The Transport Secretary has told MPs he is “very relaxed” about public transport operators imposing their own COVID-related rules – including the use of face masks beyond 19 July.
Speaking during a Transport Committee evidence session yesterday, transport secretary Grant Shapps said that individual companies could implement travel restrictions beyond the government’s final stage of lockdown easing if they wished.
He confirmed that he will not be issuing any “blanket instructions” to operators instructing them to keep COVID-safety measures in place.
Rules on social distancing measures, mass gathering, and more are also set to change.
The decision to remove the legal requirement to wear face coverings in public settings beyond 19 July has been met with significant criticism from unions and opposing parties – most prominently, Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, and Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham.
Following the Prime Minister’s address on Monday, Mr Burnham took to Twitter to question the decision regarding face masks, stating: “I struggle to see how ministers can drop the requirement to wear masks on public transport without causing real problems for some people who are dependent on it.
“Those more vulnerable to infection or anxious about it will be put in a very unfair position.
Mr Burnham also addressed the decision at length during his own press conference on Tuesday.
He confirmed that he will be working with Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) over the coming days to encourage people to do the “respectful thing”.
“I will ask people to put themselves in the shoes of somebody who is going by bus to have chemotherapy [and] I will ask people to put themselves in the shoes of somebody who has a compromised immune system,” Mr Burnham said.
But Mr Shapps defended the government’s plans to remove the legal requirements on face coverings, requesting that people use “common sense and personal responsibility” as “entirely sensible”.
“We are shifting to this next phase where people use common sense and personal responsibility to decide these things and I think that is actually a sensible way forwards,” he told MPs at the committee hearing.
“If organisations require it to be a condition of carriage then I am very relaxed about that and it is up to them to do.”
Mr Shapps added: “I am not planning to issue any blanket instructions to the train operating companies because they are so different depending on the routes across the country.”
He also suggested that it would be “sensible” to wear a mask on busy trains.
“Look, if you are travelling – and I travel on all types of transport, on all types of trains – if you are travelling on the underground and it is pretty packed then wearing a face covering may well be helpful and increase confidence,” he continued.
“And standing right next to somebody, I think that is something that I’d want to do and transport operators are free to require it.”
He added: “On the other hand, if you are travelling on a pretty empty carriage at an unpopular time of day to travel for three hours on a mainline or something, then it is pretty pointless in that circumstance to be potentially sat there on your own wearing a mask.”
Featured Image – TfGM
Football fans call out ‘tone-deaf’ FA TikTok for mocking ‘life-threatening’ head injury
Football fans are calling out the official FA Cup TikTok account for mocking a serious head injury suffered by a Stockport County player earlier this week.
The Hatters beat Charlton Athletic in fine fashion with a 3-1 victory on Wednesday, 7 December, with Will Collar’s hattrick (the club’s first since 2019) sending them through to the next round of the cup.
However, another notable moment from the night was right back Macauley Southam-Hales’ collision with advertising hoarders after a shove from Charlton captain George Dobson.
As the likes of County fan Joel Ward wrote on Twitter, many online were quick to slam the clip for joking about an injury that hospitalised the player, the consensus being that it isn’t a “great look” for the FA.
While many reacting in the comments recognised that Dobson didn’t intend to hurt Southam-Hales by shepherding the ball out of play, the Stockport defender does hit the predominantly metal structure with some force and was left in clear discomfort following the smash.
The video itself has since been removed from the official account following the backlash but people are still reacting as the clip continues to be reshared on social media.
The clip was branded as everything from “disgusting” and “disgraceful” to “simply unbelievable”.
What’s most concerning is that despite the recent push to promote awareness surrounding concussions, brain trauma and even heading the ball – which, historically, haven’t been properly monitored in football – whoever posted the video on behalf of the FA didn’t consider the very serious nature of the incident.
As alluded to above, perhaps what makes the post even more shocking and tone-deaf is that it comes just weeks after Bath City player forward Alex Fletcher was placed in intensive care following an almost identical accident.
The 23-year-old underwent life-saving brain surgery and although he has since been discharged from the hospital, he is said to have a “long road to recovery ahead of him”.
County confirmed that despite being the all-clear pitchside, Southam-Hales was taken to the hospital as a precaution after he suffered significant swelling around the neck area. Nevertheless, as we know all too well, it could have been much worse.
As for the FA, they have now apologised for the inappropriate attempt at humour, confirming that they have removed the video from all official accounts, admitting that “it should never have been published and assuring that they will “review [their] processes to ensure this never happens again.”
You can watch the full highlights from Stockport County vs Charlton Athletic HERE but we’d recommend you watch Alan Shearer reminding everyone who plays football to be more vigilant when it comes to head injuries.
Andy Burnham wants to help more girls get into football
Andy Burnham has urged schools to do more to encourage young girls to get into football.
The Greater Manchester Mayor was speaking to Sky News‘ Kay Burley on Thursday, 8 December as he discussed the importance of promoting more women in football and sport, in general.
Burnham said that himself, the FA and notable women’s football advocates like former keeper Karen Bardsley are “determined” to make sure the buzz following the Women’s Euros isn’t just a flash in the pan.
With the England men’s team currently trying to replicate the Lionesses‘ success as they prepare for the quarter-final of the 2022 World Cup, he went on to emphasise the lasting memories football can create on a global scale.
The Mayor went on to say that with the help of schools across the UK, they hope to “make sure that the success the Lionesses had in the summer becomes a permanent legacy”, imploring schools, the sporting community and the nation at large “not let those summer memories fade”.
Insisting that he already feels the heroics of Euro 2022 have already had an impact when it comes to inspiring more girls to get into football.
He said that the uptake among “women in football” since the tournament has been “amazing” but warned educators and parents not to “leave it to chance” and provide the support to make “real change”.