Boris Johnson has now outlined his full roadmap out of lockdown, confirming the plan to MPs in the House of Commons this afternoon.
The PM confirmed that the easing of restrictions would happen in four stages, and that if the roadmap goes to plan all limits on socialising will end on June 21st.
The process will begin with all schools in England reopening on March 8th. From the same date, people will also be able to meet outdoors and socialise with one person for ‘recreation’ – for coffee or a picnic, for example.
Then from March 29th up to a maximum of six people – or two households – will be able to meet outside, with the ‘rule of six’ being reintroduced.
The next stage is expected to begin on April 12th at the earliest as the lockdown easing continues in five-week intervals, with the whole process stretching into June.
Hairdressers, beauty salons, and non-essential shops will reopen in stage two, as will pubs, restaurants and bars – but for outdoor service only.
Gyms, libraries, zoos, museums and theme parks will also reopen in this stage, but you can only go to any indoor setting with members of your own household.
Stage three will happen no earlier than May 17th, with gatherings of up to 30 people outside allowed, the ‘rule of six’ introduced inside, as well as large-scale sports events and performances returning.
Stage four will happen no earlier than June 21st, and will see all number limits on socialising both indoors and outdoors removed, with the government hopeful nightclubs can reopen, and international travel could potentially resume.
This will be the final step, with the prime minister saying he hopes this will be ‘irreversible’, and it will see the limit on the numbers of people that can mix indoors or outdoors removed.
The government is hopeful that nightclubs and other large-scale events like concerts will also be able to reopen in this stage.
Four reviews will also take place during stage four
- The first will assess how long we will need to maintain both social distancing and face masks going forward
- Number two will review international travel to see when it might resume. However, there will be a report by April 12th so people can plan for the summer, Mr Johnson said
- Next will be a review to consider the potential role of Covid status certification to help venues open safely
- Finally, the fourth review will look at the safe return of major events
All the dates are dependent on four tests being met, which are vaccination targets, the vaccine reducing hospitalisation and deaths, the pressure on the NHS, and new covid variants.
Any dates given are subject to these four tests being met.
You can see the full roadmap here.
Man tragically dies after falling from apartment block near the city centre
Police attended the scene after reports of a man falling in the early hours of this morning
A man has sadly died after falling from an apartment block in Salford.
Police were called to Rolling Street – just off of Trinity Way near Manchester city centre – at around 5:10am this morning after receiving reports that a man had fallen from a building.
Upon arrival at the apartment complex, officers found the man and immediately called emergency services.
Despite the best efforts of paramedics, however, the man was pronounced dead at the scene.
The quiet residential street was sealed off this morning, with two police vehicles seen guarding each side of the cordon.
The cause of the fall is not yet known, though detectives say they are keeping an ‘open mind’ about about the full circumstances of the tragedy.
No arrests have been made and enquiries are said to be ongoing.
A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police said: “Police were called around 5.10am today (January 18th) to Rolling Street, Salford to a report of a male having fallen from a building.
“Emergency services attended and despite the best efforts of paramedics he was sadly pronounced dead at the scene.
“Enquiries are ongoing to establish the full circumstances and detectives are keeping an open mind as they investigate.
“No arrests have been made.”
A spokesperson for Get Living, the company that manages the apartment block, added: “We are very sad to confirm a death at New Maker Yards this morning.
“We are working closely with the emergency services who are continuing their investigation and will issue further information as it becomes available.”
Anyone with any information about the incident should contact police on 101 quoting incident 374 of 18/01/22. Alternatively, details can be passed via the LiveChat at www.gmp.police.uk or via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Bus driver sacked for being ‘too short’ gets job back after winning appeal
Tracey had been driving Manchester buses for over three decades when she was let go for ‘being too short’
The female bus driver who was sacked for being ‘too short’ has been given her job back after winning her highly-publicised appeal.
Despite being one of the first female bus drivers in Manchester and having thirty-four years of experience under her belt, Tracey Scholes was found to lack the ‘capability’ to drive Go North West’s new vehicles safely.
