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Rishi Sunak says decision on vaccine passports will be made ‘within months’

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Number 10 & Keir Starmer/Flickr

Rishi Sunak said a decision on vaccine passports can be expected ‘within months’ when speaking on the BBC One Andrew Marr show. 

Vaccine passports could pave the way out of the Covid-19 pandemic, however it is causing growing unease among decision-makers due to the danger of dividing society.

Senior government minister Michael Gove is currently leading a review into the possible use of vaccine passports in venues such as pubs and theatres.

Latest figures show that more than 20 million people in the UK have received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. 

Speaking on BBC One’s Andrew Marr show, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the government should reach its conclusion on vaccine passports in a ‘few months time’.

He added: “Obviously it’s a complicated but potentially very relevant question for helping us reopen, particularly those parts of our country like mass events.

“That’s what the committee and the review will do, is work through all of those questions and come to a view in a few months’ time.”

Scientists from the Royal Society say a ‘broader discussion’ is needed regarding vaccine passports to discuss legal and ethical standards, along with conversations on data privacy. They also explained that until a set standard across countries was made, passports for foreign holidays remain unfeasible.

Georg Arthur Pflueger/Unsplash

The Guardian explains that a digital universal document which provides official proof of vaccination could become a reality within months. 

Last week German ticket company Eventim updated their online booking service to allow customers to upload proof they have been vaccinated.

US President Joe Biden has asked government agencies to investigate the feasibility of producing digital vaccine certificates in one of his first executive orders.

Greece’s prime minister, Kyria Mitsotakis has proposed that the EU push ahead with a common vaccination certificate that could help create a ‘fast travel lave’. 

In Brazil, 10 of 11 supreme court judges ruled in December that vaccination could be made indirectly obligatory by allowing schools, shopping centres, restaurants and public transport to demand proof of inoculation. 

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Manchester Christmas Market mug design has been revealed for 2021

The council has also confirmed how much it’ll cost if you want to keep your mug as a souvenir

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Manchester City Council & Andrew Stawarz / Flickr

Exciting Christmas news: The mug design for this year’s Christmas Markets has officially been unveiled. 

For those who descend upon Manchester’s Christmas Markets each year, the highlight is undisputedly the warm (and boozy) drinks served in the trademark mugs, which feature different designs each year.

In previous years, designs have included interactive reindeer noses, Santa Clause, snowflakes, Christmas trees and mistletoe. 

And as for this year? 

@nicolenavigates / Instagram

Well, the design has officially been unveiled and, for the first time in the markets’ history, the mugs won’t feature the date; this is  because they were originally designed for the markets that never happened in 2020.

This year’s design will instead feature a simple ‘Manchester Christmas Markets’ graphic with the words ‘Christmas is what you make it’ alongside an abundance of stars and snowflakes.

The mugs will be available in two sizes – a smaller navy gluhwein mug and a larger white mug for coffees and hot chocolates.

There will be around 80,000 mugs in total in circulation at the Christmas Markets, and as always there’s the option to take yours home as a souvenir.

Manchester City Council

Visitors will be required to pay a £3 deposit when ordering a hot drink, or £1.50 for beer and wine glasses, which will then be given back to you if you return your mug.

Manchester City Council’s Christmas spokesperson Councillor Pat Karney said: “Second only to the disappointment of the cancellation of last year’s Christmas Market was the realisation that there would be no Christmas Market mug!

“We know that some visitors have a complete collection of mugs going back more than 10 years – and we expect those people to be first in line for a warming gluhwein or hot chocolate.”

This comes just a week after it was announced that the markets’ ‘main hub’ will be moved from its usual spot at Albert Square to Piccadilly Gardens.

@mcrchristmasmarkets / Instagram

The area will be transformed into the ‘Winter Gardens’, with all the usual yuletide bars, market stalls and food huts.

Plans for the Winter Gardens also include a one-way system and separate entrances and exits, as well as a strict limit on visitors to limit the spread of Covid-19.

They are also adding a fully accessible toilet to make the Winter Garden as inclusive as possible.

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Bonfire Night events and fireworks cancelled across Manchester

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Joshua Harkon / Unsplash

For the second year in a row, Bonfire Night firework displays and celebrations across Manchester have been cancelled.

As a result of ongoing fears surrounding the spread of Covid-19 and the current Government advice around large-scale events, the eight free council-organised events scheduled to take place next month will no longer be going ahead.

The events were planned for Heaton Park, Platt Fields Park, Wythenshawe Park, Crumpsall Park, the Eithad Campus, Cringle Park, Debdale Park and Brookdale Park.

David Dixon / Geograph

Manchester City Council said that the guidance around Covid-19 safety has made the events ‘unworkable’ and that the ‘health of Manchester people has to come first’.

Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, executive member for neighbourhoods, said: “This is not a decision we have taken lightly and I know that many people who look forward to these events will be disappointed, especially when we could not host them last year because of coronavirus restrictions.

“But the health of Manchester people, and the logistical considerations around that, has to come first.”

@alexjones / Unsplash

This comes after Greater Manchester Police Chief said he would ban fireworks if ‘given half the chance’; while appearing as a guest on BBC Radio Manchester, Chief Constable Stephen Watson said he has long held the view that ‘it’s only a matter of time before somebody gets killed’, stressing that it simply ‘cannot happen’.

When asked if he would ban fireworks altogether, he replied: “Given half a chance – yes I would. We’ve had people almost pointing rockets at passing vehicles and buses and putting them into telephone kiosks and all the rest of it.

“This goes a long way away from kids knocking around a bonfire and letting off a few fireworks and having fun. It’s that of course that we want to preserve. This is something we’re very much alive to.”

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‘Smoking kills’ could be printed on every individual cigarette to encourage smokers to quit

The new proposal comes as the government clamps down on smoking across the UK

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Pixabay & @iriser / Unsplash

Tough new proposals to get more people to quit smoking could have ‘smoking kills’ printed on individual cigarettes. 

MPs have submitted an amendment to the health and care bill going through parliament which would allow the health secretary to make graphic health warnings mandatory.

Mary Kelly Foy, the Labour MP behind the move, said, as per The Guardian: “We know that cigarettes are cancer sticks and kill half the people who use them. So I hope that health warnings on cigarettes would deter people from being tempted to smoke in the first place, especially young people.

Pixabay

“I hope it would encourage some smokers to give up because if they are putting that in their mouth and seeing that message on cigarettes every time they smoke, I hope it would have the desired effect.”

The other amendments proposed by Foy include raising the legal age for buying cigarettes from eighteen to twenty-one, preventing e-cigarette manufacturers from using marketing tactics that could encourage children to try them, such as sweet flavourings and cartoon characters, and making it illegal to give e-cigarette samples away for free, something that many companies have done in the past.

Though this isn’t a UK government’s first attempt to stamp down on the toxic habit; in 2008, a law was passed that required graphic images warning of the deadly effects of smoking to be shown on all cigarette packets.

A set of fifteen images were rotated while tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide emission numbers were also shown on the side of packages.

@koalink / Unsplash

Plain packaging was then fully implemented in the UK nearly a decade later in May 2017 for all cigarette and tobacco brands. This policy forced the removal of all brand images, colours and promotions, and instead required all packaging to be standardised in terms of shape, colour and text design.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said on the proposed requirements: “Warnings on cigarettes were suggested over forty years ago by then health minister George Young.

“The tobacco companies, with breathtaking hypocrisy, protested that the ink would be toxic to smokers. The truth is cigarette stick warnings are toxic to big tobacco and this is an idea whose time has come.”

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