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Gyms and leisure centres could reopen from start of July, government minister says

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Leisure centres and gyms could reopen and five-a-side footie matches could be allowed from the start of July, according to the Culture Secretary. 

Oliver Dowden said that as part of the next stage of the nation’s coronavirus recovery, grassroots sports could be allowed.

Gym-goers will be able to get back to the treadmill and HIIT classes soon, and football fans allowed to have kickabout, Mr Dowden has said. 

At the Downing Street briefing, he said: “Sports recovery is never just about elite sports. I know people are itching to get back to their gyms, their leisure centres, their five-a-side leagues… and all the normal fitness activities.

“So we are working closely to get grassroots and community sport back and up running as soon as it’s safe to so – with an aim at the start of July at the very earliest.”

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This is great news for anyone who has been longing to be back in the gym for some proper training.

It’s also expected to reduce congestion in parks where Brits have been allowed to do unlimited exercise for the past few weeks.

Gyms and leisure centres reopening is part of the Governments roadmap for getting the country up and running again.

Restaurants and hotels are also set to return in the same phase, and could open their doors to customers again from next moth.

Concerns for both restaurants and leisure centres include the possibility of successfully adhering to the 2-metre social distancing rule, and whether it is financially viable if they have to limit their numbers. 

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The government has yet to confirm whether the hospitality sector will be able to reopen on the proposed date of July 4th. 

There have also been ‘intensive discussions’ as to when fans will be able to attend stadiums now that the Premier League has started again, according to Mr Dowden. 

Mr Dowden told the daily press briefing: “By the return of the new season, we might be in a position whereby some fans could start to return to stadiums.”

He added: “Clearly we will look at the positioning of fans, where they are relative to each other but there’s all the issue about how you get in and out of stadiums in a safe way, and how you have access to conveniences and everything else.”

In the meantime, Mr Dowden warned that fans need to watch from home to avoid the risk of spreading coronavirus, saying: “Please look after your fellow fans and communities by watching from home”.

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Shops will be allowed to stay open 24 hours a day in the run-up to Christmas

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Housing and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick has said shops can stay open longer, urging councils to waive rules restricting hours.

Currently, retail shops have to apply under the town and country planning act to extend their hours beyond 9am to 7pm Monday to Saturday, a process which can take weeks. 

In seeking to help retail and some 125,000 jobs, the government has allowed non-essential shops to reopen from Wednesday after a month of a second-national lockdown. 

Mr Jenrick revealed that shops should be able to stay open for 24 hours if they wish throughout both December and January, with next month being ‘the most important December ever for retailers’.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Mr Jenrick said: “With these changes local shops can open longer, ensuring more pleasant and safer shopping with less pressure on public transport.

“How long will be a matter of choice for the shopkeepers and at the discretion of the council.

“But I suggest we offer these hard pressed entrepreneurs and businesses the greatest possible flexibility this festive season.

“Therefore as Local Government Secretary I am relaxing planning restrictions and issuing an unambiguous request to councils to allow businesses to welcome us into their glowing stores late into the evening and beyond if wish.”

He added that flexible deliveries will ‘keep the streets free for the rest of us’ and that stores can ‘replenish their shelves whenever they want’. 

Brits are being told to support retail by going on a ‘shopping splurge’ over Christmas.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, told The Mirror: “While reopening offers a lifeline for many shops, it will be the public who have the final say.

“Thankfully, Christmas is the perfect reason to shop, knowing that every purchase we make is a retailer helped and a job supported.”

She added: “High streets, shopping centres and retail parks have all seen footfall nose-dive during lockdown, with closed shops estimated to have lost around £2billion per week in lost sales.”

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Andrew Goodacre, head of the British Independent Retailers Association, said: “This is the most important December ever for retailers and the high streets throughout the UK.

“We need customers to return to the shops and enjoy a traditional Christmas shopping experience and support the local community at the same time”.

Jenrick went on to add that he will be slashing regulations for British shopkeepers, adding: “Today I am… announcing a temporary relaxation in shop opening hours this Christmas and through January, asking councils to allow extended hours for shoppers on every high street Monday to Saturday.

“None of us I suspect enjoy navigating the crowds.

“And none would relish that when social distancing is so important to controlling the virus in the final furlong before the vaccine rollout commences.”

 

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Snow ‘likely’ to hit the North West as ’11-day flurry of snowfall’ forecast in UK from Thursday

Winter is well and truly here.

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Temperatures are expected to continue to drop across the UK with freezing fog, gales of up to 50mph and some snow.

Although the Scottish Highlands are expected to see the worst of the predicted 11-day flurry of snowfall from Thursday, there is a possibility snow could fall ‘almost anywhere’ on the weekend, according to the Met Office.

From Thursday, BBC meteorologist Chris Fawkes, explains there will be murky weather over much of Britain. He said: “We start off with murky weather in the week ahead, but then outbreaks of rain will develop – winds strengthen as the week goes by, it will then turn colder, significantly, through Thursday and Friday.”

A Met Office spokesperson added: “We could see some snow falling in showers almost anywhere across the UK on Friday and next weekend.”

The Met Office forecast for the North West from this Friday, December 4th, until Sunday December 13th predicts ‘unsettled weather’, adding that ‘snow is likely’.

According to them: “The period will start unsettled across all parts of the UK, with areas of heavy rain and showers, locally of soft hail, sleet and snow likely, and possibly more widespread snow over some hills and mountains.

“Often windy, especially around coasts, but in quieter interludes overnight there will remain the potential for some patchy frost, and isolated mist and freezing fog.”

Heavy rain is set to hit the North West this lunchtime before the weather front moves in a southernly direction.

And be prepared to be de-icing your car again this week as the weather is set to get colder, potentially dropping to zero.

Northern England and Scotland are due 18 to 24 days of snow or ice this winter. Chills are more likely than past winters, according to the Met Office, who also predict snow flurries. 

Leading bookmaker, Coral, said this could be the coldest December in the UK. 

 

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Toy store The Entertainer is closing for three days over Christmas to give staff a much-needed break

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Popular toy chain The Entertainer is set to give its staff a three-day break over the festive period. 

This year, the retailer will be closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and December 27th.

There are 171 The Entertainer shops across the UK and you will still be able to get last-minute prezzies on Christmas Eve between 8am and 5pm. 

The toy store said it wants to give staff the time off to allow for quality time with families. 

With Christmas Eve falling on Thursday this year, it means The Entertainer stores will not reopen again until December 28th, the following Monday.

The three day weekend will give staff ‘quality time’ with their families, and they will also be getting the additional day off as paid leave.

The Entertainer founder and executive chairman Gary Grant said: “Restrictions placed upon people over the last nine months have been incredibly testing.

“With the easing of restrictions for Christmas, we want to give our staff more opportunity to rest together with their families and loved ones for some quality time.”

The Entertainer joins Wickes, Home Bargains, Aldi, M&S and Pets at Home, who have all already confirmed they will remain shut on Boxing Day.

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