Matt Hancock has described the new rules, announced late last night, as ‘crystal clear’ speaking this morning.
The government have faced backlash this morning over the way they announced new localised restrictions in the North of England last night.
People in Greater Manchester, parts of East Lancashire and West Yorkshire were told they could no longer meet anybody from another household indoors.
The ban was announced at 9pm last night, coming into effect at 12pm.
Many people were confused as to what the new rules meant for them and expressed concerns regarding the announcement taking place via Matt Hancock’s Twitter account.
A short video clip was released shortly after 9pm last night, however, some local public health directors did now know about the new announcement.
The government published its Q&A on the changes at 22 minutes past midnight. They also explained that people can face £100 fines for breaking the rules, despite explaining that the law does not yet exist.
Matt Hancock told Sky News today that the measures are ‘crystal clear’, adding a press conference will be held later today ‘at which more details will be put out and more of the questions will be answered.’
He said: “It’s absolutely crystal clear what the measure is. Which is that you shouldn’t socialise with people in other households except in public outdoor places – so not in your own home or your garden.
“You can go to the pub, but with members of your own household.”
Andy Burnham has also expressed concerns regarding the announcement. He told Sky News that ‘last night a lot of people I think felt very uncertain about what exactly was being announced.’
Adding: “So what I would say to them (ministers) is I understand the need to make announcements, I understand the need for decisive action.
“But when ministers go in front of the cameras, make sure you’ve got the detail ready to go exactly at the same time.”
Manchester Central MP and shadow business minister Lucy Powell said: “The way they’ve been announced has frankly been a bit of a disaster.
“Announcing them two hours before they come into effect is a bit of a bolt out of the blue with no-one around able to answer some of the basic questions, I really is not the way to build confidence and to take people with you and to maximise compliance with these steps.
“We really do need some real answers to basic questions this morning so that people can understand what they need to do.”
Tory MP for Hazel Grove William Wragg said: “‘Greater Manchester’ is not one homogeneous area.
“We must always err on the side of caution with COVID, but to treat all 10 boroughs the same is not the right approach.”
The new rules came into effect from Midnight last night and mean you can no longer meet with people outside of your household indoors.
Mr Hancock said: “The biggest risk in terms of the spread if this virus across this area is household transmission when people are going to see each other in each other’s homes when they’re not in a household together. And also visiting friends and relatives.
“Actually we’re not seeing as much transmission in terms of people in their place of work, going to retail or other areas.”
Matt Hancock has also denied that the action taken was being aimed at curtailing Eid celebrations.
Asked on BBC’s Today programme whether the measures were to stop Eid celebrations Hancock said: “No, my heart goes out to the Muslim communities in these areas because I know how important the Eid celebrations are.
“I’m very grateful to the local Muslim leaders, the imams in fact, across the country who’ve been working so hard to find a way to have COVID-secure celebrations.
“For instance celebrating Eid in parks where there’s more space available and of course outdoors is safer than indoors.”
You should wear masks and avoid kissing during sex to stop spread of coronavirus, experts say
Strictly no kissing!
A sexual health charity has published advice on sex in a pandemic, and it includes avoiding kissing, wearing face masks and not using face to face positions.
Terrence Higgins Trust has said that 84% of people have abstained from having sex with a partner they don’t live with throughout the lockdown, but the charity urges officials that this is no longer realistic.
Asking people to refrain from sex completely is no longer realistic now there has been easing of the lockdown measures.
The charity said we need to find a way ‘to balance our need for sex and intimacy with the risks of the spread of Covid-19’.
The charity’s advice is simple, the best sexual partner during a pandemic is either yourself or a partner you already live with.
The advice explains that masturbation, sex toys, phone sex or online sex are all great and safe alternatives.
If you are having sex with someone you don’t live with, the charity suggests limiting the number of sexual partners. It also provides a list of other precautions you should take, and some might seem a bit unusual at first.
First up, like anything these days, before and after sex you need to wash your hands for 20 seconds. Nothing gets you in the mood quite like lathering up your hands as you hum Happy Birthday twice over!
Next, the advice states to avoid kissing, to wear a face mask during intercourse and to pick positions that are not face to face – get creative!
The charity also warns that the virus can be found in some bodily fluids, so ensure you are wearing condoms and dams for oral sex.
Other advice has even gone one step further, and suggested using physical barriers like glory holes that prevent face-to-face contact but allow sexual contact.
Dr Michael Brady, the charity’s medical director, said: “We’re clear that abstaining from sex is the best way to protect yourself from coronavirus, but we hope by issuing this advice we will help people to manage the risks of Covid-19 while also being able to have and enjoy sex.”
The charity also stresses the importance of practising good sexual health beyond the pandemic, including getting tested before becoming sexually active again.
Jet2 plane circles Greater Manchester after people report hearing ‘loud bang’
A plane was spotted circling the skies above Greater Manchester this afternoon, with witnesses reporting that they heard a ‘loud bang’.
The Manchester Evening News reports that a Jet2 Boeing 757 took off from Manchester Airport, but ended up circling the skies above Greater Manchester – as seen on online flight trackers.
According to the MEN, the flight has now landed safely back down at Manchester Airport.
A Twitter user said: “I saw the plane as it flew overhead. Following the noises, it stopped climbing and banked left. Looks to be trying to return to the Airport. Fingers/eyes/toes crossed that everyone & everything is okay x”.
Others reported they heard a ‘loud bang’ that could have been an ‘engine backfiring’.
One user wrote: “That was scary to hear and witness flames coming out of the right engine! Never heard anything like it before living under flight path”.
Some reports on Twitter suggest the noise could’ve been a bird strike.
The latest update from the MEN says the plane was on a test flight, with the airline set to issue an official statement shortly.
The ‘best meteor shower of the year’ will be visible over the UK this week
This will be amazing!
The Perseid meteors are active between mid-July and the end of August, and this year they will be reaching their peak this week.
There is set to be as many as 50 to 100 comets flying across the sky each hour, as part of the spectacle this week.
To get the best glimpse of the meteor shower, you’re gonna have to stay up late. The Royal Observatory advises that The Perseids will be most visible between midnight and 5:30am.
The meteors will be flying across the skies on the nights of August 11th and 12th, meaning you can get a glimpse as early as tomorrow evening!
According to the Royal Observatory: “[The shower] is always above the horizon as seen from the UK, which means that observers in the UK should be able to see some meteors as soon as the Sun sets.
“Therefore, it is worth looking up in the early evening.
“It is always favourable to try and spot meteors when the Moon is below the horizon or when it is in its crescent phase, because otherwise it will act as a natural light pollution and will prevent the fainter meteors from being visible.”
Many stargazers wait all year for this extra special meteor shower due to the rate and brightness of the meteors.
The Perseid meteor shower is caused as the Earth moves through a stream of debris left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle, which has a huge 133-year orbit.
The particles hit the Earth at a super speed of 37 miles per second, burning and streaking across the sky.
It is possible to see some rare meteors just before midnight that graze the Earth’s atmosphere and produce the occasional bright long trail, called a ‘fireball’.
The Royal Observatory recommends heading to the countryside for the best view, and to ensure you’re in an area of clear skies.
Find out more about the Perseid meteor shower here.