The freshers experience is set to be a very different this year amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
With nightclubs still closed and strict social distancing measures in place in bars – as well as the new rule of six and reports of a 10pm curfew expected to be announced by the government in due course – usual bar crawls and club nights are out of the question.
Concerns surrounding the potential breaching of these current local lockdown restrictions by students is what has prompted a number of famous faces to step in.
Radio DJ Gemma Atkinson, presenter Vernon Kay, Coronation Street actresses Catherine Tyldesley and Brooke Vincent, boxer Anthony Crolla, and reality TV star Scott Thomas are among the Manchester celebrities who have posted videos on social media urging students to “think twice” before hosting or attending any house parties or large gatherings.
The celebrities involved were approached by Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and Night Time Economy Advisor Sacha Lord to drive home the importance of following the latest government guidance.
Well-known Boltonian TV presenter Vernon Kay said: “It’s important that we get our region back on its feet, and if you’re thinking about hosting a party or going to a student party, please think twice about doing it.
“As you’ve heard, Bolton is on its knees and Greater Manchester is struggling, we need to get the cities up and running again and we can do this by preventing the spread of COVID-19.
“If you do your bit, it will have a massive knock-on effect for everyone else.
“Stay safe, enjoy it, I’m very jealous that my further education was many many many years ago, and I enjoyed every minute of it, so you do the same.”
Corrie co-star Catherine Tyldesley asked students to “sit tight” and added: “We know all the clubs are shut and yeah, it’s depressing, but please please please help protect our amazing city by not hosting or attending house parties.
“Help slow down the virus, because the quicker we do that, the quicker the clubs can open and we can have a belting time.”
Brooke Vincent said: “I know it’s a little bit rubbish and not the start of your uni year that you expected. Manchester at the minute is really really trying to get back on track, to recover, and we need your help.
“If this was another time I’d be at the house parties myself, on the table, with a drink in my hand, but we need to keep everyone safe.
“I assure you, once everything is up and running, I’m pretty damn sure Manchester will do an amazing celebration and you guys can get fully involved.”
Hits Radio Manchester presenter Gemma Atkinson admitted that things were “a little bit difficult”, but urged people to support each other and said: “Please don’t be that person who has these house parties, it’s not worth it.
“This city needs to get back to normal.
“Let’s all do each other proud and keep safe.”
Scott Thomas – Love Island star, social media figure and director of Manchester-based PR agency The Social PR – addressed students saying: “You must be buzzing, but we must keep our city safe.
“The more patient we are, the quicker we will recover.”
These urgent messages of warning to students come after the UK government announced last month that police in England have been given the power to distribute fines to the organisers of illegal gatherings.
Those responsible could be hit with five-figure penalties for playing their part in arranging events with more than 30 people.
For the latest information, guidance and support during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the UK, please do refer to official sources at gov.uk/coronavirus.
‘Significant risk’ of UK gas shortages this winter, regulator warns
Energy regulator Ofgem has warned that the UK faces a ‘significant risk’ of gas shortages this winter.
According to reports in The Times, the regulator has unveiled concerns that the country could face blackouts over the coming months thanks to an undersupply of gas to Europe caused by Russia’s war with Ukraine.
Warning that a “gas supply emergency” could be looming ahead, the energy regulator has said that some gas-fired power plants could see their supplies cut off, which in turn would stop generators from producing electricity.
The alert comes just days before an expected update from the National Grid on the likelihood of countrywide power cuts this winter.
Responsing to arequest from SSE, which owns several gas power stations, Ofgem outlined what is set to be a huge issue of concern given that the UK relies on large gas plants to produce the biggest share of its electricity supply.
The regulator also pointed to rules that could see power plants penalised as a result of shortages, warning of a worst-case scenario that would see the “potential insolvency of gas-fired generators” caused by rules that require plants to pay huge charges if they fail to deliver on promised quotas.
Adding that the issue must be addressed to prevent a “significant impact on the safety and security of the electricity and/or gas systems”, the regulator echoed concerns now widespread in Europe as its comments followed a similar statement made by the International Energy Agency (IEA) this morning.
Europeans are already being told they must lower their thermostats and boilers in preparation in case gas supplies are cut off, with Paris-based agency IEA warning today that the EU must focus on getting underground gas reserve levels to 90% of capacity in case of a complete Russian supply shut-off.
Preparation are already being made in Europe with the German government having approved a set of energy-saving measures for the winter to limit use in public buildings. In France, meanwhile, companies have already been warned they may face energy rationing this winter.
Whilst the UK government is yet to announce any energey saving measures, Ofgem has said that it expect s“this winter to be more challenging than last year” and that it is taking “reasonable regulatory steps to mitigate and reduce the risks”.