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Lockdown easing could see shops open ‘in weeks’ and self-catered holidays at Easter

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to lay out dates for lockdown easing on February 22nd. 

Mr Johnson is set to lay out the ‘roadmap’ to leave lockdown a week from now, giving a light at the end of the tunnel.

Speaking to broadcasters in Orpington, he said: “If we possibly can, we will be setting out dates.

“And just to help people think about what we’re trying to do on February 22nd, remember what we did around about this time last year, or a little bit later – we set out a road map going forward into the summer looking a little bit beyond, that’s what we’re going to be trying to do.”

The Daily Mirror reports that the reopening of non-essential shops could happen in a few weeks time and households could be allowed to take self-catered holidays by Easter.

The government is set to priorities the reopening of schools which looks to be on March 8th. 

Number 10/Flickr

Mr Johnson added: “The dates that we will be setting out will be the dates by which we hope we can do something at the earliest, if you see what I mean – so it’s the target date by which we hope to do something at the earliest.

“If, because of the rate of infection, we have to push something off a little bit to the right, to lay it for a little bit, we won’t hesitate to do that.

“I think people would much rather see a plan that was cautious but irreversible and one that proceeds sensibly in accordance with where we are with the disease.”

The Daily Mirror added that reports show that some socialising with other households and the reopening of pubs could be unveiled on February 22nd.

It is also reported that grandparents could be given the green light to socialise with grandchildren once again when provisions allow limited socialising between households.

The Times reports that ministers are examining plans that could allow people to take breaks as early as the Easter holidays. A government source told the paper: “There’s an active discussion about how soon we can do it and we’ll be guided by the data.

“There’s talk of April at the earliest, but a lot of things have to go right. It’s unlikely but it is being talked about as a possibility.”

Number 10/Flickr

According to the Daily Mail, high street shops could be ‘about to reopen’ if the rate of infection continues to fall. The paper said a source expected it to happen ‘towards the end of March, or the beginning of April at the latest’.

However, Boris Johnson said no decision had been made on whether year groups will return to schools in England together or staggered.

He said: “No decisions have been taken on that sort of detail yet, though clearly schools on March 8th has for a long time been a priority of the Government and of families up and down the country.

“We will do everything we can to make that happen but we’ve got to keep looking at the data, we’ve got to keep looking at the rates of infections, don’t forget they’re still very high, still 23,000 or so Covid patients in the NHS, more than in the April peak last year, still sadly too many people dying of this disease, rates of infections, although they’re coming down, are still comparatively high.

“So we’ve got to be very prudent and what we wanted to see is progress that is cautious but irreversible and I think that’s what the public and people up and down the country will want to see.”

The latest coronavirus figures show that the number of cases in the UK has risen by 10,972 and the number of deaths has increased by 258, a decrease from the week before.

NHS England has also announced that those aged between 65 and 69 are set to be invited to have their first dose of the vaccine. 15 million people have now been vaccinated. 

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Legendary Manchester metal pub Grand Central is sadly closing down

Manchester’s alternative music scene has lost a real gem

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Grand Central / Facebook

The city’s staple metal music and gig venue, Grand Central, will be permanently closing its doors, it was announced today. 

The Oxford Street haunt confirmed rumours that it wouldn’t be reopening – at least not ‘the way it was’ – on Facebook this morning.

Alongside a photo of smiling staff members, the post read: “The stories are true, Grand Central won’t be reopening the way it was. All the now former staff want to thank Tom for everything he has done for us and for giving the alternative scene a home for the last 20+ years. 

Grand Central / Facebook

“I’m sure everyone has stories connected to the little pub, share them and don’t let the memory of the GRAND F***ING CENTRAL die.

“Thank you to everyone for the custom over the years, we will miss you.”

The venue’s manager Danny Daemon also wrote on Facebook: “The regulars made the place and you know who you are. You embraced me as the new manager and I couldn’t of asked for a better group of people.”

Explaining the reason for the shock closure, he explained: “I know all this is a shock to you all, but this had been in the works from before lockdown. Stonegate own some pretty cool places and whilst no, it won’t be GC as we know it, there’s still a chance they’ll embrace it as an alternative hot spot. They might even do food.”

Social media users were understandably devastated to hear the news, with one writing: “So sad. In my eyes Manchester has just lost a main part of its culture. I will never forget this place and everyone I have either served or had the pleasure to have a drink with.”

