Boris Johnson confirms there will be no lockdown or further restrictions
The Prime Minister stressed that people still need to proceed with the ‘utmost caution’
Boris Johnson has confirmed that there will be no lockdown or further restrictions implemented as Omicron cases continue to rise.
Despite over 200,000 new Covid cases been recorded this week, the Prime Minister has said he will be maintaining the Plan B measures currently in place with no new restrictions.
However, he added that anyone who thinks the pandemic is over is ‘profoundly wrong’, saying people still need to proceed with the ‘utmost caution’.
Addressing the nation in a press conference this evening, Johnson said: “Anyone who thinks our battle with Covid is over I’m afraid is profoundly wrong… But our position today differs from previous waves in two crucial respects.
“We now know that omicron is mild… This is not yet translating into the same numbers needing intensive care that we saw in previous ways.
“Thanks to the effort to get Britain boosted, we now have a substantial level of protection, higher than any of our European neighbours.
“Together with the Plan B measures that we introduced before Christmas, we have a chance to ride out this omicron wave without shutting down our country once again. We can keep our schools and businesses open and we can find a way to live with this virus.
“But the weeks ahead are going to be challenging, both here and around the world.”
Johnson then announced that 100,000 key workers across the Border Force, food supply and other vital areas will be sent receive daily lateral flow tests from next Monday (January 10th), while calls have gone out to retired teachers.
Onsite Nightingale hospitals are also being built in addition to 2,500 ‘virtual beds’ where people can be safely treated at home.
The Prime Minister said: “We’re working to identify those NHS trusts that are most likely to need actual military support, so that can be prepared.
“As our NHS moves to a war footing I will be recommending to Cabinet tomorrow that we continue with Plan B. Because the public have responded and changed their behaviour – changed your behaviour – buying valuable time to get boosters in arms.”
Johnson also urged people to continue getting vaccinated, to work from home if they can, to wear face coverings and to take tests before meeting the elderly and vulnerable.
He said: “Above all, if you haven’t already done so, please, please, get that booster.
“But there are almost nine million people eligible who have not had their booster, and it is absolutely heartbreaking that up to 90% of those in intensive care with Covid have not had a booster, and up to 60% have not had any vaccine at all.
“People are dying needlessly because they haven’t had their jabs and they haven’t had their booster.”
Manchester University students ‘forcefully dragged’ out of building by bailiffs
Manchester University students have been forced out of buildings on the grounds which they had locked themselves inside in a strike over rent.
Student protesters occupying a building at the University of Manchester were forcibly removed by court bailiffs this morning (Wednesday March 22nd).
Students in the ‘UoM Rent Strike’ group have been occupying the Simon building on Oxford Road since February 13th as part of an ongoing protest over rent costs and living conditions in university-owned accommodation.
Prior to that, they occupied a further three buildings on the campus before vacating them, and this week they also staged a ‘sit-in’ at the John Owens building and protested outside the Board of Governors.
The students are demanding a 30% cut to their rent dated back to October — a cap on rent for the next three years — for the university to aim to provide student halls that meet the NUS definition of ‘affordable’, and for no disciplinary action to be taken against strikers.
University officers began action to remove the students occupying the Simon Building last week. They say the action was illegal and was causing disruption to other students and staff.
On Monday, the High Court granted a possession order for the whole of the university’s South Campus with notice being served on the occupiers. However, the group said on social media that they had ‘no intention to leave the occupied Simon Building until forced by bailiffs’.
As reported in the Manchester Evening News, officers of the court arrived early on Wednesday morning to forcibly remove them. The group said the bailiffs ‘arrived with no warning’ at around 5.20am and after ‘forcing entry through the door’ they ‘expected the roughly 20 current occupiers to rapidly clear their belongings’.
“Occupiers refused to leave of their own accord, so bailiffs forcefully dragged and carried them out the building”, they said.
In a statement, the group said: “The University has made it clear that they would rather drag their students out of a building than listen to our concerns. The cost of living crisis isn’t going anywhere and neither are we. Occupations are only one of many tactics, and this eviction will not slow down our campaign one bit.”
The group calls on the university to ‘listen to the concerns of students and open negotiations with students engaged in the rent strike and occupations.’
A University of Manchester spokesperson said: “This morning officers of the High Court attended the Simon Building to enforce a court order, following a small group of students who had been illegally occupying rooms there since February 13th 2023.
“This action follows multiple requests to those occupying the building to leave, and court hearing papers being served on the occupiers on March 15th 2023. The Court granted the University a possession order on Monday, and copies of the order were served to the occupiers.
