Motor, speaks during Fireside Chat on Day 2 of CNBC East Tech West at LN Garden Hotel Nansha Guangzhou on November 28, 2018 in Nansha, Guangzhou, China.

Dave Zhong/Getty Images for CNBC International

BEIJING — Covid-related restrictions have increased production costs for Chinese electric car start-up WM Motor, even as existing chip and battery shortages are driving up costs, CEO Freeman Shen told CNBC.

“Adding all these things together, this industry is a fast-growing industry, but the cost part of the equation is also going to be a challenge,” Shen, also founder and chairman of WM Motor, said Wednesday.

Sales of new energy vehicles — which include battery-only and hybrid-powered cars — more than doubled last year in China, the world’s largest automobile market. The country has become a hotbed for electric car start-ups and a launch pad for many traditional auto giants making the shift to electric.

China quickly controlled the local spread of the coronavirus in 2020 by imposing swift lockdowns on cities and neighborhoods. But after the emergence of the highly transmissible omicron variant, some analysts started to question whether the costs of the zero-Covid policy now outweigh the benefits.

The impact is already being felt by factories. A Chinese ministry overseeing manufacturing said this month the lockdowns would be a drag on industrial production in the first quarter.

Shen laid out the impact of Covid-related restrictions on his start-up:

  • A chip manufacturer in Malaysia had production problems and stopped delivering to Bosch China, which then stopped delivering to WM Motor.
  • Within China, after Covid cases emerged in Nanjing, one of WM Motor’s battery cell suppliers stopped deliveries.
  • In the last few months, similar disruptions affected two of the company’s suppliers in the Shangyu district of Shaoxing city, near Hangzhou.
  • Covid-related restrictions on the Ningbo port area also stopped delivery from three suppliers there.

“So, all these things were killing us,” Shen told CNBC.

Automakers around the world have cut production due to a shortage of semiconductors. Geopolitical tensions and overwhelming demand for chips in the wake of the pandemic contributed to a shortfall in supply that has lasted for more than a year.

Shen said he expects the chip shortage to improve in the second half of this year, based on conversations with his start-up’s 11 chip suppliers.

Electric car battery shortage

However, he pointed to another looming problem that could get worse: Rising raw material costs for batteries.

Battery-grade lithium carbonate prices were up more than 500% year-on-year as of earlier this month, according to S&P Global Platts. The firm’s survey of industry insiders released this week found that 80% of respondents expect those lithium prices to remain high this year — about four times higher than the start of 2021.

The battery shortage will likely worsen as demand for electric cars in China picks up in the second quarter, Shen said. For 2022, he expects electric car sales in the country to nearly double from last year to about 5 million vehicles.

An electric WM Motor car is seen inside a shopping mall in downtown Shanghai, China, April 26, 2021.

Costphoto/Barcroft Media | Future Publishing | Getty Images

Read more about electric vehicles from CNBC Pro

Reassessing a Japanese manufacturing model

One of the reasons the pandemic disrupted the supply chain is that factories have historically used a longstanding Japanese model of “just-in-time” or lean manufacturing, in which factories only purchase parts as needed to reduce costs and increase efficiency, Shen pointed out .

But now, the strategy is changing.

“In order to make sure you can deliver your car, you probably will start thinking: We have to waste some of our money to keep some stock,” he said. “For a car company, the biggest loss would be losing the sales to your customer.”

Part of WM Motor’s sales strategy is to work with property developers to open test drive sites in more residential neighborhoods, while building up the cars’ autonomous driving capabilities such as in parking, Shen said.

He said the company will need to raise prices to cope with rising costs, as others in the industry already have.

For one, Tesla raised the price for its Model Y in China by 21,088 yuan ($3,300) in December to 301,840 yuan ($47,450), after subsidies. WM Motor’s cars are about half that price.

Travel restrictions affect business

Economists say China’s Covid-related travel restrictions affect consumer spending more than factories.

Cities frequently change Covid testing requirements for travel, while flights and train tickets can get canceled based on newly reported Covid cases.

These restrictions have also affected WM Motor, Shen said. The company has research and development, factory and other business-side operations in Shanghai, Chengdu, Zhejiang province and Hubei province, in addition to about 500 brick-and-mortar stores across the country.

