Spring is in the air! Britons enjoy the Great Outdoors in mild 50F 

Locked-down Britons today stretched their legs and soaked up sunny weather as the UK is set to enjoy milder temperatures ahead of the easing of national coronavirus restrictions from next weekend.  

Walkers descended onto Wimbledon Common, south London, this morning, as northern England and southern Scotland enjoy the best of the sunshine while western areas remain under cloud.  

With people preparing for patio parties and BBQs ahead of the April easing, analysts have recorded a huge surge in searches for hedge strimmers (115 per cent), patio cleaner (190 per cent) and fence paint (138 per cent). 

Interest in patio furniture soared by 142 per cent, while the demand for pressure washers has rocketed by 159 per cent, weed killer by 166 per cent, shears 65 per cent, garden rakes 110 per cent and secateurs 70 per cent as shoppers ready themselves for the new Rule of Six, according to tech firm NearSt.

Cities including London, Liverpool and Newcastle will see temperatures hit double figures once clouds begin to disperse, with millions of Britons expected to enjoy a warm Easter Bank Holiday weekend as lockdown is relaxed. 

With schools already open, the next stage of loosening is March 29, when the formal Stay at Home edict is finally dropped in favour of ‘Stay Local’, and the Rule of Six makes a comeback. It will be extended to allow two households to gather, enabling relatives to meet properly for the first time in months.   

It comes as fatigue with the cycle of coronavirus shutdowns grows, with protesters running riot in central London yesterday as they pelted bottles and cans at officers while police chiefs warn enforcing lockdown laws has become a ‘no-win’ situation due to mixed messaging on pandemic restrictions.

In other coronavirus developments: 

  • The EU doubled down on its threat to block Covid vaccine exports to the UK as the British Government warned Brussels that ‘the world is watching’;
  • Sir John Bell, a member of the AstraZeneca vaccine team, said a lack of genome sequencing in Europe means importing the South African variant is now the ‘biggest risk’ facing the UK;
  • Defence Secretary Ben Wallace dismissed calls from Tory MPs to speed up the nation’s exit from lockdown as he said it would be wrong to ‘throw away’ progress in ‘the final mile’;
  • Mark Harper, the chairman of the Covid Recovery Group, said ‘reasonable people’ will now be questioning why Mr Johnson does not speed up the easing of restrictions;
  • CRG’s Steve Baker said ‘the time has come for this dark chapter in our history to come to an end’ amid a row over extending the Government’s draconian Covid powers;
  • A mobile phone ‘freedom passport’ app has been developed which could allow pubs, restaurants and sports venues to reopen with minimal social distancing, The Mail on Sunday can reveal;
  • Leaked Labour strategy document advised the party’s election candidates to avoid talking about Boris Johnson’s handling of the pandemic because it has been too popular with voters;
  • Positive tests fell 7.5% over the past seven days to 5,587 a day; hospital admissions fell 23 per cent to 496 and deaths dropped by 36.9% to 96, the first Saturday with under 100 fatalities since October; 
  • Plans for ‘Alfresco April’ gathered pace with Marston’s brewery saying 700 of its pubs would open on April 12; 
  • A Mail on Sunday investigation has named super-rich tycoons – including heirs to the Gucci fashion and Graff diamond fortunes – whose firms have used the furlough scheme to pay staff.
People walking outside in Wimbledon, south London to enjoy the sunshine as lockdown fatigue grows

People walking outside in Wimbledon, south London to enjoy the sunshine as lockdown fatigue grows

People walking outside in Wimbledon, south London to enjoy the sunshine as lockdown fatigue grows

Women sitting on a bench talking while drinking coffee in Wimbledon, south London amid the pandemic

Women sitting on a bench talking while drinking coffee in Wimbledon, south London amid the pandemic

Women sitting on a bench talking while drinking coffee in Wimbledon, south London amid the pandemic

People walking outside in Wimbledon, south London to enjoy the sunshine as lockdown fatigue grows

People walking outside in Wimbledon, south London to enjoy the sunshine as lockdown fatigue grows

People walking outside in Wimbledon, south London to enjoy the sunshine as lockdown fatigue grows

Daffodils in bloom at Birkenhead Park, Wirral as coronavirus cases and deaths continue to fall

Daffodils in bloom at Birkenhead Park, Wirral as coronavirus cases and deaths continue to fall

Daffodils in bloom at Birkenhead Park, Wirral as coronavirus cases and deaths continue to fall

Flowers in front of Buckingham Palace in London today while Covid-19 cases and deaths continue to fall

Flowers in front of Buckingham Palace in London today while Covid-19 cases and deaths continue to fall

