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Chancellor unveils ‘unprecedented’ plan to rescue businesses devastated by coronavirus

NEWS JUST IN…

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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Govt

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced that the government will step in to help businesses and individuals affected by coronavirus. 

Rishi Sunak addressed the nation at today’s daily COVID-19 news conference in Downing Street.

The Prime Minister began the briefing by saying that the new measures he announced yesterday will reduce suffering, adding: “I stress that although the measures are extreme, we may have to go further and faster in the coming days to protect the NHS.”

Rishi Sunak then took over, saying he will do ‘whatever it takes’ to support the economy, saying the UK needs a ‘collective national effort’ to protect people and businesses devastated by coronavirus. 

He added: “This government will give you all the tools you need to get through this – we will support people, support jobs, we will do whatever it takes.”

The Chancellor  went on to unveil an ‘unprecedented package’, giving businesses access to £330bn of government backed loans.

Small businesses can access a loan of up to £5 million, with no interest due in first six months.

For the retail and hospitality sector, he announced a package of no business rates, alongside a £25,000 cash grant available to everyone.

On top of that, the Chancellor addressed people’s concerns about whether insurers would pay out to pubs, clubs and cafes, saying that the Government will make sure insured businesses receive payouts, and non-insured companies get payouts of £25,000.

Mortgage lenders are also set to offer a three month ‘mortgage holiday’ to help protect anyone who cannot afford to pay, according to the Chancellor, added that they will go ‘much further’ over the coming days. 

It comes after Mayor of London Sadiq Khan wrote to the Prime Minister to ask him to do more to help businesses affected by the pandemic.

As of today, Tuesday March 17th, 1,950 in the UK have tested positive for coronavirus, with 14 more dying from the virus, bringing the total number to 69.

Yesterday Boris Johnson told the nation that people need to start working from home, saying: “Now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others, we need people to start working from home.”

The Prime Minister also said the government no longer supports mass gatherings, as everyone should stop all non-essential contact with others, including avoiding pubs, clubs and other venues, with people taking only essential travel.

He also had some new isolation advice: “Last week we asked everyone to stay at home with a high temperature or a new and continuous cough.

“Today we need to go further, it looks like we are approaching the fast part of the upward curve and cases could double every 5 or 6 days.

“If you or anyone in your household has one of those two symptoms, you should stay at home for 14 days – only going out for exercise at a safe distance.”

During the same address, chief medical officer Chris Whitty stressed that most people will only have a mild or moderate disease, before adding: “This is going to go on for some time – it will be a prolonged period. But a significant minority will need hospital care, a small amount of those will need intensive care and sadly some will die.”

Whittey also said that anyone over 70, people under 70 with significant health issues and pregnant women should take additional care to minimise their social contact.

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‘Raging’ Boris Johnson pushes for university ban on unvaccinated students

From September, university students could need to be fully vaccinated in order to attend lectures and live in halls of residence

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Unvaccinated students could be banned from attending lectures and living in halls of residence under new plans pushed by Boris Johnson.

The prime minister is said to have been ‘raging’ in regards to the comparatively low vaccine uptake amongst younger people and has decided to use pressure to get those individuals vaccinated, The Times reported today.

During video conferences with colleagues from his isolation at Chequers – which comes to an end today – Johnson allegedly said that students in larger and additional schooling settings ought to face obligatory vaccination.

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However, The Times also reported that the Department for Education has reservations in regards to the legality and practicability of the plans with regards to the fact that universities are impartial.

However, the move has been supported by The University and College Union (UCU), who wrote to the education secretary Gavin Williamson last week, warning that the Covid chaos seen in universities last year will be repeated unless strict measures are in place to protect staff and students.

According to The Guardian, the union wants all students to be double vaccinated before the start of term in September.

@cwojo / Unsplash

Just last week, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi announced that Covid certificates (received upon getting the second jab), will be compulsory for entry to nightclubs and other ‘crowded’ venues from September.

