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The cost of coronavirus in England has been immense.

There is no end in sight for some restrictions and, as I wrote earlier in the week, there will be no Freedom Day on July 19, except for theatres and nightclubs.

London

On July 15, The Telegraph‘s Tanya Gold wrote about London’s ongoing ghost town appearance (emphases mine):

It is too early to say that London is dying, but something is wrong with the city and Covid has accelerated it. Certainly, there is a sense that things are slipping out of control

I was in central London last week, and it felt ever more ominous. Perhaps it was the weather – again, the rain was monstrous. Or perhaps it was the silence: the department stores in Oxford Street were glassy and empty

What will happen if offices shutter forever, and most people work from home? This will work for the affluent with spare rooms for offices, and gardens; or they might just leave for Amersham and its Britain in Bloom awards stacked on posts. For those renting in inner cities, it won’t; employers will pass a business expense onto an employee, one whose home is already small.

Will central London’s beautiful buildings become flats? John Lewis [a nationwide department store chain] is moving into housing. Will anyone want to live in them if the city declines?

Restaurants 

On the topic of London, Mark Hix, one of Britain’s best chefs, has had to close his two restaurants in the capital.

He has moved back to Dorset and opened a restaurant there.

Hix Soho in Brewer Street is now a taqueria and Tramshed, his old 150-cover restaurant in Shoreditch (East London), will become a furniture showroom.

He wrote about the two establishments for The Telegraph.

The owners of the El Pastor taqueria invited him to visit, which he did:

My strongest feeling was not one of regret, or even missing the time when this place was my flagship, but rather of pleasure at seeing it busy and buzzy again. It has a new lease of life. And therefore I wished them well, especially with the landlord, the same greedy one who had doubled the rent when I was the tenant and began the collapse of my London chain of restaurants because we just couldn’t make any money at the rate he was charging.

We have all learnt some important life lessons these past 16 months of Covid. Perhaps the landlord has too in the new business climate it has produced. Most of all, though, what that walk down memory lane did was give me courage.

As for the Tramshed:

I’ve got a date in my diary to go back to the kitchen at the Tramshed, my old 150-cover restaurant in Shoreditch. It is going to be less return in triumph and more fond farewell, for my presence there is, as the theatre posters put it, ‘for one night only’. The guys who have been running it since my business went into administration are moving out and are staging one last hurrah with my help.

Lockdown has killed the place off and it is going to be converted into a furniture showroom of some description. When I took it on in 2012, this handsome building had been used for chemical storage, so I suppose it is a case of back to the future. Which rather neatly sums up my life story since I handed back the keys in March of last year after breaking the news to the staff there that they had lost their jobs.

He foresees a difficult return for hospitality:

I’ve come back to Dorset, where it all started, and am now building a new future. All being well, on Monday we will be taking one more step towards that with the lifting of all Government restrictions on how we trade, but the hard work of repairing the damage done by Covid has only just begun. The road back to prosperity for the whole hospitality industry remains a long one.

As I write, Hix is taking a brief fishing break in Iceland, a country on the Green list.

However, a question remains over whether he and other restaurant owners will be able to trade freely on Monday with the lifting of restrictions. 

Hospitality chiefs are still trying to interpret what Boris Johnson said on Monday, which sounded to me like a U-turn on what he said on July 5. The Times says that masks and outdoor service are still recommended, as is checking customers in with contact details. That is what is in place today.

Furthermore, coronavirus passports, which the Government had previously denied would be recommended, are, in fact, on the table.

On Wednesday, July 14, The Telegraph reported:

Ministers on Wednesday published delayed sectoral advice for businesses on how to operate when the country moves to step four of the Prime Minister’s roadmap out of lockdown next Monday

The Government was accused of widening the net of companies encouraged to use domestic coronavirus passports, after Boris Johnson initially signalled on Monday that they would be recommended for nightclubs and venues with “large crowds”.

The Prime Minister said relevant firms should show “social responsibility” and “make use” of the NHS Covid pass app, which shows proof of double vaccination, a recent negative test or natural immunity, as “a means of entry”.

The updated guidance sparked a backlash among Conservative MP and hospitality chiefs, after advice specifically for restaurants, pubs, bars, nightclubs and takeaway services encouraged the use of Covid passports.

It stated: “Consider the use of the NHS Covid pass to reduce the risk of transmission at your venue or event.”

So far, only Steve Baker MP (Con) has spoken out against this recommendation:

I am simply astonished that after everything the Prime Minister and Michael Gove said in the past about ID cards that they are advancing this fast down this really quite appalling path.

Kate Nicholls, the head of the industry body UK Hospitality, expressed her disappointment and said:

the guidance for pubs and restaurants was “disappointing” in the wake of a select committee of MPs and a Cabinet Office consultation “acknowledging that this was a very difficult thing to implement in a domestic hospitality setting”.

She said ministers needed to provide a “whole suite of guidance” to explain how Covid passports should work in the sector “for us to decide whether we are willing to adopt this on a voluntary basis”.

Predicting few businesses would adopt the measure by Monday, from which date the guidance is meant to apply, she said: “I don’t think anybody would be able to introduce this on a voluntary basis from Monday until we have clarification.”

Ms Nicholls added that “more work is needed by the Government” and warned that there were “real concerns” around equalities legislation, and “practical issues” around the type of testing that qualifies and how businesses should handle customers’ personal health data.

This is an unfortunate development.

Transport

Still on the subject of London, the capital’s mayor, Sadiq Khan (Lab), a strong opponent of his predecessor Boris Johnson, intends to continue with mask mandates on Transport for London (TfL) vehicles and the Tube as a condition of carriage.

Douglas Murray wrote an editorial for The Telegraph in which he says:

Sadiq Khan, for instance, has tried to look super responsible by insisting that even after the rules for mask-wearing are relaxed masks will be compulsory on public transport in London. Obviously, throughout the pandemic, there have been the rules and there has been what people do. I have seen plenty of people get on the bus with their mask on and then pull it under their chin as soon as they are in their seat. We have become used to the theatre of masks.

But the Mayor of London has ordered Transport for London to enforce mask wearing after July 19, making the prospect of a journey on the London Underground even more enjoyable. Citizens of the capital not only have to pay the highest fares of any commuters in the world for one of the world’s worst services, but must now mask up under threat of the London Transport Police if they do not. What a wonderful way to get the capital moving again.

Agreed. It makes no sense, and Khan has complained for months that TfL’s finances have been dire since lockdown started last year. It’s pure political theatre just to oppose Boris Johnson’s government.

Office work

On July 5, the Government encouraged office workers to go back to their workplaces.

This Monday, they backtracked because they got complaints in the media.

The Times has an article about the travel company Tui, which has told its employees they only need to come into the office one day a month, regardless of what happens on July 19.

Other companies have followed suit. However, in the United States, fully-vaccinated employees are expected to be back at their desks by September:

Other businesses adjusting their working practices include KPMG, the accountancy firm, which has told its 16,000 UK staff they should work in the office for up to four days a fortnight. In the US, by way of contrast, Bank of America yesterday followed Goldman Sachs in telling all fully-vaccinated staff to be back at their desks by September.

The policy director of the Institute of Directors says that the Government’s advice this month has been confusing:

Roger Barker, policy director at the Institute of Directors, said: “Like everybody else, businesses across the country having been awaiting ‘freedom day’ with bated breathbut we have had a series of mixed messages and patchwork requirements from government that have dampened enthusiasm.

“Return to work or continue to stay at home. Throw away your masks or continue to wear them. The guidance has done little to dispel that confusion.

Business leaders are understandably confused as to the legal status that this guidance has and are concerned about vulnerability under health and safety legislation, as well as the validity of their insurance.

“Government needs to inspire confidence in businesses and the workforce that we can all return to work safely.”

School

We have little idea of exactly how much school-age children have been suffering over the past year.

One mother and her ex-husband saw how their daughter’s scholastic performance had been declining and put her in an independent school, with financial help from both sets of grandparents.

The mother, Mel Sims, told The Telegraph her story, beginning in the Spring of 2020:

My daughter was in Year 5 when the first lockdown brought her education to an abrupt halt. A bright only child, mature for her age because she spends so much time with adults, she’d been doing very well in the classroom. But then the state primary she attends in our village in Essex closed its doors to all but key worker children. I’m a 49-year-old single mother. My daughter’s father lives in Durham. I had no choice but to become her full-time teacher.

