Andy Burnham has suggested that selling alcohol in shops should stop after 9pm to prevent huge crowds forming on streets and house parties following the 10pm curfew of bars.
The mayor has called for the government to lift the 10pm curfew explaining that he thinks it is ‘doing more harm than good’.
Pictures from this weekend in many cities have surfaced showing large groups of people mingling on the streets following the pubs closing.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Mr Burnham explaining that he had received police reports of supermarkets being ‘absolutely packed out to the rafters and lots of people gathering after 10pm’.
Adding: My gut feeling is that this curfew is doing more harm than good. It is potentially contradictory. It creates an incentive for people to gather in the streets or more probably, to gather in the home.
“That is the opposite of what our local restrictions here are trying to do.”
He continued: ‘I’m not here to score points, I’m looking for solutions here. I can understand what the government is trying to do. Let me give some suggestions. Perhaps there could be a 9pm curfew on the sale of alcohol in supermarkets and shops that would prevent the rush to shops once pubs have closed. That’s what we certainly saw on Saturday.
“The government has said the 10pm curfew is based on Belgium, but they also have police to disperse people on the streets. If it is doing more harm and damaging businesses, then the government shouldn’t just plough on with it. It certainly requires urgent attention.”
The curfew has received huge backlash following the reveal of Public Health England’s figures that showed pubs and restaurants caused 3% of England’s outbreaks of coronavirus in the week before the new restrictions hit.
Junior health minister, Helen Whatelsy has responded to Burnahm’s calls saying the government is keeping ‘an open mind’, and did not rule out speculation that the new stricter measures may come into force in Northern England and London.
She said: “There’s quite a lot of coverage in the papers about will there be further restrictions. I mean clearly we don’t want to do that, but I wouldn’t rule it out because you do need to get the Covid rates under control.”
Adding: “For anyone coming out of a pub or restaurant at 10 o’clock and thinking what to do next and tempted by the idea of going on and partying, I’d say think of the consequences of your actions.”
Burnham has urged the government to simplify the Covid-19 restrictions. Saying: “There is currently a dissonance between the national and the local requirements,”
“For instance, the rule of six does not apply in the same way in areas of local restrictions, where we’re required not to meet in the home and advised not to meet in public venues, and that is understandably causing confusion amongst the public.”
An open letter from 100 major hospitality firms has won backing from MPs, which explains half of the UK’s 100,000 hospitality firms fear they will not survive until the middle of 2021 and the curfew is making this ‘even harder’.
Brace for ‘tough’ Christmas, SAGE scientists warn
The next six months look tough.
The next six months are set to be ‘very, very difficult’, according to the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).
Professor Jeremy Farrar has said the next three to six months will be a ‘very, very difficult’ period but the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ is effective Covid-19 treatment which should be ready by the first quarter of 2021.
Speaking on Sky News, Prof Farrar said that a circuit-breaker national lockdown is now needed. He explained that there could currently be 50,000 cases a day.
He said: “The ONS (Office for National Statistics) survey, which is the best data in the country at the moment, shows that 27,000 people are getting this infection every day. But that was until the 10th of October.
“Today it will be over 50,000, just as the CMO (England’s chief medical officer) Chris Whitty and (the Government’s chief scientific adviser) Sir Patrick Vallance suggested some three weeks ago.
“It would be at 50,000 new cases across the country every single day, and that’s almost exactly where we are.”
When asked about Christmas, Prof Farrar said: “Christmas will be tough this year. I don’t think it’s going to be the usual celebration it is and all families coming together, I’m afraid.
“I think we have to be honest and realistic and say that we are in for three to six months of a very, very difficult period.
“The temperatures drop, we are all indoors more often, we have the other infections that come this time of year.
“It’s much better for us to be upfront and honest now, and say we are in for a really difficult time, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
Prof Farrar added that a short national lockdown will be best to reduce transmission rates. he added that the best time to put this in place would have been September 20th but that ‘it was never too late’.
He said: “The second best time to do this is now, and the worst time to do this is at the end of November when things would have really got considerably worse.
“So it’s never too late, it’s better to do it now than in a month’s time.”
Last chance to claim £6,750 government grant for self-employed workers
Everything you need to know…
Self-employed Income Support Scheme pays up to £6,750 to the tens of thousands of self-employed people – but the scheme ends today.
Tens of thousands of self-employed people have until midnight tonight to apply for a support grant from the government of up to £6,750.
The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) is available to businesses that earn less than £50,000 a year.
The taxable payout is worth 70% of your average monthly trading profits and will be paid to those qualified in a single instalment.
The grant is capped at £2,190 a month meaning the maximum you can claim is £6,750 in total.
You will need to apply before midnight tonight (October 19th, 2020) with confirmation your business has been impacted since July 14th by the pandemic.
To be eligible you must have been self-employed before April 6th 2019 and filed a tax return for 2018/19 to HMRC.
More than half of your total income must come from self-employment and your profits must not exceed £50,000.
The new Wythenshawe Community Grocery that lets people do a weekly shop for just £3
The Community Grocery store in Wythenshawe lets shoppers stock up their fridge for just £3.
The shop is from the people behind The Mess Cafe which employs and trains ex-offenders and aims to bridge the gap between expensive supermarkets and food banks.
The store is stocked full of food donated from local suppliers and supermarkets with a drastically reduced priced.
Local businesses such as R Noone & Son, FareShare and local branches of Tesco and The Mess Cafe’s regular suppliers have all also been donating food to the new grocery store.
The local community has celebrated the new shop that allows people who are left in vulnerable positions due to the pandemic shop with independence and dignity.
The Mess Cafe provides training and employment to ex-offenders but due to the pandemic was forced to close.
Inspired by Marcus Rashford’s efforts, The Message Trust began to prepare healthy meals for children who were missing out on school lunches – sending out a total of 60,000 meals.
The affordable grocery store idea was born after the team realised more and more families and individuals were being pushed closer to the poverty line due to the pandemic.
Ellie Dickinson from The Message Trust spoke to the MEN: “Initially it was just for children who weren’t in school any more but would have qualified for free school meals, and then we realised there were vulnerable families who weren’t at work, or isolating, or just couldn’t afford to go shopping.
“It made us realise that there was a real need for more than just hot meals – often people couldn’t afford their weekly shop.
“The Community Grocery is touching on two points – it’s a low-cost food shop that still gives people that agency, and no one feels like they’re going to a food bank.
“I think that is quite hard for a lot of people, if they get to that stage.
“Because it’s a shop, each week they can actually choose what they want. They’re not just given a box without knowing what’s in it.
“It’s actually a really aesthetically pleasing shop too – it looks like Ancoats General Store which just adds to the experience!”
The Community Grocery project has a £5 annual membership fee which allows members to receive job workshops, career advice, mental wellbeing courses plus help on writing CV and working on computers.
Following that it’s just £3 per food shop and members are able to visit twice a week.
Depending on supplies each week, the amount of food available to each member changes. The most recent week’s shopping list included; five pieces of fresh fruit or veg, two bread items, five canned or boxed items, two freezer items, two fridge items, four different ‘best before’ items (close to the best before date but still safe to eat), one ‘non-food item’, and two potted plants.
Ellie added: “There have been so many people in the local community who have said ‘Look, I don’t need this, but I’d like to cover someone else’s membership’. It’s been lovely.
“There’s been a real outpouring of support that we didn’t expect.
“We initially did a soft launch for the people we were delivering meals to during lockdown – they were our priority.
“But they spread the word and now we’ve got over 200 members and queues down the street! It’s been wonderful.”