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Mask-free Queen ventures outside ‘HMS Bubble’ to secret lab

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The 94-year-old monarch was accompanied by her grandson Prince William on the visit to the Porton Down complex in southwest England. Ben STANSALL POOL/AFP

Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday made her first public visit outside a royal residence since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, visiting a top secret research lab but appearing without a face mask.

The 94-year-old monarch and her grandson Prince William visited the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) at Porton Down in southwest England, which has been helping to study Covid-19.

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“It’s doubling itself again,” the queen remarked when discussing the current second wave. Being told it was on the rise, she said: “Well, I suppose it was expected?”

“Predicted ma’am, yes,” replied Professor Tim Atkins, who coordinated Dstl’s response, to which the monarch responded: “With all these horrible new things…”

The queen and William did not wear face masks but arrived separately and stayed two meters apart, while aides said all 48 people due to come into close contact with the royals had been tested for coronavirus.

It was the monarch’s first public engagement outside one of her homes — where she has had a reduced household staff known as “HMS Bubble” — since she attended a Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey on March 9.

As coronavirus swept across the UK, she and her husband Prince Philip, 99, retired first to Windsor Castle west of London, as a precaution because of their age.

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They then spent time at her residences at Balmoral, northeast Scotland, and Sandringham, in eastern England, before returning to Windsor last week.

The queen made two televised addresses to the nation early on in the outbreak, which has killed more than 43,000 people in Britain — the highest toll in Europe.

At Porton Down, the queen and Prince William also met staff involved in identifying Novichok as the nerve agent used to try to kill Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in the nearby town of Salisbury in 2018.

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Skripal and his daughter Yulia survived the attack but a homeless woman who came into contact with a perfume bottle thought to have contained the nerve agent died four months later.

Britain and its allies blamed Russia and the incident prompted a mass expulsion of Russian diplomats by Western nations. Moscow denied any involvement.

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During the visit the queen formally opened the new Energetics Analysis Centre, an explosive materials research centre.

She and William were due to be shown displays of weaponry and tactics used in counter intelligence.

© 2020 AFP


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LA mayor blasted for discounting parking tickets paid early as COVID-19 relief: ‘This is taunting poor people’

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The mayor of Los Angeles received harsh pushback on Friday for offering a discount on parking tickets paid early as a coronavirus stimulus measure.

"Mayor Eric Garcetti Friday announced a program for drivers to receive a $20 discount on certain traffic citations if they are paid within 48 hours," CBS Los Angeles reported Friday. "The new program will award discounts for early payment on citations related to residential street sweeping, overnight and oversize parking districts, and vehicles displaying recently expired permits within preferential parking districts."

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2020 Election

Jaime Harrison honors aunt who died of COVID in emotional debate plea to unseat Lindsey Graham

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In a calm and deliberate plea on the debate stage Friday night, U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Jaime Harrison made his argument a bit more personal against incumbent Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

"The coronavirus has dramatically impacted South Carolina. We've had over 750,000 people lose their jobs - 400,000 of them lost their health insurance because they lost their jobs," Harrison said. "Over 160,000 have been infected. 3,600 have lost their lives, including my aunt Gladys. And what we needed was real leadership to address this issue at hand. But what you just heard from Sen. Graham is what we get: the discussion of Washington, D.C. I don't care what is going on in Washington, D.C. because right now Rome is on fire here in South Carolina."

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2020 Election

Trump ignores all coronavirus guidelines during Minnesota MAGA rally

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The state of Minnesota limited the number of attendees President Donald J. Trump could have at his Rochester rally Friday to 250 people, but that didn't stop the president from driving down the tarmac to physically non-distance from his MAGA overflow crowd. At one point, the incumbent president even held up a portrait of himself given to him by a fan. He then shook hands with the overflow crowd and threw items into the audience.

The president was not wearing a mask, nor were many of his supporters.

Trump also took the opportunity to bash Gov. Tim Waltz for requiring social distancing at his rally.

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