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Home Bargains to close Boxing Day and give staff two weeks’ pay as a ‘Christmas bonus’

Brilliant!

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Betty Longbottom / Geograph

Home Bargains has announced it will be shut on Boxing Day this year, so staff can see loved ones after a ‘tough year for retail workers’.

On top of that, the family business also revealed it will be giving staff two weeks’ extra pay this month, as a ‘Christmas bonus’.

While Boxing Day is usually one of the busiest retail days of the year, Home Bargains will shut all of its stores and has told workers to ‘make the most of the Christmas break and spend more time with loved ones over the festive period’.

Jaggery / Geograph

Stores will also close a bit earlier on Christmas Eve, at 5pm, giving staff more time to go see family.

The two weeks’ pay bonus was originally created for any staff member who had to self-isolate, but the company has now decided to roll it out to all staff who started at the company before March 22nd.

Home Bargains revealed in April that any worker who needed to self-isolate would get two weeks’ pay, and the retailer said it now wants to make sure everyone who has worked for them before March 22nd receives the money regardless of whether they had to isolate.

This follows a 10% pay increase for store staff in April as a thanks for their hard work during the lockdown.

Ian Rainey / Geograph

A spokesperson for Home Bargains said: “We want to recognise how hard our staff have worked throughout some very challenging times and allow them to relax and truly enjoy the break safely with their loved ones.

“Home Bargains is a family-run business, and we know the importance of being together at Christmas time, now more than ever.

“Our staff work tirelessly to keep all our stores running smoothly no matter what and this is our way of saying thank you to all of our staff for their hard work and commitment.”

Well done Home Bargains, we need more of this!

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Boris Johnson confirms England will return to three tier system from December 2nd

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Boris Johnson addressed the Commons remotely today, to lay out his ‘Covid Winter Plan’.

The Prime Minister spoke to MPs via videolink as he is still self-isolating.

Mr Johnson confirmed that England would be returning to the regional three tier system which was in place before lockdown began.

However, he announced that the three tiers would each become stricter to try and stop the spread of the virus.

In Tier 1, people should work from home where it is possible, while in Tier 2 alcohol can only be served as part of a substantial meal, and in Tier 3 indoor entertainment, hotels and all hospitality will have to close – except for deliveries and takeaways.

Also in Tiers 1 and 2, the 10pm curfew for pubs and bars will end, with last orders being at 10pm and establishments closing at 11pm, allowing people to leave in a more staggered way.

The Prime Minister confirmed that gyms, hairdressers, salons and all shops could reopen at the end of lockdown, and that outdoor sports can resume.

He also announced that some fans will be allowed back into sports stadiums in Tier 1 and 2 areas.

Mr Johnson said that ‘more regions will temporarily fall into the higher levels’, but that with mass testing it should be possible for these areas to move into lower tiers.

The government is also working with the devolved administrations of the UK to come up with a plan for Christmas, according to the Prime Minister, although he added: “I can’t say that Christmas will be normal this year”.

The government is also planning to ‘end automatic isolation’ for anyone who has come into contact with someone who has coronavirus, with a testing scheme replacing it, which will be piloted in Liverpool.

In the pilot, people who have come into contact with anyone who’s tested positive will be tested every day for a week – they’ll only need to self-isolate if they test positive for coronavirus. 

It’s expected the details of what tier the different regions and areas of England will be placed in will be announced on Thursday.

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Morrisons gives 10% Christmas discount to frontline workers in 16 jobs

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Rept0n1x/Wikimedia & impossible_mosnter/Unsplash

As a ‘thank you’ to thousands of frontline workers, Morrisons will be providing a 10% discount to people from now until Christmas.

Those employed in the emergency services, care workers and Armed Forces personnel who hold a Blue Light Card will qualify for the benefit at Morrisons stores.

Cardholders will be able to claim the 10% discount on their groceries by presenting their Blue Light ID Card at tills at any of Morrisons 498 stores.

