7.5 C
Northamptonshire
Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Skelmersdale United face trip to Harrogate in FA Cup first round

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Skelmersdale United face trip to Harrogate in FA Cup first round Skelmersdale United, the lowest-ranked team left in this season’s FA Cup, will travel to Football League new boys Harrogate Town in the first round next month. The North West Counties League Premier Division side won 4-1 at Stafford Rangers to reach this stage of the competition for the first time since 1971. Former winners Ipswich and Portsmouth will clash at Portman Road in the highest-profile of the 40 first round ties. Ipswich won the competition under Bobby Robson in 1978, while Pompey were victorious in 1939 and as recently as 2008. National League North side Chorley face a journey of just eight miles to take on Lancashire neighbours Wigan, who shocked Manchester City to win the 2013 final. Two more former winners face long trips to face sides from the National League South. Blackpool, winners of the famous ‘Matthews Final’ in 1953, travel to Eastbourne Borough, while 1911 winners Bradford go to Tonbridge Angels. The matches are scheduled to take place from November 7-9, and current coronavirus regulations mean all the games will be played behind closed doors. Read the full list of fixtures: 1 Leyton Orient v Newport County 2 Havant & Waterlooville v Cray Valley (PM) 3 Sunderland v Mansfield Town 4 Bolton Wanderers v Crewe Alexandra 5 Oxford United v Peterborough United 6 Exeter City v AFC Fylde 7 Tonbridge Angels v Bradford City 8 Walsall v Bristol Rovers 9 Rochdale v Chesterfield 10 Swindon Town v Darlington 11 Barnet v Burton Albion 12 Wigan Athletic v Chorley 13 Tranmere Rovers v Accrington Stanley 14 Oxford City v Northampton Town 15 Maldon & Tiptree v Morecambe 16 Bromley v Yeovil Town 17 Torquay United v Crawley Town 18 Eastbourne Borough v Blackpool 19 Cheltenham Town v South Shields 20 Stevenage v Concord Rangers 21 Harrogate Town v Skelmersdale United 22 Gillingham v Woking 23 Charlton Athletic v Plymouth Argyle 24 Hayes & Yeading United v Carlisle United 25 FC United of Manchester v Doncaster Rovers 26 Salford City v Hartlepool United 27 Scunthorpe United v Solihull Moors 28 Hull City v Fleetwood Town 29 Colchester United v Marine 30 Barrow v AFC Wimbledon 31 Dagenham & Redbridge v Grimsby Town 32 Cambridge United v Shrewsbury Town 33 Brackley Town v Bishop's Stortford or St Albans City 34 Eastleigh v MK Dons 35 Hampton & Richmond Borough v Oldham Athletic 36 Boreham Wood v Southend United 37 Ipswich Town v Portsmouth 38 Port Vale v King's Lynn Town 39 Lincoln City v Forest Green Rovers 40 Banbury United v Canvey Island Published: 26/10/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Water present on sunlit surface of the Moon Nasa confirms

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Water present on sunlit surface of the Moon, Nasa confirms There is water on the sunlit surface of the Moon, Nasa has announced. The discovery suggests water may be distributed across the lunar surface, and not just limited to cold, shadowed areas. Nasa’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (Sofia) has detected water molecules (H2O) in a crater located on the Moon’s southern hemisphere. The crater is so large that it is visible from Earth. Previous observations of the Moon’s surface detected some form of hydrogen, but were unable to distinguish whether it was water or its close chemical relative, hydroxyl (OH). The researchers found water in concentrations of 100 to 412 parts per million – roughly equivalent to a 12-ounce bottle of water – trapped in a cubic metre of soil spread across the lunar surface. As a comparison, the Sahara desert has 100 times the amount of water than what Sofia detected in the lunar soil. Paul Hertz, director of the astrophysics division in the science mission directorate at Nasa Headquarters in Washington, said: “We had indications that H2O – the familiar water we know – might be present on the sunlit side of the Moon. “Now we know it is there. “This discovery challenges our understanding of the lunar surface and raises intriguing questions about resources relevant for deep space exploration.” Though it is still unclear how easy to access the water will be. Nasa says that despite the small amounts, the discovery raises new questions about how water is created and how it persists on the harsh, airless lunar surface. Under Nasa’s Artemis programme, the agency is eager to learn all it can about the presence of water on the Moon in advance of sending the first woman and next man to the lunar surface by 2024 and establishing a sustainable human presence there by the end of the decade. Casey Honniball, the lead author who published the results from her graduate thesis work at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu, said: “Prior to the Sofia observations, we knew there was some kind of hydration. “But we