Flowers in front of Buckingham Palace in London today while Covid-19 cases and deaths continue to fall

Mute swans seen in St James\'s Park in London after the first day of Spring, in mild 13C (55F) weather

Mute swans seen in St James\'s Park in London after the first day of Spring, in mild 13C (55F) weather

Mute swans seen in St James’s Park in London after the first day of Spring, in mild 13C (55F) weather

The UK is set to enjoy a blast of warm weather during the week, with temperatures more than doubling in parts of the country ahead of the easing of coronavirus restrictions as lockdown fatigue continues to spread

The UK is set to enjoy a blast of warm weather during the week, with temperatures more than doubling in parts of the country ahead of the easing of coronavirus restrictions as lockdown fatigue continues to spread

The UK is set to enjoy a blast of warm weather during the week, with temperatures more than doubling in parts of the country ahead of the easing of coronavirus restrictions as lockdown fatigue continues to spread

Positive Covid tests fell 7.5 per cent over the past seven days to 5,587 a day; hospital admissions fell 23 per cent to 496 and deaths dropped by 36.9 per cent to 96, the first Saturday with under 100 fatalities since October

Positive Covid tests fell 7.5 per cent over the past seven days to 5,587 a day; hospital admissions fell 23 per cent to 496 and deaths dropped by 36.9 per cent to 96, the first Saturday with under 100 fatalities since October

Positive Covid tests fell 7.5 per cent over the past seven days to 5,587 a day; hospital admissions fell 23 per cent to 496 and deaths dropped by 36.9 per cent to 96, the first Saturday with under 100 fatalities since October

With schools already open, the next stage of loosening is March 29, when the formal Stay at Home edict is finally dropped in favour of \'Stay Local\', and the Rule of Six makes a comeback. It will be extended to allow two households to gather

With schools already open, the next stage of loosening is March 29, when the formal Stay at Home edict is finally dropped in favour of \'Stay Local\', and the Rule of Six makes a comeback. It will be extended to allow two households to gather

With schools already open, the next stage of loosening is March 29, when the formal Stay at Home edict is finally dropped in favour of ‘Stay Local’, and the Rule of Six makes a comeback. It will be extended to allow two households to gather

March 29 will also see the reopening of tennis courts and golf courses and the return of grassroots football. But shops, hairdressers and pubs must remain closed until April 12 at the earliest – the same time gyms can get back up and running – regardless of mounting fears about the economic meltdown.  

Campsites and holiday lets can reopen for single households from April 12 – but international travel is completely off the cards until at least May 17, in a blow to the aviation sector. Social distancing rules will stay in force until June 21 at the minimum, with a government review to decide their future after that.   

Sports can start to return from May 17, although venues will need to work on reduced capacities. Up to 30 people can go to weddings from the same date, but are stuck at that number until the next phase of the roadmap.

Only at June 21 will all legal limits on social contact go, and the remaining elements of the hospitality sector be allowed to open. The Prime Minister stressed that he is being driven by ‘data not dates’ and the timeline is not guaranteed.

With pubs and restaurants not opening until April 12, the need for outdoor tables soared by 220 per cent, fire pits 89 per cent and picnic hampers 24 per cent. Doubling up as a way to store ice to cool beer and soft drinks as well as tidy up, searches for wheel barrows locally also rose by 93 per cent.

NearSt co-founder Nick Brackenbury said: ‘Lockdown three has tested the patience and motivation of many of us. But as we look forward to hosting garden get-togethers again, this has put a much needed spring in our step. No wonder Britons have been spurred on to spruce up our patios ahead of the easing of lockdown.

‘The clamour for outdoor tables – despite pubs welcoming people back in April – highlights our ‘Plan B’ in case pubs are all booked – so we can recreate it at home instead.’

Many online retailers selling garden furniture are already showing lengthy waits to get hold of the coveted outdoor goods. Mr Brackenbury added: ‘As such millions of shoppers have evolved their online search habits. 

People walking outside in Wimbledon, south London to enjoy the sunshine as lockdown fatigue grows

People walking outside in Wimbledon, south London to enjoy the sunshine as lockdown fatigue grows

People walking outside in Wimbledon, south London to enjoy the sunshine as lockdown fatigue grows

A woman walking two dogs in Wimbledon, south London today amid sunny spells after the first day of Spring

A woman walking two dogs in Wimbledon, south London today amid sunny spells after the first day of Spring

A woman walking two dogs in Wimbledon, south London today amid sunny spells after the first day of Spring

People sitting on a bench to enjoy the sunny spell in Wimbledon, south London as Covid-19 cases and deaths fall