He said the company had to use more technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality to help employees and customers communicate despite travel restrictions.

“We have to use this kind of technology, because if not, the user experience is going to be terrible, and the efficiency is going to be very bad. And we sometimes cannot even get things done,” Shen said.

Asked if he had any IPO plans, Shen said there was no news to announce on the listing front, and cited the pressing delivery issues.

“Obviously people had a lot of expectation, our investor had a lot of expectation, but we are very busy these days to deliver our product,” he said. “Hopefully we can get something to announce in the near future.”

Merkel push for German lockdown blocked as dying toll passes 100,000

BERLIN, GERMANY – SEPTEMBER 22: German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) speaks with Vice Chancellor and Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz.

Swimming pool | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Germany’s Covid-19 crisis continues to rock the nation with dire news on Thursday that the total number of deaths has now surpassed 100,000.

However, the country’s new coalition government is initially resisting a lockdown.

Germany reported massive new Covid cases on Thursday. with over 75,000 new infections in the last 24 hours (and up from 66,884 on Wednesday), while the death toll has now reached 100,119 after 351 more people died from the virus the previous day.

Government officials have been watching the rising cases with alarm for weeks, and the country’s outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel is said to have pushed for a two-week lockdown at a meeting on Tuesday with the country’s new coalition government.

According to the Bild newspaper, the new government alliance of the left-wing Social Democrats and Greens as well as the business-friendly Free Democrats resisted the idea and preferred to wait to see whether the stricter Covid restrictions announced last week would help reduce infections.

While Merkel had proposed a lockdown starting Thursday that would have closed shops, bars and restaurants, the idea was rejected by the new government, which said it had been interpreted as a “bad political ploy” by the public, both old and new government, Picture reported Wednesday.

CNBC contacted the federal government for further comments on the picture report and learned that “the German government does not comment on the media coverage.

“However, the government referred to statements made by Merkel’s chief spokesman Steffen Seibert on Wednesday, in which he neither denied nor confirmed whether Merkel had pushed for a lockdown, and stated that the conversation between Merkel and the coalition leaders was confidential, but he said she” had discussed the gravity of the situation.

“At this meeting yesterday, the Chancellor made it clear to the heads of the traffic light coalition that, from her point of view, the situation is extremely serious. The drama is obvious in this country: the hospitals are filling rapidly. Free intensive care beds and available intensive care staff are becoming increasingly scarce, “said Seibert.

“Now we have to do what is necessary to slow down and break this fourth wave as quickly as possible. As I said, the Chancellor has made it clear to the heads of the future coalition that the situation is serious.”

Compulsory vaccination

(from left to right) Christian Lindner from the FDP, Olaf Scholz from the SPD and Annalene Baerbock and Robert Habeck from the Greens pose after they presented their amicable coalition agreement to the media on November 24, 2021 in Berlin, Germany.

Sean Gallup | Getty Images News | Getty Images

After the deal and the coalition’s political ambitions were announced on Wednesday, Scholz signaled that the Covid crisis was an immediate priority for the government. He started a press conference announcing the coalition agreement by saying the virus situation in Germany is serious and the country will expand its vaccination campaign, including mandating vaccines for some people.

“Vaccination is the way out of this pandemic. In facilities in which endangered groups of people are cared for, we should make vaccination compulsory,” said Scholz, without giving any details.

Meanwhile, the new finance minister Christian Lindner declared that the Germans should avoid any unnecessary contact this winter “in order to preserve our whole health in this pandemic”.

Germany already tightened the Covid rules during the last fourth wave of cases in the country.

Many federal states in Germany have already restricted access to public spaces such as bars, restaurants, cinemas and museums according to “2G rules” and restricted access only to those who have been vaccinated – “vaccinated” in German – or recovered, “recovered” . Some large German Christmas markets that were not canceled this year have also adopted 2G rules.

On Wednesday, new measures came into effect imposing “3G” rules on public transport and anyone entering a workplace, which means that more public spaces are open to vaccinated, recent genesis or people with a negative test (“tested”) .

If Germany decides to be vaccinated in some settings, it will not be the first. The UK, France and Italy are among the countries that have introduced (or are introducing) compulsory vaccination for some sectors such as healthcare or homeworkers.

Still, compulsory vaccinations are a sensitive issue and have many ethical issues, and Germany, like other countries, could face a backlash against the switch.