didn’t know how much, if any, was actually water molecules – like we drink every day – or something more like drain cleaner.” Sofia offered a new means of looking at the Moon. Flying at altitudes of up to 45,000 feet, Sofia – a modified Boeing 747SP jetliner – was able to train its a 106-inch diameter telescope on the Moon. Using its Faint Object Infrared Camera for the Sofia Telescope (Forcast), it was able to pick up the specific wavelength unique to water molecules, at 6.1 microns, and discovered a surprising concentration in sunny Clavius Crater. Dr Honniball added: “Without a thick atmosphere, water on the sunlit lunar surface should just be lost to space. “Yet somehow we’re seeing it. Something is generating the water, and something must be trapping it there.” The experts say several forces could be at play in the delivery or creation of this water. Micrometeorites raining down on the lunar surface, carrying small amounts of water, could deposit the water on the lunar surface upon impact. Another possibility is there could be a two-step process whereby the Sun’s solar wind delivers hydrogen to the lunar surface and causes a chemical reaction with oxygen-bearing minerals in the soil to create hydroxyl. Meanwhile, radiation from the bombardment of micrometeorites could be transforming that hydroxyl into water, Nasa said. It added that the water could be trapped into tiny bead-like structures in the soil that form out of the high heat created by micrometeorite impacts. Another possibility is that it could be hidden between grains of lunar soil and sheltered from the sunlight – potentially making it a bit more accessible than water trapped in bead -like structures. Libby Jackson, UK Space Agency human exploration programme manager, said: “The discovery that the Moon harbours water reshaped what we know of our closest celestial neighbour and today’s announcement could take our understanding to a new level. “Using a small amount of the Moon’s natural resources could make it easier for astronauts to explore the Moon and the hope is that these pockets could be used to create drinking water and rocket fuel on the lunar surface.” In a separate study published in Nature Astronomy, researchers say hidden pockets of water on the moon could be much more common than previously thought. Researchers suggest that in some cases, tiny patches of ice might exist in permanent shadows no bigger than a penny. The authors suggest that approximately 40,000 sq km of the lunar surface has the capacity to trap water. Published: 26/10/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Eight million people in England to face toughest coronavirus restrictions

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Eight million people in England to face toughest coronavirus restrictions More than eight million people in England will be under the most stringent coronavirus restrictions when Nottingham and Warrington move into Tier 3 this week. Tougher measures will come into force in the Midlands city and the boroughs of Broxtowe, Gedling and Rushcliffe on Thursday, with details expected to be set out on Tuesday. It came just hours after it was confirmed that Warrington will enter Tier 3 on Tuesday, with pubs and bars in the Cheshire town having to close unless they serve substantial meals. Households will be banned from mixing indoors or in private gardens and beer gardens, while betting shops, adult gaming centres, casinos and soft play centres will also close. Warrington Borough Council will receive a financial support package of £1.68 million to help contact tracing and enforcement, as well as £4.2 million in business support from the Government. The two areas will join the Liverpool City Region, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and South Yorkshire in Tier 3, placing 8.2 million people in England under the toughest restrictions. The rate of coronavirus cases in Nottingham fell from 726.6 in the seven days to October 15 to 464.4 in the week to October 22, with 1,546 new cases, according to analysis by the PA news agency. But in Warrington cases rose from 343.3 to 395.2 per 100,000 people over the same period, with 830 new cases. In a joint statement, Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire County Council said the measures had been agreed to “achieve a sustained reduction in infection rates, especially to help protect our vulnerable residents, the NHS and social care services”. “A package of support similar to those secured in other parts of the country has been agreed to help residents and businesses who will be impacted by the new restrictions.” Earlier, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was “time to take action” in Warrington with rising infection rates. “I know that these new measures will mean sacrifices must be made by the people in Warrington, and I want to extend my thanks to each and every one of them for recognising the severity of the situation and sticking to the rules. “We have agreed