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Matt Hancock blames spread of coronavirus on ‘public behaviour’ rather than government policy

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Matt Hancock has said that it was the public’s job to stop the virus, and that its spread was ‘down to people’s behaviour’.

Speaking this morning about the possibility of a new national lockdown, Matt Hancock told Sky News: “We don’t rule anything out, and we’ve shown repeatedly that we will look at the public health advice and we will take the public health advice in terms of what is needed to control the spread of the disease.

“This new variant is much easier to catch, it is much more transmissible, and we’re now seeing the effect of that in lots of different parts of the country, unfortunately.

“And it means that whereas the old Tier 3 was able to contain the old variant, that is proving increasingly difficult in all parts of the country.”

When asked if Tier 4 restrictions were working, Hancock said: “It is down to people’s behaviour, frankly. What matters is, yes of course, the rules that we put in place, but it is also about how people act.

“And frankly what I would say is this: it is critical that everybody in the country does all that they can to reduce the spread of the virus.”

When his remarks were challenged, he said that his comments were not about ‘blame’, but instead ‘how we collectively as a society keep this under control for the next couple of months until the vaccines make us safe’.

He refused to confirm whether a new national lockdown or school closures would happen, despite teachers revolting over plans to reopen schools.

This week, most of England’s primary schools reopen, with secondary schools remaining closed until January 18th. 

Just this morning, the unions representing school staff – the GMB, NAHT, NASUWT, NEU, UNISON and Unite – signed a statement branding the government’s handling as ‘chaotic’. 

They said: “Bringing all pupils back into classrooms while the rate of infection is so high is exposing education sector workers to serious risk of ill-health and could fuel the pandemic.” 

They called for a pause to reopening for all but vulnerable children and those of key workers, adding they wanted to see a move to remote learning and vaccinating school staff.

Responding to Boris Johnson’s claims that schools were safe, they said: “Instead of casually asserting that schools are safe, the Prime Minister should sit down with unions to discuss a joint approach to ensuring safe working arrangements in all schools and prioritising enabling all pupils have the equipment and access they need to receive a high standard of remote learning until the safety of them and the staff in their school can be guaranteed.”

Mr Hancock, when asked about concerns regarding the safety of schools, stated: “It is also clear that the proportion of teachers who catch coronavirus is no higher than the rest of the population.

“So there is clear public health advice behind the position that we have taken and that is what people should follow because, of course, education is very important as well, especially for people’s long-term health.”

Shadow education secretary, Kate Green, told the BBC on Monday morning that there needed to be a ‘clear understanding’ among the public to ‘stay at home’, calling for a ‘stronger set’ of coronavirus restrictions. 

She said: “It is very clear that the Government has lost control of the virus, we’re seeing a really alarming rise in cases and in the spread of the infection.

“And I do think that we will need a stronger set of measures… but also a very clear understanding among the whole of the public everywhere that staying at home, not going out except when it is essential, not mixing socially or unnecessarily is key to getting this virus under control.”

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Aldi launches new ‘bargain hour’ where prices are slashed by 75%

All 912 Aldi stores across the UK will take part in the scheme

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Michael Ely / Geograph

Aldi has announced it’s introducing a special ‘bargain hour’, where shoppers will be able to save 75% on certain goods.

Aldi customers will be able to grab a proper bargain on things like bread, meat and fruit, the supermarket confirmed.

All 912 Aldi stores across the UK will take part in the scheme, marking down perishable products such as fruit, vegetables and meat on their last day of life, just before stores close.

The retailer is doing this to stop fresh produce from going to waste, and it’s part of their wider pledge to halve food waste by 2030.

N Chadwick / Geograph

While at the moment Aldi does reduce the price on certain products when they reach their best-before or use-by dates, it will now be offering bigger savings on products marked with a red sticker.

Julie Ashfield, Managing Director of Buying at Aldi, said: “Aldi is already known for its low prices, but these discounts will help some shoppers to cut their grocery bills even further – all while helping us reduce food waste.

“Customers should look out for the red stickers when shopping at Aldi, but shoppers need to be quick as I’m sure the products will prove popular.”

It’s worth remembering that items will be reduced at different times at different stores, and of course reduced produce is sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

Кирилл Венедиктов / Wikimedia

Meanwhile, Aldi has teamed up with Marcus Rashford to launch a brand new campaign to help feed hungry kids across the UK.

