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Buildings across Greater Manchester will light up in solidarity with George Floyd and BLM tonight

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Stephen McKay / Geograph

Civic buildings across Greater Manchester are going to light up tonight in solidarity with George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement. 

An unarmed African-American, George Floyd was filmed struggling to breathe while a white male police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes until he eventually stopped breathing. 

The death of Mr Floyd has sparked huge protests against racism across the world and a resurgence in the Black Lives Matter campaign. 

Manchester is hosting a peaceful protest on Saturday, June 6th at 1pm in Picadilly Garden. The protest organisers have urged anyone who wants to get involved to come prepared and abide by all social distancing rules.

Jake Hardy / Facebook

There are many other ways to fight racism and support the Black Lives Matter movement from reading to watching films, donating to charities and donating to the bailout funds of protestors.

One very peaceful way Greater Manchester has got involved to show its support and ‘solidarity with the Black community here and elsewhere’ is by lighting up civic buildings across the 10 boroughs this evening, including Bolton Town Hall.

Greater Manchester Combined Authority released a statement regarding the death of Mr Floyd: “The callous murder of George Floyd on the streets of Minneapolis has sent shockwaves around the world which are being powerfully and painfully felt here in Greater Manchester.”

Manchester City Council

They continued: “As Leaders, we want to express our revulsion at the manner of George’s death, our sympathy with his family and our complete solidarity with the Black community here and elsewhere.

“We know the anger and the agony is real. Discrimination continues every day, not just in the USA but in the UK too. People are tired of having to fight it.

“To show our sympathy with George’s family, and our support for Black Lives Matter, we have today agreed to coordinate the lighting of civic buildings across our 10 boroughs on Friday evening, following on from the example of Trafford Council, and Salford and Manchester City Councils.”

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Primark confirm Trafford Centre store will open for 24 hours after lockdown

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Gerald England / Geograph

It was reported earlier this month that Primark wanted to open some of its stores for 24 hours after lockdown ended.

The budget retailer has now confirmed the news, with 11 stores across the UK set to open for 24 hours next week.

Primark plans to re-open its stores in England next Wednesday, December 2nd, with all stores seeing extended trading hours.

This is to cater for expected higher demand before Christmas, and to help reduce queues in a bid to help social distancing.


While Primark stores in retail parks and shopping centres can trade until 10pm at a minimum, 11 will be open for 24 hours – including the Trafford Centre branch.

Stores open 24 hours will open from 7am on Wednesday December 2nd and trade until their normal closing time on Thursday December 3rd.

List of updated opening times for most Primark stores:

  • Town High Street: these stores will be open until 8pm
  • Town Shopping Centres: these will also trade until 8pm
  • Retail Parks: stores here will trade until 10pm as a minimum
  • Major Shopping Centres: these will also trade until 10pm as a minimum
  • Major High Street Stores: the majority of these will trade until 10pm

The full list of stores opening 24 hours:

  • Trafford Centre
  • York Monks Cross
  • Leeds White Rose
  • Bluewater
  • Lakeside
  • Birmingham Fort
  • Meadowhall
  • Stratford
  • White City
  • Charlton
  • Gateshead Metrocentre

Primark’s CEO, Paul Marchant, said: “We are delighted to re-open our stores in England on 2 December, with longer shopping hours to give our customers more time to safely do their festive shopping.

“We have everything this season that our customers expect from Primark, including our famous Christmas jumpers, festive pyjamas and much, much more.

“All of our extensive safety measures remain in place to help ensure shopping at Primark is an enjoyable, safe experience for everyone.”

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Why London is Tier 2 but Manchester is back in Tier 3

‘We’ve not seen the demand rises’

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Colin and Kim Hansen / Wikimedia

The latest news of which areas are to be placed in the new system’s toughest tier, Tier 3, have sparked outrage online.

Comparisons are being made on the vastly different Covid-19 infection rates across towns and cities in England.

Yesterday, the question ‘how is London in Tier 2 when it has an R rate of 1-1.2 and cases increasing by as much as 3% a day?’ was trending on Twitter. In comparison, the R rate for the North West is 0.8-1 with cases falling as much as 3% per day. 

Some of the North’s Conservative politicians aren’t being as reserved as Andy Burnham, who responded to the news on BBC Radio Manchester by saying ‘I’m not disagreeing with the Government’s decision’.

Chris Green, MP for Bolton West and Atherton hinted that he thinks the government might be looking at some regions more favourably than others. He said: “I will look forward to reading the analysis that the government must have done.

“Matt Hancock said that Cornwall is in T1 because of how well people have behaved. Does he spend much time there or has it been reported to him? I would like to see that report and the GM version.”

In London, the Covid-19 picture varies across boroughs, much like in Greater Manchester. For instance, in Havering, the rate is 342 cases per 100,000 people.

Eight of the 32 boroughs are above the national average and thirteen are higher than the rate found in Trafford in Greater Manchester.

Other areas, such as Camden, have rates of 88 cases per 100,000 people. The overall infection rate is 182 cases per 100,000 people, down from 196 the week prior.

In light of the rate of infections, most commentators considered London to be on the edge of being placed in Tier 3.

However, while the number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals is increasing, it has not hit levels compared to the first spike of infections earlier this year.

In the height of the first spike, 160 Covid patients were in three hospitals in West London with 122 requiring ventialation.

Now, the chief executive of the trust that runs the three hospitals say they have 44 patients with positive tests, taking up 16% of all beds. Of those, 28 are in critical care and only 22 require ventilators.

