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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. 

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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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Meat Loaf has died aged 74

The singer’s agent confirmed the tragic news this morning

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Iconic singer and actor Meat Loaf has died at the age of seventy-four, his agent confirmed this morning.

A cause of death is yet to be announced.

The American musician – real name Marvin Lee Aday – reportedly died on January 20th with his wife Deborah by his side.

His family said in a statement: “Our hearts are broken to announce that the incomparable Meat Loaf passed away tonight surrounded by his wife Deborah, daughters Pearl and Amanda and close friends.

“His amazing career spanned 6 decades that saw him sell over 100 Million albums worldwide and star in over 65 movies, including Fight Club, Focus, Rocky Horror Picture Show and Wayne’s World.

The statement, which was posted today on his official Facebook page, also said: “Bat Out of Hell remains one of the top 10 selling albums of all time.

“We know how much he meant to so many of you and we truly appreciate all of the love and support as we move through this time of grief in losing such an inspiring artist and beautiful man.

“We thank you for your understanding of our need for privacy at this time.

“From his heart to your souls…don’t ever stop rocking!”

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Drivers and passengers face £1,000 fines for opening their door incorrectly under new Highway Code rule

Here’s everything you need to know…

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Drivers and passengers across the UK have been warned about a new Highway Code rule change that could land them with a hefty fine.

The new rule, which has been put in place to protect cyclists, will fine drivers and passengers as much as £1,000 if they open their car door incorrectly.

Instead of just opening the door, motorists will now need to adopt the ‘Dutch Reach’ technique, which involves you using the hand furthest from the door to open it – if you’re the one behind the wheel, you’d use your left hand, on the passenger side, you would use your right, just to clear it up a bit.

This technique has been proven to be safer because opening the door with the hand furthest away prompts a driver to turn their body towards the door, therefore giving them a look over their shoulder as they go to exit their vehicle.

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This way, they will clock any cyclists or pedestrians approaching or passing by their car that they may have otherwise missed if they hadn’t have checked.

The new section under rule 239 will read: “Where you are able to do so, you should open the door using your hand on the opposite side to the door you are opening; for example, use your left hand to open a door on your right-hand side.

“This will make you turn your head to look over your shoulder. You are then more likely to avoid causing injury to cyclists or motor cyclists passing you on the road, or to people on the pavement.”

If someone injures a cyclist or pedestrian by opening their door without checking, they could face a fine of up to £1,000, though no penalty points can be added to the offender’s licence.

This comes as the Highway Code undergoes a number of rule changes in favour of pedestrians and cyclists; a new section under rule 186 states that road users will now be forced to give priority to cyclists on roundabouts.

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The rule, expected to come into force from January 29th, states: “You should give priority to cyclists on the roundabout. They will be travelling more slowly than motorised traffic.

“Give them plenty of room and do not attempt to overtake them within their lane. Allow them to move across your path as they travel around the roundabout.”

The rule change will also require motorists to give way to cyclists and pedestrians at junctions, pedestrians waiting to cross the road into which or from they are turning, as well as pedestrians and cyclists on a parallel crossing.

The new rule has been introduced in an attempt to ensure that road users who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to others.

You can read the new rules in full here.

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People who test positive for Covid in England won’t have to self-isolate soon

‘The self-isolation regulations expire on March 24th, at which point I very much expect not to renew them’

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UK Parliament / YouTube & Annie Spratt / Unsplash

The legal requirement to self-isolate after testing positive for Covid will by dropped ‘by March’, Boris Johnson has announced this week.

The Prime Minister told MPs during yesterday’s PMQs that the rule will be allowed to be lapsed when all Covid regulations expire on March 24th, adding that this date could even be brought forward to a closer date if a vote is passed.

Johnson told MPs: “As we return to Plan A, the House will know that some measures still remain, including those on self-isolation.

“On Monday we reduced the isolation period to five full days with two negative tests, and there will soon come a time when we can remove the legal requirement to self-isolate altogether, just as we don’t place legal obligations on people to isolate if they have flu.

“As Covid becomes endemic, we will need to replace legal requirements with advice and guidance, urging people with the virus to be careful and considerate of others.

“The self-isolation regulations expire on March 24th, at which point I very much expect not to renew them.”

Under the current guidance, those who test positive for Covid have to quarantine for at least five full days, so long as they test negative on a lateral flow test on days five and six.

Annie Spratt / Unsplash

Also at yesterday’s PMQs, the Prime Minister announced that restrictions on visits to care homes will be eased further, with Health Secretary Sajid Javid to begin setting out plans ‘in the coming days’. 

It was also confirmed that from Thursday January 27th, mandatory Covid passes will no longer be needed and people will not be asked to work from home where possible.

Johnson added that face masks will not be mandatory anywhere from this date, prompting loud cheers and shouts from the Tory back benches.

And from today, face masks are no longer required to be worn by students in classrooms. 

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