“We very much regret having to do this, but the situation has been going on for a significant amount of time and has caused ongoing disruption to students and the people who work in the building.”
The Rent Strike group claim that in January over 350 students at the university announced that they were withholding rent, which they say amounted to £500,000, in protest at bosses increasing the ‘already sky-high rent by up to £450 for the 2022 academic year.’
In a statement published on the university website last month, Patrick Hackett, Registrar, Secretary and Chief Operating Officer (RSCOO), said: “A small number of students are withholding rent from us, but the profile of rent payments in January 2023 remains wholly in line with those in previous periods.
“We are continuing to collect outstanding payments as normal, with the vast majority of our students having paid.”
Although he said the university ‘absolutely recognise that the shortage in supply of housing and particularly student accommodation is a national issue, and one which is affecting the whole of Greater Manchester.’
He also added: “We offer a wide variety of accommodation types, and our costs are very competitive both in the city and across our university peer group.
“We recognise the need to continually invest and there is ongoing investment in residences to update and modernise facilities as they age. Around £25m has been invested in refurbishments at Hulme Hall in the past 5 years, we are beginning a £20m programme of refurbishment work in Dalton Ellis and Oak House this summer and, have spent £90m on building Unsworth Park.
“Uttley House also saw £1.5m of refurbishment work to provide accommodation, a café and a study hub. We’re also working on a major investment and development strategy, to accelerate the planned modernisation of our student accommodation.”
Gary Neville ‘saves Mother’s Day’ after spotting woman struggling in city centre
Well done, Gary!
Gary Neville has been praised for saving Mother’s Day for one family after spotting a disabled woman struggling on her way to a restaurant.
Ann Knowles, 67, was unable to park outside the Fazenda Rodizio bar and grill in Manchester, as there were no spaces left on the busy day. She had to park an eight minute walk away.
The former Manchester United footballer and pundit spotted Ms Knowles visibly struggling as she was making her way to the city centre steak restaurant and stopped to help her into his car. He drove her to the front door so she could enjoy her day with her family.
Her daughter Sam Ward, from Irlam, was waiting inside for her when she received a phone call to say Neville had saved the day.
Ms Knowles, a United fan, said: “I was upset thinking we’ll have to forget dinner, but then my daughter rang and said ‘it’s ok Gary Neville the footballer is taking her’ and I was like ‘what?'”
“I said the actual footballer? Where did he come from? And she said he just appeared out of nowhere, obviously saw them struggling and said ‘you need help’. So he physically picked her up and gave her a lift to the door in this car.
“He delivered her to the restaurant and saved Mother’s Day. My dad was with my mum and he was in shock.”
Ms Knowles suffered a brain haemorrhage a year ago, which has left her unable to walk far. She had left her wheelchair at home thinking her family could park outside the restaurant, only to discover there were no spaces left.
Ms Ward said the family ‘legged it’ across the restaurant when the rest of the family arrived with Neville. “I’ve always supported Gary but this just made my day,” she said.
“My daughter’s boyfriend’s jaw was on the floor. I think he was a bit star-struck. It’s a bit of a crazy story, but ultimately we’re all really chuffed.”
Two girls aged 13 and 16 from Manchester killed in horror car crash
Four other people being taken to hospital
Two teenage girls from Manchester, 13 and 16, have been killed in a horror car crash, with four other people being taken to hospital.
The two teen girls died when the Vauxhall Corsa they were travelling in was involved in a collision with a Ford Fiesta on Buxton Road West, Disley, on Sunday afternoon.
The horrific incident happened at around 3.15pm and both drivers, and two other passengers in the Corsa, were taken to hospital. Police have arrested an 18-year-old man, who was driving the Corsa, on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.
The teenagers’ families have been informed and are being supported by specialist officers, Cheshire Police have said. The injuries suffered by both drivers – including a 20-year-old woman in the Fiesta – and the two passengers travelling in the Corsa, a woman aged 21 and a boy aged 14, are not believed to be life threatening.
Police sealed off the A6, between Light Alders Lane and Carr Brow in High Lane, following the tragedy on Sunday morning. The closure was in place for a number of hours while collision investigation work could be seen taking place.
The cordon covered the main entrance to Lyme Park. Police said there was no access to the main entrance from either side of the road closure. Officers are now appealing for witnesses or anyone with information to come forward.
Flowers have been left near the scene of where the accident happened in memory of the two girls who lost their lives in the incident.