While some of her friends in private or religious schools were receiving a whole day of live Zoom teaching, my daughter’s school was very disappointing. What they did provide was an email every Monday morning, packed with multiple different lessons for parents to print off, somehow quickly get their heads around, then teach to our children as best we could.

My business – a children’s play centre – shut down along with the schools, so I was at home. I found myself teaching my daughter from 9.30am until 4.30pm every day. Other than the weekly email, we received no contact from the school, which, like many, lacks funding and has class sizes of 30-plus. My daughter’s after-school club, where she mixed with older children, was closed. Extracurricular dance classes went on hold and the swimming pool was shut.

Since Covid, my daughter has received very little or no homework as the teachers seem to feel the children already have enough on their plates. I don’t know what happened to her foreign language lessons. My previously high-achieving daughter was starting to fall behind the level she had been at before – not just a little, but dramatically. By the end of each week of lockdown, her maths and English were worse. She’d lost interest in doing better; any desire to excel. It was heartbreaking to see her sliding backwards.

This caused tension between the mother and the school:

Friction began to develop between us and the school, as they resented me trying to push her beyond the slow pace at which her class was moving. Many of the families in our village didn’t even have enough computers for their multiple children. My daughter’s academic success was riding on all the other local parents’ capabilities, and that felt deeply unfair on her.

Schools reopened last autumn then shut down at the end of January 4, 2021 for several weeks. By then, the cumulative negative effect had kicked in:

When the second lockdown arrived, my daughter was in Year 6 [the year before secondary school]. This time, there was at least a school registration every day, which took place over Zoom. But my daughter gained little from it, as everyone on the call was at such different levels both academically and behaviourally. There wasn’t the opportunity for much academic input from the teacher and my daughter quickly grew bored.

Fortunately, the girl had passed her 11-plus exams, which opened up more education opportunities. Her parents decided that she would have to go to an independent day school, but, even pooling their savings together, they could not afford school fees of £5,500 per term. With the help of the girl’s grandparents, they are able to meet the cost of the new school.

Mel Sims concludes:

We’ll all be making big changes. But we’ll do so in order that, if schools do close again, our daughter’s education will not grind to a halt. The new school staff have already assured me that if we go back into lockdown, exactly the same learning will continue over Zoom, full-time and unaided by parents.

I never thought it would come to this. Pre-pandemic, I’d always believed we didn’t need private school; that whatever happened at state school, we could get our daughter through.

School closures have changed all that. Yes, we’re paying a price. But I feel we’ve had to invest in a lockdown-proof education. With so many children off school again even now, as their “bubbles” have burst, it seems we have made the right decision.

Care homes

Recently, Sunrise Senior Living and Gracewell Healthcare, a group which runs 45 private care homes in England and one in Wales, wrote to Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for the Department for Health and Social Care to ask that mask mandates be relaxed.

On Thursday, July 15, The Telegraph reported that:

some of these measures are now damaging the well-being of care home residents.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) is expected to issue updated guidance on care homes, and whether or not masks will be mandatory in them, later this week …

“For many residents, a visit from their family member has provided invaluable improvements to their well-being, but the requirement for these visitors to wear a face mask degrades the level of connection and therefore devalues the positive impacts their visits can have.

“This restrictive policy, along with various others from both the DHSC and PHE [Public Health England], should be reconsidered as we approach this next step in England’s roadmap out of lockdown.”

The letter said the success of the vaccination programme among care home staff and residents meant the majority of homes “are now set to confidently return back to an enhanced degree of normality”.

All 46 Sunrise and Gracewell homes have at least 90 per cent of residents vaccinated and all but one have more than 80 per cent of staff jabbed. This is the threshold that the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) says needs to be met in each setting to provide a minimum level of protection against Covid outbreaks.

Helen Whately MP (Con) oversees social care provision. It is unclear as yet whether she will change any requirements for July 19. The Telegraph quoted her as saying:

I’m also really aware that there will be circumstances I’m expecting to continue in health and social care, clearly, where people will need to continue to wear PPE [personal protective equipment], which includes masks.

Conclusion

I find it concerning that the Left, whether in Parliament, SAGE and elsewhere have caused the Government to backtrack on Freedom Day.

As Douglas Murray says in his aforementioned article:

It is inevitable, perhaps, that politicians like Khan want to score some political points. But again what is so strange is that all the points are scored from that side. Putting aside a few MPs on the Tory benches there is no political pressure on us to go the other way. To do so – to advocate the path of greater risk and greater freedomis still presented as though it is somehow irresponsible or otherwise risky.

But society is risky. Life is risky. The biggest leap towards normal life has already been taken. It is the success of the mass vaccination programme which this country has rolled out so well. But after that we do not need politicians and private companies policing us ever more. We need to take a different leap. Not into greater safety, but into greater freedom. Our allies and competitors are up for that. The question now is whether Britain is. An awful lot rides on the answer.

I couldn’t agree more.

On Monday, May 17, 2021, a number of interesting news items appeared.

World Economic Forum cancels 2021 meeting

The World Economic Forum, the brainchild of Klaus ‘The Great Reset’ Schwab, is cancelling their 2021 meeting in Singapore:

MoneyControl reports:

With COVID-19 cases surging across the globe, World Economic Forum on May 17 announced the cancellation of its annual meeting in Singapore.

The World Economic Forum has been preparing a Special Annual Meeting in Singapore, which was supposed to take place just three months from now. The next Annual Meeting will instead take place in the first half of 2022. Though final location and date will be determined based on an assessment of the situation later this summer …

“It was a difficult decision, particularly in view of the great interest of our partners to come together not just virtually but in person, and to contribute to a more resilient, more inclusive and more sustainable world. But ultimately the health and safety of everyone concerned is our highest priority,” WEF Founder and Executive Chairman Professor Klaus Schwab said.

The WEF event had already been rescheduled twice and had been moved to Singapore from its usual location of Davos, Switzerland. The event brings together politicians and business leaders from around the world.

Good news.

California can no longer lock down churches during coronavirus crisis

There’s more good news, this time from California. Governor Newsom can no longer issue coronavirus — and other — diktats preventing church worship:

LifeNews reports that:

a California District Court entered an order approving Liberty Counsel’s settlement of the lawsuit on behalf of Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry against California Gov. Gavin Newsom. The full and final settlement was approved today the District Court and thus is the first state-wide permanent injunction in the country against COVID restrictions on churches and places of worship.

Once entered by the District Court, this full settlement will be the first state-wide permanent injunction in the country against COVID restrictions on churches and places of worship. Under the agreed state-wide permanent injunction, all California churches may hold worship without discriminatory restrictions.

Under the settlement, California may no longer impose discriminatory restrictions upon houses of worship. The governor must also pay Liberty Counsel $1,350,000 to reimburse attorney’s fees and costs.

The settlement references several Supreme Court opinions, including Harvest Rock Church v. Newsom, that include a long list of similar nonreligious activity the High Court set forth as comparable gatherings. These include grocery stores, warehouses, big box stores, transportation, infrastructure, telecommunications, and much more. In other words, churches and places of worship may never again have discriminatory restrictions placed on them that are not equally applied to a long list of “critical infrastructure” or “essential services” as outlined in several Supreme Court precedents cited in the settlement agreement.

Excellent result.

Diner owner posts COVID-19 snitch list

Diner owner Craig Kenady of Washington State got tired of lockdown and decided to reopen his business, That One Place.

It wasn’t long before concerned Karens began complaining on Washington’s snitch site about the reopening. Kenady decided to print the list of complaints, complete with names, and post it at the entrance to his diner.

The town where he lives, Port Orchard, has a population of 13,000. Most people know each other.

PJ Media has the story, complete with photos, including the snitch list of complaints.

They also have excerpts of his interview with Seattle’s KIRO 7. He said:

The only motivation was is that I feel if they’re going to call and complain about us, then their neighbors deserve to know. We all, in our small community, deserve to know who we can trust or not.

That’s what started it. We felt that it was the right thing.

On Monday afternoon, Howie Carr interviewed him. Well worth a listen. Kenady has no regrets whatsoever.

Oxford University says imperial measurements must be ‘decolonised’

The Daily Mail reported that, in the aftermath of American-inspired protests last summer, Oxford University is in the process of decolonising certain aspects of its curriculum, including imperial measurements:

The University has suggested imperial measurements, including the mile, inch, pound and ounce, should be ‘decolonised’ due to its links to the British Empire.

