Reducing Transport Emissions Is Important Even During the Corona Crisis

Climate change is undeniably one of the most substantial factors of our time-altering societies and policies globally. It is a proven fact that almost every country in the world is committed to fighting and mitigating climate change. Besides climate change, we have faced another adversity during the last few months as we have seen how the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has changed the world in an unprecedented way.

Global mobility and the economy will not recover for a long time and the way we live our day-to-day life has been perhaps permanently transformed. Still, in the current situation, it is possible to simultaneously advance green transition and economic recovery from this crisis.

Finland’s ambitious goal is to become carbon neutral by 2035. This requires actions in every sector of society. In order to achieve carbon neutrality, Finland has committed to cutting the emissions caused by transport to half compared to the 2005 level. We have our work cut out for us. Yet at the same time, we must make sure that transitioning to lower is executed in a socially and regionally just way.

Transport causes around one-fifth of Finland’s greenhouse gas emissions. Over 90 percent of this is caused by road transport so evidently, transport has the largest potential for reducing emissions. Therefore, a roadmap to carbon-free transport is currently being prepared in Finland. All the various means of reducing transport emissions and achieving the goals set are being examined in this roadmap.

There are, and there needs to be, several different means of reducing emissions. We must increase the use of alternative fuels, renew our vehicles, develop the energy efficiency of our transport system, and if other means are not enough, set the prices for transport and fuels in a way that induces lower emissions. In addition, there is a lot of potential in digitalization and developing infrastructure in a way that reduces emissions.

When reducing emissions, it is important to constantly remember how these chosen actions will affect people. It is of the utmost importance that no one gets trampled by this reform and no one is faced with an unbearable cost.

The repeatedly uttered saying that Finland is a sparsely populated country and a country of long distances is still true. Especially in the rural areas of Finland, a personal car of one’s own is still an essential commodity. Driving is not being banned rather our goal is to make driving carbon neutral. Also, we can not presume that it is possible for everyone to by a new car that has low emission rates. However, the more there are these kinds of cars available, the sooner they will be seen on the market of used cars at a lower cost as well.

The transition towards sustainable transport comes with considerable opportunities both for society and for the individual. Finland has great potential and a lot of know-how in alternative fuel production for example. Especially synthetic fuels have substantial possibilities considering the Finnish export industry.

Even during the prevailing corona crisis, we must look forward. Now is our chance to execute policies that consider both climate and the recovery of the global economy. This will benefit future generations in Finland and around the world.


Suna Kymäläinen 

Suna Ellen Kymäläinen is a Finnish politician currently serving in the Parliament of Finland for the Social Democratic Party of Finland representing the South-Eastern Finland constituency.

This article was written for MP Talk, a regular column from the Helsinki Times in which Members of The Finnish Parliament contribute their thoughts and opinions. All opinions voiced are entirely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of the Helsinki Times. 

All MPs of any party or political opinion are welcome to contribute by sending their columns to the editor: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The articles will be published in order of arrival.


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Ban junk food ads on public transport and other WA Government property, health agencies say

Leading health agencies including the Telethon Kids Institute and the Cancer Council want the WA Government to immediately stop advertising junk food on government property like bus shelters, billboards and next to train stations.

The agencies have released a new report which says it will not only improve people’s health but will help save the Government hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade in the fight against obesity and other chronic diseases.

The Cancer Council’s director of cancer prevention, Melissa Ledger, said the ban would be easy for the State Government to put in place.

“We really want to see the Government stop allowing junk food industries to advertise on their property,” she said.

Yagan Square’s giant digital tower in Perth’s CBD is one Government asset used to advertise junk food.(ABC News: Nocilas Perpitch)

Parents like Cat Walker, from Parents’ Voice Australia, said it was hard enough getting her children to eat healthy food without the advertising they saw every day.

“We live on a street that has a bus go by every 15 minutes, and my seven-year-old now reads all the ads out to the other children and they look fun, and he’s like, ‘Why can’t we have slushies, why can’t we have that?'” Ms Walker said.

“I feel the Government needs to be more responsible for marketing to our children. We want a free, healthy environment for them to grow up.”

A head and shoulders shot of a woman with blonde hair and a black hat standing in front of bushland.
Cat Walker says it “doesn’t make any sense” to throw junk food ads at children.(ABC News: Nicolas Perpitch)

Quarter of WA kids overweight or obese

The report was compiled by Deakin University for the Cancer Council WA and the Telethon Kids Institute and has the support of other health agencies, including Healthways, the Australian Medical Association, the WA School Canteen Association and the Public Health Association WA.