Continue reading: Are Covid Vaccine Regulations Ethical? That’s what doctors say

Germany has tried to encourage the voluntary uptake of Covid vaccination in its population, but at 68.1% of the population it has one of the lower Covid vaccination rates in Western Europe.

Vaccine hesitation, the upcoming winter season, and the spread of the highly infectious Delta-Covid variant, which is far more virulent than previous strains, are making it difficult to contain the virus this time around for Germany, a country widely praised for its initial handling of the pandemic .

Oil falls to six-week low on lockdown considerations

A customer replaces a fuel nozzle at a Chevron Corp gas station on Wednesday, July 7, 2021. in San Francisco, California, USA.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Oil prices fell to a six-week low on Friday as new Covid lockdowns sparked demand concerns just as industry players signaled a return in supply.

But for consumers looking for a respite at the pump, the declines are unlikely to translate into lower gas prices immediately. The national average for a gallon of gas was a seven-year high of $ 3.41 on Friday, according to the AAA. That’s up from $ 3.34 a month ago to $ 2.12 last year.

The US benchmark for oil declined more than 4% to a session low of $ 75.37, a price not seen since October 7th.

Crude oil was trading in the green earlier in the day but fell into negative territory following news of Austria’s lockdown. The rebound in demand has been a major driver of oil recovery this year and any signs that it may thaw will startle market participants.

“The market is basically still in a good position, but lockdowns are now an obvious risk if other countries follow Austria’s lead,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda. “Moving below $ 80 could intensify the correction and perhaps pull the price back towards the middle of the $ 70 region,” he added.

The December futures contract expires today, with the more actively traded contract for January delivery falling 3.8% to $ 75.44 a barrel. Brent Crude Oil Futures, the international benchmark, traded at $ 78.15 for the first time since October 1.

Both WTI and Brent are on track for a fourth straight week of losses, the longest weekly losing streak since March 2020.

“A slight decline in gas demand, possibly due to seasonal changes in driving habits, will contribute to some price relief at the pump,” an AAA spokesman said on Monday, adding that “the persistently tight crude oil supply is likely to lead to fluctuations in gas prices.” . instead of falling for some time. “

While oil’s decline on Friday is the largest since July, the commodity has trended lower in recent weeks. The Biden government has repeatedly stated that it is looking for ways to reduce consumer burden from higher oil in the form of gas prices, which are hovering around a seven-year high. One possibility would be for the government to develop the Strategic Oil Reserve.

“If the US presidential administration wants the oil market’s attention, it has it now that all eyes are on Washington to see if it will step up its stance on China’s SPR release with a subsequent coordinated effort to put further pressure on wield oil prices. ” , “said Louise Dickson, Senior Oil Market Analyst at Rystad Energy.” The US has been publicly investigating the oil market since the summer, particularly OPEC +, to facilitate supply and obtain price relief, as well as other importing countries such as China, India and Japan. ” [are] join the choir. “

However, analysts have determined that releasing oil from the SPR is unlikely to have much long-term effects.

“While such a decision would lead to price setbacks, the SPR can only close the gap during temporary production stoppages and not fix structural problems such as underinvestment and rising demand,” UBS said in a November 5 announcement to clients.

In addition to political headwinds, oil is also being put under pressure by increasing supply, as producers, including in the USA, are putting production online.

Oil prices rose steadily throughout 2021, with WTI hitting a seven-year high of $ 85.41 on October 25. Since then, it’s down 11.5%. Despite the recent weakness, US oil is still 55% up for 2021.

Austria declares nationwide lockdown as Covid circumstances surge

Police officers monitor compliance with the lockdown for unvaccinated persons on November 15, 2021 in Innsbruck, Austria.

Jan Hetfleisch | Getty Images

Austria will initiate a fourth national lockdown on Monday as Covid-19 cases continue to rise and become the first country in Western Europe to impose strict measures this fall.

The country’s unvaccinated are already prevented from leaving home for non-essential purposes.

Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced on Friday at a press conference that these blocking measures will be extended to the entire country from Monday. The lockdown would last a maximum of 20 days, said Schallenberg, but initially for 10 days.

He also announced that the Covid vaccination will be mandatory in Austria from February 1st.

