Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: A Manchester stand-off, a Presidential showdown and a Brexit culture clash

24 October 2020

9:00 AM

24 October 2020

9:00 AM


After ten days spent trying to persuade Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, to accede to the city entering Tier 3 (which entails the closing of pubs and betting shops), Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, announced that it would happen anyway, from 23 October. ‘I am deeply sorry,’ he said. Manchester had wanted £65 million in support first. Liverpool complained that it was not allowed to keep gyms open when Lancashire was. The nine million people of London languished in Tier 2, forbidden to meet anyone at home or in a pub, except if they pretended it was a business meeting. Scotland hatched plans for its own tiers. Wales imposed a ‘firebreak’, rather than a circuit breaker, from 23 October to 9 November, prohibiting different households from mixing even outdoors, older pupils from attending school, and pubs, churches and ‘non-essential’ shops from opening. Students had to stay in their university accommodation rather than going home. To those with holidays booked in Wales, Mark Drakeford, the First Minister, said: ‘My message to them is that they must not come.’ Yasmin Qureshi, the Labour MP for Bolton South East, was taken to hospital with Covid.

At the beginning of the week, Sunday 18 October, total deaths (within 28 days of testing positive for the coronavirus) stood at 43,579, of which 819 had been reported in the past week, compared with 443 the week before. Up to 11 October, 59,079 people had Covid-19 mentioned on their death certificates. Tom Maschler, the publisher, died aged 87. Chris Killip, the photographer, died aged 74.

‘Trade talks are over,’ the Prime Minister’s spokesman said after a meeting of the European Council concluded that it was up to the UK to make ‘the necessary moves’ to reach a deal with the EU. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and their three counterparts in Scotland, Wales and Ireland, criticised the government’s Internal Market Bill. More than 200 migrants crossed the Channel on small boats last weekend; a man was found drowned on the beach at Sangatte. On Monday another 100 crossed and 12 suspected people-smugglers were arrested. About 140,000 knots (Calidris canutus) flocked together at Snettisham, Norfolk, after migrating from the Arctic.


The total number in the world who had died with coronavirus reached 1,114,268 by the beginning of the week, an increase of 74,121 from the week before. Iran saw a rise in deaths and Belgium a rise in cases. Poland began building a field hospital at a football stadium in Warsaw. Ireland imposed a six-week lockdown, with churches closed and no one allowed more than five kilometres from home. France, Italy, Holland, Germany and Denmark put restrictions on opening hours for bars. Sweden considered passing a law by next summer to limit the number of passengers on public transport. Some said that India, after 114,000 deaths, had reached a peak. Saeb Erekat, the senior Palestinian official, was in a critical condition on a ventilator in an Israeli hospital.

Samuel Paty, a teacher aged 47, was decapitated near his school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, north-west of Paris, after showing his pupils cartoons of Mohammed. His murderer, an 18-year-old Chechen who had been living in Normandy, was shot dead by police; the teacher was posthumously awarded the Légion d’honneur. Gérald Darmanin, the Interior Minister, called the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) ‘enemies of the Republic’. Arrangements were made to mute the microphones alternately of President Donald Trump, the Republican candidate, and his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, during their televised debate in the presidential election campaign. The Cameron Peak wildfire became the biggest in Colorado history after burning more than 200,000 acres. The Canadian town of Asbestos voted to change its name to Val-des-Sources.

The United States government filed charges against Google, accusing it of breaking competition law to preserve a monopoly. Alibaba, the Chinese tech enterprise, is to take over the supermarket chain Sun Art Retailing, which has 481 hypermarkets in China. In Santiago, Chile, protestors set the churches of the Assumption and St Francis Borgia on fire. Caitlin McNamara, of the Hay Festival, alleged that she had been sexually assaulted in Abu Dhabi on St Valentine’s Day by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the minister of tolerance. CSH

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