New Covid-19 Rules: Everything you need to know as masks become compulsory in shops and on transport
The new rules will come into place tomorrow at 4
From tomorrow, November 30th, the use of face masks and coverings will once again be compulsory in shops and on public transport.
The government made the decision as part of its response to the new Omicron variant, which is said to be ‘more transmissible and have more mutations which could weaken the effect of vaccines and natural immunity.’
The change in rules was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson after cases of the new variant were detected at several locations across the UK. The Health Secretary Sajid Javid gave more detail yesterday, November 28th, saying the masks rule would apply from 4am on Tuesday.
Here’s everything you need to know:
Where will face masks be compulsory after November 30th?
Face masks and coverings will be mandatory in all shops and on all forms of public transport.
A statement from the Government says: “From 4am Tuesday November 30th, face coverings will be compulsory in shops and other settings such as banks, post offices and hairdressers, as well as on public transport unless individuals are exempt from doing so.”
However, all hospitality will be exempt from the rule change, with the Prime Minister saying further details would be outlined by the Health Secretary ‘in the course of the next day or so’.
Will face masks be compulsory in schools?
While staff and secondary school students are being ‘strongly advised’ to wear face masks in communal areas from Monday, the rule won’t be mandatory in schools.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi recommends that staff, visitors and pupils in Year 7 and above should wear masks in communal areas in schools, colleges and universities such as corridors, canteens and halls.
What other measures are being brought in?
Passengers arriving into the UK from Tuesday will have to take a PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative result. PCR tests must be purchased from private providers as free NHS tests are not valid for this purpose.
All close contacts of anyone who has tested positive for the Omicron variant must also self-isolate for ten days regardless of their vaccination status.
England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty also said during Saturday’s press conference that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation will consider extending boosters from the over-40s to the over-18s.
Will more restrictions be brought in?
The Health Secretary said during Saturday’s press conference that it was ‘nowhere near’ the time to reintroduce social distancing rules and work-from-home guidance, and was hopeful the mask mandate would be removed ‘within weeks’.
Also speaking on Saturday, Boris Johnson added that the measures are simply a ‘precaution’ and are in place to ‘buy time for scientists’ while more is learned about the Omicron variant.
Man who discovered James Bulger’s body dies in custody
He discovered the toddler’s body when he was just 14-years-old
The man who discovered the body of James Bulger has died in police custody.
James Riley, 44, discovered the toddler’s lifeless body when he was a teenager. He was with his brother Terrence Riley on a railway line in Liverpool in 1993 when they came across the horrific discovery —he was just 14 at the time, The Liverpool Echo reports.
Mr Riley was taken into custody at St Anne Street Police Station in Liverpool at around 9.45pm on March 14th 2023. He stayed the night in a cell but at around 5pm the next day, police staff found him lying on the floor needing medical attention.
They called for an emergency ambulance but when at the hospital, Mr Riley was confirmed dead. Mr Riley had a string of over 40 convictions for a range of offences.
His family say this was a result of trauma caused by his discovery of James’ body. Two-year-old James was abducted by two 10-year-old boys, Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, who tortured and murdered him in a crime that shook the UK.
In February 1993, grainy CCTV images showed James being led out of Bootle’s Strand Shopping Centre by the schoolboys. They led him to the disused Walton & Anfield railway station, near Walton Lane police station, where they committed the horrific act.
In May 2017, James Riley was sentenced to two years and four months behind bars after admitting a spate of commercial burglaries.
Sarah Holt, defending him in that case, said: “He has been a drug addict for a considerable period of time – all his adult life and in fact, most of his adolescence.
“His problems can be traced back to when he was 14, when he experienced a very traumatic event. It was an event I suggest that meant he is suffering from PTSD, though not diagnosed. He never sought counselling, he tells me.
“That led him at 14 to try crack cocaine and his problems really spiralled from thereon in.”
In 2021 Mr Riley was found dumped in a street wearing just his underwear and holding a knife after a gang sought money for a debt he owed.
Aberdeen Sheriff Court previously heard that what he encountered in 1993 left a lasting impact on his life. The court heard how Riley suffered with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of finding James’ body.
The Independent Office for Police Custody (IOPC) is now investigating Riley’s death. IOPC Regional Director Catherine Bates said: “This was a tragic incident in which a man has sadly died and our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.
“Merseyside Police referred this matter to us, and as he was in the custody of police at the time he became unwell, it is important there is a thorough and independent investigation.
“We will examine all relevant matters including the interaction officers had with the man on the street, and what happened after he arrived at the custody suite. We have made contact with his family to explain our role and will update them as our enquiries progress.”
