Today has seen more lockdown restrictions eased in England, as we creep gradually closer to April 12th.
From today, Monday, March 29th, certain social restrictions have been relaxed, including limits on gatherings and outdoor sports.
This follows on from stage one of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, which saw schools reopen on March 8th, and people allowed to meet one other person outdoors.
Today sees the second part of stage one come into force, under which friends and families can meet outdoors using the rule of six.
You can now meet up in limited numbers outdoors, which includes private gardens, as it’s harder for the virus to spread in these settings.
You can either meet up with a group of up to six people from different households, or alternatively people from just two different households will be able to meet in a larger group.
This will be allowed in all outdoor settings, although the government still warns people should follow social distancing guidance – especially those who haven’t been vaccinated.
This means you’ll be able to enjoy a barbecue with friends and family this week and over the Easter bank holiday weekend – this year it’s April 2nd-5th.
The government’s ‘stay at home’ guidance will also be replaced by the advice to ‘stay local’ – although it’s unclear what ‘local’ means specifically and how far people can travel.
Outdoor sports facilities like golf courses and tennis courts will be able to reopen, while organised outdoor sports like football can begin again for adults and children.
These activities need to be organised, rather than large groups meeting in a park for a kick about.
As well as that, every child will be allowed to access outdoor childcare and supervised activities, while parent and child groups will be able to happen outdoors with a maximum 15 attendees – children under five don’t count towards this limit.
However, pubs, restaurants and bars will remain closed for another two weeks, with hospitality able to reopen for outdoor drinking and dining during stage two, which is penciled in for April 12th as things stand.
Non-essential retail will also reopen on April 12th, as well as hairdressers, beauty salons and gyms, and libraries, zoos, museums and theme parks are also set to return – but you can only go to any indoor setting with members of your own household.
As for holidays, Airbnbs, campsites and self-catering holiday accommodation will also reopen in stage two, but for household groups only.
Manchester Christmas Market mug design has been revealed for 2021
The council has also confirmed how much it’ll cost if you want to keep your mug as a souvenir
Exciting Christmas news: The mug design for this year’s Christmas Markets has officially been unveiled.
For those who descend upon Manchester’s Christmas Markets each year, the highlight is undisputedly the warm (and boozy) drinks served in the trademark mugs, which feature different designs each year.
In previous years, designs have included interactive reindeer noses, Santa Clause, snowflakes, Christmas trees and mistletoe.
And as for this year?
Well, the design has officially been unveiled and, for the first time in the markets’ history, the mugs won’t feature the date; this is because they were originally designed for the markets that never happened in 2020.
This year’s design will instead feature a simple ‘Manchester Christmas Markets’ graphic with the words ‘Christmas is what you make it’ alongside an abundance of stars and snowflakes.
The mugs will be available in two sizes – a smaller navy gluhwein mug and a larger white mug for coffees and hot chocolates.
There will be around 80,000 mugs in total in circulation at the Christmas Markets, and as always there’s the option to take yours home as a souvenir.
Visitors will be required to pay a £3 deposit when ordering a hot drink, or £1.50 for beer and wine glasses, which will then be given back to you if you return your mug.
Manchester City Council’s Christmas spokesperson Councillor Pat Karney said: “Second only to the disappointment of the cancellation of last year’s Christmas Market was the realisation that there would be no Christmas Market mug!
“We know that some visitors have a complete collection of mugs going back more than 10 years – and we expect those people to be first in line for a warming gluhwein or hot chocolate.”
This comes just a week after it was announced that the markets’ ‘main hub’ will be moved from its usual spot at Albert Square to Piccadilly Gardens.
The area will be transformed into the ‘Winter Gardens’, with all the usual yuletide bars, market stalls and food huts.
Plans for the Winter Gardens also include a one-way system and separate entrances and exits, as well as a strict limit on visitors to limit the spread of Covid-19.
They are also adding a fully accessible toilet to make the Winter Garden as inclusive as possible.
Bonfire Night events and fireworks cancelled across Manchester
For the second year in a row, Bonfire Night firework displays and celebrations across Manchester have been cancelled.
As a result of ongoing fears surrounding the spread of Covid-19 and the current Government advice around large-scale events, the eight free council-organised events scheduled to take place next month will no longer be going ahead.
The events were planned for Heaton Park, Platt Fields Park, Wythenshawe Park, Crumpsall Park, the Eithad Campus, Cringle Park, Debdale Park and Brookdale Park.
Manchester City Council said that the guidance around Covid-19 safety has made the events ‘unworkable’ and that the ‘health of Manchester people has to come first’.
Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, executive member for neighbourhoods, said: “This is not a decision we have taken lightly and I know that many people who look forward to these events will be disappointed, especially when we could not host them last year because of coronavirus restrictions.
“But the health of Manchester people, and the logistical considerations around that, has to come first.”
This comes after Greater Manchester Police Chief said he would ban fireworks if ‘given half the chance’; while appearing as a guest on BBC Radio Manchester, Chief Constable Stephen Watson said he has long held the view that ‘it’s only a matter of time before somebody gets killed’, stressing that it simply ‘cannot happen’.
When asked if he would ban fireworks altogether, he replied: “Given half a chance – yes I would. We’ve had people almost pointing rockets at passing vehicles and buses and putting them into telephone kiosks and all the rest of it.
“This goes a long way away from kids knocking around a bonfire and letting off a few fireworks and having fun. It’s that of course that we want to preserve. This is something we’re very much alive to.”
‘Smoking kills’ could be printed on every individual cigarette to encourage smokers to quit
The new proposal comes as the government clamps down on smoking across the UK
Tough new proposals to get more people to quit smoking could have ‘smoking kills’ printed on individual cigarettes.
MPs have submitted an amendment to the health and care bill going through parliament which would allow the health secretary to make graphic health warnings mandatory.
Mary Kelly Foy, the Labour MP behind the move, said, as per The Guardian: “We know that cigarettes are cancer sticks and kill half the people who use them. So I hope that health warnings on cigarettes would deter people from being tempted to smoke in the first place, especially young people.
“I hope it would encourage some smokers to give up because if they are putting that in their mouth and seeing that message on cigarettes every time they smoke, I hope it would have the desired effect.”
The other amendments proposed by Foy include raising the legal age for buying cigarettes from eighteen to twenty-one, preventing e-cigarette manufacturers from using marketing tactics that could encourage children to try them, such as sweet flavourings and cartoon characters, and making it illegal to give e-cigarette samples away for free, something that many companies have done in the past.
Though this isn’t a UK government’s first attempt to stamp down on the toxic habit; in 2008, a law was passed that required graphic images warning of the deadly effects of smoking to be shown on all cigarette packets.
A set of fifteen images were rotated while tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide emission numbers were also shown on the side of packages.
Plain packaging was then fully implemented in the UK nearly a decade later in May 2017 for all cigarette and tobacco brands. This policy forced the removal of all brand images, colours and promotions, and instead required all packaging to be standardised in terms of shape, colour and text design.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said on the proposed requirements: “Warnings on cigarettes were suggested over forty years ago by then health minister George Young.
“The tobacco companies, with breathtaking hypocrisy, protested that the ink would be toxic to smokers. The truth is cigarette stick warnings are toxic to big tobacco and this is an idea whose time has come.”