In case you missed the news, the government has ordered Chester Zoo to stay closed indefinitely, throwing the future of the much-loved zoo into doubt.
To help save the zoo from closure, a fundraising campaign was launched and as we reported yesterday it had raised more than £800,000 in less than a day.
Things haven’t slowed down either, and today we’re happy to report that the Save Our Zoo campaign has raised its monthly target of £1.6m in just over 24 hours – at the time of writing, the total stands at £1,651,254.
Chester Zoo is the UK’s biggest and most popular charity zoo that provides conservation to many endangered species.
Throughout lockdown, the zoo has taken to social media to provide virtual days around the zoo. The virtual days lasted for hours at a time and included an array of animals, educational pieces and the chance to watch feedings.
The zoo took to its Facebook again this week, but this time with a message titled ‘Save Our Zoo’.
The post revealed that the staff had received the devastating news that they would have to remain closed despite putting safety measures in place and ensuring they are COVID secure.
The statement says: “We’ve tried to stay positive during this pandemic, we’ve planned for our opening, we’ve cut no corners in terms of care for our animals and commitment to our conservation work, we’ve looked forward to welcoming You back soon.
“But we have now received the devastating news that the government has ordered us to ‘stay closed indefinitely’ despite being ‘COVID secure’ and able to safely manage numbers and social distancing.
“While other ticketed gardens open this week our 128 acres must stay closed. This has thrown the future of the zoo into doubt.”
The zoo recently released pictures of the new safety measures it had put in place, hoping it would be able to reopen the doors in July.
The statement addresses the issue of the public ‘piling onto’ beauty spots where there is ‘no way of controlling numbers’, stating that the zoo is able to guarantee people keep socially distanced and can easily control numbers.
The charity now needs to raise £1.6m a month to save it.
In an update yesterday, council environmental health officers have given Chester Zoo the green light to reopen with safeguards in place, now the zoo just needs the government to grant permission.
Cheshire West and Chester Council leader Cllr Louise Gittins said in a statement: “The council’s environmental health officers have been involved in Chester Zoo’s preparations for a safe opening and we are confident that the measures being taken will enable the zoo to operate safely, with significant public health measures in place.
“We fully support the campaign launched today by Chester Zoo, and call on government to apply more consistency and evidence in its plans for safe re-opening, with the support of local public health teams.”
The zoo is urging people to make a donation here, adopt an animal from your favourite species here, become a member of the zoo here, or if you already do, keep paying your membership fees.
Brace for ‘tough’ Christmas, SAGE scientists warn
The next six months look tough.
The next six months are set to be ‘very, very difficult’, according to the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).
Professor Jeremy Farrar has said the next three to six months will be a ‘very, very difficult’ period but the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ is effective Covid-19 treatment which should be ready by the first quarter of 2021.
Speaking on Sky News, Prof Farrar said that a circuit-breaker national lockdown is now needed. He explained that there could currently be 50,000 cases a day.
He said: “The ONS (Office for National Statistics) survey, which is the best data in the country at the moment, shows that 27,000 people are getting this infection every day. But that was until the 10th of October.
“Today it will be over 50,000, just as the CMO (England’s chief medical officer) Chris Whitty and (the Government’s chief scientific adviser) Sir Patrick Vallance suggested some three weeks ago.
“It would be at 50,000 new cases across the country every single day, and that’s almost exactly where we are.”
When asked about Christmas, Prof Farrar said: “Christmas will be tough this year. I don’t think it’s going to be the usual celebration it is and all families coming together, I’m afraid.
“I think we have to be honest and realistic and say that we are in for three to six months of a very, very difficult period.
“The temperatures drop, we are all indoors more often, we have the other infections that come this time of year.
“It’s much better for us to be upfront and honest now, and say we are in for a really difficult time, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
Prof Farrar added that a short national lockdown will be best to reduce transmission rates. he added that the best time to put this in place would have been September 20th but that ‘it was never too late’.
He said: “The second best time to do this is now, and the worst time to do this is at the end of November when things would have really got considerably worse.
“So it’s never too late, it’s better to do it now than in a month’s time.”
Last chance to claim £6,750 government grant for self-employed workers
Everything you need to know…
Self-employed Income Support Scheme pays up to £6,750 to the tens of thousands of self-employed people – but the scheme ends today.
Tens of thousands of self-employed people have until midnight tonight to apply for a support grant from the government of up to £6,750.
The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) is available to businesses that earn less than £50,000 a year.
The taxable payout is worth 70% of your average monthly trading profits and will be paid to those qualified in a single instalment.
The grant is capped at £2,190 a month meaning the maximum you can claim is £6,750 in total.
You will need to apply before midnight tonight (October 19th, 2020) with confirmation your business has been impacted since July 14th by the pandemic.
To be eligible you must have been self-employed before April 6th 2019 and filed a tax return for 2018/19 to HMRC.
More than half of your total income must come from self-employment and your profits must not exceed £50,000.
The new Wythenshawe Community Grocery that lets people do a weekly shop for just £3
The Community Grocery store in Wythenshawe lets shoppers stock up their fridge for just £3.
The shop is from the people behind The Mess Cafe which employs and trains ex-offenders and aims to bridge the gap between expensive supermarkets and food banks.
The store is stocked full of food donated from local suppliers and supermarkets with a drastically reduced priced.
Local businesses such as R Noone & Son, FareShare and local branches of Tesco and The Mess Cafe’s regular suppliers have all also been donating food to the new grocery store.
The local community has celebrated the new shop that allows people who are left in vulnerable positions due to the pandemic shop with independence and dignity.
The Mess Cafe provides training and employment to ex-offenders but due to the pandemic was forced to close.
Inspired by Marcus Rashford’s efforts, The Message Trust began to prepare healthy meals for children who were missing out on school lunches – sending out a total of 60,000 meals.
The affordable grocery store idea was born after the team realised more and more families and individuals were being pushed closer to the poverty line due to the pandemic.
Ellie Dickinson from The Message Trust spoke to the MEN: “Initially it was just for children who weren’t in school any more but would have qualified for free school meals, and then we realised there were vulnerable families who weren’t at work, or isolating, or just couldn’t afford to go shopping.
“It made us realise that there was a real need for more than just hot meals – often people couldn’t afford their weekly shop.
“The Community Grocery is touching on two points – it’s a low-cost food shop that still gives people that agency, and no one feels like they’re going to a food bank.
“I think that is quite hard for a lot of people, if they get to that stage.
“Because it’s a shop, each week they can actually choose what they want. They’re not just given a box without knowing what’s in it.
“It’s actually a really aesthetically pleasing shop too – it looks like Ancoats General Store which just adds to the experience!”
The Community Grocery project has a £5 annual membership fee which allows members to receive job workshops, career advice, mental wellbeing courses plus help on writing CV and working on computers.
Following that it’s just £3 per food shop and members are able to visit twice a week.
Depending on supplies each week, the amount of food available to each member changes. The most recent week’s shopping list included; five pieces of fresh fruit or veg, two bread items, five canned or boxed items, two freezer items, two fridge items, four different ‘best before’ items (close to the best before date but still safe to eat), one ‘non-food item’, and two potted plants.
Ellie added: “There have been so many people in the local community who have said ‘Look, I don’t need this, but I’d like to cover someone else’s membership’. It’s been lovely.
“There’s been a real outpouring of support that we didn’t expect.
“We initially did a soft launch for the people we were delivering meals to during lockdown – they were our priority.
“But they spread the word and now we’ve got over 200 members and queues down the street! It’s been wonderful.”