Decolonising plans by Oxford’s maths, physics and life sciences departments suggest the teaching of the measurements in the curriculum may change, according to The Telegraph.

It comes after a pledge from Oxford’s vice-chancellor Louise Richardson to embed teaching on colonialism and the Empire into courses and ‘diversify’ the maths and life sciences curriculum.

The UK had these measurements long before it had an empire.

The libertarian site Spiked responded with this (emphases mine):

What British colonialism has to do with policing in 21st-century America is anyone’s guess. But this rage against imperial measurements is even more confusing. Imperial measurements, like all measurements, are simply a way of assessing distance, weight and height.

Just because they are called ‘imperial’ and were used in the British Empire doesn’t mean they are stained forever by racism. As one tweeter pointed out, the metric system is hardly without fault either in this regard, given it was spread around the world thanks to Napoleon’s imperial expansion.

The decolonisation movement presents itself as a serious intellectual and political endeavour. It isn’t. It is a project of historical offence-taking that is apparently without end. As the goings on at Oxford demonstrate, if you give these activists an inch they will take a mile.

Prince Harry deplores America’s First Amendment

Fox News carried a story about Prince Harry (great meme here) and his dislike of freedom of expression in the United States.

The article says:

Prince Harry is facing a wave of backlash after calling the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution “bonkers” during a podcast appearance last week. 

The Duke of Sussex made the comments on an episode of Dax Shepard and Monica Padman’s “Armchair Expert” podcast … 

He specifically took issue with the paparazzi.

“I don’t want to start sort of going down the First Amendment route because that’s a huge subject and one in which I don’t understand because I’ve only been here a short period of time,” Harry said. “But, you can find a loophole in anything. And you can capitalize or exploit what’s not said rather than uphold what is said.”

“I’ve got so much I want to say about the First Amendment as I sort of understand it, but it is bonkers,” he continued.

Harry’s comments ignited a wave of criticism online.

Fox News also included tweets about his interview.

Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) tweeted:

Nigel Farage rightly warned the prince about criticising America in an ill-advised way:

That’s true.

After Larry King retired from CNN, Piers Morgan took over his slot.

Once Piers Morgan began criticising the Second Amendment, his ratings tanked and the show was cancelled. Newsweek has the story, written after he was ousted from Good Morning Britain earlier this year:

The presenter hosted a CNN talk show from 2011 to 2014. In Piers Morgan Live (formerly known as Piers Morgan Tonight), he interviewed politicians, celebrities and members of the public.

His first guest in the prime-time slot—which was previously occupied by broadcasting giant Larry King, who died in January—was Winfrey.

Morgan’s show was canceled on February 23, 2014, after a run of disappointing ratings, which he blamed on his stance on divisive issues such as gun control.

“It’s been a painful period and lately we have taken a bath in the ratings,” Morgan told The New York Times at the time.

“Look, I am a British guy debating American cultural issues, including guns, which has been very polarising, and there is no doubt that there are many in the audience who are tired of me banging on about it,” he added. “That’s run its course.”

In the U.K. Morgan is also well known for being embroiled in a phone-hacking investigation—and for being sacked as editor of the Daily Mirror in 2004 over the publication of hoax pictures claiming to show British soldiers abusing an Iraqi prisoner.

He was interviewed by U.K. police officers investigating hacking in December 2013. CNN said this had no impact on its move two months later to axe his show.

The Sun reports the same:

While the show started off with respectable ratings, audience figures soon dropped, with some media outlets reporting that the British host failed to connect with an American audience.

Morgan struggled to match the ratings garnered by his predecessor, the Guardian reported.

By February 2014, viewership dropped to the lowest seen since he took over from King

CNN’s Allison Gollust said: “The decision had nothing to do with the hacking interview – not at all.”

The final episode of Piers Morgan Live aired on March 28, 2014.

Piers Morgan is still derided in both countries.

Prince Harry, take note.

After a long winter lockdown that began on the evening of Saturday, December 19, 2020, England began reopening on Monday, April 12, 2021.

This was a bit like Groundhog Day. We saw the same scenes last June and July. The only difference was the weather:

Gyms

Let’s get the serious business out of the way first, then we can have some fun.

Gyms were allowed to reopen their interiors to customers.

TalkRADIO broadcast from a pub in London on Monday morning and interviewed a gym owner from Surrey:

Barbers and hairdressers

While some rushed to the pub at midnight, others went to get their hair done:

Other customers waited until daylight:

It was the same further north:

Piers Morgan went to top-drawer stylist Daniel Galvin for his haircut:

Actor Daniel Brocklebank had a good Monday:

However, not everyone is in a rush to return for a Spring shearing. Some are enjoying the lockdown look:

Shops of the ‘non-essential’ variety

Department stores and other ‘non-essential’ shops were able to reopen.

Once again, it was a bright day for Primark. This was the scene in Birmingham’s Bullring in the city centre:

Unfortunately, for Debenhams, where financial troubles started before the coronavirus crisis, it was a bittersweet day:

I’d never thought they would close. That leaves John Lewis as the last nationwide chain of department stores. How sad.

One record shop customer had a therapeutic experience:

Charity shops were also allowed to reopen:

Thank goodness. I have a few donations to make — all wrapped up pre-COVID.

Pubs and restaurants

Pubs and restaurants were allowed to reopen outdoors.

In some places, such as London’s Soho, streets were closed to traffic in order to accommodate customers:

Pubgoers queued for a midnight opening. This was the scene in Coventry in the West Midlands:

In London, journalists from The Sun waited until their working day ended on Monday evening:

One wonders how many people used the paper’s Beer Matt as a beer mat:

Renowned historian and author Simon Sebag Montefiore enjoyed coffee in London:

At the end of the day …

London’s Evening Standard reported on Tuesday that the capital came ‘back with a bang’:

That’s great to see.

Best of luck to everyone in the retail, beauty, gym and hospitality industry! May this be the last doggone lockdown!

The two- to three-week lockdown ended up lasting eight months, even if it was off and on.

It was never totally ‘off’. After we were liberated, we were told, whether it be in Europe, North America or the Antipodes, that we would have to not only continue to socially distance but also to start wearing masks. Then came curfews:

What about being able to open only between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.? Nicola Sturgeon — Scotland’s First Minister (SNP) — is having a laugh, only she’s deadly serious. ‘Off sales’ refers to alcoholic beverages sold in off licences (liquor stores):

Now we are approaching the Christmas season, the peak time of year for sales: parties, banquets, family dinners. A number of US states, including those with RINO governors, were on lockdown this week. As such, they missed Thanksgiving, which ushers in the holiday season in the US.

These are the tweets I ran across this week, during America’s national Thanksgiving, a day of family, friends and food.

In the US, a lot of people cannot travel at the moment. They are not even supposed to see their families, even if they live nearby. Their governors told them they mustn’t or, if they do, they’ll ‘kill Grandma’, which must have come out of a WHO pandemic handbook, because we get that in Europe, too (the UK and France).

This is very important:

Yet, so many Westerners do not mind nearly a year’s worth of restrictions — and that includes a number of Libertarians I know personally:

This is worth repeating:

And again:

How many businesses will collapse this year? Most of them are small to medium business owners who have employees.

The hospitality sector has been devastated, even though every bar and restaurant poured in their businesses’ own money to make their establishments ‘COVID-secure’. Governments said that still wasn’t enough.

Now look what’s happening. This is an example from California:

Laws — or, perhaps more honestly, ‘regulations’ (not all of which can be legally enforced) — differ from place to place. Even in England, what is allowed in one county is disallowed in another. There’s no level playing field or explanation as to why other than this graph with spurious data from America’s Centers for Disease Control and Public Health England which shows that hospitality is the main vector for COVID-19 transmission:

Pull the other one, why don’t you, guys?

The reality from England is that, as Guido Fawkes reported on October 12 (emphasis in the original):

Stockport NHS Foundation Trust shows that “Eating out/ exercise/ shopping/events” accounted for just 2.4% of transmission.

The same data show that a staggering 92.5% of coronavirus cases occurred at home!