a support package designed to help businesses while boosting efforts to control the virus locally, and will not hesitate to take similar action in any area of the country if infection rates continue to rise. “Please remember – now is the time for us all to work together to get this virus under control.” And he told the BBC that areas under Tier 3 restrictions would have to prove that their infection rate was “coming down”, especially among those aged 60 or over, before they could be removed from the strictest measures. Mr Hancock has also refused to rule out bringing in a tougher set of Tier 4 impositions following reports another level is being considered to tackle England’s rise in infections. In other developments: – Boris Johnson insisted the Government would not allow children to go hungry amid mounting anger over his refusal to extend free school meals during the half-term break. – The Government said a further 102 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Monday, while there were a further 20,890 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK. – The Oxford Covid-19 vaccine shows a “strong immune response” among elderly participants, according to experts. – The Welsh Government said it will “continue to learn lessons” about how it communicates its lockdown rules following confusion over a ban on selling non-essential items. Published: 26/10/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Communities rally round to feed hungry children as ministers defend funding

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Communities rally round to feed hungry children as ministers defend funding Thousands of free meals will be provided to children by businesses, local authorities and community groups on the first day of half term as ministers faced a damaging grassroots Tory revolt over the issue. Dozens of people from a range of organisations, including Conservative-led councils, have stepped in to help, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock praising their “absolutely wonderful” efforts while insisting that millions has already been provided to town halls to help their communities. A petition from footballer Marcus Rashford, who has been spearheading demands for free meals to be extended in England over the school holidays, has passed 800,000 signatures, piling further pressure on the Government to act. Rashford questioned Boris Johnson’s willingness to engage with him on the issue, suggesting they had not spoken since the Government’s U-turn on providing food vouchers during the summer break in June. Mr Hancock said he agrees “very strongly” with “the purpose” of Rashford’s campaign, telling Sky News: “I think we’re all inspired by the way that he’s led that campaign.” He said that Universal Credit had been increased by £20 a week while £63 million has already been provided by central Government to local authorities so that they can support people. But he hinted that further help could be given, amid reports the Government is planning a partial climbdown in time for the Christmas holidays. “Our attitude and our purpose it to ensure that everybody gets the support they need and no child, of course, no child should go hungry, nobody could possibly want that,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today. “The question is how best to do it.” Mr Hancock was challenged over whether decisions by councils – including Tory-run authorities – businesses and charities to step in showed that more direct action is needed. “I think that’s absolutely wonderful that companies have come forward and are playing their part and supporting people in these very difficult times. “I also think that it’s brilliant that the councils are coming forward, having been funded by central government, £63 million has gone to councils so that they can do exactly what you say, so that they can support people and make sure that everybody and every child gets the support that they need,” he said. Mr Hancock said “of course” he welcomes the support from councils “because that is the councils delivering with the funding that has been provided by central government”. The Health Secretary said there had been “communication” between Mr Johnson and Rashford, who reportedly wrote to the Prime Minister in September. But the Manchester United star responded on Twitter: “Hmm, unless he’s referring to the call we had following the U-turn in June?” The footballer has used his social media profiled to highlight examples of businesses that have pledged to help with meals for local children. First stepping in to help include Barry’s Tearoom in Cumbria, Greenfields Farm in Telford, The Watering Can in Liverpool, Jordan’s Cafe in Worthing and Count House Cafe in Cornwall. Conservative-led Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council said it would be providing food parcels for families from Monday, tweeting: “No child should go hungry.” Announcing almost 3,300 youngsters would receive £15 vouchers from their