London Mayor Urges PM To Continue Free Testing

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“We cannot have a situation where only the well-off can afford to ‘live with Covid’ safely or one where we’re not keeping an eye on new variants posing a risk to the country, said Mayor…reports Asian Lite News

London Mayor Sadiq Khan urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Sajid Javid to continue free testing to avoid another bolt of pandemic.

 “If all restrictions are to be lifted in the safest possible way, the Government must rethink its plans to abandon free testing and ensure there is financial support for those who cannot work from home if they test positive,” the mayor said. “We cannot have a situation where only the well-off can afford to ‘live with Covid’ safely or one where we’re not keeping an eye on new variants posing a risk to the country.

  “Our city has suffered terribly over the last two years and Londoners and London’s businesses are looking forward to our capital’s recovery and life beyond this pandemic. Following the Government dropping all legal Covid restrictions, and in light of falling infection levels in London, it is expected that wearing a face covering will no longer be a condition of carriage on the TfL network.

 “However, we know that face coverings remain a simple, effective measure that give Londoners confidence to travel, and following clear advice from public health advisers, TfL will likely continue to recommend their use on the network.

 “I urge passengers to be considerate of their fellow Londoners and continue to wear a face covering where appropriate unless exempt.”

People are seen at an NHS COVID-19 vaccination center in London, Britain, on March 4, 2021. (Xinhua/Han Yan)

St Patrick’s Day

In another development, Mr Khan unveiled the celebrations planned for St Patrick’s Day in the capital, which will showcase the very best of Irish arts, performance, culture, food and dance.

This year’s theme is one of celebration and bringing the community back together, and Londoners and visitors can look forward to an exciting programme of events happening across the city on March 12th and 13th to mark the festival’s return. Events including busking on the Underground, the iconic parade and vibrant celebrations in Trafalgar Square were postponed for the past two years due to the pandemic but will return to the capital this year.

On Sunday 13th March London will see the return of the spectacular annual parade of Irish marching bands, dancers and pageantry, which will start at 12pm and wind its way from Green Park to Trafalgar Square. This year, to pay tribute to the Irish Londoners who have supported the city throughout the pandemic, 11 key workers will be honoured as Grand Marshals of the famous parade.

Also on Sunday, from 12pm to 6pm, Trafalgar Square will play host to a world-class line up of Irish talent with family-friendly concerts, storytelling, children’s films and youth performances, as well community choirs, schools, dance troupes and more. There will be children’s workshops featuring camogie games, medal making and face painting, and a great selection of food and drinks stalls including world-renowned chef and owner of the Myrtle restaurant in London, Anna Haugh. The main stage is curated by the London Irish Centre, and hosted by Gemma Bradly, will see acts such as Soulé, Xona, Altan and more perform.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I am delighted that London’s St Patrick’s Day festival will return to our streets this March, and it is fitting this year’s theme is one of celebration and bringing the community back together. London has the largest Irish population in the UK and St Patrick’s Day provides a wonderful opportunity to honour the spirit of our Irish community and celebrate the enduring strength of relationship between our two countries. Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh!”

Ireland’s Ambassador to the UK, Adrian O’Neill said: “During my time as Ambassador, I have witnessed the strength, cohesion and determination of the Irish community here in London and across the country. The challenges of the last two years have proven the resilience of our community, but also shown the ways that we have come together in solidarity—to stay connected with those who were isolated and to support the vulnerable among us. This year’s St Patrick’s Day Festival in London will be a fantastic celebration where we can connect again in person and proudly celebrate our history, heritage and culture, as well as our contemporary community in all its rich diversity. I encourage you to participate and look forward to a wonderful Festival.”

Regional Director for the NHS in London, Andrew Ridley, said: “The dedication and compassion of the Irish staff across our NHS in London has been phenomenal, especially during the past two challenging years. It is testament to the brilliant work of our NHS staff working in our communities, hospitals, GP surgeries and vaccination centres, that Londoners can now celebrate St Patrick’s Day, together, with loved ones.”

Head of Culture at the London Irish Centre, Hannah Pender, said: “‘The London Irish Centre is delighted to be programme partner for the London St Patrick’s Festival 2022. Following the success of our major virtual collaboration in 2021, we are excited to be back in iconic Trafalgar Square to celebrate the very best Irish arts, culture and community. We want to thank the Mayor of London and City Hall for the opportunity to partner on such an exciting and important event for London and all Londoners. Céad míle fáilte – a hundred thousand welcomes to all!”

The Irish Post Managing Editor, Fiona Audley said: “After a two-year hiatus it is great to have the St Patrick’s Festival back in London and we are proud to continue to be the main media partner for this important event. This Mayor’s festival showcases the best of Irish community, culture and heritage in the capital and invites all communities to celebrate that with us. We are excited to welcome the parade back and enjoy the festivities in Trafalgar Square and look forward to seeing everybody there.”

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