New data shows COVID-19 cases are still rising with spikes in Manchester, Tameside and Oldham.
A sustained steep rise in cases in Oldham and big spikes in Manchester and Tameside have meant a major incident has been declared in Greater Manchester.
Over the weekend, gold command meetings with senior figures from police, local authorities and other agencies took place due to concerns regarding the increasing numbers in the wake of stricter lockdown measures announced on Thursday night.
Public Health England has disclosed provisional figures – set to be revised in the next 24 hours – for the week to July 30th that suggests a continuing upwards trend.
Manchester’s council leader explained that the declaration of a major incident is not a cause for alarm, but designed to ensure all parts of the system can ramp up their response.
The figures appear to show that the pattern that was seen the seven days before the new local restrictions were announced has continued.
However, the new measures will take time to come into effect.
Oldham had 31 confirmed cases on July 28th, the highest in a single day since May 9th, and a number only recorded for seven previous days throughout the entire pandemic, including five in the peak month of April. Bury appears to have leveled off and Bolton figures appear steady.
In the week up to July 31st, Manchester had 178 confirmed cases, the highest since May 24th. On July 29th, Manchester had 36 cases.
During the height of the pandemic, Manchester’s highest week was 366 cases.
The targeted measures introduce in Rochdale over a fortnight ago have caused a continuing fall in figures.
Due to the overall picture, a major incident has been declared with further review of the data happening this morning. It means the region can access extra-national resources if necessary, the same as would be in the event of a terror attack or major flood.
According to reports, if the police need additional help with enforcement, the army could be drafted to support.
The declaration is expected to lead to greater police enforcement of the latest local measures, including in bars, however the new legislation promised by the government has yet to be formed.
Insiders have also explained the continued increases are not related to Eid and that mosques have been compliant with the new measure.
The rise, instead, is due to continued household transmission across all communities and due to younger people not observing social distancing measures.
Senior figures hope the move to a major incident will be enough to avoid a Leicester-style full-on lockdown of the economy, which is not currently on the horizon but it depends on how the picture plays out.
Gold command are meeting daily and in contact with the Cabinet Office and the Joint Biosecurity Centre on the issue.
There is also growing concerns regarding testing in care homes, as the governments promise to provide regular testing to staff and residents have been abandoned.
Leader of Manchester City Council, Sir Richard Leese, said people ‘should not be alarmed’ that a major incident has been declared.
He said: “This is standard practice for complex situations which require a multi-agency response.”
“Although the council and partner organisations have been working closely to tackle the impacts of the pandemic since early this year, declaring a major incident means we can ramp this up further.
“It allows the establishment of a central command structure to oversee the response and enables agencies involved to draw on extra resources.
“Following last week’s Government announcement of preventative public health measures across Greater Manchester to address rising numbers of Covid-19 cases, the public would expect us to give this situation our concerted collective attention. That, with a view to enabling these restrictions to be lifted as soon as possible, is exactly what we are doing.”
Assistant Chief Constable Nick Bailey, chair of the Local Resilience Forum, said meetings were held to discuss the new regulations.
He added: “Recognising that there are multiple localities across Greater Manchester seeing rises in infection rates, the group reviewed learning from other recent areas, including Leicester, and its own learning from across the partnership and have taken the decision to declare this a major incident in order to respond as effectively as possible.
“This will enable us to maximise the capability of agencies across Greater Manchester, including additional resources if required, to instigate a prompt and positive change in direction.
“It is part of our desire to protect the population of Greater Manchester and provide them with the highest levels of assurance that agencies are doing all they can to reduce infection rates and bring Greater Manchester back to as near a state of normality as current times allow.’’
A spokesman for the Greater Manchester Combined Authority said: “The public should be reassured that the guidelines announced by Government on Thursday remain unchanged.
“This move by Greater Manchester’s Strategic Coordination Group is simply to enable our public agencies to access any additional resources they need as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
They explained that it is ‘absolutely appropriate’ to maximise resources to reverse the spike.
