The prime minister has today outlined his roadmap out of lockdown, revealing the plan to MPs in the House of Commons this afternoon.
Boris Johnson confirmed that the easing of restrictions would happen in four stages.
This will begin, as has already been widely reported, 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.
As well as that, from the 29th outdoor sports facilities will be able to reopen, allowing sports like football, tennis and golf to be played.
From this date, people will no longer be required to ‘stay at home’, although some restrictions will remain in place.
The next stage is expected to begin on April 12th as the lockdown easing continues in five-week intervals, with the whole process potentially stretching into June.
Hairdressers, beauty salons, and non-essential shops will reopen in stage two, which will happen on April 12th at the earliest.
Pubs, restaurants and bars will also open in this stage, but for outdoor service only, meaning you can be in a group of up to six people from two different households in an outdoor area like a beer garden.
Mr Johnson also confirmed the unpopular rules on ‘substantial meals’ with pints and the 10pm curfew will be scrapped, but you will have to be sat to consume your food or drink.
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.
As for holidays, hotels, hostels, Airbnbs and self-catering holiday accommodation will also reopen but for household groups only.
Up to 30 people will be able to attend funerals, with the maximum number of people at a wake rising from six to 15.
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.
This stage will see up to 30 people being able to meet outdoors, including in outside areas at pubs and restaurants, with indoor social mixing allowed again – but only up to six people or two households.
Indoor exercise classes will be able to resume from this stage, as well as large-scale sporting events or performances – with up to 1,000 people allowed indoors and up to 4,000 (or the venue being half full) allowed outside.
The bigger football stadiums will be able to allow up to 10,000 fans (or a quarter of capacity), while 30 people will be allowed to attend weddings, receptions, funerals, wakes and christenings.
Stage four will happen no earlier than June 21st, and will see all number limits on socialising removed, with the government hopeful nightclubs can reopen, and international travel could 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.
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.
Manchester Christmas Market mug design has been revealed for 2021
The council has also confirmed how much it’ll cost if you want to keep your mug as a souvenir
Exciting Christmas news: The mug design for this year’s Christmas Markets has officially been unveiled.
For those who descend upon Manchester’s Christmas Markets each year, the highlight is undisputedly the warm (and boozy) drinks served in the trademark mugs, which feature different designs each year.
In previous years, designs have included interactive reindeer noses, Santa Clause, snowflakes, Christmas trees and mistletoe.
And as for this year?
Well, the design has officially been unveiled and, for the first time in the markets’ history, the mugs won’t feature the date; this is because they were originally designed for the markets that never happened in 2020.
This year’s design will instead feature a simple ‘Manchester Christmas Markets’ graphic with the words ‘Christmas is what you make it’ alongside an abundance of stars and snowflakes.
The mugs will be available in two sizes – a smaller navy gluhwein mug and a larger white mug for coffees and hot chocolates.
There will be around 80,000 mugs in total in circulation at the Christmas Markets, and as always there’s the option to take yours home as a souvenir.
Visitors will be required to pay a £3 deposit when ordering a hot drink, or £1.50 for beer and wine glasses, which will then be given back to you if you return your mug.
Manchester City Council’s Christmas spokesperson Councillor Pat Karney said: “Second only to the disappointment of the cancellation of last year’s Christmas Market was the realisation that there would be no Christmas Market mug!
“We know that some visitors have a complete collection of mugs going back more than 10 years – and we expect those people to be first in line for a warming gluhwein or hot chocolate.”
This comes just a week after it was announced that the markets’ ‘main hub’ will be moved from its usual spot at Albert Square to Piccadilly Gardens.
The area will be transformed into the ‘Winter Gardens’, with all the usual yuletide bars, market stalls and food huts.
Plans for the Winter Gardens also include a one-way system and separate entrances and exits, as well as a strict limit on visitors to limit the spread of Covid-19.
They are also adding a fully accessible toilet to make the Winter Garden as inclusive as possible.
Bonfire Night events and fireworks cancelled across Manchester
For the second year in a row, Bonfire Night firework displays and celebrations across Manchester have been cancelled.
As a result of ongoing fears surrounding the spread of Covid-19 and the current Government advice around large-scale events, the eight free council-organised events scheduled to take place next month will no longer be going ahead.
The events were planned for Heaton Park, Platt Fields Park, Wythenshawe Park, Crumpsall Park, the Eithad Campus, Cringle Park, Debdale Park and Brookdale Park.
Manchester City Council said that the guidance around Covid-19 safety has made the events ‘unworkable’ and that the ‘health of Manchester people has to come first’.
Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, executive member for neighbourhoods, said: “This is not a decision we have taken lightly and I know that many people who look forward to these events will be disappointed, especially when we could not host them last year because of coronavirus restrictions.
“But the health of Manchester people, and the logistical considerations around that, has to come first.”
This comes after Greater Manchester Police Chief said he would ban fireworks if ‘given half the chance’; while appearing as a guest on BBC Radio Manchester, Chief Constable Stephen Watson said he has long held the view that ‘it’s only a matter of time before somebody gets killed’, stressing that it simply ‘cannot happen’.
When asked if he would ban fireworks altogether, he replied: “Given half a chance – yes I would. We’ve had people almost pointing rockets at passing vehicles and buses and putting them into telephone kiosks and all the rest of it.
“This goes a long way away from kids knocking around a bonfire and letting off a few fireworks and having fun. It’s that of course that we want to preserve. This is something we’re very much alive to.”
‘Smoking kills’ could be printed on every individual cigarette to encourage smokers to quit
The new proposal comes as the government clamps down on smoking across the UK
Tough new proposals to get more people to quit smoking could have ‘smoking kills’ printed on individual cigarettes.
MPs have submitted an amendment to the health and care bill going through parliament which would allow the health secretary to make graphic health warnings mandatory.
Mary Kelly Foy, the Labour MP behind the move, said, as per The Guardian: “We know that cigarettes are cancer sticks and kill half the people who use them. So I hope that health warnings on cigarettes would deter people from being tempted to smoke in the first place, especially young people.
“I hope it would encourage some smokers to give up because if they are putting that in their mouth and seeing that message on cigarettes every time they smoke, I hope it would have the desired effect.”
The other amendments proposed by Foy include raising the legal age for buying cigarettes from eighteen to twenty-one, preventing e-cigarette manufacturers from using marketing tactics that could encourage children to try them, such as sweet flavourings and cartoon characters, and making it illegal to give e-cigarette samples away for free, something that many companies have done in the past.
Though this isn’t a UK government’s first attempt to stamp down on the toxic habit; in 2008, a law was passed that required graphic images warning of the deadly effects of smoking to be shown on all cigarette packets.
A set of fifteen images were rotated while tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide emission numbers were also shown on the side of packages.
Plain packaging was then fully implemented in the UK nearly a decade later in May 2017 for all cigarette and tobacco brands. This policy forced the removal of all brand images, colours and promotions, and instead required all packaging to be standardised in terms of shape, colour and text design.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said on the proposed requirements: “Warnings on cigarettes were suggested over forty years ago by then health minister George Young.
“The tobacco companies, with breathtaking hypocrisy, protested that the ink would be toxic to smokers. The truth is cigarette stick warnings are toxic to big tobacco and this is an idea whose time has come.”