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‘Zero traces’ of Covid found in Manchester Piccadilly and three other major UK train stations

Fantastic news for commuters

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Gerald England / Geograph & Abhijit Tembhekar / Flickr

Manchester Piccadilly and three other of the UK’s busiest train stations are completely Covid-free, new tests have shown today.

Two rounds of testing were carried out at London Euston, Birmingham New Street, Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Piccadilly station, and on several trains running between them, Metro reported.

Surfaces frequently touched by customers – like escalator handles, ticket machines and benches – were swabbed and sent away for lab testing. The same was done on intercity train services and hour-long air samples were also analysed.

Abhijit Tembhekar / Flickr

The experiment, led by Imperial College London, was carried out first in January and then again in June, and produced very encouraging results on both occasions.

In January, the pandemic in England was at its peak but cases dropped off by more than 50% by the end of the month. In June, however, the month started with 2,539 new cases being reported but, by the 30th, it had climbed to 21,293, back to levels last seen in January.

David Green, senior research fellow at Imperial College London, said on the study: “In the same way that a swab is used to take a Covid test in the nose and throat and sent to the lab, we use a filter to collect any virus particles in the air and swabs to collect viruses on surfaces.

“This approach provides a way of quantifying the amount of virus circulating in these public environments and the effect of mitigation strategies like cleaning and wearing face coverings.

Gerald England / Geograph

“This is part of a wider programme of work with the public transport sector to understand where this virus is most prevalent so that we can return to pre-pandemic activities as safely as possible.”

Rob Mole, the Senior Programme Manager for Network Rail’s response to the pandemic, added: “Station cleaning teams and train staff have made it their mission to keep passengers safe during the pandemic and this is proof their dedicated approach works.

“We want all passengers to travel in confidence on the railway network and we will keep doing our part by rigorously cleaning trains and stations [and] we ask passengers to do their bit too by wearing face coverings while travelling out of respect for others so we can all stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Wearing face masks onboard trains across the UK is no longer compulsory, though it is still strongly advised. 

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New details of ‘historic’ four-day bank holiday for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee have been revealed

Here’s everything we know so far…

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Commonwealth Secretariat / Flickr & @oasthousemcr / Instagram

New details have been released ahead of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations set to take place next year.

Back in June, Buckingham Palace announced that Queen Elizabeth II, ninety-five, will host four-days worth of celebrations to mark her seventieth year on the throne in June 2022.

Details surrounding the celebrations were kept under wraps, though the Palace did confirm that Brits will be treated to a four-day bank holiday across the usual May Bank Holiday, saying the extra days off will ‘provide an opportunity for communities and people to come together and celebrate the historic milestone’.

But now, nearly four months on from the initial announcement, the finer details surrounding the historic occasion have been unveiled.

Defence Images / Flickr

According to the events organisers, A Gallop Through History, a ‘spectacular’ equestrian display showcasing horses from across the globe will be staged as a ‘personal tribute to our monarchy’. The show is said to feature more than 500 horses and over a thousand dancers and musicians taking the audience on a journey from Elizabeth I to the Queen.

The Queen’s own personal ponies and horses are also expected to feature in the event, with royal fans hoping to even see popular members of the royal family taking part.

Dame Helen Mirren and comic actor Stephen Fry have been involved in publicising the event, which will be staged over four nights in the grounds of Windsor Castle next May, and are in discussions with organisers about taking part in the final show.

Nations from across the Commonwealth and other parts of the globe are also expected to be involved in the show, such as Oman, India, the Caribbean, Canada, France and Norway.

Commonwealth Secretariat / Flickr

Sir Mike Rake, chairman of the Platinum Jubilee’s advisory board, said: “After seventy years on the throne and particularly poignantly after the dark and troubling times in the last eighteen months, Her Majesty’s leadership, steadiness and unwavering devotion during her reign deserve recognition and celebration.

“In 2022 Her Majesty the Queen will have guided the nation through several decades of change, growth and advancement, like none before them – in times of triumph and also in times of trouble.

