Churches open: When can churches and religious buildings reopen?

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced the Government is working on plans for reopening places of worship across the country. Speaking at this evening’s press conference, he said: “I have been speaking to faith leaders, and this week will convene a task force to establish when and how places of worship can open safely.”

Churches in England are to be gradually reopened under a three-stage plan once lockdown measures are eased.

Religious institutions have been closed throughout the coronavirus lockdown.

Under the first phase, limited activities such as streaming services or private prayer by clergy would be rolled out – so long as social distancing and hygiene precautions are taken.

The second stage will see the reintroduction of some rites and ceremonies, while the final phase intends to allow worship with “limited congregations” so long as government restrictions are eased enough to allow this.

 

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In a meeting with Church of England leaders last week, 

At the meeting, led by Bishop of London Dame Sarah Mullally, the Church of England agreed that the timing of when to implement the measures should be made by individual diocesan bishops.

It made it clear that these are guidelines and not an instruction or law, and said that it will be reviewed consistently, in line with the Government’s phasing plan. 

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Joy for nature-lovers as white-tailed eagles return to England for first time in 240 years

The UK’s largest bird of prey has not been seen in England since 1780. But four of the eagles were released on the Isle of Wight last year as part of reintroduction programme by the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation and Forestry England.

And their movements across England have been monitored using GPS trackers as well as sightings reported by the public.

Two of the birds have travelled to North Yorkshire.

One was photographed in the North York Moors and again near Thirsk.

Another eagle flew to Norfolk before being snapped in Suffolk.

The fourth has travelled across the south coast of England and was filmed by a member of the public in Weymouth, Dorset.

Bird watchers are being urged to report sightings of the rare eagles during the coronavirus lockdown.

The white-tailed eagles were released on the Isle of Wight in 2019 as part of a five-year reintroduction project.

Roy Dennis, founder of the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation, said: “White-tailed eagles were once a common sight in England and southern Europe but were lost centuries ago.

“This project aims to reverse that situation by restoring the eagles to their ancestral nesting places.

“I can remember as a lad walking along Culver Cliffs to see where the eagles had once lived.

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“It is incredible now to be able to play a part in returning these birds back to their home.

“We look forward to working with a range of organisations on the Island, and in the Solent area, to help make this exciting project a success.”

Bruce Rothnie of Forestry England added: “Our woodlands provide a haven for wildlife and we hope that they will become home to these incredible birds on the Isle of Wight.

“This long term project is a great opportunity to help to restore the white-tailed eagle to the South Coast of England and we are proud to be involved in helping to bring back this rarest of birds to Britain.”

The white-tailed eagle has a wingspan of up to 2.5 metres.

The birds have brown plumage with a pale head and neck.

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Ramadan day timetable: What day of Ramadan is it today?

The coronavirus has changed the face of Ramadan this year, as many activities have been cancelled in Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and elsewhere. The Saudi Arabian government said it would uphold a ban on all congregation prayers in the country – including Taraweeh – which is a set of special prayers which take place during the holy month.

What day of Ramadan is it today?

Today, Tuesday, April 28, is the fourth day of Ramadan as it began on Saturday, April 25.

On this day, the prayers fall at different, earlier, times than the previous day. Iftar, which is when Muslims break fast, will fall at 8.20pm – one minute later than yesterday.

Sehar, which is the morning prayer and eating before the fast begins, will fall at 3.10 am – four minutes earlier than yesterday.

Eid al-Fitr, which is the celebration to mark the end of Ramadan, is expected to take place on Saturday, May 23 or Sunday, May 24.

Just like the start of Ramadan, this is subject to an official moon sighting, so it is best to check with your local Mosque for Eid timings.

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What are the five pillars of Islam?

The pillars are five obligations that every member of the Islamic faith must honour in order to live a good life according to Islam.

The five pillars are: 

  • Shahadah- Sincerely reciting the Muslim profession of faith.

Shahadah means the belief “there is no god but God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God”, and is central to the Islamic faith.