Marcus has been busy over the past year, highlighting the shocking food inequalities in our country and holding the government to account, and he’s been doing a fantastic job.

And while one in five children in the UK currently live in food poverty, the Man United star – who experienced food poverty when he was a kid – won’t stop on his mission to help end this tragedy.

To help tackle the issue of child food poverty, Aldi has confirmed that it will donate 10 million meals to feed families in need across the UK during 2021.

The supermarket has also released a short animation that personifies ‘hunger’ through a child’s eyes, to mark the collaboration with Marcus, with the footballer narrating the emotional poem that accompanies the short film.

The video explores a young kid’s relationship with hunger, using a poem by Giles Andreae, with illustrator Lisa Stickley bringing the story to life via the animation.

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MP calls for teachers to be given the vaccine next so schools can reopen

He’s called on Matt Hancock to give teachers increased priority

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Taylor Wilcox/Unsplash

An MP has called for teachers to be given the Covid-19 vaccine so kids can get back to school.

Richard Graham MP is asking Matt Hancock to vaccinate teachers, following the news that Education Secretary Gavin Williamson can’t guarantee schools will reopen after the February half term as was originally planned.

Mr Graham said vaccination was the only way forward, confirming that he has asked the government to make sure teachers are included in the next round of vaccinations, once the 13 million most vulnerable have had their jabs.

Chris McAndrew / Wikimedia

He told GloucestershireLive: “If we want to give teachers, parents, pupils, families real certainty on schools, I think there’s only one way to do it, to vaccinate all the teachers.

“That way schools will know their staff will not have to go off and self-isolate, and are not going to catch the virus.

“Parents will also know their pupils are not going to be either infected by teachers or infect them.

“That would be a huge step forward. It doesn’t rule out all the risks. Pupils can still spread it amongst themselves and then back to their parents at home.”

Hereward House School/Wikimedia

A teacher from Derbyshire has created a petition asking for teachers, school and childcare staff to be prioritised for the coronavirus vaccine.

Charlotte Appleyard’s petition has already gained more than 470,000 signatures, which meant it was discussed in parliament on Monday.

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Sir Alex Ferguson’s emotional message to Marcus Rashford as he’s honoured for his charity work

The footballer was honoured at the Football Writers’ Association annual tribute awards

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marcusrashford / Instagram

Marcus Rashford has been in the news a lot over the past year for his valiant efforts in fighting child food poverty in the UK.

The Manchester United star has now been honoured again for his efforts, becoming the youngest person ever to receive an award at the Football Writers’ Association annual tribute awards.

Sir Alex Ferguson sent the 23-year-old an emotional message after he was honoured in recognition of his hard work tackling child poverty during the Covid-19 crisis, praising the ‘wonderful person’ he had become.

Marcus has been busy highlighting the shocking food inequalities in our country and holding the government to account, and he’s been doing a fantastic job.

And while one in five children in the UK currently live in food poverty, the striker – who experienced food poverty when he was a kid – won’t stop on his mission to help end this tragedy.

The footballer campaigned for free school meals to be extended during holidays, and more recently has raised awareness of the ‘woefully inadequate’ meal parcels some families have been receiving this week.

Marcus has been working with charity FareShare to help deliver food to hungry kids who are no longer getting free school meals, and yesterday it was reported that he’d teamed up with Aldi to donate 10 million meals to families in need.

Sir Alex said: “I would like to congratulate Marcus on his achievement and presentation (of the FWA Tribute Award) tonight.

“I have known him since being a kid of 7 years of age, and seen him develop through the ranks of Manchester United into a truly wonderful person.

“Apart from his football life, what he has achieved in the last few months is quite astonishing, how he has helped the people in need is a truly amazing achievement.

“I would like to congratulate him on that. He has shown to young people in particular there is a different way of dealing with life.

“He has shown great humility, he has shown courage to do what he did, so this achievement is well deserved and should be recognised with what he has done.

“So Marcus, well done on a fantastic achievement.”

Кирилл Венедиктов / Wikimedia

Marcus responded by thanking the legendary United manager, saying: “He has always, from the beginning really, backed me with what I am doing.

“Probably when other people in sports were telling me not to do it and just focus on football, he said if I believed in that, and I believe it is the right thing to do, then he is behind it.

“Those words from him are an amazing feeling to hear that.”

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