Here’s another chart from October, showing low incidences in the hospitality sector. The Daily Mail used NHS data. Homes were excluded from this study:

Yet another study says it’s supermarkets:

In the video below, top Scottish chef Tom Kitchin explains the bankrupting costs for the average restaurateur. The clip did not show his conclusion, which was that probably 6,000 UK restaurants will have to close because of these on-off lockdowns — costing thousands of £££ each time to close and to reopen — prohibiting them from trading. Takeaway doesn’t always help:

And what are the figures for Los Angeles County, where we started?

Restaurants in Los Angeles County account for only 3.1% of coronavirus outbreaks:

Where are there more coronavirus outbreaks in Los Angeles County? Government locations:

The saddest thing is, no state needed to lock down for more than a few weeks earlier this year. South Dakota did not have any lockdown. Below is the situation in Florida, thanks to Republican governor Ron DeSantis:

A lot of US governors need to be reined in. How, constitutionally, I don’t know. Right now, they’re a law unto themselves.

European governments need to get a grip.

Career politicians need to face reality — or they will lose a lot of needed tax revenue.

Lockdowns are a crime against humanity.

This week, a mini-rebellion erupted on the Conservative back benches over coronavirus.

More on that in a moment.

First, let’s have a look at Friday’s headlines.

As millions of Britons are worrying about their vanishing income, it is shameful that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, an independent body which oversees the system of allowances and salaries for Members of Parliament, decided to give them a pay rise! Incidentally, a Labour MP is shown in the photograph below:

Unconscionable!

Although the economy was starting to recover earlier in the summer when lockdown was lifted, things are different today:

It’s been a challenging year for Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who replaced Sajid Javid in March, just a fortnight before lockdown. He delivered a brilliant budget for a bright year ahead, then coronavirus struck.

Sunak is one of the contrarians on coronavirus and is said to prefer letting Britons get back to work.

That said, he has given billions in financial aid to the nation and delivered a Winter Economic Plan. However, pressure is on now to not only find a way to boost the Treasury’s coffers but also to provide extra financial support to the areas of the country which are under what seems to be permanent lockdown. The Huffington Post has more on today’s new measures.

These are the highlights:

This is his latest tax plan:

Hmm:

It’s a tough job, so I’m glad Rishi is in that post. He’s doing the best he can.

Next door, at No. 10 Downing Street, Rishi’s former aide Allegra Stratton has been named as Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new press secretary. Conservative men across the nation had hoped for a Kayleigh McEnany, but we will wish Ms Stratton well in her new job:

Note how media and politics intertwine. Stratton is connected not only to Nos. 10 and 11 Downing Street but also to top adviser Dominic Cummings as well as to The Spectator:

Guido Fawkes says (emphases in the original):

Widely anticipated and always the bookies favourite, Allegra Stratton has been confirmed as the new Downing Street Press Secretary. Her experience as a television reporter on Newsnight, ITV News and with Peston will stand her in good stead. 40 year-old Allegra is married to the Spectator’s James Forsyth. They have one child. She has done a good job spinning for Rishi and he will miss her…

Bring on the briefings…

Stratton left ITV in April to work for Rishi:

I had bookmarked a tweet from ITV’s political editor Robert Peston a few months ago when No. 10 announced its search for a press secretary. Unfortunately, I subsequently deleted it. Peston tweeted that he knew of a perfect candidate, someone who had worked for him and was now working for Rishi Sunak: Allegra Stratton.

And, lo, it came to pass.

Here’s an interesting tweet from May, after Dominic Cummings had to give a press conference in the garden of No. 10 to apologise for his questionable trip up North to Barnard Castle (a town named for its castle) with his wife Mary Wakefield and their four-year-old son:

One of Cummings’s goals was to clear out No. 10 of Remainers in senior positions. Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill, the most senior Remainer and the man in charge of civil servants, resigned during the summer.

Sedwill’s replacement is Simon Case, who used to work for Prince William:

Guido Fawkes has posted Case’s email to civil servants, popularly referred to as ‘mandarins’, and says:

Simon Case, Sir Mark Sedwill’s replacement as Cabinet Secretary, has got off to a strong start in the job by sending an email to all civil servants boasting of his ‘profound sense of pride in our nation’s history”, telling Whitehall staff “We must maintain our dedication to honesty, integrity, impartiality and objectivity.” Guido hopes counselling will be put in place for any distressed metropolitan mandarins at this time…

Now on to coronavirus.

Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon is putting much of that nation under a 16-day ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown (pubs shut, no alcohol in restaurants, no visiting) during half-term (break for schools). Yet she is decommissioning the Nightingale hospital in Glasgow. Why?

In England and Wales, questions have been raised about the new contact-tracing app:

Today (Friday), the Telegraph‘s Chief Political Correspondent Christopher Hope interviewed the Conservative MP, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, who had a lot to say not only on coronavirus but also Brexit (he thinks large parts of the Withdrawal Agreement should be torn up if we want a Canada deal).

Excerpts follow (emphases mine):

Boris Johnson will never defeat the coronavirus pandemic, Sir Iain Duncan Smith has said, and instead must start to help Britons to learn to live with the disease.

The former Conservative leader told today’s Chopper Politics podcast … : “‘I’ve never been to a time like this where we have almost suspended all judgement on everything else as secondary to Covid.

“And the truth is that if we go on just trying to push these spikes down the whole timethen we could be in this for years because there are very few vaccines that have been completely effective against viruses.”

Sir Iain said the focus on Covid meant that other risks were being completely ignored. He said that the problem was “we’ve lost the balance of risks. We now have only one risk. And if you think of only one risk, then you can damage everything around you.

He added that he thought the right course of action regarding coronavirus was “managing it but not expecting that, as people say, we can defeat this, because I honestly don’t think we will actually.”

YES!

The 30-minute podcast is here. Hope interviews other guests, too.

Conservative MPs are warning Boris not to take the votes of former Labour-supporting area lightly. Those areas, many of which now have Conservative MPs, are the ones most affected by semi-permanent lockdown:

Earlier in the week, the Government postponed a vote on the 10 p.m. curfew on pubs and restaurants in England. It has been rescheduled for next week:

Members of the public are understandably concerned. One summarised Boris’s speech at the (virtual) Conservative Party conference this week:

But I digress.

The reason the Government are picking on the hospitality sector is because of this chart, which MPs on both sides of the aisle dispute:

Hospitality venues are at the top of the list.

Note that schools and workplaces are not mentioned.

This is the reality, and this is what dissenting MPs are going by. Hospitality is ranked at 4 per cent (see pie chart):

The hospitality sector had to put a lot of money into their businesses in order to reopen during the summer, yet the Government is targeting them. That is also true in France, but we’ll stick with England for now:

I am very concerned about this eventuality:

Conservative MP Steve Baker talks a good game, but he voted with the Government this week to renew coronavirus restrictions.

ITV interviewed him yesterday:

ITV has excerpts of Baker’s interview:

Speaking to the Acting Prime Minister podcast, the MP said the rule is “badly evidenced and appears to be counter-productive”.

He said the rule, which forces pubs to close between 10pm and 5am, is “wrecking the hospitality industry, which we only just pumped lots of taxpayers money into through Eat Out to Help Out”.

He claimed the “cost of lockdowns are worse than the cost of the disease” and suggested the PM is only imposing them because of hopes of a vaccine “turning up and solving all these problems”.

He said he fears the UK is in “grave danger” of “jumping into a lobster pot here from which we can’t emerge” if a vaccine is not forthcoming.

“The danger we’re in at the moment is we’ll destroy our economy,” he told podcast host Paul Brand.

He said he supports Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his response to coronavirus, but questioned whether he is “betting the country on a vaccine turning up”.

“If his strategy is based on a vaccine coming, I think there’s going to be a problem,” he said.

The Wycombe MP appeared to suggest the team around the prime minister was not allowing him to use his strengths …

Mr Baker, who was a prominent Brexit supporter, said he “deeply” regrets the way the UK divided over EU membership and said he can feel the same happening with coronavirus.

I’m really worried that our society is polarising with hysterical arguments on both sides.

“What I am saying is I want us to have a radical spirit of concern for one another, a radical willingness to listen to one another and then be moderate in what we say and do to try and close all these, all these divides.” 

I agree wholeheartedly with every word.

In closing, I really hope that Steve Baker and the other Conservative rebels vote against the Government on the hospitality curfew next week.

They won’t win, but they will send a strong message to Boris and Matt Hancock.

Reason had two stories on September 1 about Democrats flouting coronavirus laws.