Morrisons have launched the discount to show appreciation to the key workers who have gone above and beyond their usual roles throughout the pandemic this year.

People in these roles qualify:

  • Ambulance Service
  • Border Force
  • British Army
  • Fire Service
  • HM Coastguard
  • Prison Service
  • Police
  • Red Cross
  • Reserve Armed Force
  • Royal Air Force
  • Royal Marines
  • Royal Navy
  • Social care workers
  • HM Armed Forces Veterans
  • Community First Responders
  • Second Line Responders

David Potts, Morrisons’ chief executive said: “Our emergency services, social care sector and armed forces have worked tirelessly this year to provide support to the many people who need it across the UK, often in exceptionally difficult circumstances.

Blue Light Card Holders also have the opportunity to take advantage of the dedicated shopping hour for NHS staff and school Staff that occurs between 6 and 7am every day except Sunday.

Tom Dalby, chief executive of Blue Light Card, added: “Offering a Blue Light Card discount will make a huge difference to our members.

“I hope that this partnership will make the Christmas food shop that little bit easier for those who go the furthest for us.”

Find your nearest Morrisons.

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Matt Hancock says life could return to normal ‘after Easter’

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Number 10/Flickr & Unsplash

Speaking on the latest vaccine news, Matt Hancock said things should return to some sense of normality after Easter.

He told BBC Breakfast that the majority of people will be vaccinated in spring, meaning things should return to normal after Easter.

It comes after the Oxford vaccine candidate has been demonstrated to be 90% effective, with health secretary Matt Hancock stressing that the majority of the population would need to be immunised before restrictions can be significantly eased.

The government has pre-ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine which is reportedly cheaper and easier to store than the Pfizer and Moderna alternative.

Daniel Schludi/Unsplash

The Oxford vaccine has proved to be between 70 and 90% effective based on a trial of 20,000 people.

Hancock explained that the ‘bulk’ of the vaccines will be given in the new year with some getting the vaccine before Christmas.

He said: “It is subject to that regulatory approval and I really stress that because the medicines regulator, it’s called the MHRA, is independent, they’re rigorous, they’re one of the best regulators in the world.

“They will be very, very careful to ensure that they look at all the data to make sure that this is safe. Subject to that approval, we hope to be able to start vaccinating next month.

“The bulk of the vaccine rollout programme will be in January, February, March, and we hope that sometime after Easter things will be able to start to get back to normal.”

Dimitri Houtteman/Unsplash

The news comes following the expected announcement later today with the government’s plans for winter.

It is expected a tiered system, stricter than the previous one will be put in place post-Lockdown 2.0 to allow families to celebrate Christmas.

Mr Hancock said: “The number of cases is now clearly starting to fall across the whole of the UK.

“In England, we come to the end of the lockdown as you know on December 2nd, and so we do think that we can replace the lockdown with a tiered system. But the tiered system, whilst lighter than lockdown, will have to be stronger than the previous tiers that were in place.”

When asked if there will be a fourth tier, Mr Hancock said: “No, three tiers, but the top tier, tier 3, will have to be stronger than the previous tier 3.”

The new local tiered rules are expected to be accompanied by more mass testing programmes similar to that in Liverpool.

Mr Hancock said cases in Liverpool – the worst affected city in the UK – have been brought down ‘really quite remarkably’ following the rollout.

He said: “In Liverpool, cases are down by more than two-thirds in the last few weeks.

“And this is a combination, of course, of those restrictions that have been in place, but also in Liverpool we put in mass testing.

“They’ve tested over 200,000 people of the just over half a million who live in Liverpool. And they’ve found a load more people who were asymptomatic, didn’t know that they had a problem, didn’t know they have the virus.

“And the combination of the mass testing, and the measures in Liverpool, have brought the cases down really quite remarkably, much faster than I would have thought was possible.”

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