New Welsh factory at risk as Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos looks to make cars in France

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Billionaire industrialist Sir Jim Ratcliffe may abandon plans to build car plants in Wales and Portugal in favour of buying an existing factory in France in a move which could put 1,000 new jobs at risk. The Brexit-backing owner of Ineos has stalled work on the plants where the chemicals giant had planned to launch its car-making ambitions by building an heir to the Land Rover Defender, and may decide to scrap plans for the twin sites within weeks. Ineos had planned to develop a car plant in Portugal to begin making body parts for the “rugged, uncompromised off-roader” by…

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Is plaster the new toilet roll? Lockdown DIY binge exhaust UK supplies

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The nation has triggered its own DIY SOS with an “extreme” home improvement binge during lockdown, triggering shortages of paving slabs, fence panels and even bags of plaster and cement. While some Britons turned to baking sourdough loaves and banana bread, others have been tackling much delayed DIY projects, ranging from mending fences to laying patios and skimming walls. “I wouldn’t quite say plaster is the toilet roll of the building materials industry, but it’s probably not far off,” said John Newcomb, chief executive of the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF). “I don’t know where it’s all going, but it is…

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Gyms and swimming pools ‘could reopen in July’

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Swimming pools and gyms in England could reopen in July, the business secretary has announced as it emerged that drinkers who fail to socially distance in pubs could be fined by the police. Alok Sharma said he hoped that leisure centres and indoor gyms would be able to reopen later next month as the government published hundreds of pages of guidance before reopening big sectors of the economy on July 4. The bulk of England’s hospitality, leisure and tourism industries will be able to restart from July 4 as the coronavirus infection rate continues to fall. Pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and…

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Chancellor may tempt nervous shoppers with VAT cut

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Boris Johnson has issued a rallying cry for people to “come back to the shops” as ministers watch today’s reopening to see whether faltering consumer confidence will require emergency VAT cuts. The prime minister appeared in public for the first time since the pandemic struck Britain to say that people should “shop with confidence” as soothing the public’s concerns became central to the economic recovery. Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, hinted that a temporary VAT cut was an option as he said that a resurgence of “animal spirits” was critical to protecting jobs. He is considering either a blanket or a…

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Greene King pubs to reopen after £15m safety investment and controlled toilets

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Patrons of Greene King pubs will use a one-in, one-out green light system when they go the toilet to guard against the spread of Covid-19, but the company insists it will retain the “very essence of the great British pub”. The 1,700-strong pub chain says it has spent £15m on preparing venues to reopen, which could happen as soon as 4 July in England. The rival chain JD Wetherspoon has already laid out its blueprint for how pubs will look in a world shaped by the pandemic, with protective screens between tables and staff wearing goggles and masks. Greene King…

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Drinkers celebrate in Guernsey as first place in British Isles to reopen pubs

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Guernsey has become the first place in the British Isles to re-open its pubs as the coronavirus lockdown slowly begins to wind down. Licensed premises throughout the Channel Island started serving pints again this week – in a taste of what’s to come for the mainland next month. The lifting of restrictions comes more than two months after all pubs shut in March when the lockdown was announced. But Guernsey has now entered phase four of its exit plan as it has reported ‘no known’ Covid-19 cases remaining. In addition to pubs, hairdressers, gyms, restaurants, cafes, museums and cinemas have…

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F1 team Williams which dominated the sport puts itself up for sale

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The British Formula One team founded by Sir Frank Williams that has been one of the most successful in the sport’s history has been put up for sale after recording losses of £13 million last year. The Williams team, founded by Sir Frank and Sir Patrick Head in 1977, has remained fiercely independent but poor performance in recent years has now forced it to seek outside investment. Although it is the second most successful team in terms of constructors’ championships, behind only Ferrari, and third for grand prix wins, after Ferrari and McLaren, its results in recent years have been…

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Apprentice star’s firm rebuked by Advertising Standards over Covid-19 ads