On Thursday, Austria recorded 15,145 new cases of Covid-19, setting a new record high for daily positive tests. Hospital stays, deaths and the number of Covid patients in the intensive care unit are also increasing sharply in Austria.

Around 65% of the Austrian population are fully vaccinated against the virus, which Schallenberg previously described as “shamefully low”. After Liechtenstein, the country has the second lowest vaccination rate in Western Europe.

The Austrian Press Agency reported that the government ministers were negotiating until the early hours of Friday morning to work out measures that could help contain Austria’s escalating Covid crisis.

The implementation of a nationwide lockdown means a significant U-turn for Austria’s Chancellor, the told reporters just last week that the two-thirds of the population who had accepted the vaccination would not be forced to show “solidarity” with the unvaccinated.

The government’s original plan was to put unvaccinated people under lockdown once coronavirus patients occupied 30% of intensive care beds in hospitals – a move that came into effect on Monday.

However, the move has been criticized for being difficult to enforce as unvaccinated people were still given some freedoms to go to work, do their grocery shopping, and meet certain people outdoors.

Austrian police officers were carry out random checks this week to people over the age of 12 – who are currently blocked if they have not been vaccinated – to confirm their vaccination status.

While Schallenberg had previously refused to lock down all Austrians, some were members of the country’s coalition government call for stricter restrictions on those who have been vaccinated as hospitals and intensive care units were increasingly stressed.

The third largest party in the country, the right-wing FPÖ, pushed back the government, which said on Friday: “Austria is a dictatorship from today”.

The party was openly skeptical of Covid vaccines and had planned a demonstration against the lockdown measures for unvaccinated people in Vienna over the weekend.

Belgium PM de Croo says he desires to keep away from lockdown

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo pictured during a press conference.

HADRIEN DÜRE | AFP | Getty Images

BRUSSELS – Belgium tightened social restrictions as Covid-19 Cases are on the rise, but Prime Minister Alexander de Croo told CNBC the goal is still to keep society open.

“It is no longer the same virus. It is a mutation of the virus that is much more contagious,” said the Belgian Prime Minister in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

However, he added, “Our goal will be to keep society open, to make sure our stores stay open, to make sure our schools stay open, to make sure our hotels, restaurants and cafes stay open. But with additional protection. “

The government said Wednesday that people should work from home four days a week until mid-December and three days after that. Anyone 10 years or older indoors must wear a mask unless they are seated. Nightclubs should also test guests so that they can dance mask-free.

Belgium’s daily average of Covid infections over the past 7 days is 10,283. It wasn’t that high since last winter. The average daily hospitalization is currently around 280, the highest value since the beginning of spring.

A similar picture emerges across Europe. The Netherlands, Ireland, Slovakia and Austria are among the countries that recently reintroduced some level of social restrictions.

But for Belgium’s de Croo, the answer to the current wave is not aimed at the unvaccinated – like Austria did.

“It is always dangerous to compare one country with another. If we compare our situation with Austria, for example, vaccine intake in Austria is significantly lower than in Belgium, ”said de Croo.

“The actions they are taking have a partial lockdown that focuses on the people who are not vaccinated. I’m not sure if that would be very efficient in Belgium because our situation is different here. A large majority, a much higher percentage of the population is vaccinated, “he said.

According to data from Our World in Data, 74% of the Belgian population is fully vaccinated, more than the European Union average. In Austria, only about 64% of the population received a full dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Some Belgian politicians discussed whether vaccination should be made compulsory, but Prime Minister de Croo insisted that it was a “personal choice”.

“It’s also important to make it clear that vaccination is a choice. It is a wise choice. But it’s still a personal choice. I think it’s always better to convince people with facts, ”he said.

Belgium has given boosters to the older part of the population, but will soon extend this to other age groups.

“Within the next few days we will be launching a huge campaign to ensure that the general public – including people under 65 – has access to a booster,” de Croo told CNBC at the European Business Summit.

The Block NZ: Tips on how to fashion your storage in lockdown

Many of us look at our home and think, “We have the time. What can we improve during the lockdown? Maybe the garage. “

The four teams at The Block NZ can help out – this week they did their garages and laundries which are in the same room.

