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Anyone shopping in Manchester today will see some big changes to the city centre

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Manchester city centre is set to look very different as the non-essential shops reopen today. 

Non-essential shops are back open for business today, and Manchester City Council has introduced a series of measures and changes to ensure the safety of staff and shoppers.

There has been extra signage installed across the city centre to help people keep their distance and control the spread of coronavirus. 

There will be eight uniformed and highly visible street marshals working in the city centre, who are experienced in crowd management and can deal with any crowd-related issues quickly, the Manchester Evening News reports. 

Christopher Elkins/Flickr

Many pavements in the city centre have been widened around transport hubs to help people socially distance, as more people return to work. 

To help people with walking and cycling more safely around the city centre, part of Deansgate has been closed and Thomas Street will be closed to traffic seven days a week. 

The Council has also submitted a £600k Active Travel bid to the Department of Transport to fund schemes that will make more space for people travelling across the city on foot or bike. 

Pat Karney, Manchester City Council’s city centre spokesperson, said: “We have to take a safety-first approach as people begin to return to the city. For the foreseeable future we have to balance our residents’ health and the economic recovery of the city – and tens of thousands of city centre jobs depend on getting this right.

“If you do need to be in the city centre in the coming weeks, you will see some small changes – such as new signs and uniformed street marshals – that have been installed to keep us safe and to remind us that although there have been some changes to lockdown, the pandemic is not over and we must remain cautious.

“I will be in the city centre on Monday and I will wear a mask when going into shops as both a precaution and a reassurance. We all have a responsibility to look after our health – and we all still have a role to play in limiting the spread of the virus.”

If you are shopping today, here’s a list of all the shops open in the Arndale and Trafford Centre.

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The North West Air Ambulance needs your help so it can keep doing its life-saving work

You can help save the service!

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North West Air Ambulance Charity/Facebook

The North West Air Ambulance is appealing for help after the pandemic put a stop to its fundraising efforts.

The North West Air Ambulance (NWAA) service is entirely dependent on donations and has lost more than 20% of its income in the past year alone.

Since the first national lockdown, it is estimated the NWAA has lost £71,000 each month.

The care provided by the NWAA has become increasingly specialised across the past two decades, including even giving blood transfusions.

North West Air Ambulance Charity/Facebook

The charity serves eight million people in its three helicopters across the region. Now, it has launched an appeal to ensure the worst case scenario – where the life-saving fleet is grounded – is avoided.

Director of Income and Engagement at NWAA Charity, Sarah Naismith, said any donations would allow the charity to continue its crucial work.

She said: “Covid-19 has disrupted everyone’s lives, it’s threatened to grind down our friends in the NHS, and it’s placed financial and operational strain on our charity.

“The crew have continued their lifesaving work every day, supporting the NHS and working side by side with the ambulance service.

“However, the disruption to our fundraising revenues is significant and we don’t take sharing this news lightly. Without funding, we may not be able to continue to make a critical difference to patients like Jake.

“For 21 years, we have always been blown away by the generosity of our supporters, and we wouldn’t be here without them.

“With our work at greater risk than ever before, any donations will allow us to continue to reach and treat patients in need, and give them the best chance of survival. Help us help people across the North West.”

The latest appeal is backed by former patient Jake Cowen from Oldham, who says he owes the charity his life. 

Following a fall cleaning windows with his father in Warrington in 2020, Jake suffered a seizure and went into cardiac arrest.

His condition was so bad, NWAA crews worked closely with the North West Ambulance Service to stabilise his condition. He was treated on route to Warrington General Hospital. 

Jake’s family believe that without this care, he might not have survived.

Jake said: “I don’t remember much from the day, but from the impression it’s left on my mum and dad, I was clearly on the brink. We are all so grateful for NWAA and the ambulance service, especially as I’m now fit, well and back working with dad.

“Without the crew, I might not have survived. I owe them my life, and I urge others to support the charity right now, so that they can be there for those in need.”

For more information on the NWAA charity or to donate, click here

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Single shot of Covid-19 vaccine reduces chance of needing hospital treatment by more than 80%

Some good news

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New analysis shows a single shot of the vaccine can reduce the chance of needing hospital treatment by more than 80%.

