While Greater Manchester has remained in Tier 3 since lockdown ended at the start of December, millions of others have been plunged into the new, stricter Tier 4.
Large parts of the country were moved into the toughest lockdown restrictions from Boxing Day, with Matt Hancock saying the new coronavirus strain was spreading at a ‘dangerous rate’.
Around six million people were placed into Tier 4 from December 26th, with areas in the toughest tier seeing much stricter rules on social mixing and non-essential shops shutting their doors.
Greater Manchester continues to see infection rates much lower than the national average, although they are on the rise with nine out of ten boroughs seeing an increase on the latest figures.
According to the latest data, our region-wide infection rate looks like it’s set to top 200 cases per 100,000 people again – this is still significantly lower than the England-wide average of 392.1, though.
For the individual boroughs, Bury now has the highest rate (246.1, up 27%), while Trafford (242.7, up 60%), Stockport (209.3, up 75%) and Tameside (177, up 48%) saw large increases.
Several areas saw more marginal rises, including Rochdale (224.8, up 7%), Salford (223.7, up 33%), Manchester (202, up 16%), Wigan (181.9, up 10%) and Bolton (161, up 7%).
And the only borough to record a drop in cases was former hotspot Oldham, which saw a slight decrease in numbers – down 3% to 195.7 per 100,000 people.
The next tier review is set to take place tomorrow, Wednesday December 30th, although it remains to be seen if there’ll be much movement between the tiers – if any – with the new variant going around.
When the new tier system was introduced there were meant to be reviews every two weeks, but the government moved London into Tier 3 early as cases rose dramatically there, before introducing the new Tier 4 and plunging the capital and large parts of the South into it.
The Department of Health and Social Care said in a statement: “Exponential rises in cases in the south east and east of England necessitate decisive action ahead of the formal review on 30 December.”
The government considers five criteria when deciding which towns and cities should move tiers, and they are:
- Analysis of cases across all age groups
- Analysis of cases specifically among the over-60s
- Rate by which cases are rising or falling
- Percentage of those tested in local populations who are found to have Covid (e.g. cases per 100,000)
- Current and projected pressures on the NHS
New government proposals could see cat owners fined £500
Here’s everything you need to know…
Cat owners could be slapped with hefty fines under a subtle new rule change proposed by the government this week.
The new plans propose that all cat owners must ensure their pet is microchipped before they are twenty weeks old – there, the cat’s details will be stored and kept up-to-date in a database.
If a cat owner is found to not have microchipped their cat, however, they will have twenty-one days to get their pet microchipped or risk facing a fine of up to £500.
Government figures show that out of the 10.8 million pet cats in the UK, as many as 2.8 million are still not microchipped. And, according to Cats Protection, eight out of ten stray cats coming into their centres are not microchipped.
The charity added that the procedure only costs between £20 and £30.
Animal Welfare Minister Lord Goldsmith said: “Cats are much-loved parts of our families and making sure that they’re microchipped is the best possible way of making sure that you are reunited with them if they are ever lost or stolen.
“These new rules will help protect millions of cats across the country and will be brought in alongside a range of other protections we are introducing under our Action Plan for Animal Welfare.”
Chill Factore forced to close after section of roof damaged by Storm Barra
Major damage to the roof has forced the popular attraction to close
The Chill Factore has been forced to close after a section of its roof was damaged from severe winds brought on by Storm Barra.
All activities at the Beyond building, which houses an indoor ski slope, have been cancelled for the rest of the day, with car parks surrounding the Trafford attraction closing ‘with immediate effect’.
In a statement on its website, Chill Factore said: “The Beyond building has sustained some damage due to the severe winds.
“As a result we’ve made the difficult decision to close our building and surrounding car parks with immediate effect to protect the health and safety of our guests and team.
“All activities for the remainder of the day have been cancelled and we are in the process of contacting guests with bookings for today to rearrange their activities.
“We are awaiting contractors to come and assess the damage and we will provide more information as soon as possible through our website & social media accounts.”
This comes after the Met Office 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 hit the region today, bringing with it plummeting temperatures plummeting and heavy rainfall.
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.
People who kill children will face mandatory life sentences under new Arthur’s Law
The law has been named after six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, who was murdered by his stepmother last year
The Prime Minister has backed a newly proposed law that will ensure child murderers will never leave prison.
Following the horrifying death of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes, Boris Johnson has announced that his government will be amending the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to make ‘whole-life orders the starting point for such abhorrent crimes’.
Johnson said in a statement: “Anyone who plans then carries out the murder of a child should never be released from prison. So we’re toughening the law to make whole-life orders the starting point for such abhorrent crimes.
“The Attorney General is also urgently considering the facts of this case and the sentence handed down, but this is a Government that will always legislate for the toughest possible sentences for such repugnant crimes.”
Arthur’s stepmother Emma Tustin was jailed last week for at least twenty-nine years for his murder, while his father Thomas Hughes was sentenced to twenty-one years for manslaughter.
However, the attorney general announced over the weekend that the sentences are to be reviewed to ‘determine whether they were too low’.
According to The Guardian, the AGO has twenty-eight days from the date of sentence to review a case, assess whether it falls under the Unduly Lenient Sentence (ULS) scheme and make a decision as to whether to refer a sentence to the court of appeal.
Arthur died in Solihull, Midlands on June 16th 2020, as a result of a serious head injury inflicted by Tustin. His body was also covered in 130 bruises.
It was later discovered that the six-year-old had been starved, beaten and poisoned with salt in the weeks leading to his death.
Harrowing footage recently released by West Midlands Police show a weak and emancipated Arthur struggling to lift his duvet from the living room floor, where he had been forced to sleep.
Social worker and member of the House of Lords Herbert Laming said the reduction in funding for social care in the last ten years meant abused and neglected children like Arthur were being missed by the authorities.