“In an age of advancement and adversary, the Queen has remained a constant, committed and courageous presence, therefore we have worthwhile and timely celebration.”

The May Bank Holiday – which usually falls at the end of the month – will be moved to Thursday June 2nd, while an extra Bank Holiday will be added on Friday June 3rd 2022, making it a four-day weekend.

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Gary Neville says access to high quality education ‘shouldn’t be dependent on your post code’

‘My reliance on government to do the right thing is lost – that’s my own personal opinion’

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Former Manchester United footballer Gary Neville has spoken about the motivation behind his newly launched university scheme.

Sitting down with ITV Granada Reports, Neville explained that his scheme will be aimed at young people between the ages of seventeen and twenty who have been eligible for free school dinners and may never have thought they’d get the opportunity to go to university.

The scheme will offer a free £5,000 support package of education essentials and will help with travel for the three years that they attend university, as well as provide a laptop and unlimited data.

It also offers lunch vouchers for fifty-two weeks of the year and vouchers to buy home essentials.

ITV Granada

Speaking about the ongoing poverty that spurred the launch of his scheme, however, Neville said he is ‘ashamed’ to be in a country where families are still forced to choose between heating and eating, and described the government’s recent decision to cut Universal Credit by £20 as ‘ridiculous’.

He said: “As far as I can see those economic problems haven’t ended so I don’t know why the universal credit is being taken away.

“It is a ridiculous decision as this moment in time, just as we’re starting to come out of a pandemic.”

And, speaking on why he felt the need to act in the first place, Neville said all the faith he once had in the government has been lost.

@Number 10 / Flickr

He said: “My reliance on government to do the right thing is lost – that’s my own personal opinion. However what we can do in the private sector, and in other institutions, is do our very best.

“I think that’s what we’re trying to do here is to put packages in place that support young people and give them the option to go to university. I can’t believe I’m saying that because it should be the choice for everybody.

“It shouldn’t be dependent on your post code as to whether you get high quality to education or access to education.”

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Mask-wearing on public transport sees huge drop with only 20% of rail passengers still wearing them at train stations

Public transport unions have stressed the importance of face masks in the event of a Covid surge in winter

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Abhijit Tembhekar / Wikimedia Commons & @waldemarbrandt67w / Unsplash

Mask-wearing on trains and in train stations has seen a massive drop now that it is no longer compulsory, statistics provided by Network Rail have revealed today.

According to the report, only 20% of commuters are continuing to wear their face masks while on trains and in stations, a stark comparison to the 80% figure before restrictions were lifted.

In response to the startling new figure, public transport unions have warned that the government may struggle to get people back to wearing masks if Covid cases surge in the winter. 

A government statement said, as per The BBC: “The guidance is clear that people are expected and recommended to wear a mask when they come into contact with people they don’t normally meet in enclosed and crowded spaces.

@rosssneddon / Unsplash

“It is open to transport operators to decide if they want to implement their own policies, working within their particular environment.”

A spokesperson for Unite, which represents bus drivers, said that the use of masks has dropped on buses too, saying: “Our members are reporting that mask-wearing on buses is collapsing and has got much worse in recent weeks. In some cases, there are very few passengers wearing masks on a bus, with those who tend to still wear a mask being older.

“Due to buses getting busier, they can’t socially distance and feel their health is being placed at risk by non-mask-wearers.”

While wearing a face mask isn’t compulsory on trains or bus services, here in Greater Manchester it is still a legal requirement on Metrolink trams.

@hala097 / Unsplash

Just before all restrictions were lifted back in July, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham announced that the use of face masks would continue to be mandatory on all tram services and in Manchester Airport.

The mayor told ITV News at the time: “Public opinion is very squarely behind people continuing to wear masks – on public transport, particularly – but also possibly in essential retail.

“People have been getting in touch with me saying, ‘I want to get rid of it, it’s my choice’, but the bottom line is, if you’re standing next to somebody on a bus, who’s got to get the bus and are on the way to have their chemo or dialysis, you’ve got to put yourself in their shoes.”

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