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Leading scientific advisor warns of another national lockdown as ‘it’s the only thing that works’ in fighting coronavirus

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Fred Moon/Unsplash

Lockdown measures could be tightened further within ‘two weeks’ if the ‘rule of six’ doesn’t work.

Earlier reports have speculated that the government is considering a national 10pm curfew, with pubs forced to shut early, but now a leading scientific advisor has warned that ‘lockdown is the only thing that we know works’, when speaking on ITV. 

They added: “I think that if we want to keep schools open, we probably have to give serious consideration to a wide range of other measures to stop a major second wave.

“And we have to think about doing that right now – which we are starting to do.”

A member of SAGE (the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) also added: “My big worry now is that we might be too late again to avert a major second wave.

“If we wait for deaths to go up again before taking decisive action we will be in trouble again.”

A member of the government has also said that ‘there is no possibility of us waiting for the death rate to rise before we act’, according to Metro

Government sources have said that further measures are still being considered if the new ‘rule of six’ fails to reduce the coronavirus rate. 

Curfew rules could be similar to those already in place in Bolton, which sees bars and other venues close between 10pm and 5am.

Restaurants in the borough are also only permitted to sell takeaways, as the Greater Manchester borough became the area with the highest infection rate in England. 

Furthermore, those in Bolton cannot socialise with anyone outside of their household. 

The Mirror has reported that ex-WHO expert Anthony Costello tweeted ‘Chris Whitty is advising PM for a two week national lockdown’. 

Professor Whitty has not responded to the claims but Costello later tweeted: “I’ve been told by another insider I respect that Chris Whitty does not support a 2 week lockdown, so I’m pleased to correct the record.”

Health Minster Edawrd Argar also insisted: “It is not something I have heard from Chris or that I have seen in my capacity from Chris.”

The government are reportedly sticking to plans to put restrictions in local areas, as a second lockdown would be ‘disastrous for the UK economy’.

MPs at the Commons Liaison Committee asked the PM if the country could afford a second lockdown. Johnson replied: “I don’t want a second national lockdown – I think it would be completely wrong for this country and we are going to do everything in our power to prevent it.”

He added: “And can we afford it? I very much doubt that the financial consequences would be anything but disastrous, but we have to make sure that we defeat the disease by the means that we have set out.

“So when I see people arguing against the rule of six or saying that the Government is coming in too hard on individual liberties and so on – I totally understand that and I sympathise with that, but we must, must defeat this disease.”

Speaking to Sky News, Health Minister Edward Argar further dampened Mr Costello’s claims of a lockdown. He said: “It is not something I have seen within the department.

“The Prime Minister has been very clear on this. He doesn’t want to see another national lockdown. He wants to see people abiding by the regulations and making the local lockdowns work.”

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A huge 50 million-tree forest is being planted across the North of England

This is amazing!

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Jill Jennings / WTML

The North of England is set to see 50 million trees planted over the next 25 years.

It turns out the North has just 7.6% of woodland cover, significantly lower than the average of England, and this new planned forest could absorb 7.5m tonnes of carbon.

Many council leaders, including Sir Richard Leese in Manchester, are backing the ambitious project that will see a forest created, spanning 120 miles across the North. 

The forest will connect Manchester with Liverpool and Lancaster, and see Sheffield, Leeds and Hull connected too. 

The project is currently underway and the Woodland Trust is looking for private landowners who want to take part! 

Sa Egarr / Unsplash

More than 120 Northern leaders and MPs have asked for the prime minister’s commitment to deliver the Northern Forest in a letter. They’ve also asked for opportunities to be looked at to support the development of green investment models. 

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Manchester City Council declared a climate change emergency earlier this year and is working on a wide range of initiatives to enable the city to achieve its ambitious goal of becoming zero carbon by 2038.

“We are bringing forward an action plan which will explain how Manchester will achieve this ambitious target.

“The Northern Forest initiative, which would help absorb millions of tonnes of carbon, is entirely complementary to that wider goal and something we wholeheartedly endorse.”

WTML

Mayor of Sheffield Dan Jarvis, who is co-ordinating the Northern Forest campaign, said: “It will be transformational for more than 13 million residents, improving their health and wellbeing. It will help habitats thrive, a woodland culture to flourish as well as helping to tackle climate change, reduce the risk of flooding and create thousands of new jobs.”