Well, garages aren’t the most photogenic spaces to show, and neither are laundries unless you count Tim’s nudity. That was one of the more unusual things we found in Dylan’s and Keegan’s garage – a give-and-take piece of art from the blue team, Tim and Arty.

But is it art?  This is Tim and Arty's contribution to the Give-and-Take Artwork Challenge, a version of which landed in Dylan's and Keegan's garage.


But is it art? This is Tim and Arty’s contribution to the Give-and-Take Artwork Challenge, a version of which landed in Dylan’s and Keegan’s garage.

But it wasn’t the only unexpected thing in Dylan’s and Keegan’s garage – they added a huge floor-to-ceiling mirror so you can watch yourself exercise on the fitness machines. It might be more useful for a young child to practice dance moves. Maybe they should have added a bar (not like that).

* The Block NZ: Totally shocked when top team is accused of cheating twice
* What are the log houses really like? We pay a visit
* The Block NZ: Accidents aside, entrance halls tell the full story of who’s ahead of the pack this year

However, this was Tim and Arty’s week after they were disqualified for a rule violation last week. These guys are on the move. Their circus performance of block stars was a clear winner and very fun. One of their prizes (along with $ 5,000) was an elimination card, so after much deliberation, they eventually pull the name of a team out of their hat and eliminate Dylan and Keegan from this week’s space reveal. This is how it went:

Tim and Arty

Tim and Arty's laundry goes well with their kitchen.  You get top points for winning the room discovery.


Tim and Arty’s laundry goes well with their kitchen. You get top points for winning the room discovery.

Tim and Arty’s garage wash is very well done and this time they will not be disqualified. They have some funny cartoon drawings on the wall, which led the jury to consider the garage a “fun space”. “It really made me smile when I walked in,” says Judge Lauren.

And we all like the fold-down wooden drying rack, which dates back to another century, and the great pegboards for hanging tools, rakes and brooms.

The laundry mirrors the kitchen design with similar cabinets and splash walls so there is great visual continuity. Keegan’s artwork “Punakaiki rocks” goes well with it.

Tim and Arty had a fun piece of art and pegboards for tools in their garage.


Tim and Arty had a fun piece of art and pegboards for tools in their garage.

The drying rack can be lowered and raised as required.


The drying rack can be lowered and raised as required.

The judges think they could have provided an additional refrigerator with freezer compartment.

All four houses are future-proofed with electric car sockets, which is great.

Dylan and Keegan (eliminated)

As already mentioned, the huge mirror with a training area is the largest offering in the brothers’ garage. Sis Maddy had to go during the week, but Keegan is back at his tools, albeit a little shaky.

This is Dylan's and Keegan's laundry room with a nude give-and-take artwork of Tim in the closet.


This is Dylan’s and Keegan’s laundry room with a nude give-and-take artwork of Tim in the closet.

They add a workbench and hooks for coats. But her laundry doesn’t have much space on the bench. However, it has a large closet. Lauren doesn’t think it would work that well for a family. But actually everything is there.

Then she opens the closet and blushes at Tim’s nakedness. There is a lot of serenity.

Ann-Louise thinks the garage is great – it gives 9 out of 10 points. And Chris likes how the mirror makes the garage look bigger. But the judges would like to see more power points and a more practical space.

Dylan and Keegan have a small washroom but plenty of storage space and a handy workbench.  There is also a very large mirror and some exercise equipment.


Dylan and Keegan have a small washroom but plenty of storage space and a handy workbench. There is also a very large mirror and some exercise equipment.

Connie and Rach

These two were also disqualified last week for violating the rules. They want to make a statement, so commission a stunning mural of a large Kererū and Kōwhai tree. It has a spiritual meaning to Connie and will surely please the new owners.

Connie and Rach commission a stunning mural for their garage, but the jury can't see any visual connection to the rest of the house.  The coat hanger is Meg and Dan's artistic gift to the team.


Connie and Rach commission a stunning mural for their garage, but the jury can’t see any visual connection to the rest of the house. The coat hanger is Meg and Dan’s artistic gift to the team.

But Lauren doesn’t see an obvious connection between the artwork and the rest of the house, and she’s right. That was a problem for Connie and Rach – their house interior doesn’t flow as well as the other three houses.

Connie struggles, however, saying it is about the outdoors and there are plenty of clues around the house.

