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Taoiseach predicts ‘high volume of Covid cases’, says hospital figures keenly watched

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin on Saturday said the Government was very worried about the transmissibility of the Delta variant and predicted a high volume of cases.

“The situation is serious in respect of the Delta variant. There will be a high volume of cases and case numbers will continue to grow so we will keep a very close eye on hospitalisations that result from that and the illnesses that result from that, and the mortality,” Mr Martin said.

He was speaking as the Department of Health this evening reported 1,377 new Covid cases and said 78 patients were in hospital, with 22 in intensive care.

“Nphet have done some remodelling and I will meeting public health authorities this week and we will be looking at how to we plan for August and for September.

“All of us need to be vigilant in terms of our individual behaviours because this is a further twist in the road of Covid-19.”

Mr Martin said that, as of now, foreign travel was set to resume from Monday with the operation of the EU Digital Covid Certificate for travel originating with the EU or European Economic Area, with indoor dining for fully vaccinated people restarting from July 26th.

Threshold

He would not be drawn when asked whether the planned easing of restrictions was contingent on cases remaining below a certain threshold, such as 2,000 cases per day.

Mr Martin stressed that notwithstanding the rising number of cases due to the Delta variant, the situation facing the Government now was very different to 12 months ago or indeed six months ago, due to the vaccines rollout.

Restaurant tables on Capel Street in Dublin on Friday. The Taoiseach on Friday said indoor dining is set to resume from July 26th, despite the surge in Covid cases. Photograph: Collins
Restaurant tables on Capel Street in Dublin on Friday. The Taoiseach on Friday said indoor dining is set to resume from July 26th, despite the surge in Covid cases. Photograph: Collins

“I think where we are now, 60 per cent of the population vaccinated, and 75 per cent with first doses… It’s a different type of scenario from where it would have been a year ago, so I think we have to look at things afresh and analyse where the prevalence is, the age cohorts and what strategies we deploy.

“Obviously vaccination is the more effective tool and we are doing very well on that front and we will continue with that, and I would urge people to take the vaccine offered to them, but I do think we are in a different stage of the pandemic compared to six months ago or compared to last year,” the Taoiseach said.

“We are going to give this very serious consideration in terms of how we plan for August and how we plan for September, but we do have to do some analysis of this with the public health authorities … it’s not a simple matter of doing the things we did a year ago,” he added.

“One of the key objectives is to protect the reopening that we have achieved so far, starting off with schools and childcare, then construction, personal services, retail, outdoor hospitality. It’s about consolidating all of that.”

Unvaccinated

The Taoiseach also played down suggestions of tension between the Government and chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan over the resumption of indoor dining, which he confirmed is set to resume from July 26th, despite the sharp rise in cases in recent days.

Mr Holohan has repeatedly recommended that parents not bring children out for indoor dining, even though under the proposed rules this is allowed.

On Thursday night, Mr Holohan said: “People who are unvaccinated, including children, should continue to avoid high-risk, uncontrolled indoor settings. That includes indoor hospitality.”

He suggested that families going out for a meal should try to do so outdoors, at least until a higher proportion of the population is vaccinated.

Asked about Dr Holohan’s comments, Mr Martin on Saturday denied there was tension between the Government and Dr Holohan over the issue and insisted Ministers heed the advice received from public health experts.

Saying he had spoken to Dr Holohan on Friday, the Taoiseach said: “We work together and the broad, broad thrust of public health advice has been adopted by Government and put into legislation,” said Mr Martin, speaking at Haulbowline Island in Cork Harbour.

“We went through the Dáil, with many in the Dáil objecting to it on the basis that they wanted everybody to be allowed in – vaccinated and unvaccinated entirely into indoor dining – (but) we followed the public health device in that regard.

“There is no tension and we need to keep things in perspective because there has to be common purpose, as there has been from the outset of the pandemic, between Government and public health advice. I take that very seriously indeed.”

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VGP acquires French logistics development

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VGP NV and VALGO signed an agreement to purchase 32 hectares of land that housed the former Petroplus refining units in Petit-Couronne, near Rouen. This brownfield rehabilitation project is fully in line with VGP’s core expertise and strategy. Thanks to the six years ownership of the site by VALGO and its expertise in asbestos removal, soil and water table decontamination, in-situ waste treatment and development, this area has now become a suitable site for the development of new industries and business activities.