It noted just over two in three adults and a quarter of all children in Western Australia were either overweight or obese.

Telethon Kids director Jonathan Carapetis said the social, health and economic implications were substantial if the trend continued.

“Yet in the next 10 years it will cost them more than $600 million a year to care for the chronic diseases that result from that sort of advertising that leads to kids eating and drinking junk foods.”

The Government’s own Sustainable Health Review, released in April 2019, called for a ban on unhealthy food and drink promotions on all state premises, as part of efforts to stop the rise in obesity in WA by July 2024.

The report pointed to four other jurisdictions which already had regulations in place banning advertising of unhealthy foods and beverages specifically on public-owned assets.

London, the Australian Capital Territory and Amsterdam target public transport, while Brazil focuses on the Ministry of Health and its property.

An overweight child holds his hands to his stomach
A junk food ad ban would help tacke obesity levels among children and adults, health agencies say.(Flickr: Kiril Pipo)

‘Profit above health’ a big obstacle

The report said common factors in those jurisdictions were effective partnerships across levels of government, academia and non-governmental organisations, backed by strong political leadership.

But it warned there could be opposition from the food, media and advertising industries.

An advertisement for Hungry Jacks drinks at a bus stop, with a woman riding a bike off to the right.
Parents say the Government should be more responsible for junk food advertisements.(ABC News: Jon Sambell)

“One of the big obstacles to this not happening is really the self-interests of the industries and putting profit above health,” Ms Ledger said.

Regardless, Ms Walker and the health agencies ultimately want tighter guidelines around marketing towards children overall.

“It doesn’t make any sense.”

No commitment from government

Health Minister Roger Cook did not say the Government would immediately implement the ban.

He instead pointed to a range of measures the Government was taking to encourage healthy eating among West Australians.

Mr Cook said the Government recently committed to phasing out alcohol advertising on public transport and “further restrictions on advertising may be considered in future as part of the Sustainable Health Review”.

A pile of junk food and snacks.
Junk food leads to chronic diseases and a massive public health cost, critics say.(Dave Hunt, file photo: AAP)

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ACT Labor-Greens governing agreement prioritises public housing, action on climate change, transport

The Greens will have three ministers in the next ACT Government, under a parliamentary agreement that aims to speed up the phasing-out of petrol vehicles and expand the number of social housing properties.

The parties announced their new governing agreement for the next four years today, committing ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr to appointing three Greens to his nine-member ministry.

The agreement outlines a renewed focus on climate change, planning, housing and transport for the next four years.

Mr Barr said he looked forward to governing jointly with the Greens, who won a record six seats at the election on October 17.

“My entire political career has been based upon collaboration, compromise and working with other people to get an outcome,” Mr Barr said.

ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury said he was glad to have a closer relationship with Labor for the next term.

“It gives me great confidence that the two groups are building a collaborative relationship for the next four years,” he said.

The Greens and Labor will hold 16 of the ACT Legislative Assembly’s 25 seats in the tenth assembly.(ABC News: Dave Sciasci)

At least one Labor minister to lose portfolios

The new Cabinet will be made up of nine ministers, with three of those spots being taken by the Greens.

It means one of Labor’s ministers in the previous assembly will be forced out of Cabinet.

The party had already lost one minister, former attorney-general Gordon Ramsay, because he was not re-elected.

The new Ministry is set to be announced tomorrow.

Climate change, social housing chief among joint commitments

The headline promise between the parties is an expanded program of climate change initiatives, including pushing forward plans to reduce the number of petrol cars on ACT roads — now the biggest source of carbon emissions in Canberra.

Labor and the Greens say they want to adopt an “ambitious target” for all new vehicles sold in the ACT by 2030 to be emissions-free.

To help reach that target, a promised zero-interest loan scheme for rooftop solar will be expanded to allow people to borrow up to $15,000 to buy an electric or hydrogen car.

New electric and hydrogen car buyers will also be offered free vehicle registration for two years.

And the Government will also install at least 50 new charging stations across Canberra for electric vehicles.

In a move that will further distance it from the Federal Government, the parties have also agreed to new plans that will accelerate the ACT’s move away from gas.

The Government already had a 2045 target in place for phasing out gas.

Under the new agreement, legislation will be introduced next year to ban gas connections in greenfield developments, and a transition program will be developed with industry to begin phasing out gas in existing areas.