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A company led by a former Apprentice contestant has had three social media adverts banned by the Advertising Standards Authority over misleading Covid-19 claims. The ASA said Revival Shots, founded by Daniel Elahi, had suggested its Vitamin C rehydration sachets could boost immunity and help cure the disease. The firm has now removed one advert from Facebook and two from Instagram. It noted other posts had said its goods could not be used to treat the virus. The ASA’s investigation was fast-tracked as part of the watchdog’s focus on ads that exploit health concerns during the current Covid-19 crisis. It…

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Pizza Express becomes latest restaurant chain to reopen its doors

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Pizza Express has become the latest restaurant chain to cautiously reopen its doors with plans for delivery food from 13 sites across London. The decision to reopen the sites over the next ten days comes as Wagamama, KFC, McDonald’s, Greggs and Subway are all making similar plans or have started trading again after shutting due to the coronavirus lockdown. Pizza Express will deliver an edited menu from restaurants in ‘London Villages’, including Notting Hill, Balham and Fulham, where demand is highest. Wagamama today announced a rapid and widespread reopening of 67 of its restaurants after ‘successful’ trials in London and…

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Hearn set to organise professional boxing bouts in his own back garden

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Heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn is planning to organise fights in his own back garden when professional boxing returns in July from the COVID-19 lockdown. Hearn’s mansion home and headquarters in Brentwood, Essex, has extensive grounds and he told Saturday’s Daily Mail he envisaged fight nights on four consecutive weekends behind closed doors. “It is a huge mission. We are going to turn our headquarters here into an outdoor venue for live boxing, with a full canopy in the middle of the garden and the ring overlooking London,” said the Matchroom boss. Anthony Joshua“Just imagine it. It…

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London’s Canary Wharf prepares for return of workers

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Canary Wharf has drawn up detailed plans to bring bankers, accountants and lawyers back to the financial district as the coronavirus pandemic eases, from introducing one-way routes to daily deep cleaning, limiting lift capacity and removing soft furnishings. The London estate, home to the European headquarters of Barclays, Citigroup and HSBC and many other businesses, is issuing new guidance to tenants this week after the government unveiled its back-to-work rules. Many companies are preparing to bring more staff back to its office towers after weeks working from home. Signs will tell workers they should not pass on escalators, while heavy…

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Government unveils taskforces for reopening five economic sectors

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The government has unveiled five new taskforces devoted to vulnerable sectors of the economy, intended to liaise with unions and others to see how soon each sector can safely resume work with coronavirus distancing measures. The five areas covered are all ones that have to wait before even limited reopening efforts can begin, in most cases until at least July. They are pubs and restaurants; non-essential shops; recreation and leisure; places of worship; and international air travel. The government view is that such businesses and areas should reopen as soon as possible “when the scientific advice provided allows us to”,…

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£2bn for cycling & walking as Shapps warns of gradual return to normality

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The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, has said that moving beyond the coronavirus pandemic will be a “gradual process, not a single leap to freedom” as he announced a £2bn package to support cycling and walking. The prime minister is expected to announce only very modest changes in detailing his “roadmap” for easing the lockdown in his televised address on Sunday evening, but there are concerns that mixed messaging has prompted the public to head outside. Warning that it will take some time for things to get back to normal, Shapps said: “Moving beyond Covid will be a gradual process, not…

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Global tourist industry faces struggle ‘for well over a year’

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Travel stocks came under pressure in London this morning as wider economic tensions between the United States and China suppressed global markets. Analysts raised the prospect of tourism taking well over a year to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels, knocking shares in leading airlines, cruise companies and hotel chains. Intercontinental Hotels Group was among the largest fallers, declining by 5.7 per cent, or 201p, to £33.42, after Deutsche Bank predicted that demand could “take some time to revive”, meaning that a full recovery “could well be into 2021 and beyond”. “While the broader market seems to be factoring in a…

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School children will not return until Autumn education secretary suggests

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Schoolchildren will not all return to lessons at the same time, the education secretary has confirmed, in a strong hint that many will not be back until the autumn. Gavin Williamson told a committee of MPs today that he could not give a date for schools to begin reopening, but that it would have to be “phased”. He revealed that he had asked the government’s scientific advisory group (SAGE) to report on which children should return first – taking into account the effect of coronavirus on children, and whether black and ethnic minority school staff may be at higher risk.…

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