England is now back in a third national lockdown, and we’re set to be here until at least the middle of February.
Here’s everything you need to know:
Stay at home
As was the case in March in the first lockdown, residents of England must now stay at home. You can only leave for work if it is absolutely not possible to do your job from home, such as construction, manufacturing or critical care workers.
You can leave your house to shop for necessities once a day, and there’s also a limit on outdoor exercise to just once daily.
You can meet with one person not in your household or with your support bubble outside, but social distancing should be maintained.
You cannot stay at another home other than your own, meaning holidays in the UK and abroad are no longer allowed, including at a second home or caravan.
Schools and Education
From today, Tuesday January 5th, all schools will be closed with learning carried out remotely, with the exception of children of key workers or those that are vulnerable.
You can leave your home to visit someone in your support bubble or to provide informal childcare to children under 14 as part of a childcare bubble.
BTEC exams scheduled to take place over the next few days will go ahead as planned. Summer GCSEs and A-Levels are under review between the government, the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) and the Department for Education.
However, it is expected they will not take place this academic year, with Boris branding that ‘not possible or fair’.
All non-essential shops including retail, hospitality and personal care businesses must close. Restaurants can offer takeaway and delivery but are not permitted to serve alcohol.
A list of essential shops such as supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, banks and launderettes can remain open.
Essential shops include:
- Builders’ merchants
- Garden centres
- Car repair shops
- Car washes
- Bike shops
- Market stalls selling essentials
Non-essential shops include:
- Personal care salons, like tanning shops and tattoo parlours
- Entertainment venues like cinemas, skating rinks and bowling alleys
- Restaurants and other hospitality venues (except for delivery or takeaway)
Sports, leisure and worship
All other venues must close including outdoor gyms, zoos, golf and tennis clubs. Elite sports can continue, as can PE lessons and clubs for children. Playgrounds can also remain open.
Places of worship can remain open for socially distanced services.
Weddings and Funerals
Events such as weddings, civil partnerships and funerals can take place with strict limits on attendance.
A maximum of 30 people can attend a funeral, and a maximum of six people can attend commemorative events such as ash scattering. People included in the service are not counted in the limits.
Weddings and civil partnerships can take place with six people in attendance and, according to government guidelines, only in exceptional circumstances such as if one partner is seriously ill.
Visiting care homes
Visits to see relatives in care homes can only take place with ‘substantial screens, visiting pods, or behind windows’. Close-contact indoor visits cannot take place and visits cannot take place if there is a Covid outbreak in the home.
Only essential journeys are permitted. Holidays abroad or in the UK or not allowed to take place.
People are permitted to move house but people outside of your household or support bubble should not help with moving unless absolutely necessary. Estate agents, letting agents and removal firms can continue to work and viewings are also still permitted.
Constance Marten told to say baby died of cot death as tragic details revealed in court
The couple deny all charges
Constance Marten’s partner, Mark Gordon, told her to say the baby was a victim of cot death, the Old Bailey has heard.
On Monday (February 19th) jurors were played more of a police interview with Ms Marten, recorded on March 1st last year, just hours after her baby’s body was found in a shed in Brighton.
Marten, 36, and Gordon, 49, went on the run with their newborn daughter Victoria after their car caught flames and was abandoned by the motorway in Bolton in January 2023.
Fire crews recovering the vehicle discovered evidence of a birth in the back seat of the car.
As reported by the BBC, the court heard how the couple slept in a tent as they evaded authorities, in a bid to keep the baby after Marten’s four other children had been taken into care.
The jury heard Marten tell officers in the interview that she had considered handing herself in to police a couple of weeks after Victoria had died.
The couple are accused of her manslaughter by gross negligence – both deny the charge.
Marten told Gordon to say he was not present when their baby died because she wanted to protect him, ‘because obviously he’s my husband,’ she said.
She also told detectives that he advised her to say Victoria was a victim of cot death. She said: “Mark advised me to say that it was cot death… and that I wasn’t holding her.
“He advised me to say that I lay her down and then when we woke up she was on her front and she’d passed away.”
She went on to explain that what happened was not a cot death and that Mr Gordon might try to tell them it was ‘in order to protect’ her and her ‘interests’.
In the interview, Marten explained how Victoria died.
Warning: some readers may find the following information distressing.
She said she was feeling ‘extremely tired’ and had fallen asleep hugging Victoria, who was in her jacket. But she said the baby ‘wasn’t moving when I woke up’.
Marten wept as she told police how she came to realise their baby was not breathing. She said they had both tried to resuscitate Victoria but that there was no response to their attempts to revive her.
She said: “I tried to breathe in her mouth and pump her chest. So I wrapped her in a scarf and cradled her for a few minutes. I didn’t know what to do.”
Asked by a detective whether they called for help, Marten replied: “No because she was definitely not alive. I mean she wasn’t alive, so who’s going to help?”
In another police interview conducted on March 2nd, 2023, Marten said that they wrapped Victoria’s body in a black scarf and put her inside a supermarket bag. She explained: “It’s not particularly graceful but that’s all we had.”
She also said her and Gordon would take Victoria’s body out with them, saying: “We always carried Victoria with us… just because I didn’t want to leave her in a tent… a bit strange.”