schools to cover the cost of meals during the holiday, Kensington and Chelsea council, which is also Tory-run, said: “No kid should go hungry.” Other Tory-controlled councils getting on board include Hillingdon, which is in Boris Johnson’s constituency, Medway and Wandsworth, with the latter approving a £10,000 food voucher scheme. Warwickshire County Council’s Tory chief Izzi Seccombe told Today that money from Whitehall was “tight” and “we are going to be funding it ourselves now”. “What we don’t want is people within Warwickshire feeling anxious, feeling worried and children going hungry during this half-term period,” she said. Meanwhile, Sir Keir Starmer has sought to exploit the disarray in the Conservative ranks by confirming Labour will force another Commons vote on the issue if ministers do not relent in time for the Christmas holidays. Former minister Tobias Ellwood told Today it would be “churlish” not to act, adding: “I would like to see Boris Johnson look at this issue again, recognising the wealth of support across the nation, the fact that we all want the same thing – let’s not forget this generation of children have actually had their lives impacted in ways not seen since the war. “The pandemic has been tough, difficult winter ahead, let’s make sure we have a programme in place which all parties can agree with. “If that’s utilisation of the free school meal holiday provision, then so be it.” Senior Conservative MP Sir Bernard Jenkin has warned the Government had “misunderstood the mood of the country” and would probably have to think again. Former children’s minister Tim Loughton, who abstained in last week’s vote on the issue, said he would vote against the Government if it came to the Commons again. Published: 26/10/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Armed forces storm oil tanker and detain stowaways after hijacking

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Armed forces storm oil tanker and detain stowaways after ‘hijacking’ Seven people have been detained after British armed forces stormed an oil tanker off the Isle of Wight following a suspected hijacking by stowaways. The raid, likely to have been carried out by members of the Special Boat Service (SBS), was authorised by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel on Sunday night after a tense 10-hour stand-off. Hampshire Police said they were alerted to concerns over the welfare of the crew of the 228-metre long Nave Andromeda soon after 10am on Sunday as the ship headed towards Southampton, having set sail from Lagos in Nigeria. According to maritime tracking websites, the ship reached port in Southampton early on Monday morning. The Ministry of Defence said: “In response to a police request, the Defence Secretary and Home Secretary authorised Armed Forces personnel to board a ship in the English Channel to safeguard life and secure a ship that was subject to suspected hijacking. “Armed forces have gained control of the ship and seven individuals have been detained. “Police investigations will now continue. Initial reports confirm the crew are safe and well.” Hampshire police later said all 22 crew members of the tanker were safe. The SBS is the elite maritime counter-terrorism unit of the Royal Navy, with most of its personnel Royal Marine Commandos who, the MoD says, “specialise in daring undercover raids that exploit the element of surprise”. SBS operations are highly classified and not officially confirmed, but when stowaways ran amok on a cargo ship in the Thames Estuary in December 2018, the ship’s operator said they were detained after SBS personnel were airlifted onto the vessel. On Sunday, The Times reported four military helicopters – thought to have included two Merlin Mk 4s, a Wildcat and a Chinook – took 40 personnel to the scene of the suspected hijack aboard the Nave Andromeda. The newspaper quoted a defence source as saying about 16 members of the SBS boarded the vessel backed by airborne snipers and secured it in nine minutes. “I commend the hard work of the armed forces and police to protect lives and secure the ship,” Mr Wallace said. “In dark skies, and worsening weather, we should all be grateful for our brave personnel. People are safe tonight thanks to their efforts.” Ms Patel said: “Tonight we are thankful for the quick and decisive action of our police and armed forces who were able to bring this situation under control, guaranteeing the safety of all those on board.” Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, said the boarding of the tanker was a “good outcome”. He told BBC News: “Seven stowaways on board taking over a ship or causing the ship not to be in full command would have triggered a multi-agency alarm and then well-rehearsed classified protocols were then put into action.” Before the armed forces action, Hampshire Police said the vessel had been located around six miles off the coast of Bembridge on the Isle of Wight, adding: “It was reported that a number of stowaways were on board, and they had made verbal threats towards the crew. No one has been reported injured.” An exclusion zone with a three mile radius was placed around the vessel, with two coastguard helicopters spotted circling the ship in the afternoon. Published: 26/10/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Boots to unveil in store rapid Covid 19 testing service