People sitting on a bench to enjoy the sunny spell in Wimbledon, south London as Covid-19 cases and deaths fall

People sitting on a bench to enjoy the sunny spell in Wimbledon, south London as Covid-19 cases and deaths fall

People talking a walk in Birkenhead Park, Wirral, with the daffodils in bloom\u00A0as coronavirus cases and deaths continue to fall

People talking a walk in Birkenhead Park, Wirral, with the daffodils in bloom\u00A0as coronavirus cases and deaths continue to fall

People talking a walk in Birkenhead Park, Wirral, with the daffodils in bloom as coronavirus cases and deaths continue to fall

Daffodils in bloom at Birkenhead Park, Wirral\u00A0as coronavirus cases and deaths continue to fall

Daffodils in bloom at Birkenhead Park, Wirral\u00A0as coronavirus cases and deaths continue to fall

Daffodils in bloom at Birkenhead Park, Wirral as coronavirus cases and deaths continue to fall

A man talking a walk in Birkenhead Park, Wirral, with the daffodils in bloom as coronavirus cases and deaths continue to fall

A man talking a walk in Birkenhead Park, Wirral, with the daffodils in bloom as coronavirus cases and deaths continue to fall

A man talking a walk in Birkenhead Park, Wirral, with the daffodils in bloom as coronavirus cases and deaths continue to fall

A field of daffodils surrounds an allotment near Holbeach in Lincolnshire

A field of daffodils surrounds an allotment near Holbeach in Lincolnshire

A field of daffodils surrounds an allotment near Holbeach in Lincolnshire

Temperatures over the course of today

Temperatures over the course of today

Cloud and rain over the course of today

Cloud and rain over the course of today

Western parts of England and Wales will be cloudy this afternoon, while other parts will be dry with variable cloud and sunny spells – with the best of the sunshine in northern England and southern Scotland

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace dismisses mounting pressure from Tory rebels to speed-up lockdown exit – warning it would be wrong to ‘throw away’ progress in the ‘final mile’ 

Ben Wallace today dismissed growing calls from Tory MPs to speed up the nation\'s exit from lockdown as he said it would be wrong to \'throw away\' progress in \'the final mile\'

Ben Wallace today dismissed growing calls from Tory MPs to speed up the nation\'s exit from lockdown as he said it would be wrong to \'throw away\' progress in \'the final mile\'

Ben Wallace today dismissed growing calls from Tory MPs to speed up the nation’s exit from lockdown as he said it would be wrong to ‘throw away’ progress in ‘the final mile’

Ben Wallace today dismissed growing calls from Tory MPs to speed up the nation’s exit from lockdown as he said it would be wrong to ‘throw away’ progress in ‘the final mile’. 

The Defence Secretary said the country has ‘made incredible sacrifices over the last year’ and now is the time to ‘buckle down’. 

The Government is facing a Conservative backbench revolt over Boris Johnson’s roadmap, with angry MPs arguing the approach is based on ‘dates, not data’.  

Tory rebels have pointed to the fact that more than 26million people in the UK have now received a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine as they said life should be able to ‘get back to normal more quickly’. 

They said there is now ‘increasingly positive data on deaths and hospital admissions’ but despite this the Government ‘appears almost entirely focused on dates’ already set out by the Prime Minister.

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‘People are Googling the same items ‘near me’ to check on stock of local stores – which is providing a welcome boost for nearby high streets.’

It comes as police chiefs warn that enforcing lockdown laws is a ‘no-win’ situation for officers, with Police Federation chairman John Apter saying officers have been battling with the challenge of keeping up with ‘ever-changing Covid rules and legislation’ and that as a result have been ‘abused, assaulted and vilified far too often’ during the pandemic. 

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Apter said the scenes at last weekend’s Clapham Common vigil for murder victim Sarah Everard had shown the difficulties of policing during the pandemic. The police response had attracted considerable media and political comment, ‘some of it very hard, often unfair’, he added.

Mr Apter said police had faced similar criticism for their handling of Black Lives Matter or anti-lockdown protests, with officers ‘damned by some when they intervene, and damned by others when they do not’.

He thanked the majority of the public for understanding the difficulties police faced in upholding the laws determined by Government during the pandemic, while citing Police Federation research that showed only one in 10 officers thought police powers introduced to manage the Covid-19 crisis were clear.

‘We have repeatedly called on the English and Welsh governments to stop issuing mixed messages to avoid further confusion when lockdown measures are lifted,’ Mr Apter wrote.

‘We warned the Prime Minister not to repeat the lack of clarity over last year’s pandemic measures before he announced his roadmap out of lockdown.’

