The prime minister Boris Johnson has warned that the tier system is ‘probably about to get tougher’.
Rumours have circulated in the past week that the government is looking at a new, stricter ‘Tier 5’ to help stop the spread of Covid-19.
The Health Secretary Matt Hancock has today told Sky News that the government does not ‘rule anything out’ when asked if another national lockdown is being considered.
Over the weekend Mr Johnson spoke to the Andrew Marr Show, describing the current tier system as ‘very tough’ before warned it is ‘probably about to get tougher’ in order to ‘keep things under control’.
Mr Johnson added that the current situation is ‘very difficult’ and claimed that the government ‘could not have reasonably foreseen’ the arrival of a new variant in winter.
The BBC’s Andrew Marr told the prime minister ‘you were warned in advance’, referencing a report published in summer that outlined the potential dangers of Covid-19 mutations.
He said: “This report says the way to deal with this is to stop community transmission, to hold it back, which frankly this government has failed to do.”
Mr Johnson said the government has done ‘everything we can to urge people not to allow community transmission’.
Speaking on the matter of schools reopening, Mr Johnson told the BBC that while they were safe he would not rule out school closures.
He said: “In principle its a good thing to keep schools open if we can. We’ve got to be realistic about the pace at which this new variant has spread and is spreading.”
Speaking on Sky News this morning, Matt Hancock said: “We don’t rule anything out, and we’ve shown repeatedly that we will look at the public health advice and we will take the public health advice in terms of what is needed to control the spread of the disease.
“This new variant is much easier to catch, it is much more transmissible, and we’re now seeing the effect of that in lots of different parts of the country, unfortunately.
“And it means that whereas the old Tier 3 was able to contain the old variant, that is proving increasingly difficult in all parts of the country.”
When questioned on how well Tier 4 restrictions reduce spread, Mr Hancock said: “It is down to people’s behaviour, frankly.
“What matters is, yes of course, the rules that we put in place, but it is also about how people act.
“And frankly what I would say is this: it is critical that everybody in the country does all that they can to reduce the spread of the virus.”
Tier 4 is above the ‘very high alert’ level of Tier 3 and the guidance states ‘stay at home’. In Tier 4 areas, you cannot leave or be outside of the place you are living unless for a reasonable excuse. You can only meet one person from another household outside.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called on the government to impose a national lockdown immediately as the virus is ‘getting out of control’.
In the UK, the number of new cases passed 50,000 for the fifth day in a row yesterday. A further 445 deaths within 28 days of a positive test were confirmed on January 2nd.
Mr Starmer said: “The virus is clearly out of control. We can’t allow the Prime Minister to use up the next two or three weeks and then bring in a national lockdown which is inevitable.
“Do it now. That’s the necessary first step to get the virus back under control.”
First image released of £75 million Trafford surf park amid two-year delay
The project is to be known ‘Modern Surf Manchester’
A specialist team has taken over the project, which has been delayed by two years, to deliver the £75 million inland surf park at TraffordCity.
Tartan Leisure – the organisation behind the soon-to-be-complete Lost Shore Surf Resort in Edinburgh – have announced they will take over the construction of the water park from the McKinney Group.
It will be the first inland surf attraction in the North of England and is set to be a ‘must see’ for surf enthusiasts, according to waterside regeneration specialist Peel Waters, which is overseeing the huge development.
The attraction will use inland surfing technology, ‘Powered by Wavegarden’, the world leader in man-made wave-generating technologies.
The project is to be known as ‘Modern Surf Manchester’ and will see perfect waves for beginners, learners and professionals alike to test their skills.
Early designs of the plans feature a surfing lagoon, bar and restaurant facilities and other interactive attractions for visitors and surfers such as a pump track and fitness zone, a halfpipe/boarding area and exercise areas including bouldering and balancing zones.
Planning permission was approved for the new surf destination’s plans back in 2021. Once completed, the attraction is said to create up to 140 new full-time jobs.
Peel says the surf park will ‘further enhance TraffordCity’s expanding portfolio of sport-based leisure and experience offerings’– which includes skiing, snowboarding, skydiving, rock climbing and golf.
Tartan Leisure founder, Andy Hadden, said: “There has been an enormous rise in popularity for surfing over recent years with proven benefits to our overall health and wellness.
“The Lost Shore Surf Resort in Edinburgh is on track to open next September and the response and appetite that we have seen from the public has been phenomenal.
“Now, we are excited to work in partnership with Peel Waters and bring over a decade of our knowledge and expertise to support the development of an inland surfing facility to TraffordCity.
“This will be a very exciting addition to an already incredible combined retail and experienced-based leisure destination for all to enjoy.”
The estimated time of the build will take approximately two years once the team start work on site.
Deal or No Deal fans raise over £100k for contestant with MND who only won £5
Brad can now complete his bucket list
Viewers of popular game show Deal or No Deal have raised thousands of pounds to help a contestant with Motor Neurone Disease who only won a fiver.
Brad Wale told host Stephen Mulhern that if he won then he would use the money to help his family and also attempt to complete his bucket list.