Professor Tim Orchard, the chief executive of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “We’ve not seen the demand rises that some parts of the country have.

“We have however seen some of our partner trusts have some more pressure on their acute services.”

To compare, while Greater Manchester’s overall situation has improved in recent weeks it is acknowledged that the overall spread remains very high.

The average infection rate for the region is 276 per 100,000 people. The national figure is 208.

In Oldham on November 4th, this figure was above 800. Now, the rate has fallen by 30% but there are still 388 cases per 100,000 people.

Rates are falling across all ten boroughs but that only began recently. There were more than 600 new Covid-19 patients in Greater Manchester last week, with more than 1,000 patients in intensive care and high dependency units.

Burnham explained the hospital figures as ‘significant but modest reductions’. Essentially, in Greater Manchester the infection rate is currently above average but decreasing faster than England as a whole.

So, while we’re in Tier 3 now, we’re on the right path to get out of it.

The Greater London Authority and Mayor Sadiq Khan said Tier 2 as a city-wide approach across London was the ‘right and sensible option’, despite some local MPs calling for a borough by borough assessment.

Boris Johnson, former mayor, agrees with Khan. He said: “The incidence is different in different parts of the city, but there are many things that unite London and encourage transmission across its vast network and I am afraid that is still I think the most sensible way of dealing with it.”

In Greater Manchester, the services are run by ten unitary authorities, however, the area has been dealt with as a single entity with the government making its tier assessment on that basis.

Tory MP, William Wragg (Hazel Grove) said he will be voting against the new tier system, and asked other MPs to do the same. Sir Graham Brady (Tory MP for Altrincham and Sale West) has added he will do the same.

Andrew Gwynne, MP for Denton and Reddish said he was ‘minded to oppose’ the proposal. He said: “This will be a heavy blow for the hospitality businesses across Denton and Reddish who have invested heavily in Covid-secure measures to allow them to reopen safely.

“I will look very carefully at the measures to be brought before Parliament.

“I support the new tougher enforcement powers to ensure business compliance with Covid regulations, but I don’t support the arbitrary singling out of the hospitality sector, which all the data shows is responsible for around just 3% of transmissions.

“What we actually need is to protect the most vulnerable, and roll-out proper localised testing and contact tracing.”

 

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Full list of which tier every region in England will be in from Wednesday

Everything you need to know…

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William McCue/Unsplash

The new tiered system is coming into force on Wednesday and promises to be ‘stronger’ than the last.

Each local authority across England has now been placed into either tier 1,2 or 3. The new tier system will come into force from December 2nd, when the four-week national lockdown ends.

Health secretary Matt Hancock announced on November 26th which areas would be placed in which tier as part of the government’s Covid Winter Plan.

There are stricter measures in place for areas put into tiers 2 and 3. Most notably, in Tier 3 where hospitality will remain completely closed except for delivery and takeaway. 

For those in Tier 2, alcohol can only be served alongside a ‘substantial’ meal which includes either a full breakfast, main lunchtime or evening meal. Those hospitality venues that cannot provide this must close. 

The only areas to be placed into Tier 1 (medium alert) include Cornwall, the Scilly Isles and the Isle of Wight.

In Tier 2 (high alert):

  • North West:
    • Cumbria
    • Liverpool City Region
    • Warrington and Cheshire
  • Yorkshire:
    • York
    • North Yorkshire

      West Midlands:

    • Worcestershire
    • Herefordshire
    • Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin
  • East Midlands
    • Rutland
    • Northamptonshire
  • East of England:
    • Suffolk
    • Hertfordshire
    • Cambridgeshire, including Peterborough
    • Norfolk
    • Essex, Thurrock and Southend on Sea
    • Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes
  • London:
    • all 32 boroughs plus the City of London
  • South East:
    • East Sussex
    • West Sussex
    • Brighton and Hove
    • Surrey
    • Reading
    • Wokingham
    • Bracknell Forest
    • Windsor and Maidenhead
    • West Berkshire
    • Hampshire (except the Isle of Wight), Portsmouth and Southampton
    • Buckinghamshire
    • Oxfordshire
  • South West:
    • South Somerset, Somerset West and Taunton, Mendip and Sedgemoor
    • Bath and North East Somerset
    • Dorset
    • Bournemouth
    • Christchurch
    • Poole
    • Gloucestershire
    • Wiltshire and Swindon
    • Devon

Tier 3 (Very High Alert):

  • North East:
    • Hartlepool
    • Middlesbrough
    • Stockton-on-Tees
    • Redcar and Cleveland
    • Darlington
    • Sunderland
    • South Tyneside
    • Gateshead
    • Newcastle upon Tyne
    • North Tyneside
    • County Durham
    • Northumberland
  • North West:
    • Greater Manchester
    • Lancashire
    • Blackpool
    • Blackburn with Darwen
  • Yorkshire and The Humber:
    • The Humber
    • West Yorkshire
    • South Yorkshire
  • West Midlands:
    • Birmingham and Black Country
    • Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent
    • Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull
  • East Midlands: 
    • Derby and Derbyshire
    • Nottingham and Nottinghamshire
    • Leicester and Leicestershire
    • Lincolnshire
  • South East:
    • Slough (remainder of Berkshire is tier 2: High alert)
    • Kent and Medway
  • South West:
    • Bristol
    • South Gloucestershire
    • North Somerset

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