A warning has been issued to those planning on hitting the town for a Mad Friday night out in Manchester city centre.
Mad Friday – the nickname given to the last Friday in December before Christmas eve – is always known as the most popular night for end-of-year Christmas parties, which inevitably makes it one of the busiest nights of the year in Manchester city centre, and for ambulances and the police service too.
But this year, just the same as last, things are set to look a lot different.
This year’s Mad Friday comes the day after the UK recorded the highest number of new COVID cases since the start of the pandemic at 88,376.
It too comes after the UK government has now introduced all ‘Plan B’ measures in England in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus, and it also comes amid an ongoing conversation around the hardships once again being faced by the hospitality sector and the question of “where is the Chancellor?”, as pubs and restaurants in Greater Manchester and right across the UK are hit by a surge of cancelled bookings in the lead-up to and at Christmas.
Yet, despite all of this, the message from one Councillor to clubbers and partygoers heading to Manchester city centre tonight couldn’t be clearer.
Everyone has to remain “cautious”.
Cllr Pat Karney – city centre spokesperson at Manchester City Council – told the MEN that people need to “be their own public health service” in the fight against the new Omicron variant, adding that: “For young people, Mad Friday is a big night out in the city, but people need to take into account that they will then probably be seeing family and older family members over Christmas.
“People will have a great time but must bear in mind who they will be spending time with over Christmas.
“We are all confused by the guidance but we need to be our own Public Health Service and look after ourselves and follow the guidance as best we can,” he concluded.
This year’s Mad Friday also comes two days after NHS COVID passes / or a proof of a negative Lateral Flow Test have been introduced for entry to nightclubs, unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people, and any venue with more than 10,000 people in England.
Cllr Pat Karney said that although the passes are “bound to cause problems”, he believes it is worth it to “protect the health of the country”.
The North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) has also urged a simple message to revellers: “Try to avoid needing us,” as they also anticipate tonight and this weekend to be “much busier than 2020”.
Ged Blezard – Director of Operations at NWAS – said: “We have already experienced a very challenging year with more people calling 999 than ever and our staff have been working exceptionally hard. However, the festive period traditionally brings with it an increase in a certain type of 999 call as people can get carried away while celebrating the time of year.
“While we want people to enjoy themselves, we want to use this opportunity to ask the public not to add any unnecessary extra burden on the service by behaving irresponsibly or treating our staff with disrespect if they are called to help.”
“Remember, 999 is for life-threatening incidents and emergencies only,” he concluded.
Greater Manchester Police also confirmed that force will be continuing its high visibility patrols across the city tonight and over this weekend.
“We expect people to drink and act responsibly while enjoying their night – remembering to plan their journeys home in advance and not to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol above the legal limit,” a spokesperson told the MEN.
Featured Image – Factory Manchester
You’ll soon be able to leave WhatsApp group chats without anyone finding out
In what is sure to be music to the ears of those sick of having irrelevant memes sent to them every 30 seconds by people you barely know, you’ll soon be able to leave WhatsApp group chats without anyone finding out.
Whether it’s a group made up of extended family members you see only see twice a year, colleagues at work, mutual friends you’re not really that keen on, or people you only met one time because you were at the same pre-drinks together before a night out, most of us are part of a WhatsApp group chat we’d rather not be.
The type of group chat you’re not really sure how you became a part of, and the type of chat you’ve got no clue how to politely leave.
And a big part of the reason most of us can’t bring ourselves to leave those groups is because, the second you do, a little notification pops-up at the bottom of the chat to notify everyone else that you have “left” – which can, understandably, be pretty awkward and embarrassing.
Luckily though, WhatsApp and Mark Zuckerberg – who is chief executive of the messaging service’s parent company, Meta – is soon to introduce a handful of new changes designed with the aim of making written messages as “secure as face-to-face conversations”, and one of those changes is allowing people to leave group chats without other members in the group finding out.
The company says that now only administrators of the group will receive a notification to inform them a member has exited the chat.
On top of that somewhat life-saving change, the other changes being introduced will allow people to control who can see when they are online, and also prevent screenshots being taken by other users of auto-deleting ‘View Once’ messages.
At present, the messaging service broadcasts to all contacts of a user when they are online and have the app open, but now, this is something that users will be able to choose to share with others.
WhatsApp had also previously-warned users to “only send photos or videos with ‘View Once’ media enabled to trusted individuals”, as it was possible to take a screenshot or screen recording of the message before it disappeared – but now, the act of taking screenshots will be prohibited.
In his post announcing the new WhatsApp updates, Mr Zuckerberg explained that the company will “keep building new ways to protect your messages and keep them as private and secure as face-to-face conversations.”
Meta has stated on a number of occasions that it believes end-to-end encryption is the only way to ensure users are able to message each other without a third party eavesdropping on them.
Mr Zuckerberg announced his plans to transform privacy on WhatsApp in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal back in 2019, and made it impossible for Meta itself to read the content of messages that users share, which is similar to how it cannot access the content of WhatsApp messages.
However, these changes have not yet been implemented across Meta’s other platforms.
“We believe WhatsApp is the most secure place to have a private conversation,” added Ami Vora – Head of Product at WhatsApp.
“And to spread the word about these new features, we’re also kicking off a global campaign, starting with the UK and India, to educate people about how we work to protect their private conversations on WhatsApp.”