Mr Apter added ‘fair-minded, reasonable members of the public – and I know that is the majority – will agree my colleagues have faced an almost impossible task’ where ‘policing the lockdown has become a no-win situation for front-line police officers who are trying to do their best’.

‘Despite the avalanche of unfair criticism my colleagues have faced this week, they will continue to be the first to arrive whenever these same critics call us for help,’ he said.

The police crackdown on lockdown revellers continues, with officers breaking up a bonfire party complete with what appeared to be a sex doll in the woods at Leicester’s Aylestone Meadows last night.

Officers from the South Leicester neighbourhood policing team had been patrolling woods at the popular nature reserve yesterday when they came across the illegal gathering.

A photo taken by the beat team shows at least eight people assembled around a small campfire in breach of coronavirus lockdown rules. It shows several individuals placing sticks onto the fire, and what looks like a blow up sex doll hanging from one of the trees. 

The message read: ‘I never thought having an evening foot patrol on Aylestone Meadows I would discover this in the woods.’ It continues: ‘This was quickly stopped and everyone told to go home.’

The officer added: ‘Please, we have a part to play in helping the community follow the rules.’ It is not known whether any of the individuals the officers encountered were fined for breaking Covid-19 restrictions. 

The law governing the third national lockdown in England, which is still in place, states that ‘you much not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a reasonable excuse’ that includes work, exercise or essential shopping.

Fixed penalty notices of £200 have been routinely handed by the police to people found to be breaking the rules, with someone caught committing further offences liable to a penalty of up to £6,400.

It it not known if any of the individuals encountered at the campfire gathering in Aylestone Meadows was actually fined, or if any follow-up action will be taken by the police. 

The police crackdown on lockdown revellers continues, with officers breaking up a bonfire party complete with what appeared to be a sex doll in the woods at Leicester\'s Aylestone Meadows last night

The police crackdown on lockdown revellers continues, with officers breaking up a bonfire party complete with what appeared to be a sex doll in the woods at Leicester\'s Aylestone Meadows last night

The police crackdown on lockdown revellers continues, with officers breaking up a bonfire party complete with what appeared to be a sex doll in the woods at Leicester’s Aylestone Meadows last night

Hundreds of protesters waving signs marched through central London after meeting earlier in the afternoon in Hyde Park

Hundreds of protesters waving signs marched through central London after meeting earlier in the afternoon in Hyde Park

Hundreds of protesters waving signs marched through central London after meeting earlier in the afternoon in Hyde Park

The thuggery in Hyde Park saw members of the public get up and leave, with parents hurriedly carrying their small children

The thuggery in Hyde Park saw members of the public get up and leave, with parents hurriedly carrying their small children

The thuggery in Hyde Park saw members of the public get up and leave, with parents hurriedly carrying their small children

Police officers detain a demonstrator in Hyde Park, London, during a protest against lockdown yesterday

Police officers detain a demonstrator in Hyde Park, London, during a protest against lockdown yesterday

Police officers detain a demonstrator in Hyde Park, London, during a protest against lockdown yesterday

Laurence Fox is seen attending a rally in Hyde Park London. The actor is fighting to become the next mayor of London

Riot police were out in force on the streets of the capital last night as pockets of protesters continued to gather

Riot police were out in force on the streets of the capital last night as pockets of protesters continued to gather

Riot police were out in force on the streets of the capital last night as pockets of protesters continued to gather

It follows scenes of anarchy and violence yesterday, with police and anti-lockdown protesters clashing in Hyde Park yesterday as officers wielding batons steadily backed off while projectiles rained down on them before gathering in number and charging back at the hooligans. 

The ugly scenes came after thousands of lockdown-sceptics, including actor Laurence Fox and activist Piers Corbyn, rallied in the heart of the capital to protest the Government’s Covid-19 restrictions.

It coincided with similar protests in European states such as Germany, Italy and Austria, which are bracing for a third wave of the virus. 

Protesters waving placards reading ‘stop destroying our kids’ lives’ marched down Oxford Street and blocked off Park Lane. Riot police were still out in force on the streets of the capital tonight as pockets of protesters continued to gather.

Although the march was largely believed to be peaceful – albeit brazenly breaking lockdown, which bans large gatherings – police confirmed they have so far made 33 arrests.  

Britain’s police has been thrust into the spotlight recently in the wake of the controversial handling of Sarah Everard’s vigil, where women were pinned down and arrested at Clapham Common.  

The Government’s Policing Bill, which passed its first vote in the Commons this week and would hand officers more powers to deal with demonstrations, has also caused anger. Demonstrations in London, Manchester and Brighton saw activists hold banners urging the ministers to ‘kill the bill’.  

Link hienalouca.com

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