The government had previously opposed the compulsory use of coronavirus certificates – which involve customers using the NHS app to show their vaccination status, or prove they have had a negative test result.

But now, the government has urged venues such as clubs and sports stadiums to introduce them as a matter of ‘social responsibility.’

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Legendary Manchester metal pub Grand Central is sadly closing down

Manchester’s alternative music scene has lost a real gem

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Grand Central / Facebook

The city’s staple metal music and gig venue, Grand Central, will be permanently closing its doors, it was announced today. 

The Oxford Street haunt confirmed rumours that it wouldn’t be reopening – at least not ‘the way it was’ – on Facebook this morning.

Alongside a photo of smiling staff members, the post read: “The stories are true, Grand Central won’t be reopening the way it was. All the now former staff want to thank Tom for everything he has done for us and for giving the alternative scene a home for the last 20+ years. 

Grand Central / Facebook

“I’m sure everyone has stories connected to the little pub, share them and don’t let the memory of the GRAND F***ING CENTRAL die.

“Thank you to everyone for the custom over the years, we will miss you.”

The venue’s manager Danny Daemon also wrote on Facebook: “The regulars made the place and you know who you are. You embraced me as the new manager and I couldn’t of asked for a better group of people.”

Explaining the reason for the shock closure, he explained: “I know all this is a shock to you all, but this had been in the works from before lockdown. Stonegate own some pretty cool places and whilst no, it won’t be GC as we know it, there’s still a chance they’ll embrace it as an alternative hot spot. They might even do food.”

Social media users were understandably devastated to hear the news, with one writing: “So sad. In my eyes Manchester has just lost a main part of its culture. I will never forget this place and everyone I have either served or had the pleasure to have a drink with.”

Another wrote: “We always had a friendly welcome and met some truly awesome and unique people in there. Really going to miss it. Where do we go from here?”

Grand Central opened over twenty years ago and became a firm favourite among rock, metal and alternative music fans. Several bands also played there over the years, with local metal band 4GEN7 saying it was ‘a second home for most of us at one point or another.’

According to a number of posts circulating on social media, the venue has been acquired by the Stonegate Pubs group, though plans for the site are yet to be confirmed.

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Marcus Rashford is the UK’s largest charitable donor having given away 125% of his net worth

He’s also the youngest charitable donor to top the Sunday Times Giving List

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@marcusrashford / Instagram

Startling new figures have shown that Marcus Rashford is the UK’s most generous charitable donor, having given away a massive 125% of his net worth to charity.

He is also the youngest person to ever top the Sunday Times Giving List, a system that ranks philanthropists by comparing the sums they’ve raised for charity against their net worth on the Sunday Times Rich List.

​​With a personal worth of £16million, Rashford managed to raise a staggering 125% of his net worth over the past year, ultimately helping charity FareShare distribute 4 million meals to disadvantaged children.

FareShare chief executive Lindsay Boswell said the footballer’s commitment to tackling child hunger ‘has simply been incredible.’

She told Metro: “His own experience of relying on free school meals to eat brings authenticity and compassion to his campaigning, and his status as a Premier League footballer means people and politicians sit up and take notice.”

The Manchester United forward was first recognised for his charitability last year when he was able to change the course of the UK Government’s decision to provide free meals for underprivileged children during the summer school holidays.

Rashford, who received free school meals himself as a child, was made an MBE in the delayed 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

More recently, however, the footballer was forced to defend himself after it was suggested he had profited from his charitable efforts. 

He tweeted that The Spectator Magazine wanted to run the story as he defended his off-field partnerships with brands, asking his followers: “Why can’t we just do the right thing?”

He went on to explain: “Last summer, 1.3M children had access to food support, through my relationship with Burberry children have a safe place to be after school where they will be fed, following the November investment vulnerable children have safe places to go this summer holiday, and due to my relationship with Macmillan 80,000 children now have a book to call their own.”

This comes just over a week on from England’s Euros 2020 loss to Italy, which saw Rashford and other black players inundated with racist abuse. 

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