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The UK’s terror threat level has been raised to ‘severe’

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Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street / Flickr

Following the explosion at a Liverpool hospital yesterday, the UK’s terror threat level has been raised to ‘severe’.

It moves up from ‘substantial’ to ‘severe’, which means an attack is judged to be ‘highly likely’.

Home Secretary Priti Patel confirmed the move this afternoon, Sky News reports.

This follows the blast outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital on Remembrance Sunday, with police now declaring this a terror attack.

According to reports a passenger in a taxi detonated the bomb outside the hospital, killing himself and injuring the driver who has been branded a hero.

Four people have now been arrested over the blast, although the motive for the attack remains ‘not clear’ – however, police think they know the passenger’s identity, with the four arrested men considered ‘associates’.

The five terror threat levels

  • Low – an attack is highly unlikely
  • Moderate – an attack is possible, but not likely
  • Substantial – an attack is likely
  • Severe – an attack is highly likely
  • Critical – an attack is highly likely in the near future

The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) is responsible for raising and lowering the threat level – JTAC is based at MI5’s London headquarters and consists of counter-terror experts from government, security agencies and police.

The threat level was last increased to ‘severe’ in November 2020 after attacks in Vienna, Nice and Paris, but was downgraded to ‘substantial’ in February 2021.

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Government to review Omicron Covid rules on December 21st

The rules are expected to stay in place until the new year

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Number 10 / Flickr & Gov.uk

The rules and regulations brought in to tackle the Omicron variant of Covid-19 will reportedly be reviewed on December 21st.

According to new reports today, while the rules will be reviewed four days before Christmas Day, they are unlikely to be lifted and will instead be kept in force until the new year.

It has also been suggested that the government’s Plan B – which will enforce mandatory masks in pubs and restaurants and advice to work from home – is not yet needed. 

Nickolay Romensky/Flickr

A Government source told the MailOnline: “In terms of Plan B, we are not there yet. The ambition is that people can have a much more normal Christmas than last year.

“That depends on what the data shows about the new variant. But certainly the hope is that things stay as they are in the next couple of weeks.”

The current rules mean face masks in shops, hairdressers, banks and post offices are now mandatory, as well as on public transport.

The rules also require anyone who comes into contact with someone who tests positive for Omicron to quarantine for ten days – even those who are fully vaccinated.

arturo-rey/Unsplash

However, a Sage scientist recently said the new variant is ‘not a disaster’, and that ‘some people may be ‘hugely overstating the situation’.

Microbiologist Prof Calum Semple says vaccines are ‘still likely to protect you from severe disease’, telling BBC Breakfast: “This is not a disaster, and the headlines from some of my colleagues saying ‘this is horrendous’ I think are hugely overstating the situation.

“Immunity from the vaccination is still likely to protect you from severe disease. You might get a snuffle or a headache or a filthy cold but your chance of coming into hospital or intensive care or sadly dying are greatly diminished by the vaccine and still will be going into the future.”

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Stevenson Square set to be fully pedestrianised and turned into a proper public square under new plans

Local residents have been encouraged to come forward and contribute towards the planning of the new space

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@williamkan__ & @barneyibbotson / Instagram

Plans to permanently pedestrianise the Northern Quarter’s Stevenson Square have been released to the public.

A large proportion of the popular square has been closed off from traffic since last summer, when the council closed several roads to encourage pedestrians back into the city centre. 

It was also hoped that the closure of roads would help bars, restaurants and cafes to expand out into the streets to enable social distancing throughout the pandemic

Yet while some city centre road closures were reversed in October when the emergency Covid legislation came to an end, many roads remained closed around the Northern Quarter after the council were put under pressure deliver improved walking and cycling routes.

@adventurepostcards / Instagram

And Stevenson Square was one of them, with new plans for the area released detailing proposals for at least twenty new trees, seating, bike racks, a ‘rain garden’ and sustainable draining systems.

Further trees could potentially be planted subject to future surveys to find optimum space, and make allowances for underground utilities.

Traffic will still be able to pass through Lever Street but, where it would usually meet the square, the road will instead become a raised carriageway with a controlled pedestrian crossing.

Jon-Connor Lyons, Labour councillor for the Piccadilly ward, said on the plans: “We really welcome this final consultation on the proposals to permanently pedestrianise Stevenson Square.

“The Northern Quarter is a tightly-packed neighbourhood with buildings of various heights, history and architectural merits, though it is lacking public space for people to relax.

“What I’d like to see is more non-commercial seating in the square that is also age-friendly, as well as a friendly environment for artists and creatives to help further the space. I encourage residents to come forward and contribute towards the planning of this space.”

Councillor Tracey Rawlins, Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Environment, added: “I’m incredibly pleased that we’re able to take the next step towards creating a more accessible and thriving Northern Quarter.

“Making more space available for people to walk and cycle as well as introducing more green space were just two of the many priorities highlighted to us by residents and businesses throughout the consultations we’ve run.”

For more information and to have your say on the pedestrianisation, visit the Manchester City Council website here.

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Yellow weather warning for heavy snow and wind issued in Greater Manchester

As the country continues to recover from Storm Arwen, another spate of bad weather is on its way…

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@navsie30 & @jonbits / Instagram

The Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning in various areas across Greater Manchester ahead of the arrival of Storm Barra.

The second named storm of the season is expected to hit tomorrow (Tuesday December 7th) with forecasters saying plummeting temperatures and heavy snow are to be expected across a vast proportion of Northern England and Scotland, including parts of Oldham and Tameside in our region. 

The warning is in place from 11am tomorrow until midnight.

@manc_wanderer / Instagram

Another yellow weather warning for wind has also been issued for most of the UK, which is in place from 9am tomorrow until midnight.

Forecasters say travel disruption is ‘likely’, especially over higher routes, as is delays to rail and air travel. There is also the ‘slight chance some rural communities may become cut off’. 

The Met Office said: “A deep area of low pressure moving in across the UK from the Atlantic is likely to bring high winds to many parts of the UK.

“Strong winds arriving into the west through the morning, spreading inland and reaching eastern areas through the afternoon and early evening. Gusts of 45-50 mph are expected widely, with 60-70 mph in exposed coastal locations.

@adventurecat__ / Instagram

“Strongest winds will ease across inland areas into the overnight period.”

This comes as many parts of the country continue to recover from the effects of Storm Arwen, which has left thousands of people in the North without power heating and hot water. 

The Energy Networks Association (ENA) said, as per The Independent, that 3,190 homes were still waiting to be reconnected as of 2pm on Sunday. This was down from 4,025 homes on Sunday morning.

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