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Everything you need to know about the big changes to shielding rules

Here’s what you need to know…

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From July 6th, those with underlying health issues will no longer have to shield or avoid contact with others. 

Those people who were deemed clinically extremely vulnerable to Covid-19 have been self-isolating throughout the pandemic, with a total of up to 2.2 million people in England having to do this.

Since the end of March, these people have been in their homes for 12 weeks, avoiding face-to-face contact with others and keeping their distance from those we live with. 

On June 1st, the measures were slightly relaxed allowing one trip outside of the home a day and a socially distant meeting with one other person from another household. 

From July 6th, the guidance for those shielding will be relaxed even further. 

Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash

The new rules, coming into place July 6th, will mean those shielding will be able to meet up outside in groups of six people from different households, as long as they can keep two metres apart. 

They will also no longer have to keep the two-metre distance with the rest of their household. 

If a shielding person has been living alone they will be allowed to form a ‘support bubble’ with another household. Experts have stressed the importance of physical distancing and strict hand hygiene to reduce the risk of infection.

From August 1st, Matt Hancock has explained that the shielding scheme will be ‘paused’ and will be resumed if needed.

Claudio Schwarz/Unsplash

This could mean that those who have been shielding will be able to see other people, go to the shops and from the start of August potentially go back to work if they are ‘COVID-secure’.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries has said that young children who have been shielding, for instance due to asthma, are at a greater risk of being left behind in their education than of getting COVID.

She said: “In terms of the long-term health outcomes, that would be far worse,” 

From August 1st, it also means statutory sick pay and free food boxes will be stopped for shielding individuals.

Supermarket delivery slots will still be given as a priority to those shielding, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.

Andre Ouellet/Unsplash

Regarding a second wave, Dr Harries said that the government will ‘continue to monitor the evidence closely and adjust the advice accordingly’.

New research by the University of Oxford has also provided a new model which improves the identification of those who need to shield.

This means that if shielding needs to resume, those who have been shielding over the past three months might not have to do so again with the new more precise targeting being applied.

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Text message scammer found and arrested by police in Manchester city centre hotel

44,000 mobile phone contacts were found on the man’s devices

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GMP

A man suspected of sending over 26,000 fraudulent text messages was arrested by police officers yesterday afternoon.

The twenty-one year old, who has not yet been named, was found by officers in a hotel down Charles Street in the city centre, at around 3pm. Equipment used as part of a text message scam to defraud people – known as phishing – was also found in his hotel room.

The man was subsequently arrested at the scene.

GMP

Detectives from the City of Manchester Central division and Cybercrime Team seized the electronic equipment and his car as a part of their enquiries.

It is estimated that yesterday alone, around 26,000 text messages had already been sent from the devices, all claiming to be from Hermes asking for bank details after a missed delivery.

A total of 44,000 mobile phone contacts are also believed to have been stored on the devices.

Detective Inspector Mark Astbury, of GMP’s City of Manchester Central division, said: “What we have uncovered here are potentially the components of a highly sophisticated and authentic scam that I know many people not just in Greater Manchester but across the country have been potential victims of in recent weeks and months.

@glvrdru / Unsplash

“We have a man in custody and various items of potential evidence that we have seized and this is due to the initiative of the hotel staff, who acted on their suspicions, and the subsequent response from our neighbourhood officers in the city centre.

“These are the very early stages of what promises to be a complex and dynamic investigation, and I would like to take the opportunity to remind the public to ensure they keep remaining alert to the daily risks that unscrupulous cyber criminals pose to them by sending these fraudulent messages.”

GMP advise that anyone believing to be affected by this scam, any other phishing attempts or for more information, they can get in touch here.

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Teen stops young girl being taken by stranger claiming to be ‘dad’s friend’ as she walked home from school

Emma’s quick thinking saved the school girl from being taken by a stranger

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A teenage girl has been praised for her quick thinking as she prevented a child being taken from a stranger.

Fifteen year old Emma Carlile was walking home from school through Wallasey Village in Wirral, Merseyside, when she noticed a man approaching a school girl and telling her that he was her ‘dad’s mate.’

Emma noticed that the girl, who is believed to be around eleven years old, looked alarmed, so decided to intervene.

Emma’s dad, Rik, told the Liverpool Echo: “She said she was walking along and she saw a ‘creepy looking man’ approach a young girl and put his arm around her, which she thought looked odd.

Emma Carlile / Facebook

“She noticed when the man approached her she looked a bit startled and then she heard the man say, ‘I’m your dad’s friend, don’t you remember me? I’ve been to your house before’.”

Rik continued: “The girl was saying ‘no, I don’t remember’ but he kept going on saying, ‘I’m your dad’s friend, I’ve met you before.’ At one point, the girl tried to get her phone out and the man said, ‘no you don’t need to ring anyone, you know who I am, I’m your dad’s mate.’”

Emma followed them around a corner and, as they approached a crossing, shouted the first name that came into her head. 

She said: “Hey Bethany! Dad will be home tonight from police training.”

The girl apparently looked at her and looked startled but relieved at the same time. As soon as Emma spoke, the man quickly walked away down towards Wallasey Village train station.

Rept0n1x / Wikimedia Commons

Rik said that Emma walked with the girl until she was home safely and informed her parents about what had just happened. 

Rik shared his daughter’s encounter on Facebook to warn people with children walking home alone from school. He wrote: “WARNING! My 15 year old daughter was walking home from Weatherhead today through Wallasey village and witnessed an older man walk up to a girl with a Harry Potter backpack and a green coat.

“The man put his arm around her claiming he was her “dads friend,” My daughter recognised that the girl looked alarmed and didn’t know the man and followed them from by the co-op to the crossing by the petrol station.

“Please make your children aware if they walk home alone.”

Emma described the man as being around 6ft tall with short grey hair and stubble. He was of large build wearing a green t-shirt and black trousers.

If you have any information, you can contact Merseyside Police on 0151 709 6010 or, alternatively, you can get in touch online here.

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Leaked documents reveal which Covid restrictions may remain after July 19th

We might have to wear our face masks for a little bit longer…

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Number 10 / Flickr & Kristoffer Trolle / Flickr

Leaked documents are claiming that the current social distancing rules and restrictions will be staying in place after the revised ‘freedom day’ on July 19th.

The memo, obtained by Politico, listed a number of restrictions that the government plans to keep in place for the foreseeable future.

According to the leaked documents, face masks may have to remain mandatory in certain settings for the long term, employers and employees will be told to decide amongst themselves as to whether they want to return to the office or work from home.

As well as that, it says some form of border control and quarantine will be needed for a significant period of time to prevent new variants entering the country.

Number 10 / Flickr

The memo also states that plastic screens – such as those currently used in hairdressers and restaurants – may actually spread Covid rather than prevent it.

Ministers are also considering bringing in new rules for businesses to keep workplaces better ventilated, the documents claim. 

Cabinet office sources have since stressed that the document was one of several including multiple options – with nothing signed off by ministers yet or anywhere near being announced.

This comes just days after Prime Minister Boris Johnson pushed back the highly anticipated ‘freedom day’, June 21st, by just short of a month to July 19th. 

Johnson said this was a result of the new Delta variant, which makes up for 90% of new cases across the country: “I think it is sensible to wait just a little longer.

“I am confident we won’t need more than four weeks – it’s unmistakably clear that the vaccines are working – but now is the time to ease off the accelerator.

“We have the chance to save many thousands of lives by vaccinating millions more people.”

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