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English music lovers party like it’s 2019 at COVID pilot festival
3 May 2021, 5:00 AM

Live music returned to the birthplace of The Beatles after a long coronavirus-enforced silence on Sunday when the English city of Liverpool hosted a one-off music festival to test whether such events spread the virus.

Around 5000 people ditched face coverings and social distancing rules in the name of science and music. They attended the outdoor event having tested negative for COVID-19, and promised to get themselves tested again five days after the festival.

Their data will be used by the government’s Events Research Programme to help understand the effect of crowds on the spread of the virus.

But the scientific side of the event was far from the minds of revellers as they danced through the gates of Sefton Park.

“It just feels so good, so amazing – it’s been too long,” said 19-year-old student Meghan Butler.

Melvin Benn, Managing Director of Festival Republic, said he hoped his pilot project would play a key part in getting outdoor events back on the calendar this year.

“Once they get into the show they can party as though it’s 2019,” he said. “You can feel that the burden of the last 12 months, the last 15 months, has just been lifted a little.”

Sunday’s line-up in a purpose-built tent consisted of three acts: local singer-songwriter Zuzu, up-and-coming indie group The Lathums and headliners Blossoms.

Getting to headline the event was an honour, said Blossoms lead singer Tom Ogden: “It’s been 413 days since we were last on stage. It’s been a long time and we’re delighted to be here.”

Lasting less than six hours and with a 10 pm curfew, the festival was a far cry from the multi-day hedonism of bigger events like Glastonbury, but those attending said there was nowhere else they’d rather be.

“Let’s enjoy life, lets get back to normal!” said 25-year old labourer Harry Smith.

Man United, Liverpool match postponed after fans storm pitch
3 May 2021, 4:26 AM

Manchester United’s Premier League match against Liverpool was postponed on Sunday after United fans forced their way into the stadium and stormed the Old Trafford pitch to protest against the club’s owners – the Glazer family.

“Following discussion between the Police, the Premier League, Trafford Council and the clubs, our match against Liverpool has been postponed due to safety and security considerations around the protest today,” United said in a statement after the game was called off.

“Discussions will now take place with the Premier League on a revised date for the fixture.”

Liverpool issued a statement saying they were in full agreement with the decision.

An hour after the scheduled 1530 GMT kickoff, both sets of players were still stuck in their hotels. The Lowry Hotel, where United’s players were preparing for the match, was also the scene of a large anti-Glazer protest.

Greater Manchester Police said around 100 United fans took to the pitch, some letting off flares and others carrying posters calling for the Glazers to end their ownership of the club they bought in 2005. One young fan was photographed on top of one of the goals.

Police said some United staff locked themselves in rooms.

The match was being played behind closed doors due to COVID-19 restrictions but that did not stop chaotic and ugly scenes inside and outside Old Trafford, which left one police officer requiring emergency treatment after being slashed with a bottle, Greater Manchester Police said.

Climate finance targets top agenda for this week’s G7 meetings
3 May 2021, 3:14 AM

Targets for climate finance and girls’ education will top the agenda at a meeting this week of foreign ministers from the Group of Seven advanced economies, this year’s chair Britain said on Sunday.

The London summit will be the first attended in person by G7 foreign ministers for two years.

Britain has also invited representatives from Australia, India, South Korea and South Africa as guests for some of the meetings.

“We’ll be taking action to ensure fair access to vaccines around the world, setting global girls’ education targets, agreeing ambitious action on climate change and developing new measures to prevent famine,” British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement.

Raab will meet with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday, when they will talk about trade, China, Afghanistan and Iran, the British government said.

He will also host the Japanese and Indian foreign ministers at his country residence later in the week.

Eight reported killed as Myanmar protests aim to ‘shake the world’
3 May 2021, 1:05 AM

Myanmar security forces opened fire on some of the biggest protests against military rule in days on Sunday killing eight people, media reported, three months after a coup plunged the country into crisis.

The protests, after a spell of dwindling crowds and what appeared to be more restraint by the security forces, were coordinated with demonstrations in Myanmar communities around the world to mark what organisers called “the global Myanmar spring revolution”.

“Shake the world with the voice of Myanmar people’s unity,” the organisers said in a statement.

Streams of demonstrators, some led by Buddhist monks, made their way through cities and towns across the country, including the commercial hub of Yangon and the second city of Mandalay, where two people were shot and killed, the Mizzima news agency reported.

The Irrawaddy news site earlier posted a photograph of a man it said was a security officer in plain clothes taking aim with a rifle in Mandalay.

Three people were killed in the central town of Wetlet, the Myanmar Now news agency said, and two were killed in different towns in Shan State in the northeast, two media outlets reported.

One person was also killed in the northern jade-mining town of Hpakant, the Kachin News Group reported.

Reuters could not verify the reports and a spokesman for the ruling junta did not answer calls seeking comment.

The protests are only one of the problems the generals have brought on with their February 1 ouster of the elected government led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Britain to send 1000 more ventilators to India
3 May 2021, 12:03 AM

Britain will send another 1000 ventilators to India, the government said on Sunday, stepping up its support as India’s healthcare system struggles to cope with a huge surge in cases of COVID-19.

India has reported more than 300 000 daily cases for more than 10 days straight, leaving hospitals, morgues and crematoriums overwhelmed.

The British government had previously agreed to send 600 medical devices, including ventilators and oxygen concentrators.

“This support will help urgently meet some of India’s acute needs, particularly oxygen for patients,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement. “We are determined to help our Indian friends in their hour of need.”

Top British health officials have also spoken to their Indian counterparts to offer advice.

In this video below, India’s new coronavirus cases have dipped marginally:

Other nations, including the United States, Germany and Pakistan, are also providing support as the number of infections daily in India reached 392,488, with a total death toll of over 215 000.

The latest support from Britain comes ahead of a call between prime ministers Boris Johnson and Narendra Modi, scheduled for Tuesday, which will look at deepening bilateral ties.

The meeting replaces an in-person visit Johnson was due to make in April, but had to cancel due to the surge in infections.

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