Darren Moorcroft, CEO, Woodland Trust, said: “The Northern Forest represents the green lungs of the Northern Powerhouse. This pioneering project spearheaded by Woodland Trust and the Community Forests will deliver millions of new trees planted, and billions of pounds worth of economic, social and environmental benefits to the region.

“If we are to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises the world faces, internationally significant projects like the Northern Forest must be at the forefront of bold, ambitious domestic thinking.”

You can find out more and get involved on the Woodland Trust site and on the Northern Forest page.

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Home Bargains, B&Q, Wilko and others give important update on masks and other Covid rules

Everything you need to know about their rules

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Everything you need to know about shopping at DIY and discount stores in the pandemic…

Throughout the lockdown, DIY stores such as B&Q and Wickes as well as those selling essential items like Wilko and Home Bargains have been able to remain open.

They have, however, rules to follow to stop the spread of coronavirus and to protect staff and customers. 

Here’s everything you can expect while shopping at them (it is mandatory to wear a face mask unless exempt in any shop in the UK).

Ardfern / Wikimedia

B&Q

Those who do not want to wear a mask inside B&Q’s stores have been told they can order online. Those wanting to shop in-store are reminded of hand sanitiser and told to not visit in more than groups of two. 

A spokesperson said: “We are giving face masks to any customers who do not have one. If customers do not want to wear a face-covering in our stores, we are reminding them that they can always place an order for their essential items at diy.com for home delivery”.

Wickes

Queuing systems are in place at Wickes as only 30 people are allowed in the store at any one time. Customers must follow social distancing queues inside and wear a mask. 

At the tills, customers are asked to leave their trolleys in the designated space so staff can scan the items. 

If you’re buying larger items you can bring another member of your household to carry them. Showrooms remain closed.

Rept0n1x / Wikimedia

Home Bargains

Customers are asked to visit alone where possible and to queue outside when stores are full. Customers can also expect a traffic light system in busier branches. 

NHS, care workers, disabled and elderly customers have priority access.

Wilko

Customers can expect marshals at the front of the stores along with floor markers to maintain social distancing throughout the stores. 

Homebase

All customers are asked to wear face masks and clean their baskets and trolleys at the disinfectant stations at entrances if they wish. 

A spokesperson said Homebase is ‘continuing to ask all customers to wear a mask when shopping with us, unless medically exempt’. They added: “We are also introducing further signage in stores reminding customers of their role in helping to make shopping safe for everyone.”

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Manchester’s mental health café launches new campaign to brighten up Blue Monday

Look out for the posters around Manchester

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Feel Good Club and Manchester’s Finest have launched a campaign to spread positivity across the city on Blue Monday. 

The third Monday in January is known as ‘Blue Monday’ and is often described as ‘one of the most depressing days of the year’. 

Christmas is well and truly over, the excitement of New Year New Me has worn off and we’re left with dark, cold and short days.

To add on top of all of that is a third national lockdown and a global pandemic.

Adam Pester / Manchester’s Finest
Adam Pester / Manchester’s Finest

A mental wellbeing cafe, Feel Good Club launched in the midst of the pandemic with mental health at the heart of everything owners Kiera and Aimie do.

Collaborating with Manchester’s Finest, the two platforms have come together along with Jack Arts to create billboards and posters containing supportive messages.

Adam Pester / Manchester’s Finest

Commenting on the campaign, Miranda Banfield of Jack Arts said: “Bringing inspiration to the streets and positivity to our communities is at the heart of what we do at Jack Arts.

“We are delighted to be a part of this important project, displaying these powerful messages across Manchester, in the hope they are seen by those who might need them most.”

Co-Founder of Feel Good Club, Kiera Lawlor-Skillen added: “Feel Good Club is all about spreading positivity and making sure that people know they aren’t alone in how they feel, whether that’s a good day or a bad day, so on blue Monday it was more important than ever for us to do something that could possibly bring a smile to someone’s face.”

Adam Pester / Manchester’s Finest
Adam Pester / Manchester’s Finest

Steven Pankhurst, a director at Manchester’s Finest, said: “Finest was created for the people and ecology of Manchester. At a time where we all face our own unique challenges, we want to show support and spread a bit of positivity to everyone in our city.”

You can see the posters across the city for two weeks from today (Monday January 18th).

For more positive vibes head to Manchester’s Finest to see the collaboration between them and Feel Good Club in the monthly series ‘This Month’s Positive News’.

Watch December’s episode here, and you can give Feel Good Club a follow on Facebook and Instagram.

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