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Greater Manchester’s boroughs could be split into different tiers, Andy Burnham says

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The boroughs of Greater Manchester could be split into different tiers, Mayor Andy Burnham has suggested at a press conference.

Mr Burnham held his weekly coronavirus press conference yesterday, and was joined by his deputy for crime and policing, Bev Hughes, as well as the leader of Manchester City Council Council, Sir Richard Leese.

The mayor said that while there has been a ‘significant decline’ in hospital admissions across Greater Manchester, the infection rates are varying in different areas, with cases in Bury actually growing by 5% (to 225.7 per 100,000), while in Trafford they’ve dropped down into double digits (81.5 per 100,000).

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Because of this, Mr Burnham said that ‘it does make sense’ to consider changes on a borough by borough basis, so as not to ‘hold back’ areas and local businesses in places which are less affected by coronavirus.

However, the mayor added that while the idea of changing tiers on a borough basis had some merit, there was also still a case for the whole region to go down into Tier 2.

Mr Burnham urged ministers to give Greater Manchester the ‘wider consideration’ they gave London when making the tiering decisions, following the prediction that 100,000 people could lose their jobs in our region by June 2021.

He said: “This is a critical time for the economy, particularly the city-centre economy. If you were to keep cities in Tier 3 over the holiday period, it does have the effect of creating an incentive for people to have more informal gatherings in the home.”

This news comes after it was announced that London now has the highest infection rate in the country, after it narrowly avoided going into Tier 3 just two weeks ago.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said the government will be re-assessing the current tiers next Wednesday, December 16th, before making an announcement on December 17th.

The current infection rates for Greater Manchester’s boroughs, per 100,000 of the population:

  • Bury – 225.7 (+5%)
  • Rochdale – 215.4 (-19%)
  • Wigan – 187.1 (-12%)
  • Manchester – 169.9 (-10%)
  • Bolton – 163.5 (-26%)
  • Oldham – 153.5 (-33%)
  • Salford – 129.8 (-17%)
  • Tameside – 117.9 (-20%)
  • Stockport – 113.5 (-18%)
  • Trafford – 85.1 (-30%)

In comparison, the national average in England currently sits at 152.1, with London’s infection rate now confirmed at 192.

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Boris Johnson reveals plan to offer all adults booster jabs by the end of January

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The government plans on offering all adults booster vaccines by the end of January, Boris Johnson has revealed today.

The Prime Minister spoke at a Downing Street conference this afternoon where he announced the planned booster rollout will take place across 1,500 pharmacy sites across England in age order. 

Over 400 military personnel will help with the rollout, Johnson added.

Noting that it’s ‘time for another Great British vaccination effort’, Johnson said: “The target we’ve set ourselves is to offer a booster to everyone eligible by the end of January.

“As with the first jabs, we’ll be working through people by age group going down in five year bands, because it’s vital that the older and more clinically vulnerable get that added protection first.”

The Prime Minister stressed that even those who had their second jab over three months ago should wait until the NHS contacts them about a booster appointment.

This announcement comes as face masks are made compulsory once again in all shops and on public transport.

The government made the decision as part of its response to the new Omicron variant, which is said to be ‘more transmissible and have more mutations which could weaken the effect of vaccines and natural immunity.’ 

The change in rules was announced by the Prime Minister after cases of the new variant were detected at several locations across the UK. 

The Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed yesterday that all adults will be offered a COVID-19 booster vaccine as part of a reaching expansion of the jabs programme to deal with the potential impact of the new variant.

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Child abusers could face mandatory life sentences under government-backed law

Child abusers are sentenced to a maximum of ten years behind bars under the current law

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People who abuse children could be handed mandatory life sentences under new plans backed by the government. 

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is currently going through parliament, and could see an increase in maximum punishments for several child cruelty offences.

Tougher planned sentences could also mean that anyone who causes or allows the death of a child or vulnerable adult in their care will face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment – as it stands, child abusers can only face a maximum of ten years behind bars.

The changes, known as Tony’s Law, follow a campaign by MP Tom Tugendhat and the adoptive family of seven-year-old Tony Hudgell, who had to have both his legs amputated in 2017 as a result of abuse suffered at the hands of his birth parents.

Tony was attacked as a baby and was left with broken fingers and toes, plus torn ligaments in his legs. He was left untreated and in agony for ten days, and eventually had to have both legs amputated.

His birth parents were sentenced to the current maximum jail term of 10 years. 

In a statement, Tony’s adoptive mother Paula Hudgell said: “We are delighted that Tony’s Law is being backed by the Government. It’s been our hope since those who abused our son were jailed in 2018 that more could be done to protect other children, the most vulnerable members of our society.

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“I can’t thank the public enough for the support they have shown through this nearly four-year campaign, but especially thanks to Tom Tugendhat who has worked tirelessly with me, also my friend Julia Roberts, a court reporter and my friends and family.

“It was definitely a team effort.”

Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab said the changes were needed because ‘the law must provide maximum protection to the most vulnerable and no-one is more vulnerable than a young child’. 

He added: “I pay tribute to the courage of young Tony Hudgell and his adoptive parents, Paula and Mark.”

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New Covid-19 Rules: Everything you need to know as masks become compulsory in shops and on transport

The new rules will come into place tomorrow at 4

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From tomorrow, November 30th, the use of face masks and coverings will once again be compulsory in shops and on public transport.

The government made the decision as part of its response to the new Omicron variant, which is said to be ‘more transmissible and have more mutations which could weaken the effect of vaccines and natural immunity.’ 

The change in rules was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson after cases of the new variant were detected at several locations across the UK. The Health Secretary Sajid Javid gave more detail yesterday, November 28th, saying the masks rule would apply from 4am on Tuesday

Here’s everything you need to know:

Where will face masks be compulsory after November 30th? 

Face masks and coverings will be mandatory in all shops and on all forms of public transport.

A statement from the Government says: “From 4am Tuesday November 30th, face coverings will be compulsory in shops and other settings such as banks, post offices and hairdressers, as well as on public transport unless individuals are exempt from doing so.”

However, all hospitality will be exempt from the rule change, with the Prime Minister saying further details would be outlined by the Health Secretary ‘in the course of the next day or so’. 

Will face masks be compulsory in schools?

While staff and secondary school students are being ‘strongly advised’ to wear face masks in communal areas from Monday, the rule won’t be mandatory in schools

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi recommends that staff, visitors and pupils in Year 7 and above should wear masks in communal areas in schools, colleges and universities such as corridors, canteens and halls.

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What other measures are being brought in?

Passengers arriving into the UK from Tuesday will have to take a PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result. PCR tests must be purchased from private providers as free NHS tests are not valid for this purpose.

All close contacts of anyone who has tested positive for the Omicron variant must also self-isolate for ten days regardless of their vaccination status.

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty also said during Saturday’s press conference that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation will consider extending boosters from the over-40s to the over-18s.

Will more restrictions be brought in?

The Health Secretary said during Saturday’s press conference that it was ‘nowhere near’ the time to reintroduce social distancing rules and work-from-home guidance, and was hopeful the mask mandate would be removed ‘within weeks’.

Also speaking on Saturday, Boris Johnson added that the measures are simply a ‘precaution’ and are in place to ‘buy time for scientists’ while more is learned about the Omicron variant.

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