This phrase, traditionally written in Arabic, is often prominently featured in architecture and a range of objects, including the Qur’an – the Islamic holy book.

A person becomes a Muslim by reciting this phrase with dedication and faith.

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  • Salat – performing ritual prayers in the proper way, five times a day.

Muslims must pray facing Mecca five times a day. These prayers take place at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and after dark.

Prayer includes a recitation of the opening chapter (sura) of the Qur’an, and is usually done on a small rug or mat made exclusively for this purpose.

Muslims can pray individually at any location, or together in a Mosque where an Imam will lead the congregation.

Men gather in the mosque for noonday prayer on a Friday, while women are invited, but not obliged to take part.

After the prayer, a sermon focuses on a passage from the Qur’an, and is followed by prayers from the Imam and a discussion of a religious topic.

  • Zakat – Paying an alms (or charity) tax to benefit the poor and the needy

In accordance with Islamic law, Muslims donate a fixed portion of their income to community members in need.

Many rulers and wealthy Muslims build mosques, drinking fountains, hospitals, schools, and other institutions both as a religious duty and to secure the blessings associated with giving charity.

  • Sawm – fasting during the month of Ramadan.

During the daylight hours of Ramadan, the ninth and holy month of the Islamic calendar, all healthy and practising adults are required to abstain from food and drink.

Through fasting, Muslims are able to renew their awareness and gratitude for everything Allah has given them.

This gratitude extends to the Qur’an, which is believed to have been first revealed to the Prophet Mohammad during the month of Ramadan.

Throughout this month, they share the hunger and thirst of the less fortunate as a reminder of their religious duty to help others.

  • Hajj – making a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca.

Every Muslim whose health and finances permit are expected to make at least one pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, which is situated in present-day Saudi Arabia.

The Ka’ba is at the centre of Mecca and is a cubic black structure covered in black embroidered tapestries and hangings. This holy structure is located at the heart of the Haram Mosque.

The Ka’ba has particular religious significance to Muslims as they believe it is the house Abraham (Ibrahim in the Qur’an) built for God. They face in the direction of the Ka’ba when they pray.

Since the time of the Prophet Mohammad, worshippers from across the world have gathered around the Ka’ba in Mecca on the eighth and twelfth days of the final month of the Islamic calendar.

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‘Empty shelves!’ How Sainsbury’s depot blunder caused ‘chaotic scenes’ in store

Founded in 1869 by John James Sainsbury with a shop in Drury Lane, London, the supermarket quickly became a British favourite and, by 1922, was officially the largest retailer of groceries in the UK. It held this spell at the top for almost three-quarters-of-a-century, before Tesco snatched the lead in 1995. Today, Sainsbury’s enjoys a 16 percent market share of the supermarket sector, with more than 1,400 stores across Britain, but there was a shaky moment in 2000, when it looked like it may slip down the pecking order below ASDA.

Presenter Fiona Phillips revealed the saga during Channel 5’s series ‘Inside Posh or Past It?’.

She said in 2019: “From the Noughties onwards, the issue of loyalty was just one of the problems facing the company.

“Sainsbury’s should have been back on the up and doing what they do best, they had two great ideas – Jamie Oliver and a new clothing range.

“But, behind-the-scenes, the mechanics of their brand-new supply system was in a right old mess.

The state of the stores was really pretty chaotic

Andrew Seth

“Around this time they lost their number two spot to ASDA.”

The Sainsbury’s Warehouse Automation project failure of 2003, saw the company write-off £260million after the system did not work as expected.

Judi Bevan, author of ‘Trolley Wars,’ explained what happened.

She said: “Sainsbury’s spent a lot of money automating the depots and when the scheme came in, they all broke down and there were lots of entry shelves.

“Of course, customers don’t like empty shelves.”

Andrew Seth, the former CEO of Unilever, said the blunder led to dismal scenes.

He said: “The state of the stores was really pretty chaotic.