Philadelphia’s mayor

Philadelphia’s mayor Jim Kenney has banned indoor dining in the City of Brotherly Love. So what did he do when he wanted to go out to eat?

Jim Kenney travelled out of state to dine indoors in comfort.

Reason‘s article, ‘Philadelphia Ordered Restaurants Closed. Then the City’s Mayor Went Out To Eat in Maryland’, has a photo of Kenney sitting at a table. There was no social distancing. There were no masks.

Reason reported:

Restaurants and bars in Maryland are allowed to offer limited indoor dining—capacity is capped at 25 percent of what would normally be allowed in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Establishments elsewhere in Pennsylvania are operating under similar restrictions as well. But in Philadelphia, indoor dining is still fully forbidden under restrictions imposed by the city government—the one that Kenney runs. The city’s ban on indoor dining, which was extended in late July amid fears of a “second wave” of COVID-19 cases in Philadelphia, is scheduled to be lifted on September 8.

But Kenney apparently couldn’t wait that long. A sharp-eyed restaurant-goer caught Kenney dining indoors in Maryland on Sunday. The photo quickly went viral, and Kenney’s office confirmed to a local TV station that the mayor had gone south of the border to visit “a restaurant owned by a friend.”

Kenney said that he went to Maryland on Sunday, August 30, because their COVID-19 rate is so low.

By way of apology, he tweeted a photo of a Philadelphia restaurant and said:

The reopening this late in the year will be a long slog for Philadelphia’s restaurant owners. This is true in other cities, too, where dining establishments are allowed to accommodate only 25% of their usual capacity indoors.

On June 19, Reason interviewed restaurateurs as lockdown was being lifted and replaced with reopening restrictions which are insufficient to retain a thriving business (emphases mine):

Restaurants that have had to subsist on takeout and delivery are like “a person being on 25 percent lung capacity,” says industry analyst Aaron Allen. “You can sustain that for a period of time but it’s not healthy to do it over an extended period. With a few more chairs on the patio, you just went from 25 percent capacity to 28 percent. You need to be at a minimum of 90 percent lung capacity.”

A May survey of restaurant owners conducted by the New York City Hospitality Alliance found that two-thirds of them said they would need to reach 70 percent occupancy in order to survive.

The Open Restaurant guidelines released today specify that business can place tables on the sidewalk only directly in front of their storefront, and that they must maintain eight feet of distance between their seating and the curb.

“I’m only excited for Phase Two because it gets us closer to Phase Three when we can have a 50 percent capacity indoor crowd,” one restaurant owner told the Post.

Talk about crumbs from the table.

San Francisco

On Monday, August 31, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi had her hair done indoors at a San Francisco salon.

Coronavirus rules for the city prohibit hairdressing indoors.

However, Pelosi can flout the rules.

Fox News reported on the story: ‘Pelosi used shuttered San Francisco hair salon for blow-out, owner calls it “slap in the face”‘. Included is a photo of a be-gowned Pelosi with wet hair.

The salon’s owner allows independent hairdressers to rent her unused chairs.

She explained how the situation unfolded:

Salon owner Erica Kious, in a phone interview with Fox News on Tuesday, shared details of Pelosi’s visit. Kious explained she has independent stylists working for her who rent chairs in her salon.

“One of the stylists who rents a chair from me contacted me Sunday night,” Kious said.

A screengrab of the text message she received from one of her stylists, and obtained by Fox News, said: “I’ll be there at 2:45 tomorrow. Pelosi assistant just messaged me to do her hair.”

Kious replied: “Pelosi?”

“I was like, are you kidding me right now? Do I let this happen? What do I do?” Kious told Fox News, while noting that she “can’t control” what her stylists do if they rent chairs from her, as “they’re not paying” at this time.

Kious was disgusted at the double standard:

It was a slap in the face that she went in, you know, that she feels that she can just go and get her stuff done while no one else can go in, and I can’t work,” Kious told Fox News, adding that she “can’t believe” the speaker didn’t have a mask on. (From the footage, it appears Pelosi had some kind of covering around her neck.)

“We’re supposed to look up to this woman, right?” Kious said. “It is just disturbing.”

Pelosi’s spokesperson defended Madam Speaker’s hair appointment:

Asked for comment, Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill maintained that the speaker was following the rules as presented to her.

“The Speaker always wears a mask and complies with local COVID requirements. This business offered for the Speaker to come in on Monday and told her they were allowed by the city to have one customer at a time in the business. The Speaker complied with the rules as presented to her by this establishment,” he said.

Kious objected to the statement from Pelosi’s office. Whilst a wash is fine under the city’s coronavirus restrictions, a blow-dry — for whatever reason — is not:

Kious said Pelosi received a wash and a blow-dry, but told Fox News that “you’re not supposed to blow dry hair” according to coronavirus safety precautions for hair salons.

“We have been shut down for so long, not just me, but most of the small businesses and I just can’t – it’s a feeling – a feeling of being deflated, helpless and honestly beaten down,” Kious said.

Later, Pelosi hit back.

On Wednesday, September 2, the San Francisco Chronicle reported:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declined to apologize Wednesday for her controversial visit to a San Francisco hair salon, calling it “a setup” and suggesting that she had been tricked by the business owner.

Pelosi said she took responsibility for falling for the “setup” to have her hair done inside at a San Francisco salon on Monday, which is prohibited by the city’s regulations.

That said:

The San Francisco Democrat said if anyone was owed an apology, it was her by the salon.

“I think that this salon owes me an apology, for setting me up,” she said at an event about school reopenings in San Francisco’s Noe Valley.

Also:

“I take responsibility for trusting the word of the neighborhood salon that I’ve been to over the years many times and when they said, ‘We’re able to accommodate people one person at a time,’ I trusted that,” the speaker said during a combative exchange with reporters in the empty school yard of Mission Education Center Elementary School.

Pelosi’s response acknowledged she was not aware of local rules prohibiting such indoor treatments. She wasn’t asked why she didn’t know the city’s rules. Pelosi splits her time between her home in San Francisco and her work in Washington, D.C.

Her response seemed to add fuel to the firestorm over her actions, rather than quell it, as conservative critiques jumped on the cleanup effort as hypocritical.

As to why she did not have a hairdresser pay her a home visit:

The speaker had been having her regular stylist do her hair at her home, but that person wasn’t available, her spokesman said. Instead, she arranged to have her hair styled at eSalon after being told it was OK.

Her not wearing a mask after having her hair washed would not have been such a big deal if she were not making such a big deal about Republicans’ notionally lax (in her estimation) attitude towards masks.

Pelosi answered her critics:

“I don’t wear a mask when I’m washing my hair. Do you wear a mask when you’re washing your hair? I always wear a mask,” she said, adding the short clip that was released was when she had just left the shampoo chair.

Pelosi’s critics seized on the visit as hypocritical, saying she was breaking the very rules she was scolding others for not following.

President Trump chimed in:

The Republican National Committee seized on the controversy:

In an email blast to reporters, Republican National Committee spokesperson Liz Harrington noted that salon owners who have opened their business against local laws have been jailed. “You can’t get your hair done, eat inside at a restaurant, travel, attend a funeral, or protest without mandatory quarantining. But Democrats can,” she wrote. “This isn’t about health or science. It’s about power. Democrats want to rule your life. But don’t expect their rules to apply to them.”

Masks and business closures have been at the center of political and culture wars amid the pandemic.

Back to the Fox News article. Salon owner Kious envisages a dark future post-coronavirus, not only for herself but also for similar salons:

Kious told Fox News that she had expected to be able to reopen her salon in July, and prepared her space in accordance with local guidelines.

“There were rules and regulations to go by to safely reopen, which I did, but I was still not allowed to open my business,” she said, noting that she installed plexiglass partitions between sinks and seating areas, and ensured that all salon chairs were six feet apart, along with proper air circulation from open windows.

“They never let us open,” she said, while adding that she is unable to reopen outside because her salon specializes in hair color, and using chemicals outside is prohibited.

But Kious said she is not alone in the hardships she has faced amid closures during the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is for everybody,” she said. “I am sharing this because of what everyone in my industry, and my city, what every small business is going through right now.”

Even though Kious has received help from the CARES Act, she believes that she will be:

forced to shut down her salon for good within the next 30 to 60 days.