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Boots to unveil in-store rapid Covid-19 testing service Boots is set to unveil a new coronavirus testing service it says can return results from swab tests in just 12 minutes. The pharmacy chain said the LumiraDx devices, which are able to quickly process swab tests to give customers same-day results, will be rolled out in selected stores over the next few weeks. Boots has also launched a 48-hour testing service which is currently available in 10 stores across London, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow, with plans to extend the programme to more than 50 outlets across the nation. The service is available as a private pre-flight test for customers who require one before travelling abroad, or as a solution for those who would prefer peace of mind before seeing friends and family. The in-store service will cost £120 per test. Seb James, managing director of Boots UK and ROI, said the programme is being implemented as a way to help ease the pressure on the nation’s health services. “Boots has supported the Government’s Covid-19 testing programme from the very start and offering this new in-store service is the next step in our efforts to fight against the pandemic,” he said. “We hope that by offering this testing option in local community stores, Boots can help ease pressure on the NHS and the Government by providing additional access to testing and crucial reassurances for people across the UK. “As part of the UK High Street for over 170 years, Boots is proud to serve on the front line alongside the NHS and we will continue to do our part to support the nation’s healthcare needs during this challenging time and beyond.” Customers who are not displaying any Covid-19 symptoms can book an in-store test through the company’s website, boots.com. Published: 26/10/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Local lockdowns and home working take toll on jobs market report

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Local lockdowns and home working take toll on jobs market – report Deserted high streets and city centres are hampering Britain’s jobs recovery, new research suggests. Urban areas in Scotland and south England are bearing the steepest declines in vacancies, the Centre for Cities found. The think tank, and jobs site Indeed, found that seven months after the nationwide lockdown was imposed, job vacancies have failed to return to pre-Covid levels in all 63 towns and cities analysed. Aberdeen recorded the steepest fall with a 75% year-on-year decline, followed by Edinburgh (57%), then Belfast and the West Sussex town of Crawley (both 55%). London has seen the sixth biggest fall in job postings at 52%, while overall UK vacancies are 46% behind last year’s level, said the report. The rise in people working from home has dried up demand for local services in big cities, it was indicated. While no area of the country or sector has escaped the labour market crisis, those where high street footfall returned to normal more quickly, such as Birkenhead, Chatham and Hull, have seen a faster recovery in job vacancies, the report said. Andrew Carter, chief executive of Centre for Cities, said: “While unemployment continues to rise, the number of jobs available to people who find themselves out of work is far below its level last year in every single large city and town in the UK. This could have potentially catastrophic long-term consequences for people and the economy. “The Government has told us to expect a tough winter and while local lockdowns are necessary to protect lives, it is vital that ministers continue to listen and reassess the level of support given to help people and places to cope with the months ahead. “The Chancellor made welcome amendments to the Job Support Scheme which should help save jobs, but many places across the country didn’t have enough jobs before the pandemic hit so creating more will be vital to prevent long-term economic damage to their local economies.” Pawel Adrjan, of Indeed, said: “The timid recovery in job vacancies is a portent of the distress towns and cities could face if restrictions continue to spring up in parts of the country already reeling from imposed lockdowns and reduced footfall. “With the remote work trend showing no sign of abating, and entire regions being placed under stricter control, service jobs in large towns and cities could become scarcer still and pull the UK into a jobs spiral. That could mean a very long winter ahead for the millions of people currently unemployed.” An HM Treasury spokesperson said: “We’ve put in place a comprehensive plan to protect, support and create jobs in every region of the UK, and recently increased the generosity of our winter support schemes, including our expanded Job Support Scheme, which will protect jobs in businesses that are open or closed. “We are also providing additional funding for local authorities and devolved administrations to support local businesses.” Published: 26/10/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Paediatricians Childhood hunger is an issue that should transcend politics

