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People who are shielding could be allowed out ‘by the end of July’

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Richard Townshend / Wikimedia

Vulnerable people who have been told to shield may be allowed more freedoms over the coming weeks according to the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock.

Matt Hancock said that those who are currently shielding may be allowed out ‘very soon’, with reports citing sources close to the government as saying they could be allowed out by the end of July.

A report from the Health Service Journal yesterday quoted sources ‘close to the issue’ as saying people who are shielding won’t need to isolate at home from the end of July, with ministers planning to update them soon.

It comes as the general lockdown restrictions continue to be relaxed, for instance the opening of non-essential shops this week for the first time since March.  

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Currently those who are shielding are able leave their home to exercise once a day, with the rules relaxed on June 1st, the Guardian reports. 

The new update allows those who are shielding and living alone to meet one person from another household outside, as long as they are able to maintain strict social distancing – ideally this would be the same person each time – while those who live with other people can go outside with members of their household.

in regards to when shielding might end, Mr Hancock told BBC Breakfast: “I want to say to your viewers, if you are in the shielded category we will announce very soon what the plans are and we will write to you personally through the NHS so that you can get the direct clinical advice.”

He added that those who have been shielding indoors have ‘sacrificed an awful lot’ but that ‘we want to do this properly based on the clinical advice’. 

Hancock has said the Housing Secretary will publish details soon, but that the changes will be ‘based entirely on the clinical evidence of what it is safe for you to do’.

When asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme whether he could confirm that shielding would finish at the end of July, Hancock said the government would ‘set this out very shortly’ and write to those involved.

Age UK has said the loosening of restrictions is ‘very good news’, as long as it is ‘fully justified by the current level of risk’.

Its charity director, Caroline Abrahams, said: “Looking further ahead, if the shielding scheme is to be wound down from the end of July, to be replaced by a more individualised approach, it will be really important to ensure that older people are not left high and dry if support is withdrawn before they can take a full part in our society again.”

The government has added that ‘no final decision has yet been made’ regarding the ending of the shielding programme. 

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Liz Truss says British workers need ‘more graft’ and lack ‘skill’ of Chinese workers

She was also heard saying workers outside of London have less productivity

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Number 10 / Flickr & Gov.uk

Conservative leader frontrunner Liz Truss has been criticised after saying British workers need ‘more graft’ and lack the ‘skill and application’ of their foreign counterparts.

Just two weeks on from the backlash surrounding her plan to cut the pay of public sector workers in the north, audio obtained by The Guardian heard Truss discussing the work ethic and attitude of British workers and comparing them to those of foreign workers.

During her discussion, said to have taken place five years ago when she was the chief secretary to the Treasury, Truss could be heard saying: “I once wrote a book about this which got mischaracterised… British workers produce less per hour than … and that’s a combination of kind of skill and application.

“If you look at productivity, it’s very, very different in London from the rest of the country… this has been a historical fact for decades.”

She continued: “Essentially it’s partly a mindset and attitude thing, I think. It’s working culture, basically. If you go to China it’s quite different, I can assure you.

“There’s a fundamental issue of British working culture. Essentially, if we’re going to be a richer country and a more prosperous country, that needs to change… But I don’t think people are that keen to change that.

“There’s a slight thing in Britain about wanting the easy answers. That’s my reflection on the election and what’s gone before it, and the referendum – we say it’s all Europe that’s causing these huge problems, it’s all these migrants causing these problems. But actually what needs to happen is more… more graft.

“It’s not a popular message.”

Number 10 / Flickr

A source from Truss’s team has attempted to downplay the audio, telling The Guardian: “These half-a-decade-old comments lack context but one thing that is as clear today as ever before is a need to boost productivity, which leads to higher wages and a better quality of life for workers right across the UK.

“As prime minister, Liz will deliver an economy that is high wage, high growth and low tax.”

However, when questioned about the audio during a Tory leadership hustings in Perth, Truss appeared to confirm she still believed British workers were not as productive as they should be.

When asked whether she stood by her remarks, Truss said: “I don’t know what you’re quoting there [but] what we need in this country is more productivity and we need more economic growth.”

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Andy Burnham confirms bus fares will be capped at £2 a journey from next month

Passengers aged between sixteen and eighteen will also travel for free under the reform

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Alan Sansbury / Wikimedia Commons

Bus fares across Greater Manchester will be capped at £2 a journey and £5 a day from September, Andy Burnham has confirmed today.

In a tweet this morning, the mayor described his announcement as ‘a glimmer of light in tough times’, before revealing the new bus fares will come into force from the first full working week in September.

The fare changes will include:

  • £2 max single fare for adults.
  • £1 max for under-sixteens. 
  • £5/£2.50 unlimited travel in any day.
  • Free travel for passengers aged between sixteen – eighteen.

These new fares will be valid on all routes across Greater Manchester, regardless of the operator. 

In a follow up tweet, Burnham said the cheaper fares will be paid for by ‘more people using buses’, before pointing out that many are ‘a third or half full at the moment’. 

The mayor first unveiled plans to bring Greater Manchester’s buses back under public control in March this year, with a promise to introduce the new fares in 2023 and 2024.

These plans were swiftly fast-tracked and, while the initial plan was for a gradual roll-out across the region, it was then announced that passengers across the whole of Greater Manchester would benefit from the new fares at the same time. 

Burnham previously revealed that the £5 fare will enable passengers to travel from when they buy the ticket until 3.59am the following day, and will be valid for use across various operators. Currently, a daily fare costs £6.40.

However, the maximum £2 for a single journey fare will only work for a single operator, with the London-style ‘Hopper’ fare unveiled in the first announcement currently on hold.

These capped fares come as part of Burnham’s Bee Network vision, which will see Greater Manchester’s public transport system combine trains, trams and buses in an in-sync timetable.

Walking and cycling will also be integrated in an attempt to create a modern, sustainable, and accessible model for the people of Greater Manchester.

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Pop Idol singer Darius Campbell-Danesh dies aged 41

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ITV

Pop Idol singer Darius Campbell-Danesh has died at the age of forty-one, his family have announced today.

The ‘Colourblind’ singer was found dead in his US apartment in Minnesota on August 11th. The cause of his death is not yet known.

His family said in a statement: “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Darius Campbell-Danesh.

“Darius was found unresponsive in bed in his apartment room in Rochester, Minnesota, on August 11th and was pronounced dead in the afternoon by the local medical examiners’ office.

“The local police department have confirmed that there were no signs of intent or suspicious circumstances. The cause of his sudden death is unknown at this stage while medical examinations continue.

“We ask that you kindly respect our wishes for privacy at this time whilst we come to terms with the tragic loss of our son and brother.”

Darius first rose to fame in 2002 as a contestant on the ITV singing contest Pop Idol, with him eventually coming in third place behind Will Young and Gareth Gates.

The Scottish singer achieved number one in the UK later that year with his single ‘Colourblind’, while his album Dive In reached the top ten.

Darius then went on to enjoy a successful career on the stage, with him appearing in ‘Chicago’ as Billy Flynn in two runs of the production, as well as ‘Guys and Dolls’, ‘Gone With the Wind’ and many more in the West End.

In 2010, he made returned to television by competing in ITV’s Popstar to Operastar, with him eventually winning. 

Darius previously told The Scotsman in 2014 that he was used to overcoming doubts, and always relied on the advice his father gave him as a youngster.

He said: “Anything is possible if you want it enough and if you’re willing to work hard enough at it and if you don’t give up on it. It can seem overwhelming when you set any challenge and I’ve been told many times in my career that things have not been possible.”

 

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