“No one can last anymore,” she said. “I have also lost 60 percent of my clientele because everyone is fleeing the city.”

Kious said that the area where her salon is located has turned into “a third world country,” saying that “every other storefront is completely vacant and shut down and boarded up.”

“And because of the shutdown, and the store closures, we’ve lost people, my clients, and my employees, and that is due to the politics in San Francisco,” she said, adding that the homeless population is “everywhere” and “defecating” all over the city.

“It has gotten so extreme,” she said. “It is so night and day from what it was a year ago, that everyone is fleeing.”

I couldn’t help but think of San Fran Nan and her freezer filled with designer ice creams, a treat that Kious and her children can probably only dream of at the present time:

Something must be done, specifically, lifting the remaining coronavirus restrictions with common sense. That includes the UK. Yet, more and more entrepreneurs are being driven out of business by politicians’ embrace of ‘science’ rather than pragmatism.

My heart goes out to the countless business owners affected by these destructive policies, putting our countries on the road to Venezuela.

I pray that our political leaders see sense, especially the Democrats.

Until then, it’s a case of ‘for thee, but not for me’.

England is finally reopening during the latter stages of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Friday, I wrote about what’s coming up during the rest of July.

However, I did not have time to write about what happened at the beginning of the month.

Saturday, July 4, was called ‘Independence Day’ by the government and ‘Super Saturday’ by the media.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the announcement during the coronavirus briefing on July 3. The businesses concerned were already prepared:

Barbers and hairdressers reopened:

Restaurants, pubs and cinemas were also allowed to reopen that day.

This was the scene in Camden (London) at midnight:

ITV reported:

Sandra Jacobs was among the first people through the door at Tusk Hair in Camden on Friday night when the north London business opened its doors at midnight for the first time in three-and-a-half months.

Despite the abundance of masks, aprons and faceshields serving as a reminder of the new normal of post-Covid society, Ms Jacobs said she was just relieved to be sitting in owner Carole Rickaby’s salon chair again.

“It’s such a relief, I can’t tell you,” she said …

Despite the late night, things are only set to get busier for Ms Rickaby with bookings flooding in over the last few days.

But she said she is delighted to be able to give people something to look forward to in these difficult times.

“I’m just happy to be able to come back to work,” she said.

“Getting their hair done makes people feel better.

“Getting a haircut is a big boost for mental health and that’s exactly what people need right now.”

Judging from men getting a welcome shearing, it does appear that it gave them a great mental as well as physical boost:

Queues appeared outside barbers across England, from London …

… to Essex, in the South East …

… to the Midlands, where an ITV Central reporter shared his before and after photos …

… to Herefordshire in the West Midlands …

… to Wigan, in the North:

Boris had his hair cut, as did other MPs:

As for pubs, Prince William visited his local in Norfolk:

ITV reported that Prince William spent time talking with the publicans, who reassured him that they were ready for any rowdiness:

The duke took a seat in the pub’s garden with the landlords, their head chef Philip Milner and duty manager Lucy Heffer, and when his drink and food arrived he joked: “I don’t know where I pay, I’ll do that before I leave, I promise.”

Concerns have been raised about pubs and bars reopening on the weekend dubbed “super Saturday” rather than a weekday, and the Prime Minister has already appealed to pubgoers to show restraint …

Anthony and Jeannette Goodrich have owned the pub for 25 years and had to close their premises and furlough more than 25 full-time employees, who are bolstered by another 10 or 15 temporary weekend workers, when the outbreak struck.

Government ministers had issued a warning about breaking the law:

In the end, it rained nearly everywhere in England that day, so the weather put a dampener on any crowds, rowdy or not:

Everyone who went to a pub was just delighted for the experience of going out for a drink for the first time since Friday, March 20.

Pubs were allowed to open at 8 a.m. One Guardian reporter shared his experience in north London:

One does have to sign in at the pub, in case of a coronavirus outbreak. The Test and Trace folks can then get in touch with you. This man rips apart Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s original policy of registering online with a pub. This is an amusing but considered video made on June 22, well before the reopening and signing in at the door. He also points out that the government is very good at perpetuating the illusion that the public are in control of their own decisions; clearly, they are not:

Chancellor Rishi Sunak does not drink, but he recognises the importance of pubs as part of English life:

Finally, a sign of normality for both businesses and customers during a most unusual year.

On Saturday, May 16, I tuned into France’s news channel BFMTV to see how the nation’s partial reopening went.

President Emmanuel Macron got an earful from medical professionals at La Pitié-Salpêtrière, the Paris hospital he visited on Friday, May 15. Late last week, he announced that, at this year’s Bastille Day ceremonies, health professionals and first responders would be honoured with medals commemorating their work during the coronavirus crisis. On Friday, as Macron was leaving, a health professional told him that he didn’t want any medal. Macron snapped back:

If you don’t want it, don’t take it.

It was a rough visit. A group of nurses listened to what he had to say, then one spoke up, bluntly demanding more pay and more recognition. Macron said that he was giving them a bonus for their work over the past two months, but she retorted that was not enough. She demanded a pay rise for all nurses, which is fair enough. They are on relatively low pay, not far from minimum wage.

Going back a few years when the erstwhile Conservative prime minister François Fillon (serving under Nicolas Sarkozy from 2007-2012) visited a care home during his tenure, he was able to hold a calm, considered conversation with the workers there, who were all CGT union members:

Allow me a small digression from Macron. François Fillon should have been France’s president after François Hollande. Unfortunately, the media put the boot into him for corruption, just as he was at a massive height in the popularity polls in January 2017, the year Macron was elected president.

In March 2020, Fillon was sentenced to two years in prison, with an additional three years suspended sentence. His wife was given a suspended three-year prison term and a fine of €375,000. (Source: Le Point.) Trumped up (no pun intended) or what? Something stinks there. The Fillons are a dignified couple who have kept to themselves over the years. They are low-profile people and devout Catholics.

This was François Fillon’s agenda for France in 2017: ending bureaucracy, sorting out France’s problems and restoring the pride in being French. In short: make France great again. Does that sound familiar?

How sad that it didn’t happen and might never happen. Who will accomplish this now?

I agree with the tweet below that the framing of François Fillon is truly a shame for France.

The video is from 2017:

These replies say that Fillon’s three-year plan, summarised above, was simply swept — balayé– under the carpet (by left-wing media, which started with one outlet and spread rapidly to the others):

Returning to the present day, a Parisian MP from France Insoumise (Unbowed France) says that it is urgent for Macron to say how soon the pay increase will be delivered and how much it will be. The second tweet includes one from health minister Olivier Véran, commenting on the ‘passionate’ feedback from the nurses:

Macron has been the latest French president to further shrink the nation’s health system, following Nicolas Sarkozy (Conservative) and François Hollande (Socialist), both in terms of hospital beds and other measures. Hospital masks were in short supply during the height of the coronavirus crisis. French housewives banded together from their homes to sew fabric masks for nurses. While those were technically useless, nonetheless, nurses were grateful for any protection whilst awaiting proper face coverings.

Early Saturday afternoon, BFMTV reported on the mask shortage, discovered in January 2020. However, it was too late, even with Macron’s government’s requisitioning every surgical mask in France. They were the wrong type of masks, but they would have to do. Hospital and care workers were desperate.

One physician working on the front line in Lyon died because he did not have the right type of mask. He caught coronavirus and, despite treatment in Marseille, never recovered. His widow and two daughters are suing the hospital where he worked. I can’t see how that will work, because every hospital experienced the same mask shortage.

Currently, there are enough masks for people living in France, who have been strongly encouraged to wear one outdoors. These are not proper coronavirus masks, but they will have to do.

It appears that Macron now has to get on with his promised reform — improvement — of a beleaguered health system. Here’s an inside look at his control room:

The replies to this tweet featuring an LREM MP are interesting. The MP says that a centralised health system doesn’t work, but the replies say that the system has been sclerotic for some time, Macron has ignored calls for improvement and there are too many hospital administrators and/or politicians involved rather than medical professionals. The response I’ve included below says that Germany spends far less money than France and has better performing hospitals, with four times more intensive care beds:

However, another BFMTV journalist reported that Macron is facing a crisis in other aspects of French society, including the gilets jaunes (yellow jackets). They are still protesting in some cities on Saturdays, although not in as great a number as before the coronavirus crisis:

Making matters worse, Macron’s political party, LREM, no longer has an absolute majority in parliament:

Ten of his MPs have left to form their own party with ten other MPs — Ecologie, démocratie, solidarité:

It is unclear whether that will have any impact on the second round of local elections, rescheduled for June 28:

However, one commentator said that Macron’s success as president will largely depend on how he and his government handle the coronavirus crisis this year. He has a few years left in his first term, which ends in 2022.