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Paediatricians: Childhood hunger is an issue that should transcend politics More than 2,000 paediatricians have signed a letter urging Boris Johnson to extend free school meals to vulnerable children during the holidays – saying childhood hunger should “transcend politics”. Members of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) said they are shocked by the Government’s “refusal” to do so, and praised footballer Marcus Rashford for his “powerful campaigning” on the issue. Businesses and organisations across England have pledged to offer free food to children from low income backgrounds in the days since MPs rejected a bid from Labour, backed by the Manchester United star, to extend free school meals over the holidays until Easter. Labour has now warned it will bring the issue back to the House of Commons if ministers do not change course in time for Christmas. Shadow education secretary Kate Green called on the Prime Minister to meet with Rashford’s taskforce “as a matter of urgency” to discuss its proposals for ending child poverty. Mr Johnson’s own party colleague Robert Halfon said meeting with Rashford was a “no-brainer”, while fellow Tory MP Tobias Ellwood said extending provision over the holidays is a “simple and practical vehicle” to support families and called on the Government to “re-visit” the option. Councils, including Conservative-run bodies, have announced stop-gap measures to cover the October half-term break which begins on Monday. The open letter from the RCPCH members says: “Childhood hunger is an issue that should transcend politics. “Few would disagree that one of our most basic human responsibilities is to ensure children have enough to eat.” It adds: “We call on the UK Government to match the pledges of the Welsh and Scottish Governments and the Northern Ireland Executive, to continue to provide children from low-income backgrounds with free meals over the coming weeks and to then extend this at least until the Easter school holiday, as they have done in Wales and Scotland.” Rashford said he is “so thankful and so very proud” for the “compassion and empathy” shown by those who have stepped up to help so far. The 22-year-old striker’s online petition had garnered more than 785,000 signatures by Sunday morning. Some Tory MPs have been accused over controversial comments on the subject, with one sparking anger after appearing to suggest local businesses giving away free food should not be seeking any further Government support. Tory MP for North Devon Selaine Saxby later claimed her since-deleted comments were “out of context” and added: “I of course deeply regret any offence which may have been caused.” Her party colleague Ben Bradley also said a tweet he sent appearing to agree with a comment suggesting some meal vouchers went direct to “a crack den and a brothel”, was “totally taken out of context”. He claimed he was trying to say that giving children who live in “chaotic” situations an “unrestricted voucher to spend on whatever isn’t helpful”, but Labour MPs pointed out the vouchers could only be used to buy food. Defending Mr Bradley, another MP Mark Jenkinson accused people of attempting to “score political points” as he claimed that in his constituency of Workington in a “tiny” minority of cases food parcels – not vouchers – are “sold or traded for drugs”. The comments also sparked questions and demands for evidence, with Labour’s Jess Phillips writing: “Seriously Mark, let’s have a chat about this when in Parliament I’d love to see your evidence.” Rashford has urged people to “rise above” disappointment, describing abuse of MPs and their families as “unacceptable” and “unnecessary” and calling for “collaboration” and “togetherness” and a continued focus on helping children. West Midlands Tory mayor Andy Street has said the Government should make “a clear decision” on whether it would or would not fund free school meals over holidays, adding that it should not be “a last-minute thing”. Tory-run Kensington and Chelsea council said it will pay for free school meals for eligible pupils in the borough, while other Tory-controlled councils getting on board include Hillingdon, Medway and Wandsworth councils. The Labour leader of Birmingham City Council pledged to provide 61,000 eligible youngsters with meals in a scheme which will cost the local authority between £800,000 and £1 million, and the mayor of Liverpool said he was “not prepared to stand by and watch”, as he announced £300,000 of funding. McDonald’s UK has also offered support to families, announcing a partnership with Fare Share UK to provide one million meals for families in need. Downing Street has declined to praise such outlets for stepping in, with a Number 10 spokesman, saying: “I believe the PM said during PMQs that free school meals will continue during term time and that he wants to continue to support families throughout the crisis so they have cash available to feed kids if they need to.” Published: 25/10/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Welsh Government to review how non essential item ban is going in supermarkets

