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Chester Zoo to reopen on Monday as government gives green light

Amazing news!

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The news we’ve all been waiting for, zoos, safari parks and drive-through outdoor cinemas will be allowed to reopen from next Monday says Boris Johnson.

The Prime Minister has decided to lift the restrictions on outdoor attractions to provide parents with more opportunities to entertain their kids after 12 weeks of lockdown.

He is expected to announce as part of the latest easing of the coronavirus lockdown that will be coming into effect on 15th June. 

Zoos, safari parks and drive-through outdoor cinemas will be allowed to reopen from June 15th as long as they can abide by social distancing rules.

Safari Parks and outdoor cinemas have also been added to the list as people remain in their cars and therefore the risk of spreading the disease is lower.

This news is also alongside the reopening of non-essential shops on the same date, including fashion, charity, betting, gift shops, craft fairs, auction houses and plenty of others.

A Downing Street official said last night: “People are continuing to make huge sacrifices to reduce the spread of coronavirus and avoid a second spike, but we know it is tough and where we can safely open up more attractions, and it is supported by the science, we will do so.

“This is by necessity a careful process, but we hope the reopening of safari parks and zoos will help provide families with more options to spend time outdoors while supporting the industry caring for these incredible animals.”

Chester Zoo

This is great news for zoos like Chester Zoo which has been campaigning over the last week to ‘save our zoo’ and raised over £2.2 million to do so. 

The indoor exhibitions at zoos will remain closed such as reptile houses and any cafes must be only for take-away.

Andrew Hall, spokesperson for Biaza – British and Irish Association for Zoos and Aquariums, said: “Biaza is obviously delighted that zoos and safari parks have been given the flexibility to reopen.

Chester Zoo / Instagram

“But as a sector, we are not out of the woods. Aquariums are still closed, and zoos and safari parks have taken a real hit. For some zoos, particularly those reliant on tourism, reopening isn’t going to be financially viable for them.

“It’s helpful today but it’s not the full answer to the challenges we face. We know that as a sector, zoos, aquariums and safari parks will be struggling, especially with limited entry, so we do still need the support of Government – but we’re very pleased about today’s announcement.”

He added: “Zoos and aquariums in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will still be facing significant challenges and we will be working hard to achieve positive outcomes in these nations.”

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Three UK supermarkets to continue enforcing face mask policies in-store

All Plan B restrictions have been eased as of today

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Morrisons & Nickolas Romensky / Flickr

Three of the UK’s leading supermarkets will continue to enforce their face mask policies despite all Plan B restrictions coming to an end today.

Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Waitrose – which also operates retailer John Lewis – will ask their customers to continue wearing masks in their stores, even though they are no longer mandatory.

Sainsbury’s said in a statement: “Safety remains our highest priority. We’re asking our customers and colleagues in England to continue to wear a face covering in our stores if they are able to.”

Geograph

A spokeswoman for John Lewis and Partners said: “We’ll be suggesting people wear masks in our stores, although it will be down to individuals to make a personal choice.”

According to The Mirror, Paddy Lillis, the head of shop workers’ union Usdaw, voiced his support for the supermarkets’ decision, saying it was ‘deeply disappointing that the government has ploughed on with ending mandatory face coverings in shops’ and that many retailers would ‘keep Covid safety measures in stores’.

Manchester City Council has also asked people to continue wearing masks in public spaces and on public transport in what they have described as a ‘pragmatic approach’.

Students at schools and universities are also been asked to continue wearing face coverings in corridors until the February half term.

@maximeutopix / Unsplash

From today, Thursday January 27th, all Plan B Covid restrictions have been lifted. This means that mandatory Covid passes will no longer be needed and people will not be asked to work from home where possible.

Face masks are also no longer mandatory, though various shops and public spaces have encouraged people to continue wearing them.

Boris Johnson said that the government will continue to ‘suggest’ the use of face coverings in cramped or crowded spaces, saying: “We will trust the judgment of the British people.”

However, self-isolation will remain a legal requirement for those who have tested positive for Covid.

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Some Covid restrictions to stay in place in Manchester, council says

All Plan B Covid restrictions have been lifted today

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Mika Baumeister / Unsplash

As the majority of Plan B Covid restrictions are lifted, Manchester’s public health director has said some will be staying in place across the city.

In what has been described as a ‘pragmatic approach’, Manchester City Council is asking people to continue wearing masks in crowded spaces and on public transport.

Students at schools and universities are also been asked to continue wearing masks in corridors until the February half term.

David Regan, Manchester’s public health director, said keeping some measures in place should ‘limit the onward transmission’ of Covid.

@circlz / Unsplash

He said there had been a ‘good dialogue’ with the city’s universities and that schools had been ‘really receptive’ to the advice. 

Regan explained: “If our primary school children are affected and it goes back into the household, that affects our health and social care workforce.

Deputy council leader Joanna Midgley supported Regan’s stance on the matter, saying the pandemic ‘was not over’ and said there were vulnerable people who ‘needed to be looked after’.

She said: “As the restrictions end, as a city we want to try and encourage people to continue wearing masks in crowded spaces on public transport and to get that message across about looking out for each other, caring about each other.”

@maximeutopix / Unsplash

From today, Thursday January 27th, all Plan B Covid restrictions have been lifted. This means that mandatory Covid passes will no longer be needed and people will not be asked to work from home where possible.

Face masks are also no longer mandatory, though various shops and public spaces have encouraged people to continue wearing them.

Boris Johnson said that the government will continue to ‘suggest’ the use of face coverings in cramped or crowded spaces, saying: “We will trust the judgment of the British people.”

However, self-isolation will remain a legal requirement for those who have tested positive for Covid.

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GMP confiscates and burns 173kg of cannabis following raid on weed farm

The cannabis farm contained drugs with an estimated value of £750k

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GMP Manchester North / Facebook

Greater Manchester Police officers have burned huge bags of cannabis after plants growing the Class B drug were discovered at a weed farm in Manchester.

Officers raided the property in Cheetham Hill earlier this week on January 24th, where they discovered a cannabis farm containing drugs worth an estimated £750k. 

Yesterday, 173kg of the plants – the equivalent of five German Shepherds, according to the force – were bagged up and burned through an incinerator.

GMP shared images of the farm onto the GMP Manchester North Facebook page, writing: “Tonight we have executed a warrant in #Cheetham and found a large cannabis farm with an estimated £750k worth of drugs.

“If anyone has any information please pass it to us so we can continue taking drugs from the streets.”

The force then shared an update yesterday regarding the burning of the plants, showing photos of police vans overflowing with bags of cannabis plants alongside the caption: “We have now dismantled the cannabis farm in #Cheetham and 173kg of cannabis has been burnt at the incinerator!

“That’s the equivalent of 5 German Shepherds! Our van was filled!”

This comes just weeks after North West Motorway Police seized £300k worth of laundered money during a routine stop check.

During the search, Regional Commercial Vehicle Unit and MO24 officers found a bag containing the cash in the boot, something that the driver ‘couldn’t account for’. 

The cash was subsequently seized and the driver was arrested. 

Reports involving drugs or other anti-social behaviour can be made to police online or by calling 101.

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