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Government set to spend £14m on mass production of face coverings

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The government has begun production on a face-covering scheme that will aim to make a million garments a week. 

The profit-less plan is part of the governments £14m investment announced this morning by Michael Gove.

Two suppliers in Port Talbot, Wales and Blackburn have begun producing ‘high quality’ face coverings and.a third site is set to open in Livingston, Scotland in coming weeks.

It comes following recent updates in legislation that now requires face-coverings to be worn in shops and supermarkets from July 24th. 

George Arthur Pflueger/Unsplash

The government has also issued guidance to wearing face coverings in closed public spaces where it is harder to socially distance.

Mr Gove said: “This is a major step to ensure that this country can meet any increase in demand for face coverings by working with British firms to establish the capability, capacity and skills required to manufacture these items at scale.

“These production lines will be able to get millions of face coverings to the public, without putting any additional pressure on NHS supply chains.”

According to the Cabinet Office, the government has bought 10 production lines with 34 tonnes of equipment and machinery. A further 10 have been commissioned by Coventry-based automative company, Expert Tooling and Automation Ltd. 

The manufacturers are expected to produce millions of masks a week as part of the government’s investment in production lines that has totalled £14m. 

The Cabinet Office has said these production sites will ensure the public demand for face coverings does not impact on the supply of higher-grade face masks for NHS frontline staff. They have also explained that materials will be sourced from UK manufacturers.

There are some concerns regarding the up-take of mask-wearing with the latest research showing a gender-divide in wearing a mask. Men see wearing a mask as “shameful, not cool and a sign of weakness”, according to a survey of 2,500 people in the US.

The research explains that women are twice as likely to wear a mask than men despite official statistics showing coronavirus affects men more than women. The scientists attribute this to a belief from the men in the survey that ‘they will be less affected by the disease’. 

A behavioural scientist in Copenhagen, Christina Gravert, explains that the gender-divide can be explained due to the different approaches taken to risk by men and women, something which has been seen in previous pandemics. 

Gravert explains that the now mandatory wearing of masks will make more men following public advice.

She also explains that a different approach to awareness campaigns is needed for men as often it is overconfidence and selfishness that is the problem. She says “If we take it seriously that men on average are less altruistic and more selfish, then communication should focus less on protecting others and more on protecting oneself,”.

The face masks produced as part of the latest government investment will be disposable, single-use items that comply with face-covering specifications despite increasingly important concerns for the environment on the mass consumption of single-use PPE. 

Face masks are easy to make from spare materials, including old t-shirts, at home. You can find more about making reusable safe face masks here

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Boy, 15, arrested after teenage boy stabbed to death outside school

He’s the second person to be arrested

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West Yorkshire Police

A teenage boy has been arrested following the murder of a 15-year-old on Wednesday.

The suspect, also 15, was picked up by police after student Khayri McLean was stabbed to death in Huddersfield.

He has now been arrested in connection with the murder.

He’s the second person to be arrested as police investigate Khayri’s death outside his school.

West Yorkshire Police said: “Police investigating the murder of 15-year-old Khayri McLean in Huddersfield have arrested a second youth in connection with the incident.

“The 15-year-old male was arrested yesterday and is currently in custody. A 16-year-old male who was arrested yesterday also remains in custody.

“Officers from West Yorkshire Police’s homicide and major enquiry team (HMET) are continuing to conduct enquiries into the death of Khayri, who died after being stabbed on Woodhouse Hill, Huddersfield, on Wednesday.”

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Kwasi Kwarteng scraps cap on bankers’ bonuses in first mini-budget as Chancellor

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Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng gave his first mini-budget in the House of Commons this morning.

He began by discussing the government’s plan to support people with the cost of energy, including freezing domestic bills at £2,500 and giving out the £400 rebate.

There’s also unit price limits for companies.

Kwarteng said he believes the UK needs a ‘new approach for a new era’ to achieve growth of 2.5%, saying the three important parts of his mini-budget are reforming the economy’s supply side, tax cuts and a responsible approach when it comes to public finances.

As part of this, the Chancellor announced a new bill to overhaul planning restrictions, saying this will ‘unpick the complex patchwork of planning restrictions and EU-derived laws’.

He revealed that benefit claimants will see their benefits reduced if they do not fulfil their job searching commitments.

Kwarteng also confirmed that the cap on bankers’ bonuses will be scrapped, following reports that he would make this one of his first moves.

As well as that, the planned corporation tax increase has been cancelled, and will remain at 19%, with the Chancellor also setting out a series of tax cuts for businesses.

This includes tax cuts for businesses in designated tax sites for 10 years, accelerated tax reliefs for buildings, and no business rates to pay for newly occupied business residences.

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Drag Race UK star Cherry Valentine has died aged 28

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@thecherryvalentine / Instagram

Drag star George Ward, known as Cherry Valentine, has sadly passed away aged 28, it’s been confirmed this morning.

Ward’s family announced the news, describing his death as a ‘profound shock’.

He appeared on series two of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, before going on to front the BBC documentary Gypsy Queen And Proud.

According to his family, Ward – who was raised in Darlington, County Durham as part of the Traveller community – died on Sunday.

He qualified as a mental health nurse back in 2015 before he began his career in drag.

Ward’s family said in a statement: “It is with the most heart-wrenching and deepest sadness to inform you that our George – Cherry Valentine – has tragically passed away.

“This will come as a profound shock to most people and we understand there is no easy way for this to be announced.

“As his family, we are still processing his death and our lives will never be the same.

“We understand how much he is loved and how many lives he has inspired and touched. All we ask is for your patience and your prayers in this time. We love you Georgie.”

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