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Driving lessons and tests can officially restart again in England next month

Some good news!

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Learner drivers will be allowed to restart their lessons from July 4th in England as part of the new lockdown easing. 

Proposals are being set out to help driving instructors return to a life ‘as close to normal as possible’ according to Commons Leader, Jacob Rees-Mogg. 

It has now been confirmed that instructors will be able to restart their lessons from July 4th. 

Many people including those who have reached the age ready to take their driving test – a pretty big and exciting life moment – have had to wait due to the coronavirus lockdown causing driving lessons and tests to stop.  

Conservative MP Greg Smith asked the Government to ensure guidance is given to allow driving instructors to get back to work.

Bill Kasman/geograph

Rees-Mogg responded: “The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency’s (DVLA) chief executive (Gareth Llewellyn) will be writing to all approved driving instructors on June 25 setting out plans to restart driver testing and to help them to return to life that is as close to normal as possible, as quickly and as fairly as possible, in a way that avoids a second peak of infections.

“From July 4, I am happy to say that people will be able to take driving lessons on a motorcycle or in a car, lorry or bus and there will be a phased approach to resuming practical testing so learners have the opportunity to practise before taking a test.”

These rules are currently only for England with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland yet to set their own rules regarding driving lessons and tests. 

Managing director of AA Driving School, Sarah Rees, said the decision was a ‘welcome relief for the thousands of people in England’, and the start of the end of ‘an incredibly challenging time’ for instructors, many of whom are self-employed. 

Basher Eyre/Geograph

She said: “This will open the door for workers who need a safer way to commute and for the many who are forced to find new employment after lockdown.

“For driving instructors in England, it means the end is in sight to what has been an incredibly challenging time with high levels of uncertainty around their ability to earn a living.

“But driving instructors in other parts of the UK, who still do not have a date for when they can re-start their livelihood, are being left in limbo and we hope the devolved governments in the rest of the UK will soon follow suit.”

There are currently 10,000 people on The AA Driving School waiting list with a ‘huge demand for lessons’ this summer. 

Until now driving lessons have been suspended since March. There have been some exclusions, including some key workers being offered both lessons and the opportunity to apply for an emergency test with the DVSA. 

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Around 3,000 properties at risk of flooding tonight in Greater Manchester as heavy rain continues

Stay safe out there everyone

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@TPT_Stockport / Twitter

As Storm Christoph continues to batter Greater Manchester, some areas of south Manchester and Trafford are at risk of flooding tonight.

Around 3,000 properties will be at risk this evening, according to the police, as authorities continue to monitor the rainfall and its impact on our rivers – with several warnings already issued.

Speaking at Andy Burnham’s press conference earlier this afternoon, Assistant Chief Constable Nick Bailey detailed the latest information.

According to him, the areas most at risk across Greater Manchester will be those near the River Mersey, specifically Didsbury, Northenden, Sale, and potentially parts of Stretford and Flixton.

ACC Bailey said: “As we speak, residents across those areas are being contacted by the Environment Agency and local authorities to advise them.

“Alerts have already been put out, people there are being advised to consider evacuation procedures should that happen.

“We are going to start to see the overflow contingency provisions at around 5pm. That will reach a peak at around 11pm this evening where we will see flooding of those areas.

“In its worst-case scenario, estimated by the Environment Agency, that could impact on up to 3,000 properties across all the areas.

“This is a significant incident in terms of disruption to population.”

ACC Nick Bailey went on to say that those 3,000 properties might not need to evacuate, adding that authorities will be working ‘right up to the last minute’ to try and prevent that from happening.

In the meantime, Manchester and Trafford councils have been setting up rest centres for anyone who does need to evacuate, and police have confirmed that Covid restrictions do not apply in an evacuation situation – you should leave your home if necessary.

 ACC Bailey added: “Those people have been advised with regards of advice to take where they do feel the need to take action to prevent them being harmed.

“We need to make sure they do take that action, they do make sure they’re safe. The legislation around covid will not be applied there are exemptions.

“If you need to take action, join other bubbles go other properties, please do that if that’s necessary to do that to protect you and your family.”

If you’re worried about the situation you can contact your local authority, however if it’s an emergency dial 999.

Stay safe out there everyone!

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Calls for a national day of remembrance for all the lives lost in the Covid pandemic

A petition has been launched

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Rachael Lidgett / Facebook

There’s been calls for a national day of remembrance to be introduced, so we can honour and remember everyone who tragically lost their lives during the Covid pandemic.

Rachael Lidgett, whose dad Christopher sadly died after contracting coronavirus, has started a petition to create a ‘national holiday and day of remembrance for those lost in the Covid pandemic’.

Rachael’s petition reads: “I would like the Government to create a national holiday & day of remembrance for all the lives lost in the COVID pandemic.

“I propose this to be on the 23rd March as this is the date a national lockdown began in the UK.”

At the time of writing the petition has 3,260 signatures, with Rachael, from Leyland, calling on the government to hold the day on March 23rd – the date the first lockdown began. 

She continues: “I lost my father, Christopher Cooper on the 6th December 2020 to Covid Pneumonia. He was a fit and healthy 63 year old, with no underlying medical conditions. This has truly devastated us as a family.

“As of 8/01/21 there are 78,508 recorded Covid-related deaths in the UK and 1.9 Million deaths across the world.

“The pandemic is still here and taking more lives each day. I feel it is important that as a country we are able to remember all those who have been cruelly taken from us.”

You can sign the petition here

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Teachers, police officers and shop workers might be given priority in next vaccine rollout phase

Thoughts?

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Taylor Wilcox / Unsplash

Officials are considering who should be a priority in the next phase of the vaccine rollout.

Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi says they are looking into jobs that come into close contact with the public and considering if they should be given priority access. 

This means the likes of teachers, police officers and shop workers could be in the next phase of the vaccine rollout.

The decision will be made by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), and Matt Hancock has called for a national debate on prioritisation.

Daniel Schludi / Unsplash

Mr Zahawi told Times Radio: “Teachers, police officers, shop workers, those who through no fault of their own, other than the work that they do, may come into contact with the virus at much greater volume [should be] the top of the list.”

Outlining how a decision on priority should be made, Matt Hancock said at the Downing Street press conference on Monday: “The clinical advice is to go through the top groups… and then after that it is essentially about protecting people as well as possible according to a judgment about who should come next.

“That is why we should have a debate about that.

“Ninety-nine per cent of deaths occur in the top nine groups and after that it is about protecting against transmission and getting life back to normal as soon as possible.”

King Church / Unsplash

Currently, the order of priority for phase one is: 

  1. Care home residents and their carers
  2. Those 80 and over, and frontline health and social care workers
  3. Those 75 and over
  4. Those 70 and over, and clinically extremely vulnerable people
  5. Those 65 and over
  6. People between 16-65 with underlying health conditions which put them at risk of more serious illness from COVID-19
  7. Those 60 and over
  8. Those 55 and over
  9. Those 50 and over

A petition calling for teachers, school and childcare staff to be prioritised has now gained 470,000 signatures with some arguing it could help with schools reopening. 

The chairman of the Police Federation John Apter has called for police officers to be given the vaccine as soon as possible. 

Dorset Police have also backed the calls after two officers tested positive for Covid-19 at an anti-lockdown rally in Bournemouth.

One of the officers said: “Police officers shouldn’t be the first in line for the vaccine and we know the risks of our job, but we see vast amounts of people every day.

“If a call comes in, we have to go to it; we can’t say we won’t go to it. And we are putting ourselves, and our families at risk, every single day.”

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