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Welsh Government to ‘review’ how non-essential item ban is going in supermarkets The Welsh Government will review how the ban on supermarkets selling non-essential items during Wales’ firebreak lockdown is working, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said. Mr Drakeford announced that ministers would be “reviewing how the weekend has gone” with supermarkets and “making sure that common sense is applied”. Under the firebreak lockdown, which began at 6pm on Friday and will end on November 9, non-essential retail including clothes shops, furniture stores and car dealerships must close. Supermarkets have been told they must only sell essential items to discourage people from spending more time than necessary in shops and be fair to retailers who have had to shut. On Saturday, more than 34,000 people signed a petition calling on the Welsh Government to reverse the ban, which it described as “disproportionate and cruel”. Mr Drakeford tweeted: “Thank you for all your efforts over the last 24 hours to stay at home. We know people are fed up. “It’s not easy, but we all have a responsibility to stop the virus spreading. “We’ll be reviewing how the weekend has gone with the supermarkets and making sure that common sense is applied. “Supermarkets can sell anything that can be sold in any other type of shop that isn’t required to close. In the meantime, please only leave home if you need to.” His tweet followed a statement from the Welsh Government earlier on Saturday, which insisted the ban was “not for the sake of being difficult”. A spokesman confirmed that items found in other essential shops – such as stationery and greetings cards – could still be sold in supermarkets during the lockdown. Guidance previously published by the Welsh Government said certain sections of supermarkets must be “cordoned off or emptied, and closed to the public” during the two-week period. These include areas selling electrical goods, telephones, clothes, toys and games, garden products and dedicated sections for homewares. Supplies for the “essential upkeep, maintenance and functioning of the household” – such as batteries, lightbulbs and rubber gloves – can be sold during the lockdown. Images posted on social media showed aisles selling products such as children’s clothes, greetings cards and book blocked off, with plastic sheeting placed over items to prevent shoppers from accessing them. The petition calling for the ban to be reversed immediately states: “We do not agree that this is a prudent or rational measure, and will create more harm than good. “We do not agree for example that parents should be barred from buying clothes for their children during lockdown while out shopping.” Paul Davies, leader of the Welsh Conservatives, said he had written to the presiding officer of the Welsh Parliament calling for members to be recalled to discuss the ban. He described the popularity of the petition as a “clear sign” that people in Wales want the rule “scrapped immediately”. One video posted on social media appeared to show a man ripping down plastic sheeting that was covering clothing aisles in a supermarket. The ban on selling non-essential items was announced in the Senedd on Thursday following a question to Mr Drakeford from Conservative MS Russell George. Mr George said it was “unfair” to force independent clothing and hardware retailers to shut while similar goods were on sale in major supermarkets. In a statement published alongside his letter urging a recall of the Senedd, Mr Davies said: “It is madness that people have been banned from buying books, bins and baby clothes in local shops.” He described the lockdown in Wales as “disproportionate, unnecessary and biting our economy hard” and said he would rather see people able to buy items in local shops than “see millions spent at online internet giants”. Under lockdown rules, people can only leave their home for limited reasons, such as to buy food and medicine, provide care or take exercise, and must work from home where possible. Leisure, hospitality and tourism businesses are closed, along with community centres, libraries and recycling centres, while places of worship are shut other than for funerals or wedding ceremonies. Ministers