Another wrote: “We always had a friendly welcome and met some truly awesome and unique people in there. Really going to miss it. Where do we go from here?”

Grand Central opened over twenty years ago and became a firm favourite among rock, metal and alternative music fans. Several bands also played there over the years, with local metal band 4GEN7 saying it was ‘a second home for most of us at one point or another.’

According to a number of posts circulating on social media, the venue has been acquired by the Stonegate Pubs group, though plans for the site are yet to be confirmed.

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Marcus Rashford is the UK’s largest charitable donor having given away 125% of his net worth

He’s also the youngest charitable donor to top the Sunday Times Giving List

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@marcusrashford / Instagram

Startling new figures have shown that Marcus Rashford is the UK’s most generous charitable donor, having given away a massive 125% of his net worth to charity.

He is also the youngest person to ever top the Sunday Times Giving List, a system that ranks philanthropists by comparing the sums they’ve raised for charity against their net worth on the Sunday Times Rich List.

​​With a personal worth of £16million, Rashford managed to raise a staggering 125% of his net worth over the past year, ultimately helping charity FareShare distribute 4 million meals to disadvantaged children.

FareShare chief executive Lindsay Boswell said the footballer’s commitment to tackling child hunger ‘has simply been incredible.’

She told Metro: “His own experience of relying on free school meals to eat brings authenticity and compassion to his campaigning, and his status as a Premier League footballer means people and politicians sit up and take notice.”

The Manchester United forward was first recognised for his charitability last year when he was able to change the course of the UK Government’s decision to provide free meals for underprivileged children during the summer school holidays.

Rashford, who received free school meals himself as a child, was made an MBE in the delayed 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

More recently, however, the footballer was forced to defend himself after it was suggested he had profited from his charitable efforts. 

He tweeted that The Spectator Magazine wanted to run the story as he defended his off-field partnerships with brands, asking his followers: “Why can’t we just do the right thing?”

He went on to explain: “Last summer, 1.3M children had access to food support, through my relationship with Burberry children have a safe place to be after school where they will be fed, following the November investment vulnerable children have safe places to go this summer holiday, and due to my relationship with Macmillan 80,000 children now have a book to call their own.”

This comes just over a week on from England’s Euros 2020 loss to Italy, which saw Rashford and other black players inundated with racist abuse. 

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Man with ‘worries’ about the jab told nurse ‘I wish I’d got vaccinated’ before dying of Covid

Glenn had his ‘worries and concerns’ about getting the Covid vaccine

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Dimitri Houtteman/unsplash

The family of an unvaccinated man who died of Covid have spoken out about his heartbreaking final moments. 

‘Gentle giant’ Glenn Barrett, from Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire, passed away in hopsital after a three week-long battle with the virus, which he is believed to have contracted while watching an England Euro 2020 game at a local pub.

According to his family, Glenn had been with a group of friends at the pub watching England play Croatia on June 13th. It is understood that, following the match, around seven people tested positive for the virus.

His family have since spoken out and said the fifty-one-year old was unvaccinated because he had ‘his worries and reasons,’ Grimsby Live reported.

However, they said that before he was put into an induced coma, Glenn had a change of heart and told a nurse ‘he wished he had been vaccinated.’

Daniel Schludi/Unsplash

His cousin Ken Meech, who regarded Glenn as a ‘big brother,’ is now urging everyone to get vaccinated when they can.

He said: “If he had [been vaccinated], he would still be with us today.

“I’m not a doom monger or someone who’s telling you what you should do or not do. After all we are suppose to live in a free world.

“But this is one of the saddest times of my life, losing my cousin, Big Glenn Barrett to Covid.”

Describing Glenn as ‘brave,’ Ken explained that his cousin ‘fought until the end’ and, tragically, did have a change of heart regarding the vaccine.

He said: “Glenn had his worries and reasons for not having the jabs but he had no spleen and no immune system to help fight any infections but he did say to the nurses before going into an induced coma he wished he had.”

Mufid Majnun / Unsplash

At the time of writing, 82.4M doses of the Covid vaccine have been administered across the UK, meaning 54% of the population has had at least their first jab.

According to the NHS, all adults over the age of eighteen can now book their own vaccine without having to wait to be contacted by their local GP.

For more information on vaccines and where to get yours, visit the NHS website here.

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