In an interview with ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Mr Wale said: “I still listen to it back and watch it back and I can feel the tears coming on.
“I had every intention of winning big and I genuinely thought I would. To get to that moment and only receive £5, it was absolutely heartbreaking and devastating.”
After he walked away with just five pounds from the show, fellow contestant Rochelle Brown, 30, launched a fundraiser to help his dreams come true. Within days, thousands of pounds in donations came flooding in to help Mr Wale.
The GoFundMe page called ‘Help Brad get his bucket list’ smashed its £20,000 target in just a matter of days. At time of writing, it has raised a huge £106,000.
On the page, Ms Brown writes: “Hi! I’m Rochelle, Brad’s friend from Deal or No Deal! I’m sure you all saw Brads devastating game on Deal or No Deal.
“His DOND family really want him to fulfil his dreams and we have set this up on the hope that anyone could maybe spare a couple of pounds and get Brad to tick some bits off his Bucket List. We love you Brad.”
Mr Wale said: “I met Rochelle on my first ever audition for Deal or No Deal, when we got to filming and she was there, I was over the moon.
“We got put together opening the boxes and just formed a great friendship. Rochelle set a target, I just thought a few family members and friends would donate.
“From last Thursday the response I have had is something I could never put into words, from the bottom of my heart it means the world and I can never say thank you enough.
“You’ll never understand how much this has changed my life.”
When asked about his bucket list, Mr Wale continued: “I’ve always wanted to go to India, Thailand, just going to see places really I’ve also always wanted to do a bungee jump.
“Just to be able to wake up and think I can go and do this, or that. I’ve never had that I’ve always been skint.”
Adding: “I feel honoured blessed and guilty all at the same time, so to be given this kindness to me, is just nothing I would ever expect.”
MND is an uncommon condition that affects the brain and nerves. It causes weakness that gets progressively worse over time. There’s no cure for MND, but there are treatments to help reduce the impact it has on a person’s daily life.
Issuing an update on the fundraising page yesterday, Ms Brown wrote: “Hello everyone, I didn’t think that I would be updating SO MANY OF YOU!
“I just want to say a huge thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are all incredible. You have changed Brads life and I will never be able to say thank you enough.
“We are wishing you all a very merry Christmas and HAPPY HEALTHY new year.
“You have done an amazing thing for Brad and you should all be so proud of yourselves for your kindness. Xxx.”
Manchester libraries to open as ‘warm spaces’ as temperatures drop
Keep warm and stay connected
Libraries across Manchester are offering warm spaces for people seeking refuge from the cold this winter.
The initiative will see every library in Manchester transformed into ‘warm spaces’ where individuals of all ages can go inside, take cover from the elements, have warm drinks and access facilities.
Here’s what to expect at libraries across Manchester as they become welcoming warm hubs this winter…
Free hot beverages
Hot cups of tea and coffee will be available for those who are seeking respite from the cold. Self-service drinks will be free as well as warm and cosy spaces for those to rest, meet friendly people and keep warm. Hot drinks are available now until February 2024.
Access to computers, internet and Wi-Fi services
Libraries offer computer hubs where users can access computers and connect to the internet and Wi-Fi services ensuring everyone can get online without worrying about costs. Staff will be on hand to assist and help with any questions.
Families and children are welcome to keep warm in libraries across Manchester, with six local libraries offering a little something extra.
Forum Library in Wythenshawe, Longsight Library, Newton Heath Library, North City Library in Harpurhey, Powerhouse Library in Moss Side, and Withington Library are offering a selection of toys and games for children to play with, suitable from ages 0 to 12+.
Families can enjoy time together in a safe, educational and positive environment.
Free SIM cards with access to data
Recognising the challenges faced by those struggling to pay for data, all Manchester libraries are now providing free sim cards loaded with free data.
Residents over 18 years old can acquire these sims, ensuring six months of free internet access without any monthly top-up requirements. To obtain your free sim, simply visit your local library.
Digital support drop-ins
For individuals who have internet access but lack the skills or confidence to use it effectively, help is available with weekly drop-in sessions.
In collaboration with Let’s Get Digital, libraries are offering the digital drop-ins one day a week. To join a session simply text 07860 064128 for assistance and guidance.
Age-Friendly Libraries drop-ins
Manchester’s libraries have achieved ‘Age Friendly Libraries’ status, proudly displaying the new Manchester Age Friendly Library Logo.
Older residents are invited to attend weekly Age Friendly drop-ins at various library locations, providing an opportunity to meet people and socialise with others, have access to information and take part in engaging activities.
Residents will be welcomed by friendly faces with staff available to offer assistance.
Warm Hubs for families and people of all ages
Throughout the winter Manchester’s libraries are not just places containing books where visitors can go to obtain knowledge, they are also community hubs offering a place of warmth, connectivity, and support for all residents.
So, if you need a place to come in from the cold, enjoy some company, access digital and online facilities, books, a family-friendly space or simply a comfortable place to spend your day, come in from the cold – your local library welcomes you.