New ACT Government buildings, whether owned or leased, will be all-electric, as will the planned Molonglo Commercial Centre.

The Government will also raise minimum energy efficiency standards for rentals, while providing $50 million to improve energy efficiency for social housing, low-income owners and low-performing rentals.

Monday’s agreement also resulted in the Government pledging to spend $18 million on homelessness services, acknowledging the sector had not received a growth in funding to meet the recent explosion in demand.

The Government also aims to build 1,000 new affordable homes in the next five years, 400 of which would be public housing dwellings.

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) welcomed the Labor-Greens commitment to housing, saying it looked forward to working with the Government to ensure the “progressive reform agenda” was successfully implemented.

“Community housing needs to be a strong focus if we are to meet the current shortfall of 3,000 social houses in the ACT,” ACTCOSS chief executive Emma Campbell said.

“We also call on the new government to enact a Right to Housing in the ACT Human Rights Act.”

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How COVID hit SEQ’s public transport usage

Griffith University transport expert Matthew Burke said this decision stood in positive contrast to other countries that immediately cut public transport services to save costs, causing “terrible” impacts to low-income workers in particular.

“We have a couple of factors that is different to the rest of the world. The first is that one in six passengers on the TransLink network in SEQ are tertiary students,” Dr Burke said.

“So with the universities basically still running off-campus and online teaching, there is one in six trips that has pretty much vanished from the network.”

And with universities predicting a return to in-person teaching only in the second half of 2021, those trips are not likely to return in the immediate future.

“The public transport networks are exceptionally radial in south-east Queensland, that is they all tend to head in to the Brisbane CBD,” Dr Burke said.

“No more so than our rail network, which everything runs to Roma Street and Central, and with office workers very much continuing to work from home in large numbers, that has meant that those services have really seen a decline.”


With companies now considering whether to keep workers at home and reduce their inner-city office spaces, or bring workers in just for a few days a week, Dr Burke said the “big debate” remained about if this was the new normal.

“Beyond that, there is also an avoidance function which is happening here, where people are – if they have a choice – choosing to avoid public transport and choosing other modes,” he said.

Brisbane City Council, who operates buses and ferries in agreement with TransLink, released figures on Tuesday showing monthly bus and ferry patronage is still well below 2019 figures.

The sharpest difference, naturally, was during April and May when the entire state ground to a halt.

In April 2019, 7.6 million trips were taken on Brisbane’s bus network: in April 2020, just 1.3 million – a decline of 81 per cent.

By September this year, however, patronage was still down by 45 per cent on buses and 48 per cent on ferries, which were hard-hit by the loss of international and domestic tourists.

Earlier this week, Queensland Police Assistant Commissioner Ben Marcus said police were seeing more people on the roads, and congestion almost worse than pre-COVID levels, triggering a worrying rise in the road toll.

The council’s public and active transport committee chairman Ryan Murphy said it was “hard to predict” if or when patronage would return to pre-COVID numbers.

“While there is no community transmission in Queensland, commuters can have a total confidence that our public transport is safe to use,” Cr Murphy said.

“There has been a noticeable shift in more people travelling actively, for both commuting and recreation and we’ve seen significantly more people using the riverwalks and bikeways.

“I think this is a positive change that residents are exploring different travel options and getting outside and enjoying our wonderful climate and active travel options.”

Dr Burke said the decision to keep public transport services at pre-COVID schedules meant people could travel quite safely while staying socially distanced.

“Two things we can be really proud of,” Dr Burke said.

“A: that we’ve kept up services to people – at great cost, TransLink’s wearing that cost – and B: we’ve managed to keep those operations as COVID-safe as possible.

“I think we can do more and further encourage mask-wearing on public transport, and … if the numbers pick up in Queensland we will need to move to making masks mandatory as they did in Victoria.”

A TransLink spokesperson said the agency had added more services to help people socially distance while travelling, and while there were no plans to cap numbers on public transport, it would continue to monitor capacity and take advice from Queensland Health.

But while services have stayed operating as normal, and people can ideally find space on public transport to travel safely, the cost is not sustainable in the long term, Dr Burke said.

“It’s unsustainable – we couldn’t do it for three years,” he said.

The TransLink spokesperson did not provide details on the agency’s timeline for any discussions about reducing services if patronage figures remained low, saying it was an “essential service”.

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UK coronavirus LIVE: Boris Johnson accuses Sadiq Khan of ‘bankrupting’ Transport for London as PM confirms Manchester WILL get £60m funding

Boris Johnson has confirmed that Greater Manchester will receive a £60 million funding support package to implement Tier 3 lockdown measures.