She told detectives the bag became too heavy to carry and so they sometimes left it inside the tent they were sleeping in.
Marten said she and Gordon were both ‘distraught’ when Victoria died.
Asked how she was feeling after the birth of their daughter, she said: “I was feeling fine. I was elated to be with her actually. To be with one of my children. With Mark, together and parenting.
“It was a really nice Christmas period. I was very happy actually. Until all the media attention – that’s my experience.”
The court heard how the couple married in Peru seven years before Victoria’s death but that the marriage was ‘not recognised over here’.
As well as manslaughter, Marten and Gordon, of no fixed address, are also accused of four other offences: cruelty to their baby; concealment of the baby’s birth; causing or allowing her death; and perverting the course of justice by concealing the body. They deny all charges.
The trial, taking place at the Old Bailey, continues.
Survey finds hedgehog sightings in UK on rise after years of decline
Have you taken steps to make your garden hedgehog friendly?
Hedgehog numbers may finally be on the rise after a survey found sightings of the tiny, spiky creatures in gardens had increased.
Readers of the magazine Gardeners’ World were asked to record the wildlife in their gardens and reported that sightings of hedgehogs had gone up by 2%.
Great news for the little spiny animals after the magazine’s previous annual survey had found them to be in decline.
According to last year’s reports, the hedgehog population had fallen by 30%-75% across the UK countryside since 2000, reports the Guardian.
Their decline in numbers in British gardens is thought to be caused by habitat loss and fragmentation – as hedgehogs like to travel around but walls and fences stop them from doing so.
There are also concerns that pesticides could be killing off the insects they eat as well as hedgehogs ingesting poisonous pellets left out for slugs and snails.
The survey, which is conducted annually by the magazine, asked respondents whether they had seen a hedgehog in their garden in 2023.
Last year, 33% of respondents reported they had seen a hedgehog in their garden compared to 31% the previous year.
When the respondents were asked how their sightings had changed from 2022, 21% said they had either seen them for the first time since they had then, or more often.
Recent campaigns have called for residents living in urban areas to leave their gardens ‘messy’ with longer grass, plants and logs for hedgehogs to nest and hunt for insects to eat.
British wildlife lovers have even been creating ‘hedgehog highways’ by making holes in the bottom of fences for the little creatures to be able to wander around.
Of those who took the survey, 77% said they had taken steps to make their gardens more wildlife friendly, including strimming less, avoiding the use of slug pellets and maintaining ‘messier’ more natural gardens.
In urban areas, 18% of respondents said they had seen hedgehogs in the last year, up 2.7% from 2022. While in rural areas, 43% of respondents had seen hedgehogs in their gardens – up 1% form the previous year.
Fay Vass, the CEO of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, said: “Valuable as the Gardeners’ World survey is, we need to remember that these figures are only a snapshot.
“Populations change year to year, and these findings might not necessarily represent the underlying trend.”
But, she said data in the State of Britain’s hedgehogs 2022 report – which BHPS published with the People’s Trust for Endangered Species – suggested that urban populations were just about stable and may even be beginning to recover in some areas.
Ms Vass continued: “Our ‘State of’ report is the most comprehensive overview of the UK’s hedgehog population and although the results give us cause for cautious optimism, urban populations are still much lower than they should be.
“Therefore it’s essential that we continue to gather more data to understand how these populations, and rural hedgehogs, are changing year on year and that community action – like making gardens havens for hedgehogs – continues.
“To help, become a Hedgehog Champion and make your garden as hedgehog-friendly as possible.”
Kevin Smith, editor of BBC Gardeners’ World, said: “It’s wonderful to witness an increase in sightings.
“Our ongoing efforts to educate people about wildlife-friendly gardening, such as creating openings in fences and providing secluded spaces for nesting and hibernation, are helping turn our gardens into the havens that hedgehogs have long enjoyed.”
Got a story to tell?
Have you got a story or video you think our audience will love? We want to hear from you, drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get back to you.
16-year-old dangerous driver arrested after police dog catches him hiding in children’s play area
Well done PD Hully!
Police Dog Hully has been praised after tracking down an underage driver who made off up a motorway embankment.
At around 2.15am on Monday, February 19th, Roads Policing Unit officers out on patrol spotted a suspicious Peugeot Expert van on Mount Road in Gorton.
The van drove off away from police and made its way down Hyde Road, before turning onto the M60 in the wrong direction and into oncoming traffic.
As police pursued, the vehicle pulled onto the hard shoulder between junctions and the suspect abandoned the van and ran off up the embankment.
GMP’s Tactical Aid Unit were called in to find the offender.
PD Hully tracked along the embankment and all the way to a children’s play area where the suspect was then found, still holding the keys to the van.
The 16-year-old male, was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving, failing to stop and taking without owner’s consent. He remains in police custody for questioning.
Sergeant Paul Holt from GMP’s Tactical Dog Unit said: “This job was another great example of the cross-collaboration between several departments in GMP’s Specialist Operations.
“PD Hully and I turned out to this incident knowing that we had to find the suspect after showing total disregard for other people’s safety by travelling down the motorway in the wrong direction.
“On this occasion, I am happy to report that no one was injured during this incident, and we are delighted that we can get another dangerous driver off the roads in Greater Manchester.”