 

On the banks of the river Seine and close to the A13 highway, the 32-hectare area of land offers its future users a highly strategic location. Following the extensive depollution work carried out by VALGO, the site is now ready for redevelopment. VGP expanded into France only a few months ago and is delighted to start its French business activities in the dynamic Rouen Normandy metropolis area, via this major project. In total, around 150,000m² of land are set to be redeveloped to accommodate industrial and logistics projects, with work due to begin in 2023.

 

Jan Van Geet, CEO VGP, said: “VGP is delighted to begin its business activities in France on a site as exceptional as this one, with strong economic and environmental ambitions that are shared by both our partner, VALGO, and the local authorities. As the rehabilitation of brownfield sites is at the heart of our business, this project is a great opportunity for us to deploy our industrial and logistical know-how. The uncertain geopolitical situation and the rise in transport prices mean that companies are increasingly looking for local support to start their business. In this context, we strongly believe in the relevance of our integrated model with a long-term vision. We are now eager to get to work and bring all the expertise of the Group to the project.”

 

Francois Bouche, CEO VALGO, commented: “We are delighted that this huge piece of land has been sold to a major investor with experience in redeveloping brownfields in Europe. However, I would first like to celebrate the work of the men and women who worked so hard to make this colossal project a success. It took more than 1 million hours and over €60m in investment by VALGO to turn the page on over 80 years of refining on this site, which already employs 600 people.”

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Selling your home? Here’s how to make sure it has kerb appeal by sprucing up outside space

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As anyone who has indulged in the brutal ‘swipe left’ culture of internet dating will testify, you don’t often get a second chance to make a first impression. And the same is true when trying to sell your property.

That’s why what lies at the front of your house — be it lawn, gravel or flagstones — can play a major role in making a sale.

Indeed, having a pleasing ‘shop front’ to snag potential buyers scrolling through listings or even walking past outside can offer leverage to boost the asking price, says Colby Short, CEO of estate agent comparison site getagent.co.uk.

Dress to impress: Colourful flower beds transform the look of a cottage in East Lothian, Scotland

Dress to impress: Colourful flower beds transform the look of a cottage in East Lothian, Scotland

‘Homes that offer a front garden carry a 4 per cent property price premium versus those without, and that equates to more than £11,000 in the current market,’ he says.

So what changes can you make to the patch in front of your house to help improve the saleability of the property?

Some alterations are simple, entry-level innovations. For example, even the smallest swatch of grass should be mown and rubbish-free. 

In fact, bins and recycling boxes are often the first thing you see in a front garden, as well as the detritus left by squirrels who have curated bits of dinner from your bags of rubbish. But it’s easy to hide bins away in a box unit.

‘If you’re trying to hide ugly bins, how about building a bin store with a planter on the top, then you can have some gorgeous outdoor succulents and flowering alpines?’ says QVC UK’s gardening expert Michael Perry. 

You can also buy wooden bin stores from outdoor furniture suppliers such as Wayfair (from £125.99).

Meanwhile, hanging baskets outside your front door help to break up a harsh brick wall, says Sean Lade, of Easy Garden Irrigation.

‘Hanging baskets are an excellent choice for adding colour and scent to your front garden and soften the front of your house. They should be installed at eye level —about 5 ft off the ground.’

Hanging baskets add colour and scent to a front garden and soften the front of a house

Hanging baskets add colour and scent to a front garden and soften the front of a house

And think about replacing tired fencing or dilapidated brick walls with natural borders, such as Boxwood hedging, which will add visual interest and is also easy to prune throughout the year.

‘If you prefer a cottage garden appearance, then why not train climbing plants to create natural archways around your front door, porch or gate?’ says Deborah Cobb, product manager at builders’ merchants MKM.

‘Raised flower beds are also a clever way to add some natural foliage. If you fill them with evergreen shrubs, then they are an easy-to-look-after and low-maintenance option that will look good all year round.’

In terms of what plants to go for, Nicola Bird, founder of seed subscription service The Floral Project, suggests some annual flowers are perfect for planting at the front of your house if you’re looking to sell. 