At PMQs the Prime Minister said the money would be distributed among the region’s boroughs, despite talks between ministers and local leaders breaking down on Tuesday.

It comes after Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham accused Mr Johnson of “playing poker” with people’s lives. The PM confirmed the region would enter Tier 3 lockdown from midnight on Thursday.

South Yorkshire will follow Greater Manchester into the toughest Covid alert level on Saturday, after it was confirmed that the area will be put under Tier 3 curbs.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson also used PMQs to take a swipe at Sadiq Khan, claiming that the London mayor had “effectively bankrupted” the capital’s transport network. It comes as Transport for London seeks a £4.9 billion Covid bail-out, with reports that ministers have threatened to take direct control of TfL if conditions are not met.

Follow our live updates here…

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England’s hospital death toll up by nearly 100 overnight

A further 94 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England.

This brings the total number of deaths reported in the country’s hospitals to 31,275, NHS England has said.

Patients were aged between 49 and 97. All but one, aged 71, had known underlying health conditions.

The deaths were between October 14 and 20.

Manchester won’t be bullied – Labour

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner told the Commons: “For hundreds of years Mancunians have been told to know our place but we’ve never listened… we will not be told what our place is and we will not be bullied into taking it.”

She said Labour’s motion “will ensure a fair national deal for the country”, adding: “Next week and in the weeks ahead, it will be communities in other parts of the country that find themselves in Tier 3.

“If the Government is prepared to wilfully inflict so much harm on its own people in the middle of a pandemic in one part of the country, then they will do it to people elsewhere as well.

“We are staring down the barrel of a bleak winter because the Government have lost control of the virus. Infections are rising, hospital admissions are rising, deaths tragically are rising, the testing system is collapsed.”

Two to three weeks before success of top-tier restrictions is known, MPs told

It will take two to three weeks to establish whether tough top-tier coronavirus restrictions are working in a region, MPs have been told.

Dr Clare Gardiner, director general of the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC), told two select committees that it would take this long for the data to come through showing if new measures are working.

Giving evidence to the Science and Technology and Health and Social Care committees earlier today, Dr Gardiner said that part of the lag came from the virus having a 10-day incubation period.

When asked how long it will take to see the benefit of the measures she added: “We would expect to see indications in the data coming through within two to three weeks of interventions being established.

“The incubation period for people who are infected now is about 10 days and that is why there’s a lag on some of the indications.”

Under the top-tier restrictions, households are banned from mixing indoors and all pubs and bars must close unless they are serving substantial meals.

But additional restrictions will be imposed based on discussions with local leaders, including those that could cover the hospitality, leisure, entertainment and personal care sectors.

Here’s more on the raging fallout over plans for TfL:

Sadiq Khan has accused Boris Johnson of lying to Parliament after the Prime Minister claimed that the London mayor had “bankrupted” the capital’s transport network.

The war of words erupted shortly after Mr Khan made a direct appeal to Downing Street to resolve the row over the £4.9 billion covid bail-out being sought by Transport for London.

In response to a question on potential conditions for the bailout during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Mr Johnson said: “I can certainly confirm – as I said in my answer to the first question – is that the black hole in TfL’s finance, the bankruptcy of TfL, which was left by the way in robust financial health by the previous mayor, it certainly was … is entirely the fault of the current Labour Mayor of London.

Read more…

It’s not up to schools to feed kids during holidays – No10

A Number 10 spokesman said there were no changes to the Government’s free school meal policy despite pressure to extend them over the holidays.

The spokesman said: “While schools continue to play an integral role in the community, it’s not for them to regularly provide food during school holidays.”

More on those free school meal calls here:

Region could escape Tier 3 lockdown thanks to drop in infections – No10

Government talks with Tees Valley and Tyneside over introducing Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions have been paused, it is understood.

It follows signs that progress has been made in controlling Covid-19 in the area.

Discussions have also taken place about moving Nottinghamshire and West Yorkshire into the highest category of restrictions.

Tier 3 restrictions ‘coming to a town near you’ – Labour

Labour’s Anglea Rayner said the debate was not just about Greater Manchester because “this is coming to a town near you”.

She told the Commons: “I absolutely hope the Prime Minister does the right thing because this is not just about Greater Manchester.

“This is coming to a town near you. In so many areas now the R number is increasing. So many areas are in Tier 2. So many areas are going to go into Tier 3.