“The shelves were very often empty and the supply chain was just not working.”

Justin King was working as a senior member of ASDA’s management at the time.

He explained how the company capitalised at that moment.

Mr King said: “I worked at ASDA for most of the Nineties, we actually had an explicitly stated goal, which was number two by 2002.

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“We wanted to overtake Sainsbury’s by 2002 and although I left ASDA in 2000, sure enough around 2002, they overtook Sainsbury’s.

“When I went to Sainsbury’s, I found a business that had lost why it was in business.

“It was to serve customers well and Sainsbury’s had become an organisation that, in almost everything it did, had turned away from the customer.

“They almost thought they knew better, if you like.”

Mr King joined Sainsbury’s on March 29, 2004, and launched an internal campaign with a catchy slogan – Making Sainsbury’s Great Again.

He added: “The great thing about customers is if you are not doing a good job, they vote very quickly with their wallets and they go elsewhere.

“I kept hearing suppliers and customers and people that worked in Sainsbury’s saying this was once a great company, can’t we just be that great company again?

“So we wrote to a million of our most loyal customers and, amazingly, 250,000 of them wrote back.

“Unprecedented in marketing terms, the business turnaround plan was written from that feedback.

“It was written by the customers themselves.”

By January 2008 Sainsbury’s announced 12 consecutive quarters of sales growth and achieved its target to grow sales by £2.5 billion, three months ahead of schedule.

King announced in January 2014 that he would be leaving his post as CEO in July 2014, with the company’s Group Commercial Director Mike Coupe being announced as his successor.

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Coronavirus patients’ eyes could be infectious for WEEKS as new symptoms emerge

The highly infectious disease is primarily spread through airborne spew or on surfaces, but new symptoms have been discovered showing the mutations the virus undergoes.

Researchers at the National Institute for Infectious Diseases in Italy found that virus persisted in the eyes of one 65-year-old woman for 21 days after she first developed symptoms.

Reports have emerged of people getting pink eye with coronavirus worldwide.

The symptom is rare however, with the number of patient affected remaining quite low.

The report suggests that the tears and eye mucus of infected people may transmit the virus for weeks after symptoms develop.

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Studies have found that the eyes are one of the parts of the body that can be attacked by coronavirus.

Health officials have been advising people to not touch their face and eyes to stop the spread of the disease.

Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, can be caused by many bacteria and viruses, though the latter is more common.

The symptom often comes along with respiratory infections, such as the flu.

In the US, pink eye as a symptom of COVID-19 first became a coronavirus concern after a nurse at the Life Care Center care home in Kirkland, Washington revealed that almost every COVID-19 patient she treated there had red eyes.

The Life Care Centre saw an outbreak that infected more than 80 residents and 34 staff members, as well as killing 35 people.

The nurse said that many of those patients showed no other signs of illness, but were eventually confirmed to have coronavirus.

The symptom is still not listed as a symptom by the Centre for Disease Control in America, or by the government in the UK, but has been observed in many countries.

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While the new development is concerning, data suggests it is a relatively uncommon occurrence.

According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the symptom affects less than one percent of patients.

In their study of more than 1,000 Chinese coronavirus patients, just nine developed eye infections (accounting for less than one percent of the group).

In another study punished in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the same rarity of the symptom was observed, but it was also shown that the symptom is persistent and infectious.

Only one out of 30 patients in that study developed conjunctivitis.

On the third day after the patient was admitted to the hospital, the woman’s eyes were still red, so the team there started swabbing the woman’s eyes.

The health care workers continued to sample her eye fluid almost every day after that.

Every sample revealed genetic material from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

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Coronavirus vaccine trials could spark horror side-effects warns first man to undergo them

Simeon Courtie described the side effects that he has been told to expect. GMB’s Susanna Reid quizzed Mr Courtie on the process of the trial and on what conditions he has agreed to. Mr Courtie stated that over 500 people have signed up to take part in the coronavirus vaccine trial. 

Ms Reid said: “What sort of side effects have you been warned about?”

