Earlier this week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed there was a ‘new variant’ of coronavirus in the UK. A particularly nasty dose, so to speak, that was perhaps culpable for the virus spreading like wildfire in the south.
London has subsequently been placed into Tier 3 measures – leaving people in the capital to live life under tight restrictions with ‘closed’ signs scattered through the streets.
The capital is beside itself.
And we know all too well what they’re going through.
Up here in Greater Manchester, people have had around three weeks of freedom since the coronavirus pandemic first arrived.
The grand reopening on July 4 after the first lockdown was a joyous moment; seemingly the beginning of a new chapter after a dismal four months of lockdown.
But for Mancs, it was short-lived. Quarantine measures were reintroduced, fittingly, around 28 Days Later.
At the end of July, the government said the virus was having a field day in Greater Manchester – and all residents should avoid meeting other households indoors.
The region has been under social curbs ever since.
As is the Mancunian way, locals have been doing their best to keep bobbing along. But with COVID case rates plummeting in recent weeks, residents are now hopeful for some much-needed respite from restrictions.
With the tier review announcement looming, the question on everyone’s mind within 500 square miles today is: Will Greater Manchester be in Tier 2?
It’s a complex situation.
Going on case rates alone, the region has a strong case to be downgraded.
Of all ten boroughs in Greater Manchester, only Rochdale is now above the national average.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese have certainly made their position clear.
“Some of our boroughs are above the national average or close to it,” said the Mayor.
“So, we could understand if a cautious decision was taken in respect of those but there is a clear case for Greater Manchester, a large part of Greater Manchester, to be placed in tier 2.”
But there are two key factors that may influence the government to persist with Tier 2 measures in Greater Manchester beyond 2020.
The first is the fact that there will be more mingling during the four days of looser restrictions at Christmas. With this in mind, ministers may be tempted to keep tiers strict until the new year at least.
The second is that falling infection rates have levelled off at precisely the wrong time. Four boroughs – Oldham, Manchester, Salford and Trafford – actually recorded modest rises this week.
Complicating matters further is the fact that representatives from some local councils (Oldham, Bury, Tameside and Rochdale) have all expressed a preference to stay in Tier 3 for the time being.
Another big moment in an unpredictable year is upon us.
The review has been conducted and an announcement will be made later.
The Makers Market is coming back to Cutting Room Square every month as of this Sunday
The North West’s hugely popular Makers Market is returning to Ancoat’s Cutting Room Square as of this weekend, marking the start of a monthly community staple.
While Makers Markets have been popping up around the region for years now — Stockport, Cheadle, Salford and Media City; Knutsford, Northern Quarter, Didsbury, Congleton and countless other locations — it’s only ever been at Cutting Room Square just the once as part of a trial run back in November 2022.
However, after going down an absolute treat and just as popular as all the others around Greater Manchester and beyond, the organisers have decided to bring it back on a permanent basis from this weekend onwards. Ancoats just got even better.
Now, as of Sunday, 2 April, city centre residents and those travelling into town will be able to enjoy a regular community market packed with local traders from all over every month. Wonderful stuff.
If for some reason you’ve never come across a Makers Market before, the concept is pretty simple: local businesses and indie traders of all different kinds gather in public spaces like Cutting Room Square, setting up pop-up stalls to sell their wares, whatever they may be.
Whether it’d be homemade food and bakery items, handcrafted prints and textiles, or homeware, second-hand records, flowers and everything in between, there is literally always something for everyone.
More importantly, though, these monthly markets aren’t just another place to shop locally and responsibly, but they genuinely provide a wonderful sense of community, quickly cementing themselves as a regular staple for everyone to look forward to and socialise at.
Typically taking place on the second Sunday of every month and with Cutting Room Square and Ancoats already a popular district for locals and tourists alike, we’re sure the atmosphere is going to be great.
You’ve also got the successful Ancoats Pop Up events scattered throughout the rest of the 2023 calendar too — happy days.
We look forward to a year filled with plenty more markets all around Greater Manchester!
You can check out the full list of traders that will be appearing at this weekend’s Makers Market at Cutting Room Square HERE.
Graeme Park thanks fans for ‘valued support’ and launches fundraiser in memory of late son
Graeme Park has thanked fans for their “valued support” following the devastating passing of his teenage son last week.
The former Hacienda legend and his family have also set up a fundraiser in his memory.
The DJ took to social media last week to share the heartbreaking news that his “true warrior” son Oliver had passed away at the age of 18 after a year-long battle with a rare cancer.
In a tribute to the late teenager, Graeme described his son as a “kind, loving, and beautiful soul” who “fought so hard until the very end” but was sadly taken “far too soon” when he “had so much more love to offer to this world”.
Graeme’s initial post drew in thousands of messages of love and support from the Greater Manchestermusic and entertainment community and beyond, as well as from famous name including from Vernon Kay, Sacha Lord, and DJ Paulette.
He asked fans to “bear with me” and confirmed that he will not be performing DJ sets or appearing on the radio for the time being.
Now, a week after sharing the news of Oliver’s passing, Graeme, his wife Jen, and son Ben have taken the time to thank everyone for their “wonderful and valued support” – adding that the family is “heartbroken” to have lost a son, grandson, nephew, cousin and friend.
“Your messages and kind words have been well received and have offered us all some much needed strength and hope at what has been a very difficult time,” Graeme continued.
“Friends, colleagues, fans, followers and complete strangers have all been in touch in person, via phone, email and social media offering support and more, and it really has been heartwarming to read all the messages and to listen to everyone who’s called.
“Apologies if I’ve not responded to everyone, but rest assured we all really do appreciate the sentiment.
“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
Graeme also confirmed that, after lots of discussion following so many reaching out and asking if there’s anything they can do to help, the family has decided to set up a JustGiving page in Oliver’s memory to help raise “much needed funds and awareness” for Sarcoma UK.
Sarcoma UK is a national charity that funds vital research, offers support for anyone affected by sarcoma cancer, and campaigns for better treatments.
“After complaining of leg pain over a long period, Oliver was eventually diagnosed as having a malignant nerve sheath tumour that was a type of sarcoma, hence our decision to help Sarcoma UK,” Graeme explained.
Sarcoma is a type of cancer that develops in the bone and soft tissue. It is difficult to diagnose and one of the hardest to treat – “but by donating in memory of Oliver, you can help change this.”
“Your donation will help researchers find answers, keep the specialist Support Line open, and raise awareness to improve treatment and standards of care,” Graeme concluded, “Your donations go so far in helping the sarcoma community.”
Over 200 people have already donated to the JustGiving fundraiser, with the total now at £6,900 and counting by the minute.