“So this is a marker to ensure that our economy survives through these problems.

“I remember the promises the Prime Minister made, not just in this crisis but before it. He offered ‘levelling up’ for communities like mine.

“But he’s not levelling us up. He’s letting us down. Under Thatcher we were consigned to managed decline. Now it feels like mismanaged decline.”

Labour slams ‘insulting’ Greater Manchester support package

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner has called the Government’s financial support package for Greater Manchester “an insult”.

She also told the Commons her aunt died last week from Covid-19 at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport.

During a Commons debate on financial support for areas under tighter Covid-19 restrictions, she said: “So I speak today not just as a member of this House, nor as a Mancunian, but as someone who, like many others across our city and our country, who in the last few weeks has lost loved ones to this terrible virus.

“We were offered £8 per head or, to put it another way, 30 seconds work for a consultant working on the collapsed Test and Trace system.

“Let me say this: £8 per person is an insult and now they are attempting to play us off against each other across GM.

“Well let me tell the Prime Minister, our mayor stood up for Greater Manchester but he spoke for Great Britain.”

Wales cases up by almost 1,000 overnight

There have been a further 962 cases of Covid-19 diagnosed in Wales, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 38,361.

Public Health Wales said 14 further deaths had been reported, with the total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic rising to 1,736.

Speaking of enforcement measures…

A football team has been fined £200 each for claiming to be from the same household in order to drink in their local pub.

The 12 men were together at a boozer in South Tyneside, near Newcastle, on Sunday night when a concerned staff member challenged them.

South Tyneside is classified as “high risk” Tier 2 under the Government’s Covid alert system, which means mixing between different households is prohibited and the “rule of six” still applies.

Read more…

Ministers are “urgently reviewing” Covid-19 powers which enable government officials to use “reasonable force” to make people self-isolate.

Conservative former Home Office minister Mark Harper welcomed regulations to put the requirement to self-isolate in law but told the Commons: “I have grave concerns about the powers to use reasonable force that have been given to state officials other than police officers who are simply not trained to use those powers safely.

“As a former Home Office minister, I think this risks the safety and lives of individuals.”

He asked health minister Edward Argar to assure him that these powers would be limited to police officers only, adding: “If he can’t give me that reassurance, I regret to say I am unable to support the measures on today’s order paper.”

Mr Argar replied: “We do appreciate concerns about the reasonable force allowances in the regulations. The powers to authorise persons other than the police and PCSOs to use reasonable force have not been used and there are no intentions to use them.

“But he does make his point well, as always, and we’re urgently reviewing these powers given concerns he and others have raised around proportionality of enforcement.”

Hospitality is being ‘hung out to dry’, Sheffield MP claims

Labour MP Paul Blomfield (Sheffield Central) argued hospitality businesses were being “hung out to dry”, adding the deal “doesn’t meet all the concerns of local leaders, nor does it provide the support that businesses need”.

He said: “Because they are not being required to close, they won’t get the support that they need, they are simply being hung out to dry.”

Mr Argar said the Government’s deal was “fair and proportionate”.

Tory Miriam Cates (Penistone and Stocksbridge) said it was very important “that we do know what we’re aiming for”, adding: “Can he guarantee that he will have regular ongoing discussions with local leaders and local people about whether we’re heading in the right direction to make sure that people do know that we’re on the right track?”

Mr Argar replied: “The 28-day period is the sunset point at which these fall unless renewed or altered, there are actually reviews within 14 days, the secretary of state continues to monitor data and so will be reviewing progress at more frequent intervals.”

It comes after Government talks with Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham broke down over an extra £5m funding

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PM confirms Greater Manchester will get the £60m for Tier 3 lockdown

Evening StandardBoris Johnson has now confirmed that Greater Manchester will get the £60million to support local businesses as Sir Keir Starmer tore into him over his “corrosive” local lockdown approach. The Prime Minister announced on Tuesday that he will plunge the region into the strictest coronavirus measures on Friday morning after talks with local leaders broke down. It comes after the government failed to reach an agreement with Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham over financial support for going into Tier 3 measures.

No cap on length of time regions will remain under Tier 2 and 3

Regions in Tier 2 and 3 will remain under restrictions “as long as is necessary”, health minister Edward Argar said.

Responding to Labour, he told the Commons: “Areas in Tier 3 or in Tier 2 will remain in those areas as long as is necessary to protect the health of the local people and the NHS in that region.