The position of the new buses’ wing mirrors required the fifty-seven-year-old, from Heywood, to lean around a pillar to see them, meaning she could not keep her feet safely on the pedals.
Because of this, Tracey was offered a different position driving the company’s school buses, though it would mean a reduction in hours worked and pay.
The company also offered the bus driver her current pay rate but with reduced hours, which meant she would still be losing around £230 a month, the Unite union said. She turned down both positions and was subsequently given her notice.
Tracey’s story was quick to go viral and gained the support of celebrities including actors Maxine Peake, Julie Hesmondhalgh and James Quinn. A petition was also set up in support of Tracey has gained a massive 29,214 signatures at the time of writing.
Also at her wit’s end, Tracey herself launched a desperate appeal last week to keep her job, which saw hundreds of people turn out at the Queens Road Depot in Cheetham Hill where the appeal hearing was taking place to show their support.
And this week, the campaigning has paid off, with Go North West officially offering Tracey her job back where she would drive a different model of bus.
Under the new deal, Tracey will start earlier to allow her to pick up a bus with wing mirrors of her preference, and her weekly hours and rate of pay will remain unchanged.
Go North West’s HR director Scott Maynard said in a statement that the company was ‘pleased’ their ‘valued and long-serving driver’ was to stay with Go North West ‘after she decided to accept an offer to drive different buses as per a proposal made in September’.
Scott Maynard added: “We have said from the start that we wanted to keep Tracey and we are glad that she has changed her mind and decided to stay.”
He said the company “operates no height restrictions on recruitment, and has multiple drivers of the same height, or below, as Tracey”.
“It is categorically untrue that we would, or could, have threatened anybody with dismissal on grounds of height.”
BBC TV licence to be axed, culture secretary hints
‘The BBC can learn to cut waste like any other business’
The BBC licence fee could be abolished and replaced with a government grant with viewers paying a voluntary subscription for entertainment and sport by 2027, new reports have detailed today.
The Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries is expected to confirm that the cost of an annual TV licence – which is required to watch live television and access iPlayer services – will remain at £159 until 2024 before rising slightly for the following three years.
Dorries has recently indicated that she wants to find a new funding model for the BBC after the current licence fee funding deal expires in 2027.
She wrote on Twitter: “This licence fee announcement will be the last. The days of the elderly being threatened with prison sentences and bailiffs knocking on doors are over. Time now to discuss and debate new ways of funding, supporting and selling great British content.”
The move would force the BBC to negotiate a new funding model, with potential options including a voluntary subscription service, part-privatisation, or direct government funding.
The Mail on Sunday reported that an ally of Dorries said: “There will be a lot of anguished noises about how it will hit popular programmes, but they can learn to cut waste like any other business.
“This will be the last BBC licence fee negotiation ever. Work will start next week on a mid-term review to replace the charter with a new funding formula.”
“It’s over for the BBC as they know it.”
However, Dorries’ stance has been met with overwhelming backlash, with a number of TV and radio stars having since rallied behind the BBC’s TV licence and slamming her decision as an ‘attack on a British institution’.
Former footballer Gary Lineker led the criticism, with him hailing the BBC as ‘the most treasured of National treasures’.
Lineker tweeted to his 8 million followers: “It should be the most treasured of National treasures. Something true patriots of our country should be proud of. It should never be a voice for those in government whoever is in power.”
He pointed out in a separate Tweet: “Yes the BBC brings you the best in news, in sport, in drama, in music, in children’s, in science, in history, in entertainment, in current affairs and Sir David bloody Attenborough….but apart from that was has the BBC ever done for us?”
Broadcaster Victoria Coren Mitchell also voiced her support for the licence, noting that the press and politicians can’t see the importance of the channel because they’re ‘trapped inside their own relationship with the news.’
Podcaster Greg Jenner added: “The BBC is 100 years old this year. It has constantly changed throughout that time, and it’s still greatly valued by the British people – such a pity the Culture Secretary would rather fight the Culture Wars.”