The laundry has a long bench and a great tiled back wall. Ann-Louise likes it and they all love their cleaning cupboard under the stairs.

The laundry in Connie's and Rachel's garage is perfectly adequate.  All garages are carpeted.


The laundry in Connie’s and Rachel’s garage is perfectly adequate. All garages are carpeted.

There is also an issue with their processing, which contributes to a low score.

Meg and Dan

This couple needs good news. It wasn’t the best week for her. They got the short straw for block stars and had to sing. They were petrified. For Meg it was her worst nightmare, but they did it and they got a few laughs and standing ovations in all the right places.

This is Meg and Dan's laundry - there are wooden cupboards at either end.


This is Meg and Dan’s laundry – there are wooden cupboards at either end.

They spend the most on each team – more than $ 15,000. You have an entire wall dedicated to laundry facilities with an air dryer, refrigerator, and cupboard space. There are even shelves with basket storage. Perfect for a family.

The judges think it’s way too beautiful for a car. But Ann-Louise thinks the table color is a “disaster”. It’s a cloudy gray that begs the question, “What were you thinking?” Think it won’t show the dirt.

Otherwise very impressive. Ann-Louise admits that it makes life “easy”. Connie and Rach’s give-and-take artwork was panned (a yellow sign that said “Home”), but the judges liked the way Meg and Dan temporarily used it.

Meg and Dan also used breadboards with good success.  The home sign is Connie and Rach's give-and-take artwork.


Meg and Dan also used breadboards with good success. The home sign is Connie and Rach’s give-and-take artwork.

Overall, we were pretty excited. As did the judges who noted – “look how far the workshops have come”.

There were minus 1 and two undo cards to play, with Meg and Dan ultimately losing a point. But as it is, they wouldn’t have won anyway.

Next week it’s all about the outdoor living areas. With spring just around the corner, this is the perfect timing.

Real Heroes: Meg and Dan, pictured with Mark Richardson, master block stars in style.  They didn't win, but they are very relieved to be behind them.


Real Heroes: Meg and Dan, pictured with Mark Richardson, master block stars in style. They didn’t win, but they are very relieved to be behind them.

In summary:

  • Tim and Arty: ($ 14,962.06) 27 (of 30); Meg and Dan ($ 15,828.58) 25.5; Dylan and Keegan (11,592.57) 24.5 (eliminated); Connie and Rach ($ 9,709.65) 18.5
  • How many of us could clean our garages during the lockdown? That was inspiring.
  • Who would have thought there would be so many winter tans on The Block this year?


The jury is enthusiastic about Tim and Arty’s gallery-like contribution, which was completed in Do-Over Week. But there are problems for the boys.

Household begins ‘My Restaurant Guidelines’ type competitors for lockdown 

Mama shows the style competition “My Restaurant Rules”, with which her family survives the lockdown – and encourages others to try it out too

  • A Melbourne mother presented her family’s cooking contest online
  • She said the My Restaurant Rules-style competition beats boredom
  • The mother teamed up with her nine-year-old son, her husband with her six-year-old daughter

A busy mother of two showed her family trying to find dinner time in a “My Restaurant Rules” -style competition. to embellish Lockdown.

the Melbourne Family previously weathered six city-wide lockdowns and become experts and invent new ways to pass the time indoors.

In the latest game, mother Stephanie and her nine year old son Dustin cook against her husband Dave and their six year old daughter Sienna.

A busy mother of two showed her family trying it out in a “My Restaurant Rules” -style contest in lockdown

Sienna, six, with the nigiri she made with her father Dave for the starter in her pop-up restaurant

Sienna, six, with the nigiri she made with her father Dave for the starter in her pop-up restaurant

The father-daughter team is three points behind, but loves the competition

The father-daughter team is three points behind, but loves the competition

In the My Restaurant Rules-style challenge, the two teams compete for the best menu with points for taste and presentation.

And Stephanie says the game was a huge hit, especially with her son excited to take the lead.

“We win with three points,” she told FEMAIL.

“We help them create the menu, but we mostly choose dishes that we all like to eat,” she said.

In the first round of the restaurant there was Stephanie and Dustin’s menu.

As a starter, the family had saganaki before dealing with dumplings for the main course.