Mr Courtie replied: “They think it will be along the lines of having flu if you get the worst end.

“They don’t know, everybody is different.

“You might just get very mild side effects but I think at worse a fever for a couple of days and some aches and pains.

“It shouldn’t be too disruptive to my life.”

The Good Morning Britain presenter said: “Do you know what the process is, how many injections you get, what are the conditions?”

Mr Courtie responded: “I am going to a place called the Jenner institute which is a set of old buildings around the back of Church Hill hospital in Oxford.

“I went there for my screening with a group of other people.

“There are 500 people in total on this trial.”  

At the time of writing, Britain has the sixth-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world.

The UK has more than 133,000 cases in total.

The death toll in Britain is currently higher than 18,000. 

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Worldwide there have been more than 2,600,000 COVID-19 cases.

The death toll has reached more than 185,000 at the time of writing.

More than 720,000 people have recovered from the coronavirus across the globe.

The United States has the highest amount of COVID-19 cases in the world with more than 850,000 confirmed cases.

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Helen Whately faces calls to resign after ANOTHER disastrous Piers Morgan GMB interview

Care minister, Helen Whately, has defended the Government’s efforts to acquire personal protective equipment (PPE) for health and care workers but she was torn apart by Piers Morgan for not knowing the coronavirus death toll in the UK and its impact. Ms Whately is now facing calls to resign as Britons took to Twitter to voice their concern.

One Twitter user wrote: “Helen Whatley is an incompetent care minister.

“She doesn’t know the figures, she stated that Elderly people were at greater risk, however, we have known this for months now. She should resign!”

Another added: “Helen Whatley should be ashamed of herself. Lacks the facts; empathy and generally unimpressive. Resign.”

A third person wrote: “As a person with no medical training or qualifications you have no place to tell professionals how and when to use PPE. Your resignation is accepted with immediate effect.”

More to follow…

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Supermarkets warned of ‘day of reckoning’ over wages during coronavirus lockdown

Supermarkets across the UK have remained open, with their employees being key workers amid the pandemic.

Paddy Lillis, from the Union of Shop, Distirbutive and Allied Workers (USDAW) has called for an increase in retail employees wages after the pandemic.

Mr Lillis predicted to the BBC that a post-crisis “day of reckoning” on pay and conditions will come to supermarket owners.

He said: “Retail workers don’t get the respect they deserve.

“It’s always been seen by government and local authorities and, dare I say it, even customers, that it’s a job you do until you get a ‘real job’.

“And I think there’s a day of reckoning at the end of this, where there has to be a real recognition that these low-paid workers need to be looked after and given at least £10 an hour – that’s a living wage, basically.”

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The average hourly wage for UK sales and customer services workers is £9.77, according to the latest Office for National Statistics data.

Using Labour Force Survey data, the Office showed that sales and customer service workers earn on average £407 a week.

The figure is £15.26 across all professions.

The national minimum wage for workers over the age of 25 is £8.72 per hour.

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Supermarkets have introduced social distancing measure to minimise the risk of infection to shoppers, but Mr Lillis and USDAW have raised concerns about rules not being followed and a need for personal protective equipment.

Self-service checkout areas, where customers are in a narrow area and may require assistance with scanning and payment, remained a particular concern.

He said: “Supermarket staff aren’t quite like medical workers, in that they haven’t got to touch people to do their job.

“But because of the movements of people, they’re bound to come into near contact with people quite frequently.”

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Tom Ironside, director of business and regulation at the British Retail Consortium, has cautioned against the union’s push for higher pay.

Mr Ironside said to the BBC: “In recent years retailers have worked hard to increase pay, with many going beyond the legal requirement and extending the National Living Wage rate to staff aged under 25.

“However, with many retailers struggling to maintain viability in the face of the continued crisis, it is not the right time to be adding even greater pressure to an industry that already operates on very fine margins.”

Tesco is predicted to post a surge in pre-tax profits to £1.85 billion for the year to February, up from £1.56 billion last year – an almost £300 million year-on-year increase.

A Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy spokesperson said: “We are committed to ensuring that every worker is fairly rewarded for their contribution to the economy.

“This year’s increase to the National Living Wage means that we will be putting an additional £930 into the pockets of 2.4 million of the UK’s lowest-paid workers this year.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announce near the beginning of the outbreak a scheme to pay the wages of furloughed workers through Universal Credit.

Applications for the system have reached over 1.5 million as of Tuesday.

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Daily horoscope for April 21: YOUR star sign reading, astrology and zodiac forecast

The Sun in Taurus forms a Square with the ringed planet Saturn in Aquarius. The reality of the past month’s coronavirus crisis could, as a result, hit you squarely in the face during the day.

Tuesday brings a much-needed reality check, especially relating to economic realities, as Taurus is a money sign.

Social realities could also be affected, with Saturn generating some uncomfortable social pressures of its own.

These will be the hot topic of much of what will arrive in the next 10 days stretching into May.

The Aries Moon forms a Conjunction with Mercury before Sextiling lovers Mars and Venus, meaning now is the time to come together.

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The week starts on a serious foot with the Sun freshly in the money sign Taurus.

Our solar system’s star will proceed to create a Square with Saturn in the socially conscious Aquarius.

The current strict coronavirus measures have hit the economy hard and it is only now anyone can catch their breath to address this.

You will likely be thinking of some harsh realities in your own life at this time.

Issues can range from love relationships to your career and even financial survival.

Endurance is therefore key during these unprecedented times.

You need to prepare for the long haul and create a viable strategy sometime this week.

Fortunately, the ever-reliable Aries Moon is here to help you.

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As the Moon sextiles Venus and Mars, collaboration is foremost on your mind.

Being proactive is key and you have an opportunity to do just that.

Now is the time to take the initiative, meaning you should make that call and in general speak up.

Communications kingpin Mercury is at the heart of today’s agenda.

You can anticipate feeling far more confident if you connect with others while sharing your views in a spirit of collaboration and proactive initiative.

This may not be a problem you can solve immediately.

However, you may be surprised by what can be achieved by the end of the week.

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Daily horoscope for April 6: YOUR star sign reading, astrology and zodiac forecast

Monday involves a Virgo Moon, meaning now is the time to get down to business. The start of a new week is consequently the ideal opportunity to analyse the situation and arrive with some practical solutions. With Mars about to Square Uranus, this week holds some big surprises.

The Virgo Moon forms an Opposition with Neptune and Mercury.

The celestial orb then Trines Pluto and gas giant Jupiter.

This means you may be in for a very busy start to the working week.

The Moon is in the Virgo star sign, meaning it is time to look at what is not working and get it mended.

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Virgo’s influence means this is an opportunity to sort out your diet or exercise plan.

Or perhaps Monday is a time to tidy up a room or even your email inbox.

This is because restoring things to working order is what Virgo is all about.

Neptune and Mercury are first up on the Moon’s agenda and this may be slightly disorienting.

There is so much chaos and confusion for months now and nobody knows what is really going on.

Mercury entered Pisces in early February, coinciding with the time coronavirus hit the West.

Mercury Retrograde has not helped matters, adding a further delay in seeing things clearly.

All this confusion will end by this coming weekend, which should provide a welcome relief.

Now is the time to take a moment today to separate the wheat from the chaff.

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Start to organise and you will feel a rush of clarity and dynamism as you do so.

This is because the Virgo Moon trines Pluto and Jupiter.

This aspect should help boost productivity and help you get right down to it.

Come Monday night, the Moon enters Libra, where a trine with Saturn awaits.

This is the final stretch toward Wednesday’s Libra Full Moon.

Now is the time to open up negotiations and to reach out and cooperate.

You may, as a result, be looking out for number one during the day.

Astrologers believe this is the time to take responsibility and lend a hand.

A lunar Trine with Venus means you may hopefully feel so happy you did.

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