‘They include varieties such as cosmos, phlox, zinnias and sweet peas — not only to bring a bright splash of colour to your front garden, but also serve as a great conversation starter with your potential buyers.’

Even if you don’t have a patch of grass in front of your home, there are other fundamentals which will help with the sale, says Jonathan Rolande, professional property buyer at housebuyfast.co.uk.

This includes jet-washing your path. And just before a visit from potential buyers, remove any vehicles, where possible, to help to create an impression of space.

‘Clean the windows, frames and front doors — and clean the house number,’ he says. ‘If the garden is mostly given over to parking, soften the look with pots and planters filled with bright flowers and attractive shrubs.’

 You may think your garden gnomes are cute, but to a prospective buyer, they can be just plain creepy

He adds that if you don’t have a lawn, terracotta planters on the front sills look great with fragrant plants such as lavender and rosemary appealing to the sense of smell, too.

If your front garden is really small, use decorative gravel such as pea shingle or slate chippings, suggests Thomas Goodman, property expert at homeowner and tradesman connection website myjobquote.co.uk.

‘This will give you an attractive, low-maintenance base for topping with a few nice plant pots.

‘Fix anything that’s broken, including gates, fences and walls. These detract from any nice planting and give the impression of a home that’s not properly maintained and is going to need work.’

Colby Short says some items in your garden should be permanently jettisoned to improve the chances of a sale.

‘You may think your garden gnomes are cute, but to a prospective buyer, they can be just plain creepy. The same goes for any large statues or display items, particularly if they are of a political, religious or risque nature.

‘When it comes to potential buyers, you want to present a blank canvas. But that doesn’t mean this canvas can’t look good and add appeal in its own right.’

On the market… with kerb appeal 

Buckinghamshire: This four bedroom semi-detached cottage is on the edge of Denham Village. The bedrooms are spacious overlooking front and rear gardens. Struttandparker.com, 01753 481 781, £800,000

Buckinghamshire: This four bedroom semi-detached cottage is on the edge of Denham Village. The bedrooms are spacious overlooking front and rear gardens. Struttandparker.com, 01753 481 781, £800,000

Suffolk: There are four bedrooms in this detached house in Old Newton. The property dates from the 16th century and has a thatched roof and mature gardens. Fineandcountry.com, 01379 646 020. £1.2m

Suffolk: There are four bedrooms in this detached house in Old Newton. The property dates from the 16th century and has a thatched roof and mature gardens. Fineandcountry.com, 01379 646 020. £1.2m

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Elephant Park expands its retail offer (GB)

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Lendlease has announced the openings of two new spaces at Elephant Park: all-day kitchen and bar RAREBIT; and community garden store The Nunhead Gardener.

 

RAREBIT – the all-day kitchen and evening dining, bar, and grocery store – has opened its first brick-and-mortar location on Elephant Park’s casual dining hub, Sayer Street. The brand-new concept has a menu focusing on British favorites including the Welsh ‘rarebit’, and its grocery stocks a range of independent wines, craft beers, and coffee from East London coffee shop, Climpson & Sons. This selection is complemented by cheeses from Neal’s Yard Dairy, charcuterie from London Smoke & Cure, and produce from Natoora.

 

The Nunhead Gardener is the latest brand to move from one of Lendlease’s meanwhile units into a permanent space at Elephant Park, following the likes of Dima Beautiful, Beza Ethiopian Vegan, and bar and bottle shop The Tap In. The 900ft² unit on Sayer Street stocks a selection of indoor and outdoor plants, as well as specialty gardening tools, seeds, and seasonal scented candles.

 

Guy Thomas, Head of Place Assets at Lendlease, commented: “Both of these openings speak to our core values at Elephant Park, with a commitment to providing our local community with uses that are independent, sustainability-oriented, and unique. The arrival of RAREBIT adds a new cuisine to casual dining hub Sayer Street, and The Nunhead Gardener’s revamped permanent space has created a plant haven that we know local people will love.”

 

Mark Angell and Will Nias, Co-Founders of RAREBIT, said: “RAREBIT is about bringing a modern, fresh concept to people who want top-quality food and drink. Whether that be for grocery shopping or sit-down dining, we are so excited to be welcoming customers through our doors at Elephant Park. It is such a buzzing area, and we are proud to introduce RAREBIT to this diverse and vibrant environment.”

 

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