#coronavirus #COVID19 Coronavirus live: Gaza's clinics could soon be overwhelmed; France plans to ease restrictions – The Guardian

#coronavirus #COVID19









Specialist Christmas tree sellers, farms and stalls were allowed to reopen for sales in England this weekend, after the government changed the lockdown rules to reclassify them as “essential” retailers.

While supermarkets and garden centres have been selling fresh cut trees because they were deemed to be essential businesses, smaller “farmgate” sellers were forced to close because of the month-long restrictions.

The British Christmas Tree Growers’ Association had been lobbying for the change to support the UK fresh tree sector, pointing out that sales tend to take place outdoors where social distancing is easier. Many of its members have been offering pre-booked appointments or even webcam facilities to allow shoppers to choose their own trees, with “click and collect” and other delivery services being rolled out in the run-up to Christmas. The organisation has more than 320 members who sell approximately 8m trees every year, along with fresh wreaths and holly, and with prices generally lower than in garden centres.

Last week turkey farmers received a similar pre-Christmas boost after being told by the government that thousands of seasonal workers coming to the UK from Europe to help slaughter and pluck birds for festive tables are being exempted from the 14-day quarantine.

















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Rishi Sunak, the UK chancellor, has effectively confirmed that this week’s spending review is likely to feature a pay freeze for many public sector workers in England, saying it was “entirely reasonable” to consider pay policy in the context of the Covid-hit economy.

The prospect of a return to the pay freeze that ran from 2010 to 2018 has prompted anger among opposition MPs and unions, with Frances O’Grady, the TUC’s secretary general, calling it “morally obscene and bad economics”.

Government sources have already raised the prospect of a pay freeze at Wednesday’s spending review, which will cover just one year given the uncertain state of the economy amid coronavirus.

NHS England doctors and nurses are expected to be exempted.

Asked to confirm the pay freeze, the chancellor told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “I can’t comment on future pay policy in advance of the spending review, but what I would say is, when we launched the spending review, I did say to departments that when we think about settlements it would be entirely reasonable to think about those in the context of the wider economic climate. That’s a reasonable thing to do.

“Secondly, I think it would be fair to also think about what’s happening with wages, with jobs, with hours across the economy, when we think about what the right thing to do in the public sector is.”

Asked if he was therefore not ruling out a pay freeze, Sunak said: “You can ask me any question and say, are you ruling it out, or ruling it in. When we launched the spending review, we said when we think about public sector pay that should be done in the context of the overall economic climate. I think that’s an entirely reasonable thing to do.”

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