Both menus were designed by Sienna - after Dustin lost interest in physical design Sienna and Dave served a Swedish cake, shrimp salad and nigiri with dinner

Both menus were created by Sienna. The one designed by Dustin and Stephanie contained dumplings and sganaki, while Sienna and Dave’s had Swedish cakes and sushi

Dustin proudly posed in front of the dumplings while they cooked

Dustin proudly posed in front of the dumplings while they cooked

For dessert, the mother and son team served chocolate pudding with ice cream.

A week later, the papa-daughter team set up their menu and served nigiri at the beginning, followed by a shrimp salad and kladdkaka, a Swedish chocolate cake, at the end.

Stephanie said they are trying to do whatever they can to entertain the children despite the tight restrictions imposed by the Andrews government.

The nine-year-old boy is pictured here turning his saganaki dish over

The nine-year-old boy is pictured here turning his saganaki dish over

The Swedish-style chocolate cake was a hit with the family who adopted the recipe from Facebook

The Swedish-style chocolate cake was a hit with the family who adopted the recipe from Facebook

“It’s hard, especially now that playgrounds are banned,” she said.

The children proudly posed in front of their meals while they cooked. Dustin lost interest in preparing the physical menus, so Sienna did it for both meals.

The mother posted photos of the experimental dinner challenge on Facebook, where she inspired dozens of others to start a cooking contest with their children.


PICTURES: Nation and Irish music stars have a good time finish of lockdown in fashion at Craic by the Creek Competition

THE Craic by the Creek Festival, recently held in Greater Manchester, attracted some of the top names in Irish and country music.

Originally planned for 2019, the festival was postponed and then postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated travel restrictions.

Band Lampa from Birmingham (PICTURES: Chris Egan)

When it became clear that the festival could take place this year, ticket sales soared and quickly sold out.

Two-thirds of the event organizing team, Matt and Donal, take the main stage (PICS: Chris Egan)

Such was the demand for a return to Irish live and country music that the organizers realized that the festival would be much more than celebrating live music, but also a party to celebrate the lockdown.

Craic By The Creek audience was in tip top shape (PICTURES: Chris Egan)

The three-day event featured artists Nathan Carter, All Folk’d Up, Lisa McHugh, Mike McGoldrick and the Joe Keegan Band on the Big Barn Stage.

All Folk’d Up in Action (PICTURES: Chris Egan)

Elsewhere in the line-up, Catherine McKenna, Gareth Nugent, Crossroads and Matt and Donal performed on the Bethell Stage, giving festival goers the chance to get up close and personal with the biggest names in traditional and contemporary Irish music.

Dara Woods gets the Saturday afternoon music going (PICTURES: Chris Egan)

Based on the success of the opening festival Craic by the Creek, the event has already confirmed its dates for 2022.

Chorlton Country Club, one of Manchester’s most popular country bands (PICS: Chris Egan)

Craic by the Creek 2022 takes place July 22-24.

For more information click here.

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Morrissey compares COVID-19 lockdown to slavery | Leisure

Morrissey has compared the COVID-19 lockdown to slavery.

The Smiths singer – who has been vocal about his anti-lockdown views – says “freedom is restricted” and compared the British government to “Chinese emperors”.

During an interview with his nephew Sam Esty Rayner on his official website, Sam said: “The Covid Society is also the most accurate description of slavery, but we are supposed to be in a time when everything to do with slavery is in Must be blown or tossed into the air Bristol Canal. “

And Morrissey replied, “Exactly. And more people are now being pushed into poverty, which is another form of slavery, as well as taxes and council taxes and all the other ways we are pegged and persecuted. Our current freedom is limited to going to supermarkets ”and buying sofas. The government acts like Chinese emperors … ‘We will allow you to live the way we do if you behave’. “

Morrissey, 62, also called the Covid pandemic “Con-vid” and said it “brought out the worst in people”.

He said, “The problem is that no one can agree with anyone else, and that is the main result of Con-vid. It brought out the worst in people and we were never at it together. We are disadvantaged. ”To see and hear other people, and above all you want to be with others who see and hear what you see and hear, because that is elementary oxygen for the human soul. Take it away and the people are dead. “

When asked whether he believed in a revolution, the rocker replied: “No, because the tanks would immediately be turned against the people. The police are already trained to believe that any answer you give them is a lie to do with me. It’s just like that. “