Meanwhile, during the first weekend of partial reopening, BFMTV reminded viewers that they are not allowed to travel further than 100km from home. They also cannot not leave the house to visit anyone, including relatives, unless they are going to drop something off. Visiting second homes is also forbidden. The French are allowed to travel to work, to school, to a child minder, for a funeral, for a medical appointment, for recreational purposes (limited at this point) or to shops that are open:

Late last week, some beaches in France opened so that people could have a new way of exercising. For now, reopening beaches is up to individual mayors. As the virus is still active, the beaches are ‘dynamic’, meaning that sitting or sunning oneself is strictly forbidden. Fishing is also forbidden. Beachgoers can walk, swim and surf. A one-way system is in place with an entrance and an exit:

The second tweet says, ‘This increasing surveillance is seriously getting on my nerves’:

Interior minister Christophe Castaner visited a beach in Normandy that was preparing to reopen. He said that everyone visiting beaches had to respect the rules in place, otherwise they will be closed. He hopes that beaches will reopen fully during the summer:

For those who miss culture, small museums, with hygiene restrictions in place, may reopen:

Driving schools can also open. There is no social distancing in the car, so the car windows must be open at all times during the lesson. Those taking virtual instruction are socially distanced. Driving tests can begin in June, provided there is no second wave of coronavirus:

Those worried about the impact of more drivers on the environment need not be too concerned. During lockdown, there was only a 7% decrease in particulates. That is surprising:

At 2 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, Lourdes reopened, even if there are no dine-in restaurants. It will attract locals until travel restrictions are lifted:

Speaking of health and healing, coronavirus testing continues. In Brittany, a new cluster of infections was discovered at an abattoir:

Elsewhere in France, new infections were found in schools that reopened last week. Those schools are now closed:

One Frenchman might have a future solution to school closures. He is developing a fabric that kills coronavirus. This video shows his chair and desk covers:

Where schools remained open, this is what the scene looked like outdoors. Recess must have been fun (not). This is so SAD, beyond belief:

France’s medical agency has found that 500 medications are harmful in treating coronavirus. Incredibly, hydroxychloroquine is among them. This has to be the establishment’s figurative poke in the eye at Prof Didier Raoult, Marseille’s champion in treating patients with the drug combined with azithromycin:

The article says, in part:

Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) represents the majority of adverse cardiac reactions, in 141 out of 159 cases. Cardiac reactions comprise 69% of those reported, versus 44% where Kaletra (an antiretroviral combining lopinavir and ritonavir) is used …

The number of deaths linked to hydroxychloroquine in hospital remains at four. In view of these risks, the health agency advises that these drugs, when used against Covid-19, must be used as a priority only in the context of ongoing clinical trials.

In general, provided there is no sizeable second wave of infections, more businesses will be able to open at the beginning of June.

Philippe Etchebest, who is a chef, restaurateur, television celebrity and MOF (maître ouvrier de France), says that restaurants must reopen as soon as possible, because the government cannot afford to keep them closed. The subsidies are ‘colossal’:

Last month, Etchebest said that partial reopening will not work. Social distancing — e.g. halving the number of tables — will not bring in enough revenue. Perhaps he will be employing one of these social distancing methods:

Recently, the loathsome globalist Jacques Attali said that restaurateurs must change their business model.

Etchebest took strong objection to that, saying that he is neither a grocer nor a wine merchant. Those replying to this tweet also criticised Attali, saying he should shut up for once or retire to a nursing home. The quote from Attali on the internet is interesting:

The internet represents a danger to those in the know and those who decide things, because it gives access to information outside of received knowledge.

Bravo, Philippe:

Attali was one of Emmanuel Macron’s early mentors. Go figure.

No wonder the French are angry.

Because of coronavirus lockdowns, the world’s hospitality industry is being destroyed, including restaurants.

On May 3, 2020, the New York Post published two stories of interest on how Manhattan’s top chefs are stepping outside of the box to cook for others.

‘Out-of-work chefs are leaving NYC to cook for billionaires’ tells us that they have sought alternative employment during the continuing lockdown (emphases mine):

Out-of-work chefs from Jean-Georges, Daniel, Eleven Madison Park, Per Se and Gramercy Tavern are being poached by talent agents and even real estate brokers to work for wealthy families since the coronavirus shutdowns have eviscerated the restaurant industry, sources said. The supply of quality chefs is so abundant that some wealthy people say they’re getting cold called about the latest candidate.

“I received a call out of the blue asking if we wanted to hire a top chef who had worked for Jean-George’s,” one billionaire real estate developer told Side Dish.

For unemployed chefs, it’s often the only way for them to make money doing what they love at a time when sit-down dining is prohibited by the state lockdown.

One of them is Ian Tenzer, 29, formerly a sous-chef at three-star Michelin restaurant Eleven Madison Park, named the world’s best restaurant in 2017, more about which below. He told the newspaper:

I was laid off six weeks ago. It just wasn’t possible to stay, no matter how much the chef wanted to keep us. I can’t stand not working. I miss being in the kitchen.

Working as a private chef has always been a part of the industry I had thought about working in and, at this point in my career, it’s a good choice economically and professionally.

Even so, he misses the camaraderie that being part of a brigade brings:

When you work in a restaurant, you are part of a team. There are peers you look up to and others you teach. The team becomes your family and you learn to love everyone. That’s the hardest part about leaving [the restaurant job].

On the other hand, salaries are often significantly better, as the article explains:

Indeed, chefs who choose to work in private homes stand to get a 20 percent to 30 percent pay raise, as well as other perks including better hours, sources said. Sous chefs at top restaurants can earn between $120,000 and $200,000 a year working full-time for a family, compared to closer to $100,000 working at a restaurant.

Personal chefs also commonly earn discretionary bonuses, especially if they are being asked to shelter in place with their families during the COVID-19 pandemic, says David Youdovin, chief executive of Hire Society, which helps individuals recruit private staff.

“The vast majority of restaurant chefs are grossly underpaid, and seldom receive benefits,” and now clients are being “very generous and accommodating,” Youdovin said.

Of course, some families are nicer than others:

One drawback is that you never know what kind of family you’ll get, chefs said. Some families are “lovely, adventurous and curious,” but others can be quite the opposite. They can be rude and “even physically and verbally abusive. I have heard horror stories,” said one chef who asked to remain unnamed.

At least two upmarket estate agents, also out of work during lockdown, have been placing chefs with families:

Brokers Dolly and Jenny Lenz, who deal in high-end real estate, say they have sourced two top chefs for two different families who have rented Hamptons estates to wait out the crisis. People quarantining in rental homes are often looking to hire chefs, nannies and housekeepers to shelter in place with them during this time, Dolly Lenz said.

As going to someone’s house for a traditional interview is verboten at the moment, food is dropped off and interviews are done online via video conference:

… chefs are preparing tastings in their own homes and then dropping them off at their prospective employer’s front door.

This social-distancing measure, along with virtual interviews by Zoom or FaceTime, are making it tough for both the chefs and families to determine if they are making a good match, Youdovin said.

Goodness knows when restaurants will regain normality. Even where they are open in Europe, social distancing remains in place in many countries. That means having a full complement of tables is impossible and could be for months to come.

With that in mind, Ian Tenzer’s former employer, Eleven Madison Park, has a new outreach policy: ‘Eleven Madison Park chef will keep feeding needy New Yorkers’.

It revolves around ‘family meals’, a term restaurants use for the lunches and/or dinners they provide to their staff.

Head chef Daniel Humm began feeding the city’s hungry before the coronavirus outbreak and is now feeding many more:

Humm, whose three-starred Michelin restaurant was named the world’s best in 2017, is amping up his role at a non-profit, Rethink Food NYC, to become its top chef and inaugural partner as it expands nationally.

Before COVID-19, Rethink turned restaurant waste into meals, feeding 15,000 people a week. The non-profit now serves 25,000 meals a day.

Post COVID-19, restaurant staff at Eleven Madison will make extra “family meals” for Rethink to feed needy New Yorkers.

