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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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Greater Manchester Nightingale Hospital open again due to high levels of coronavirus

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Peter McDermott/Geograph

The Nightingale Hospital for the North West will open later this week and house non-Covid patients.

The temporary facility to treat patients with Covid-19 opened originally in April but has been closed in summer. 

However, later this week it is set to reopen for non-Covid patients.

It is set to reopen as figures show the number of coronavirus patients being treated in the North West is now approaching the level it was in the first surge of the virus.

A spokesperson said: “The NHS Nightingale Hospital North West will accept patients from today to provide care for those who do not have Covid-19, but do need further support before they are able to go home, such as therapy and social care assessments.”

As of October 26th, North West hospitals had 2,407 patients with coronavirus, the highest number of cases since April 23rd.

Dr Jane Eddleston, medical director of the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The Nightingale will not be used as a critical care facility and neither was it in the first phase. It will be used as a facility for patients to have additional rehabilitation.”

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Sacha Lord says 10pm curfew will be reviewed next month

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David Dixon/Geograph & SachaLord/Twitter

Greater Manchester’s Night Time Economy Adviser, Sacha Lord, has said the government will review the 10pm curfew in November. 

All hospitality venues must shut their doors at 10pm under current laws, however, Sacha Lord and other industry members have been campaigning the curfew.

Since September 24th, when the curfew was put in place, the #CancelTheCurfew movement has been backed by a number of industry professionals.

The Parklife founder, Lord, filed a pre-action letter last night which claimed there was no scientific justification of the Tier 3 regulations and the limits on pubs and bars operating hours. 

Lord has tweeted that the government ‘are reviewing the UK 10pm curfew’ in November.

He wrote: “In November, the Government are reviewing the UK 10pm curfew.

“It doesn’t work for the public or operators.

“Overloaded transport, crowded takeaways, supermarkets etc.

“It’s doing far more harm than good. Operators are running safe and secure COVID19 venues.

“Cancel the Curfew”

Lord confirmed they had a formal response from the government regarding the judicial review where he said ‘we consider it insufficient’.

He added “I cannot go into detail, but I can say that we have considered it and it is insufficient. I have instructed my lawyers to commence legal proceedings.”

Lord is now backing the OneGM campaign, which sees different sectors of the industry coming together to show support for businesses and people in Greater Manchester. 

It is unclear yet when Greater Manchester will be removed from Tier 3 restrictions.

 

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Dr Hilary backs calls for tier 3 restrictions across all of England by Christmas

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Dr Hilary has responded on GMB this morning to reports that the whole of England should be in tier 3 by Christmas. 

It comes following some reports that all of England could be placed under the strictest coronavirus restrictions by mid-December. 

The UK deaths hit their highest level in five months on Tuesday, when 367 new fatalities linked to coronavirus and nearly 23,000 more cases were recorded.

The Sun explained that SAGE member, Professor Sir Mark Walport said it is ‘not unrealistic’ to think that 25,000 people could be in hospital with Covid-19 by the end of November.

With total Covid related deaths reaching 61,000 across the nation, there are predictions that figures will be higher than the Spring peak come December.

Members of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Body (Sage) are reportedly warning that virus rates all over the country will soar past the levels seen in areas in the North already.

A government source also told The Sun ‘the latest Sage numbers are utterly bleak.’

According to the Daily Telegraph, ‘Downing Street is working on the assumption that the second wave of COVID-19 will be more deadly than the first.’

From next week parts of Nottinghamshire and Warrington will be placed into Tier Three.

This means that more than eight million people in England, predominantly in the North, will be under the most stringent Covid-19 restrictions by the end of the week.

The Environment Secretary, George Eustice, told Sky News: “The prime minister has been very clear, as we all are, that we want people to celebrate Christmas in a way that is as close to normal as possible.

“But it is too early to be able to say exactly what the situation will become Christmas, and exactly what different parts of the country will or will not be able to do.

“Obviously checking the spread of this virus is paramount, but alongside that we want people to live their lives as close to normal as possible, including at Christmas which is an incredibly important time for families.”

Dr Hilary Jones spoke on Good Morning Britain this morning explaining that a vaccine ‘won’t stop a rise in infections’.

Jones said: “Just look at the figures, the hospital admissions are increasing, doubling every two weeks. In a month from now, we’ll be worse than we were in the first wave.”

He said: “We can’t rely on a vaccine, we hope it will save people from dying but it won’t stop infections, not the early vaccine anyway.”

Adding that: “I think we still need to rely on the basic principles which is hands, face, space and if we all do that and we’re realistic and don’t say Christmas is an exception.

“If we make Christmas an exception, then every celebration will be an exception. A birthday, a Friday night, a promotion…” 

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