Merseyside Police said previously officers are fully cooperating with the IOPC. A spokesperson for the force said: “We are aware that the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is investigating the death of a 44-year-old man in police custody in Liverpool on Wednesday, March 15th.
“The force’s Professional Standards Department mandatorily referred the matter to the IOPC following the sad news that the man had passed away and we are fully cooperating with their investigation team. His next of kin have been informed and Merseyside Police would like to offer its condolences to the family for their loss.”
Police seize 17 dogs after six-year-old girl attacked while playing in the street
The young girl is now in a stable condition in hospital after the horrific attack
Police have seized 17 dogs after a six-year-old girl was mauled in a brutal attack while playing in the street, in Greater Manchester.
The young girl is now in a stable condition in hospital after the horrific attack on Sunday at an address on Ackers Lane, Carrington. Greater Manchester Police say three people arrested on suspicion of owning a dangerous dog have now been bailed.
The force said it was called to the address around 2.40pm and immediately seized four dogs. Four more adult dogs and nine puppies have since been taken away. Officers also said a van had been found in south Manchester as part of the investigation and is currently being examined.
A police spokesperson said: “Shortly before 2.40pm [on Sunday] police were called to a report of a child who had suffered injuries caused by dogs at an address on Ackers Lane, Carrington.
“The girl was taken to hospital and is in a stable condition. Four dogs were seized by officers and have been taken away by specialist partners. Three people have been arrested on suspicion of owning a dangerous dog.”
GMP has since referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) over the incident. Detective Inspector Matthew Dixon, of GMP’s Trafford district, said: “This is a fluid investigation and so far we have recovered 17 dogs and made three arrests, as well as a vehicle of interest.
“However, the investigation is very much ongoing and anyone with information should contact police quoting log 1612-26/03/23.”
The breed of dog has not yet been confirmed, however it has been reported that neighbours noticed a number of American Pit Bull Terriers in the area.
Man hid from police on rooftop after cannabis farm found at property
He stood on the ledge of a skylight to evade the authorities
A man was found to be hiding from police on the roof of a property after maintaining a cannabis farm inside.
Etmond Lika, 32, of no fixed abode, appeared via a video link at Liverpool Crown Court on Tuesday March 28th, after pleading guilty to one count of being concerned in the production of cannabis.
Christopher Hopkins, prosecuting, told the court that on February 24th this year, a locksmith was employed to change the front door lock at an address at Stanley Road, Kirkdale at approximately midday, when the discovery was made.
As reported by ITV’s Granada Reports, Mr Hopkins said: “He noticed what he thought was a cannabis installation at the property and called the police. He thought someone was inside.”
Later that afternoon, officers searched the large terraced house and found that across the six rooms inside was a whole cannabis growing installation of at least 200 plants — described as ‘plainly a sophisticated operation’.
The force found evidence that someone had been living there, such as food etc, and said there was ‘no doubt that was this defendant’. Lika attempted to evade police by climbing through a skylight and hiding on the roof of the property, but was eventually captured and arrested.
Mr Hopkins said: “Lika had been employed by somebody to manage or run this installation whether that was tending to the plants or whatever else was required.”
Lika was interviewed by police and initially denied being involved, but said he came to the UK via a boat across the channel, in September last year, in the hope of gaining better economic opportunities.
He said he paid 5,000 euros for that trip, but apart from those limited facts, Mr Hopkins said: “the Crown frankly knows nothing else about this defendant”.
He added: “Lika must have been motivated by some significant financial advantage and must have understood what was going on in the house.” Lika has no previous convictions in the UK, and a foreign antecedent record was requested but none was provided.
Olivia Beesley, defending, said her client was offered £100 a day to live at the property, and left Albania for economic reasons. She said: “He wants to work but he knows now that he should have done so through proper channels.
“He simply wishes to receive his sentence with grace and understands he must be punished for this kind of offending.” She said he requested an English Language course while in custody, and was homeless for a week prior to committing this offence.
Ms Beesley also detailed that Lika said he had no previous convictions in Albania. Judge Brian Cummings KC said: “There are lots of January 1st birthdays on this class of case.
“You entered this country illegally, little or nothing is known about you. I note what was said in the case summary by reference to your police interview, and I quote: ‘It was difficult to get an answer out of him, he continuously changed his account throughout the interview’.
“A question mark always raises in my mind when somebody has a January 1st birthday, it seems to be more often than is statistically probable in cases of this class.”
Lika was sentenced to two years and four months imprisonment, and forfeiture and destruction of the drugs and paraphernalia was ordered. A victim surcharge applies.