If every restaurant does this, we could end hunger,” said Matt Jozwiak, Rethink Food NYC’s executive director and founder, who formerly worked at Humm’s Michelin-rated restaurant.

Currently, Humm has turned Eleven Madison Park into a food commissary to help make meals for Rethink to distribute during the crisis.

Yes, if every restaurant did that, they really could end hunger.

I get tired of watching restaurant reality shows and documentaries with all their waste. Hell’s Kitchen, Masterchef: I’m looking at you. The other night, I watched a 2018 French documentary on TF1 about upmarket caterers. A top pastry chef told his staff to throw out a vat of hazelnut caramel syrup because it had one burnt hazelnut in it. Madness. Fine for him, but it could have been given to a homeless mission in Paris, which could have used it for a week in their desserts.

Some restaurateurs say that insurance companies restrict giving away food before serving for reasons of health safety. Perhaps insurers should let up on that policy in a reasonable way: documented mutual consent between a donor restaurant and a recipient organisation.

At any rate, it’s encouraging to see some good is coming out of the coronavirus crisis.

La Table du Chef might be the last Cannes restaurant that I’m writing about, but it is hardly the least, although the kitchen might be the smallest commercial one in the city.

This little gem of a place is located off the rue d’Antibes at 5 rue Jean Daumas, a quiet side street with an antiquarian booksellers, a gentlemen’s outfitters and a pharmacy.

My Far Better Half (FBH) and I first visited this fine restaurant in 2017, in an effort to escape the buskers on rue Félix Faure. Our plan worked brilliantly!

We visited La Table du Chef twice in 2017 — and twice more this year.

2017 — first visit

My notes from our first visit say that their menu surprise — chef’s choice — was €45 for four courses (without wine). The menu changes every two to three days depending on what is on offer at the city’s large market, Marché Forville.

I also noted that there is no refrigeration in the restaurant.

Our dinner was so good that I wrote ‘WOULD RETURN’.

Starter

We began our repast with a creamy carrot velouté (soup) with undertones of fennel. It came with one grilled jumbo prawn — gambas — and chopped chive.

I am still thinking about it to this day, it was that good.

Second course

The second course was a thick rectangle of calamar — squid — with a crab and sea bream (dorade) foam. It was accompanied by julienned red and orange bell pepper slices and julienned chorizo underneath the squid.

We are still wondering how the chef managed to cut such a thick portion of calamar.

Main course

We had duck breast — magret de canard — resting on a bed of truffle risotto topped with a light honey-duck sauce reduction. It was heavenly.

Wine

We enjoyed a bottle of Cassis Bodin 2014 from the Abruzzi family (€38).

Dessert

We had one of the best apple ‘crumbles’ I’ve ever eaten. The apple was diced and seasoned with cinnamon. The apple was placed between three sesame tuiles — as light as a feather — and topped with pistachio whipped cream.

It was an amazing finish to a spectacular meal, and I’m not the world’s biggest dessert fan.

2017 — second visit

We went a few days’ later, taking into account that the menu surprise would have something different, which it did.

My diary notes read, ‘MET OMAR, THE CHEF — worked in London for two years’. He, FBH and I enjoyed a cigarette break together. We were one of the last tables to leave, and he was on his break. In those five minutes, we put the world to rights.

Starter

We had another incredible soup, just as good — possibly better — than the carrot velouté from a few days earlier.

Omar made a creamy courgette soup with chive and olive oil drizzled on top.

It was beautifully presented with delicate stripes of balsamic and chive sauce drizzled down the centre, where he had placed a small round of goat’s cheese topped with tiny bits of gherkins — cornichons — and, possibly, garlic.

It was one of the best soups I’ve ever eaten.

Second course

Omar prepared a fusion dish of sweet and sour salmon with aubergine, accompanied by ratatouille, pesto and olive oil.

What a revelation. This man knows his flavour combinations.

Main course

We enjoyed chicken from a small farm in the Ardèche region. It came with black rice risotto and summer truffle.

Wine

We had a bottle of Chateau Roubine, Cuvée Lion et Dragon 2016, a white AOC Côtes de Provence Cru Classé.

Dessert

As we had never before sampled the sweet, creamy brioche treat named by Brigitte Bardot, we very much looked forward to trying the Tarte Tropézienne with raspberry coulis.

We assume the restaurant purchased it from the Tarte Tropézienne shop near the market. Alexandre Micka, the inventor of the Tarte Tropézienne, has several of these shops around France, which are well worth a visit if you fancy a break from shopping or want a satisfying dessert to take home.

Unfortunately, by the time we got our Tropézienne, it had dried out around the edges. That said, we were grateful for the opportunity to try it.

2019 — first visit

We could hardly wait to return to La Table du Chef and, as we had done in 2017, made reservations for each of our visits.

The price per person for the four-course Menu Surprise is still €45.

Bruno Gensdarme, the young owner, welcomed us and said he remembered me: ‘You were the one who wrote everything down!’

Indeed I did — and with great pleasure.

We sat indoors as it was breezy and cool outside. The décor is one of relaxed elegance.

One table had a foursome of two older, upper middle class French couples. The men had their pullover sweaters draped around their shoulders. All four wore designer spectacles.

Another table of note was the well-dressed French family: Mum, Dad and their two daughters. The elder daughter was probably 16 and seemed embarrassed to be seen with her parents. However, her expression softened once she began eating, and halfway through dinner, her face lit up as the main course arrived. She was a happy camper.

Starter

Omar made another delightful courgette velouté, this time served with a plump, grilled scallop in the centre.

It was perfect.

Second course

The second course was cod fillet served with a lobster accompaniment, garnished with a carrot flavoured Romesco sauce.

On the side was the silkiest cauliflower purée I’ve ever eaten. I would gladly have had a bowl of that. Talk about food memories!

Main course

We had roast loin of veal which came with a luscious fig sauce and a beautiful potato purée.

The meat was tender and perfectly cooked. The potato purée was not the usual runny French one, but creamy with just the right amount of texture.

Wine

We enjoyed a bottle of Côtes du Rhone Crozes-Hermitage, Les Launes 2017 (€39), from the Delas estate in Tournon-sur-Rhone.

Dessert

Someone had the bright idea of serving verrines for dessert!

I am hardly the world’s No. 1 verrine fan, but this was extraordinarily good! It was made of apricot, rosemary-flavoured whipped cream, with a lashing of caramel sauce, accompanied by a wafer-thin tuile. I would love to have taken a box of tuiles back to our hotel, they were that exceptional.

2019 — second visit

We ate outdoors once again, as we did in 2017.

The Cannes Lions advertising conference participants were arriving, and we had a table of four American women sitting near us. One of them was a pure vegetarian — no fish — but not a vegan.

This is not the place to go if you have a laundry list of dietary requirements.

Bruno Gensdarme was surprised when she announced her vegetarianism.

‘You don’t eat meat — or fish? But, but … That’s not good!’ Good man! He was nice about it, too, and did bring her something veggie.

What follows is what the woman missed out on.

Starter

Omar whipped up another one of his amazing soups. This was a thick, unctuous cream of mushroom soup with a seared portion of lobe of foie gras in the middle.

I will remember it for a very long time to come.

Second course

We enjoyed fillet of sea bream — daurade royale — over risotto served with three sauce reductions: red wine, balsamic and chives. It sounds mad on paper, but it really works on the plate — and the taste buds.

White fish and a red wine reduction go surprisingly well, by the way — as does veal or beef gravy.

Main course

We enjoyed saddle of lamb with fig sauce and Omar’s potato purée.

Wine

We had a bottle of Cotes de Provence Cru Classé red, Rimaresq 2016 (€39). Read more about Rimaresq halfway down the page here.

Dessert

Omar came up with another outstanding verrine.

This one was made up of raspberry and mango with a pistachio tuile. Again, I would have given nearly anything for a box of tuiles to take back to the hotel!

Additional notes

If you go, please take a moment to read the articles about Bruno and Omar that are in the restaurant window.

Bruno worked for the legendary chef Guy Savoy early in his career. Gordon Ramsay, incidentally, is another Savoy protégé.

La Table du Chef’s Facebook page gives you an idea of the décor and general atmosphere.

TripAdvisor gives the restaurant 4.5 out of 5.

Needless to say, we’ll be booking reservations when we next visit Cannes!

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