“So he asked about the sort of things that will be relevant to when an area both enters it and comes out of it: infection rates per 100,000, the impact on the NHS of hospital capacity, and how full they are, and hospitalisation rates, as well as, of course, relying and listening to local knowledge from local public health officials.”

He added: “In respect of … neighbouring Tier 2 areas it is only at this point this announcement that we are planning to make. This is the only move that has been announced and that is currently being considered.”

Business leader slams wrangling between civic chiefs and Government

Wrangling over coronavirus support between local leaders and Whitehall “wastes vital time and erodes unity”, the leader of the Confederation of British Industry warned.

CBI director-general Dame Carolyn Fairbairn said: “Business is suffering badly from lack of clarity and delayed timing on financial support through lockdown.”

She said support must be available as soon as restrictions come into force.

Dame Carolyn said: “The Government urgently needs to move to a more standardised system of support for areas and businesses moving into Tiers 2 or 3, with buy-in across all regions.

“Local authorities should receive additional funds so they can target grants to businesses and others most in need.

“The Government’s contribution to the new job support scheme should be increased to protect jobs, especially in areas where firms are seeing demand fall away.

“Now is the time to press the reset button. National unity is the only way to defeat the virus and protect our economy.”

South Yorkshire moves to ‘very high’ alert level

Health minister Edward Argar indicated that action had to be taken in order to stop the spread of the virus in South Yorkshire.

He told the Commons: “We need to act now to prevent the epidemic in South Yorkshire continuing to grow. I am pleased to inform the House that following discussions this week, the Government has reached an agreement with South Yorkshire on a package of measures to drive down transmission.

“That means that South Yorkshire, so the city of Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster, will be moving to the local Covid alert level very high, taking effect at one minute past midnight on Saturday morning.

“This includes the baseline measures for the very high alert level which were agreed by the House earlier this month. And, as well as this, and as agreed with local leaders, unfortunately casinos, betting shops, adult gaming centres and soft play centres will also have to close.

“While gyms will remain open, classes will not be allowed.”

Jenrick offers to work together with Manchester’s local leaders

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said he has written to the local leaders of Greater Manchester “inviting them to work with us at pace to design their business support schemes and ensure the funding reaches the people and businesses who need it”.

He said: “My officials at @Mhclg stand ready to assist – today.

“We will ensure these discussions are conducted in accordance with those proceeding productively with councils in Merseyside, Lancashire and South Yorkshire. The £60m support scheme comes in addition to the Job Support Scheme and grants of up to £3,000 for closed businesses. “

‘Worryingly high’ infection in older Welsh people

Wales’ health minister Vaughan Gething has said “worryingly high levels of infection” are being seen in the older population of the country.

He said the “firebreak”, which comes into force in Wales at 6pm on Friday, is designed to reduce transmission of coronavirus as much as possible by preventing household, workplace and social contacts.

“We’ve chosen to make the firebreak as short as possible but to be as effective as possible, it needs to be sharp and deep, including all parts of society, to have a maximum impact on the transmission of the virus,” Mr Gething said.

“Most importantly, it needs to target the main sources of transmission – places where people meet with other people.”

Mr Gething said the estimated R value – the number of people each coronavirus case infects – in Wales was between 1.1 and 1.4 but could be driven down to below one with the “firebreak”.

“This will slow the spread of the virus, reducing the infection rate, which ultimately means fewer people needing hospital treatment and fewer people dying,” he said.

Wales ‘could be overwhelmed’

Wales’s health minister Vaughan Gething has said there is “a very real risk” that the country’s health service would be overwhelmed without action being taken to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Scientific experts in Wales have calculated that the number of Covid-19 infections is growing by 4% each day in Wales, with an estimated 2,500 daily infections.

Mr Gething told a press conference there were 894 people in hospital with coronavirus, up 26% from last week.

“This is the highest that is has been since June this year,” Mr Gething said.

There are 43 people in critical care with Covid-19, which is 72% higher than last week and amounting to one in four critical care beds across Wales.

PM confirms Manchester will receive £60m

Sir Keir Starmer told Boris Johnson to “stop bargaining with people’s lives”.

He told the Commons: “On Friday, thousands of people in Greater Manchester – taxi drivers, pub and hospitality workers, people working in betting shops, the self-employed and freelancers will either be out of work or face significant pay cuts, that’s the reality on Friday in Greater Manchester.