New Public Health data based on those over 80 who have received the first jab show that the effects kicked in three to four weeks after the first vaccination.

The findings reiterate those found by Scottish health authorities last week which were hailed ‘spectacular’. Scientists have stressed that two doses are needed for best protection. 

On Monday, health secretary Matt Hancock told a Downing Street briefing that the latest vaccine results were ‘very strong’. 

Hancock added: “They may also help to explain why the number of Covid admissions to intensive care units among people over 80 in the UK have dropped to single figures in the last couple of weeks.”

England’s deputy chief medical officer, Prof Jonathan Van-Tam also added that the data offered a glimpse of how the vaccine programme ‘is going to hopefully take us into a very different world in the next few month’.

He explained that it was ‘absolutely critical’ that second doses ‘are still part of the course of immunisation against Covid-19 and no less important’.

Prof Van-Tam stressed there was a ‘significant likelihood’ that a second dose of a vaccine would ‘mature your immune response, possibly make it broader and almost certainly make it longer than it would otherwise be in relation to a first dose only’.

The PHE data – that has not yet been peer reviewed – suggests that the Pfizer vaccine leads to an 83% reduction in deaths from Covid in those over 80. 

It also reduces the risk of people over 70 developing any symptoms by around 60%, three weeks after the first dose. 

Prof Van-Tam explained that the decision to give the AstraZeneca vaccine – which was rolled out a month after the Pfizer vaccine – to older people was ‘clearly vindicated’. It comes after some European nations refused to give it to over 65s as trials were mainly done on younger adults. 

He added that other countries would be ‘very interested’ in the data coming out of the UK.

Dr Mary Ramsay, Public Health England’s head of immunisation, said: “While there remains much more data to follow, this is encouraging and we are increasingly confident that vaccines are making a real difference.” 

More evidence is needed to know how the vaccines protects against the Brazil variant (E484) that has been identified in the UK.

The government plans to offer 32 million people (nearly half the population) the first dose of the vaccine by the middle of April.

Currently, 30.4% of the UK population has received the first dose and 1.2% have received the second dose according to the latest Gov.uk data.

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Mum from Oldham drove 56 miles to Formby beach to celebrate her son’s birthday

‘I didn’t think there was any harm’

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GMB/ITV

A mum from Oldham travelled more than 50 miles to go to the beach to celebrate her son’s birthday, adding that she didn’t think ‘there was any harm’ in it. 

More than 100 cars were turned away from Forby beach over the weekend by Merseyside Police as people flocked from all over to enjoy the seaside.

Police in the area have now issued a fresh appeal for people not to travel to the beach following the incident.

Currently, there are strict restrictions on travel within the UK. 

GMB/ITV

Laura McGhee drove the 56 miles from Oldham to Formby beach to celebrate her four-year-old son’s birthday.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain, she said: “He’s only four so I’m not doing another birthday in lockdown.”

Pointing towards her kids she added:  “We’ve done it with him, we’ve done it with him, and all he wanted to do was to come to the beach and I didn’t think there was any harm.

“We drove here, we’re not around anybody, we all go to school together, we all live together.

“So this is what we’ve done.”

Xwatt/Unsplash

Community Policing Superintendent Graeme Robson has since blasted those who made the journey to the beauty spot at the weekend.

He said: “This is totally unacceptable and shows a complete disregard for the government guidance, which is in place to protect not only ourselves but others around us.

“To flagrantly flout the rules in this way is not only reckless and irresponsible but can result in a substantial fine, as we have seen today.”

The senior officer added that it was essential for people to take heed of the advice to allow for infection rates to continue to fall. 

Good Morning Britain correspondent Nick Dixon told viewers: “If you are going out, do a bit of research and make sure that you can socially distance when you get there.

“Regardless, if it’s not your local area then don’t bother going at all because you’re going to be breaking the rules.”

Police have increased their daily patrol which Supt Robson explains will continue over the coming weeks.

He added: “We will continue to work closely with our partners in Sefton, and across the rest of Merseyside, to ensure the safety of our communities, and will take enforcement action where people refuse to follow restrictions.

“Current guidance states that people must only travel for essential reasons, and you must remain local.”

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