Adding: “The more we stick to the new guidelines and drive the R rate down, the quicker they will be removed. Please do not visit someone else’s home or garden unless you have formed a support bubble.
“Do not meet outdoors in groups of more than six. Please wash your hands thoroughly and as often as possible. Let’s not act selfishly and instead keep the health of our loved ones and neighbours in mind at all times.’’
Operation Forth Bridge: the full plan for what happens next after Prince Philip’s death
Buckingham Palace confirmed the sad news of his passing earlier today
Buckingham Palace announced this afternoon that HRH Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh has died.
The 99-year-old, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday in June, passed away peacefully at Windsor Castle this morning, Friday April 9th.
Buckingham Palace said: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
“His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.
“Further announcements will be made in due course. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”
There were already strict procedures put in place for when Prince Philip died, which have now begun, and they’re known as Operation Forth Bridge.
According to the plan there are several steps that need to be followed, including everything from national mourning to a burial site for the Duke.
Operation Forth Bridge has been around for many years, with Buckingham Palace, in consultation with both the Queen and Prince Philip, regularly updating and reviewing it.
Part one of the operation was the announcement from Buckingham Palace confirming the death of the Duke, which was distributed to the Press Association and BBC first.
Then the country enters a period of national mourning, meaning a set of rules, like flags being flown at half-mast, must be followed.
According to reports, it’s thought newsreaders and other TV presenters must wear black out of respect.
Next, plans for the funeral will be drawn up, and while Prince Philip is entitled to a state funeral he reportedly wanted something more discreet – a private service in the style of a military funeral at St George’s Chapel in Windsor, followed by burial at Frogmore Gardens.
The funeral is still expected to be televised despite the current restrictions, although it remains unclear how many people will be able to attend it.
The Queen’s private secretary and senior adviser, Sir Edward Young, will be on hand to help her during the undoubtedly challenging days ahead.
As well as being responsible for supporting the Queen in her duties, Sir Edward is also the channel of communication between the Queen and the government.
Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, has died aged 99
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Prince Philip has died aged 99, Buckingham Palace has confirmed today.
A tweet on The Royal Family Twitter account announced the news.
The Duke of Edinburgh was born 1921, and was married to Queen Elizabeth II for more than 70 years – officially the longest-serving consort in British history.
The official announcement read: “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
“His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.
“Further announcements will be made in due course.
“The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”
There’s been no official details about the Duke’s funeral released yet, however it has been reported that he will be given a royal ceremonial funeral rather than a state funeral, in line with his wishes.
Hairdressers told not to offer ‘long’ treatments like highlights when they reopen
Salons have been told not to offer ‘long’ treatments when they reopen on Monday, including things like highlights or braids.
To reduce the time customers spend being seen, the government is advising hairdressers to keep things ‘short and basic’.
According to government guidance, hair and beauty salons ‘should consider providing shorter, more basic treatments to keep the time to a minimum’.
People across the country have been looking forward to finally having their hair sorted out, after months without access to hairdressers and barbers due to lockdown.
In England salons will be able to reopen on Monday, April 12th, but some people will be gutted to discover they might not be able to book anything considered a ‘long’ or ‘complex’ procedure.
Things like highlights, braids or deep conditioning treatments could be classed as ‘long’ procedures, and lengthy massages might also be off the cards.
The official guidance goes on to say that if you are to perform a longer treatment, then workers should ‘consider how the length of the appointment could be minimised’.
Ministers have branded the rules ‘slapdash’, and there’s been calls for further clarity.
Labour MP Judith Cummins, who co-chairs Parliament’s group on beauty, aesthetics and wellbeing, told The Telegraph: “It’s very difficult to make a living if you’re given guidance that is very woolly and very unclear.
“What’s a short appointment, and what’s the medium appointment, and what’s a long appointment?
“I’ve got no idea, and I doubt whether the Government has any idea either.”