“But their rent and their mortgage won’t be lower, their food and their heating bills won’t be lower, and that could last for months. Why can’t the Prime Minister and the Chancellor understand this? Stop bargaining with people’s lives, stop dividing communities and provide the support that’s needed in Manchester.”

Boris Johnson responded: “I’m very proud that this Government has already given Greater Manchester £1.1 billion in support for business, £200 million in extra un-ringfenced funding, £50 million to tackle infections in care homes, £20 million for test and trace, another £22 million for local response that we announced yesterday.

“Yesterday the Mayor of Greater Manchester was offered a further £60 million which he turned down with no encouragement, I may say support from (Sir Keir Starmer). So I can tell the House today that that cash will be distributed to the boroughs of Greater Manchester.”

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Victorian children return to school, calls for mandatory masks on NSW public transport

Washington: US President Donald Trump says he has fully recovered from COVID-19 and is not an infection risk for others, freeing him to return to holding big campaign rallies during the final weeks of the race for the White House.

Trump also said, without producing evidence, that he was now immune, a claim that drew a flag from Twitter for violating the social media platform’s rules about misleading information related to COVID-19.

Trump supporters at a rally in Laredo, Texas, on Saturday, October 10.Credit:Bloomberg

The comments from Trump came on Sunday, local time, a day after his physician said the President had taken a test showing he was no longer infectious. He did not say directly whether Trump had tested negative for COVID-19.

“I passed the highest test, the highest standards, and I’m in great shape,” Trump told Fox News show Sunday Morning Futures.

Trump, who is trailing Democratic rival Joe Biden in opinion polls, is eager to get back on the campaign trail after an absence of more than a week. He plans to travel to the key battleground state of Florida on Monday, followed by rallies in Pennsylvania and Iowa on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

Read the full Reuters story here.

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Tasmanian Transport Museum’s M class steam train chugs towards former ‘glory’

Steam train enthusiasts are crazy about the M class locomotive, but when the machines arrived in Tasmania 70 years ago, no-one wanted to drive them.

In 1952 the Tasmanian government ordered 10 steam and 32 diesel-electric locomotives.

But it was the diesel engines that arrived first.

Once the drivers had a taste of the difference between diesel and steam engines, they were loath to drive the latter.

“Unfortunately for the steam engines, diesel had arrived here first and the drivers weren’t all that rapt driving steam engines after the diesel,” Tasmanian Transport Museum president Rod Prince said.

“With the steam engine you have to turn up four to five hours before.

“They used to have lighters and people to manage the engines until they were ready to go and then the drivers would take over, but it was hard work.”

Dana Burke and Rod Prince are working hard to get the M class steam locomotive back on the tracks.(ABC Radio Hobart: Rachel Edwards)

Head for steam

Dana Burke, a boilermaker and welder who cut his professional teeth working on council steamrollers, is managing the project to refurbish of the M5 train, which was donated to the Transport Museum in the 1990s.

The museum received a grant from the Federal Government of $100,000 to restore the train.

Even with volunteers putting in 40-hour weeks, finishing the task, which began in June last year, will take some time yet.

“How much longer? How long is a piece of string?” Mr Burke said.

The front of a steam engine in a workshop with a man wearing high-vis looking down at the camera.
Boilermaker Dana Burke is a steam train enthusiast and the project manager of the M5’s refurbishment.(ABC Radio Hobart: Rachel Edwards)

Despite the challenges of running a steam engine and the intricate work involved in the restoration, Mr Burke prefers steam over diesel any day.

“With steam you’ve got to drive it, fire it, put the fuel in yourself,” Mr Burke said.

“Everything is manual on it.”

Mr Prince said the fact that the steam trains were all decommissioned by the 1970s was making the restoration slightly easier than it might otherwise have been.

“The steam locomotives did very little work, which fortunately for us was maybe a good thing, because they are not as worn as they could have been, had they done 100,000 miles like the diesel trains,” he said.

A plaque on the side of a train that reads "Robert Stephenson 7425 Darlington Works 1951 & Hawthorns Ltd".
The plaque on the side of the M5 steam locomotive at the Tasmanian Transport Museum.(ABC Radio Hobart: Rachel Edwards)

Climbing the hill

Messrs Burke and Prince want the M5 to run on a hill, where its power will be best showcased, but they are concerned that may not be affordable because of insurance premiums.

There are tricky ownership laws around the train lines, but the Tasmanian Government recently passed legislation to help heritage machines access the track.

But Mr Prince says the quote the museum has received is too high, and he is hoping the Government can assist.

