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You can meet friends and family in gardens again from tomorrow in Greater Manchester 

If you can brave the cold and rain!

Alex Watson

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Warren Wong & Josh Wilburne/Unsplash

Greater Manchester was placed in Tier 2 of the new local tiering system put in place by the government, meaning some rules have changed. 

Since July 31st, when Greater Manchester was put under tighter local restrictions, mixing in private gardens has been banned.

Now the region moves into Tier 2, and meeting friends and family from outside of your household in private gardens is now allowed.

You must still follow social distancing and the rule of six. Indoor mixing between different households remains banned in Greater Manchester.

Number 10/Flickr

Greater Manchester narrowly avoided the tighter restrictions of Tier 3, which were threatened last week when the news of the tiering system was leaked to the press. 

This means our pubs, restaurants and bars can all stay open and continue to operate as they were, closing at the 10pm curfew which is still in place nationally. 

It is understood that if coronavirus infection rates do not improve in Greater Manchester it could move in to Tier 3 and face the tighter restrictions.

However it is not yet confirmed what would trigger a movement from one tier to another.

Number 10/Flickr

Across all tiers, non-essential retail, universities and schools remain open.

Speaking in the Commons yesterday, Boris addressed the ‘R’ rate (the number of people each person with the virus will infect).

He said: “Left unchecked, each person with the virus will infect an average of between 2.7 and 3 others, but Sage assesses that the current R nationally is between 1.2 and 1.5.

“So we are already suppressing that R to well below its natural level, which is why the virus is not spreading as quickly as it did in March. But we need to go further.”

Number 10/Flickr

He continued: “In recent months we have worked with local leaders to counter local spikes with targeted restrictions, but this local approach has inevitably produced different sets of rules in different parts of the country that are now complex to understand and to enforce.

“We will now simplify and standardise our local rules, by introducing a three-tiered system of local covid alert levels in England set at medium, high and very high.

“The medium alert level will cover most of the country and will consist of the current national measures, this includes the rule of six and the closure of hospitality at 10pm.

“The high alert level reflects the interventions in many local areas at the moment. This primarily aims to reduce household to household transmission by preventing all mixing between different households or support bubbles indoors.

“In these areas, the rule of six will continue to apply outdoors where it is harder for the virus to spread in public spaces as well as private gardens.”

You can now use the new local COVID Alert level postcode checker created by the government to find out the restrictions in place in your local area.

Government advice currently states that people should not travel ‘into or out of an area if it has been categorised as a very high alert level area’. Currently, only the Liverpool City Region is placed at Very High. 

News

Brace for ‘tough’ Christmas, SAGE scientists warn

The next six months look tough.

Alex Watson

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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.

Walter Lee Olivares de la Cruz/Unsplash

“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.”

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Last chance to claim £6,750 government grant for self-employed workers

Everything you need to know…

Alex Watson

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Colin Watts/Unsplash & Number 10/Flickr

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.

Number 10/Flickr

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. 

Claim here

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The new Wythenshawe Community Grocery that lets people do a weekly shop for just £3

Amazing!

Alex Watson

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Message Community Grocery/Facebook

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.

Message Community Grocery/Facebook

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.

Message Community Grocery/Facebook

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.

Message Community Grocery/Facebook

“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.

Message Community Grocery/Facebook

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.”

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