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You’ll be able to meet friends and family for a barbecue from Monday

This is very welcome news

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Mario Sánchez Prada / Flickr

Next week will see yet more lockdown restrictions eased in England, and it’s good news for meeting friends and family over Easter.

From next Monday, March 29th, certain social restrictions will be relaxed, including limits on gatherings and outdoor sports.

This follows on from stage one of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, which saw schools reopen on March 8th, and people allowed to meet one other person outdoors.

March 29th will see the second part of stage one come into force, under which friends and families will be able to meet outdoors using the rule of six.

You’ll be able to meet up in limited numbers outdoors, which includes private gardens, as it’s harder for the virus to spread in these settings.

You can either meet up with a group of up to six people from different households, or alternatively people from just two different households will be able to meet in a larger group.

This will be allowed in all outdoor settings, although the government still warns people should follow social distancing guidance – especially those who haven’t been vaccinated.

This means you’ll be able to enjoy a barbecue over the Easter weekend if the weather is nice, which it looks like it will be – this year the Easter bank holiday is from April 2nd-5th.

The government’s ‘stay at home’ guidance will also be replaced by the advice to ‘stay local’ – although it’s unclear what ‘local’ means specifically and how far people can travel.

Outdoor sports facilities like golf courses and tennis courts will be able to reopen, while organised outdoor sports like football can begin again for adults and children.

Find more details of the measures being lifted on March 29th here.

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Every Covid restriction including self-isolation ‘to end in March’

JUST IN: All restrictions are set to be lifted in March

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Boris Johnson is drawing up plans to bring all Covid restrictions including self-isolation to an end from March, new reports have detailed today.

A senior source has said the Government is considering abandoning all legally-binding restrictions in England and moving to a guidance-based system as it moves towards ‘living with the virus’ like the flu.

The official stated that even the most basic rules could be lifted, such as compulsory self-isolation of cases and the requirement to co-operate with Test and Trace.

Annie Spratt / Unsplash

This comes amid reports of the current Plan B restrictions allegedly being scrapped ‘within days’. These include the use of face masks in all shops, schools and on public transport, a work from home order for businesses and the controversial use of Covid passports when travelling.

While the restrictions are set to be reviewed on January 26th, a senior government official said that the measures currently in place under the plan will be lifted.

Speaking anonymously to the Sunday Express, the source said that Health Secretary Sajid Javid ‘feels confident’ about the decision because of the falling number of cases and growing evidence that Omicron is not as dangerous as other variants.

Number 10 / Flickr

The source added: “Sajid is sure now that the restrictions will not go beyond the sunset clause date.”

However, there have also been numerous reports that the move could be Boris Johnson’s way of staying in power after he was allegedly told by senior Conservative backbenchers that he would face a leadership vote of confidence if he tried to bring in more restrictions.

101 Conservative MPs reportedly opposed the current restrictions in a Commons rebellion just before Christmas.

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Man tragically dies after falling from apartment block near the city centre

Police attended the scene after reports of a man falling in the early hours of this morning

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A man has sadly died after falling from an apartment block in Salford.

Police were called to Rolling Street – just off of Trinity Way near Manchester city centre – at around 5:10am this morning after receiving reports that a man had fallen from a building.

Upon arrival at the apartment complex, officers found the man and immediately called emergency services.

Despite the best efforts of paramedics, however, the man was pronounced dead at the scene.

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The quiet residential street was sealed off this morning, with two police vehicles seen guarding each side of the cordon.

The cause of the fall is not yet known, though detectives say they are keeping an ‘open mind’ about about the full circumstances of the tragedy.

No arrests have been made and enquiries are said to be ongoing.

A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police said: “Police were called around 5.10am today (January 18th) to Rolling Street, Salford to a report of a male having fallen from a building.

“Emergency services attended and despite the best efforts of paramedics he was sadly pronounced dead at the scene.

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“Enquiries are ongoing to establish the full circumstances and detectives are keeping an open mind as they investigate.

“No arrests have been made.”

A spokesperson for Get Living, the company that manages the apartment block, added: “We are very sad to confirm a death at New Maker Yards this morning.

“We are working closely with the emergency services who are continuing their investigation and will issue further information as it becomes available.”

Anyone with any information about the incident should contact police on 101 quoting incident 374 of 18/01/22. Alternatively, details can be passed via the LiveChat at www.gmp.police.uk or via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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Bus driver sacked for being ‘too short’ gets job back after winning appeal

Tracey had been driving Manchester buses for over three decades when she was let go for ‘being too short’

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Paul Gerrard & Unite North West / Facebook

The female bus driver who was sacked for being ‘too short’ has been given her job back after winning her highly-publicised appeal.

Despite being one of the first female bus drivers in Manchester and having thirty-four years of experience under her belt, Tracey Scholes was found to lack the ‘capability’ to drive Go North West’s new vehicles safely.

The position of the new buses’ wing mirrors required the fifty-seven-year-old, from Heywood, to lean around a pillar to see them, meaning she could not keep her feet safely on the pedals. 

Because of this, Tracey was offered a different position driving the company’s school buses, though it would mean a reduction in hours worked and pay.

The company also offered the bus driver her current pay rate but with reduced hours, which meant she would still be losing around £230 a month, the Unite union said. She turned down both positions and was subsequently given her notice.

Tracey’s story was quick to go viral and gained the support of celebrities including actors Maxine Peake, Julie Hesmondhalgh and James Quinn. A petition was also set up in support of Tracey has gained a massive 29,214 signatures at the time of writing.

Also at her wit’s end, Tracey herself launched a desperate appeal last week to keep her job, which saw hundreds of people turn out at the Queens Road Depot in Cheetham Hill where the appeal hearing was taking place to show their support.

And this week, the campaigning has paid off, with Go North West officially offering Tracey her job back where she would drive a different model of bus.

Under the new deal, Tracey will start earlier to allow her to pick up a bus with wing mirrors of her preference, and her weekly hours and rate of pay will remain unchanged.

Go North West’s HR director Scott Maynard said in a statement that the company was ‘pleased’ their ‘valued and long-serving driver’ was to stay with Go North West ‘after she decided to accept an offer to drive different buses as per a proposal made in September’. 

Scott Maynard added: “We have said from the start that we wanted to keep Tracey and we are glad that she has changed her mind and decided to stay.”

He said the company “operates no height restrictions on recruitment, and has multiple drivers of the same height, or below, as Tracey”.

“It is categorically untrue that we would, or could, have threatened anybody with dismissal on grounds of height.”

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