A steam strain belching grey smoke. It has a black engine and red and cream carriages behind it.
M class steam locomotive in Hobart in 1967.(Supplied: Tasmanian Transport Museum)

Mr Prince says heritage rail is already heavily regulated and that premiums may not be commensurate with accidents in rail.

“The insurance companies are not that fond of railways, not because of our record in Australia — it is very good,” Mr Prince said.

“[The funding proposal has been] moved over to Treasury and Finance for the next budget, it will be announced next month.

“I would feel it was a great big waste of time, we’d have a locomotive that is ready to run an mechanically sound and no where to run it.”

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Manulife to offer COVID travel insurance that covers medical care, quarantine and emergency transport home

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The new pandemic policies to be sold through Manulife and its distribution network beginning in October will be available to Canadians travelling both within the country and to international destinations — including those with a government-issued level 3 travel advisory to avoid all non-essential travel.

A spokesperson for the insurer said the new policies will be priced individually based on the age of the client, what plan they qualify for, and the duration of their trip.

In a statement, Manulife said the policies will provide emergency medical coverage including additional coverage specific to COVID-19 and conditions related to the respiratory illness, and will also cover travellers in the event of an unexpected quarantine due to the pandemic under the umbrella of trip interruption benefits.

“Manulife understands that some Canadians have family, business and other important reasons for travelling in-country and to global destinations,” the insurer said in the statement, adding that the specialized coverage will assist them if they encounter the virus while away.

The Canadian government has advised travellers to check their insurance coverage if they do decide or need to travel, and to consider buying a cancel-for-any-reason (CFAR) policy top-up to ensure they are covered for expenses related to the pandemic.

Manulife said its new pandemic policies — which could be an alternative to a CFAR top-up — will provide coverage of up to $200,000 per insured person for emergency medical coverage for COVID-19 and related conditions if they test positive while at their destination, and emergency air transport to return home if needed.

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Believe the hypercar – Rimac is making a big name for itself in battery-powered transport | Business

THE BUSHY beard sported by Mate Rimac, the 32-year-old founder of a Croatian electric-car-technology firm named after him, long predates lockdown affectation. He is said to have grown it to conceal youthful features that might put off potential customers and partners among the world’s big carmakers, who could be wary of a company from a country with no track record to speak of in technology or making cars. (The infamous Soviet-era Yugo was built in what is now Serbia.)

Whether or not the facial hair helped, the limited run of 150 C Two electric hypercars, Rimac’s second model, sold out almost as soon as it was unveiled in 2018, despite an eye-watering price-tag of over €2m ($2.4m). Pandemic-related delays have forced buyers to wait until 2021 for their neck-snappingly brisk machines. Once they do hit the road, they will showcase technology that has attracted the attention of—and investments from—not just luxury marques like Porsche (which owns 15.5% of Rimac), but also mass-market ones such as Kia and Hyundai.

Rimac’s roster of clients is said to include almost all of Europe’s big carmakers, though most are quieter about their involvement than the soft whirr of an electric motor. Those that have made public pronouncements include Aston Martin, a posh (if struggling) British brand, and Koenigsegg, a more niche Swedish one, both of which Rimac is supplying with lightweight battery systems for hybrid hypercars, and Pininfarina, a new maker of fancy electric cars from Italy. Rimac is also collaborating with bigger carmakers such as Renault of France and SEAT (part of Germany’s Volkswagen Group).

Indeed, for all the hypercar hype, Rimac’s main business in years to come will be supplying electric-vehicle technology. Constructing battery packs, cooling systems and management software to give the right combination of power for speed and energy for range is as applicable to runarounds as it is to absurdly fast cars.

The firm has plenty of advantages. It is small—with only 700 employees—and nimble, unlike bigger suppliers that require, in Mr Rimac’s words, “five non-disclosure agreements and six meetings…and months to get anything started”. Big car firms, which have jealously kept the know-how to build internal-combustion engines close to their chests, can now eke out only tiny, incremental improvements in efficiency. Since electric-vehicle tech is in its infancy, opportunities abound for efficiency leaps by clever interlopers like Rimac.

Mr Rimac seems well on the way to realising his dual aim of becoming the best maker of electric hypercars and helping the rest of the industry go electric. But he also has an eye on longer-term trends that will see mobility services become more important as private car-ownership declines. His firm will be “part of the transition”, he says. How? He won’t say for now; another use for a beard is to stroke it enigmatically.

This article appeared in the Business section of the print edition under the headline “Believe the hypercar”

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