hope that the firebreak will reduce the R value – the number of people each coronavirus case infects – to below one. A new set of national measures is expected to be introduced in Wales after November 9. On Friday, the rate of coronavirus across Wales was 156.8 cases per 100,000 people – with only one county under the Welsh Government’s threshold for intervention of 50 cases per 100,000 people. Economists have estimated that the firebreak could cost the Welsh economy more than £500 million, but ministers say a longer period of measures would be more damaging. On Saturday, a further 1,324 people were reported to have tested positive for coronavirus in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 41,577. Public Health Wales said 16 people with Covid-19 had died, with the total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic rising to 1,772. Published: 25/10/2020 by Radio NewsHub

Self isolation for Covid 19 contacts may be cut to seven days

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Self-isolation for Covid-19 contacts may be cut to seven days Contacts of people infected with coronavirus may have to self-isolate for as little as seven days amid concerns in Whitehall about the levels of public compliance with the Test and Trace system. Officials on the Government’s Covid-19 taskforce are understood to be examining the case for reducing the current fortnight period of isolation to between 10 days and a week. The move – which would not apply to those who test positive for the disease – comes amid growing dissatisfaction with the performance of the system from ministers and MPs. Boris Johnson was said to have become “disillusioned” with statistics provided by the service after they proved to be wrong, according to The Sunday Telegraph. At the same time, there were said to be concerns that the prospect of a lengthy period indoors if they are contacted by Test and Trace is deterring people from co-operating. The Telegraph quoted a No 10 source as saying: “Compliance is not as high as we would like and self-isolation is key if we are going to beat the virus.” It comes after Test and Trace – headed by the Conservative peer Baroness Harding – last week hit a record low with just 59.6% of the contacts of people who tested positive for the disease being successfully contacted and told to self-isolate. In a further sign of the unrest at Westminster, senior Tory backbencher Sir Bernard Jenkin launched a scathing attack on the performance of the system, saying public consent and co-operation was “breaking down”. Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, he said there was a “vacuum of leadership” at the top of the organisation and called for a change that was “visible and decisive” with a senior military figure being put in charge. “There is a spaghetti of command and control at the top, which is incapable of coherent analysis, assessment, planning and delivery,” he wrote. “The immediate priority is to fill the vacuum of leadership in Test and Trace, which is destroying cooperation and compliance. “Government harnessed the military to regain control in the foot and mouth crisis; the Prime Minister should follow that example today, by installing a single leader, a three or four star military commander with a reputation for handling complexity under stress. “Test and trace should then be tasked with generating and sustaining a campaign targeted at achieving behaviour change by consent.” Sir Bernard, who chairs the Liaison Committee of senior MPs which questions the Prime Minister twice a year, added that Lady Harding should be given a “well-earned break” so she and others could “reflect on the lessons learned so far”. In response, the Department of Health and Social Care acknowledged there were areas where the service needed to improve, but said people should be “talking it up, not down”. “Dido Harding and her leadership team – drawn from the military, public and private sectors – have built the largest diagnostic industry the UK has ever seen,” a spokesman said. “It is the equivalent of building an operation the size of Tesco in a matter of months. The NHS Test and Trace system has built a testing capacity of 400,000 tests a day, from a starting point of 2,000 a day in March. “This capacity is bigger per head than France, Germany, Italy and Spain and we have contacted over 1.1 million people and asked them to self-isolate. “We need to improve in areas and we are very much focused on that, but we should be talking it up, not down.” Meanwhile, talks are expected to continue this week between the Government and local leaders in Nottinghamshire, with parts of the county expected to enter the tightest Tier 3 restrictions on Wednesday. The council in Warrington in Cheshire has already confirmed it will be moving to the very high alert level on Thursday. It follows South Yorkshire which joined Liverpool City Region, Greater Manchester and Lancashire in Tier 3 on Saturday. Published: 25/10/2020 by Radio NewsHub