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.’’
New government proposals could see cat owners fined £500
Here’s everything you need to know…
Cat owners could be slapped with hefty fines under a subtle new rule change proposed by the government this week.
The new plans propose that all cat owners must ensure their pet is microchipped before they are twenty weeks old – there, the cat’s details will be stored and kept up-to-date in a database.
If a cat owner is found to not have microchipped their cat, however, they will have twenty-one days to get their pet microchipped or risk facing a fine of up to £500.
Government figures show that out of the 10.8 million pet cats in the UK, as many as 2.8 million are still not microchipped. And, according to Cats Protection, eight out of ten stray cats coming into their centres are not microchipped.
The charity added that the procedure only costs between £20 and £30.
Animal Welfare Minister Lord Goldsmith said: “Cats are much-loved parts of our families and making sure that they’re microchipped is the best possible way of making sure that you are reunited with them if they are ever lost or stolen.
“These new rules will help protect millions of cats across the country and will be brought in alongside a range of other protections we are introducing under our Action Plan for Animal Welfare.”
Chill Factore forced to close after section of roof damaged by Storm Barra
Major damage to the roof has forced the popular attraction to close
The Chill Factore has been forced to close after a section of its roof was damaged from severe winds brought on by Storm Barra.
All activities at the Beyond building, which houses an indoor ski slope, have been cancelled for the rest of the day, with car parks surrounding the Trafford attraction closing ‘with immediate effect’.
In a statement on its website, Chill Factore said: “The Beyond building has sustained some damage due to the severe winds.
“As a result we’ve made the difficult decision to close our building and surrounding car parks with immediate effect to protect the health and safety of our guests and team.
“All activities for the remainder of the day have been cancelled and we are in the process of contacting guests with bookings for today to rearrange their activities.
“We are awaiting contractors to come and assess the damage and we will provide more information as soon as possible through our website & social media accounts.”
This comes after the Met Office issued a yellow weather warning in various areas across Greater Manchester ahead of the arrival of Storm Barra.
The second named storm of the season hit the region today, bringing with it plummeting temperatures plummeting and heavy rainfall.
Forecasters say travel disruption is ‘likely’, especially over higher routes, as is delays to rail and air travel. There is also the ‘slight chance some rural communities may become cut off’.
The Met Office said: “A deep area of low pressure moving in across the UK from the Atlantic is likely to bring high winds to many parts of the UK.
“Strong winds arriving into the west through the morning, spreading inland and reaching eastern areas through the afternoon and early evening. Gusts of 45-50 mph are expected widely, with 60-70 mph in exposed coastal locations.
People who kill children will face mandatory life sentences under new Arthur’s Law
The law has been named after six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, who was murdered by his stepmother last year
The Prime Minister has backed a newly proposed law that will ensure child murderers will never leave prison.
Following the horrifying death of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, Boris Johnson has announced that his government will be amending the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to make ‘whole-life orders the starting point for such abhorrent crimes’.
Johnson said in a statement: “Anyone who plans then carries out the murder of a child should never be released from prison. So we’re toughening the law to make whole-life orders the starting point for such abhorrent crimes.
“The Attorney General is also urgently considering the facts of this case and the sentence handed down, but this is a Government that will always legislate for the toughest possible sentences for such repugnant crimes.”
Arthur’s stepmother Emma Tustin was jailed last week for at least twenty-nine years for his murder, while his father Thomas Hughes was sentenced to twenty-one years for manslaughter.
However, the attorney general announced over the weekend that the sentences are to be reviewed to ‘determine whether they were too low’.
According to The Guardian, the AGO has twenty-eight days from the date of sentence to review a case, assess whether it falls under the Unduly Lenient Sentence (ULS) scheme and make a decision as to whether to refer a sentence to the court of appeal.
Arthur died in Solihull, Midlands on June 16th 2020, as a result of a serious head injury inflicted by Tustin. His body was also covered in 130 bruises.
It was later discovered that the six-year-old had been starved, beaten and poisoned with salt in the weeks leading to his death.
Harrowing footage recently released by West Midlands Police show a weak and emancipated Arthur struggling to lift his duvet from the living room floor, where he had been forced to sleep.
Social worker and member of the House of Lords Herbert Laming said the reduction in funding for social care in the last ten years meant abused and neglected children like Arthur were being missed by the authorities.