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Manchester could lose the beloved ‘pop-up’ beer gardens in the city centre this month

Emergency Covid legislation imposed last year coming to an end later this month

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@manc_wanderer / Instagram

Dozens of bars and restaurants across Manchester could lose their ‘pop-up’ beer gardens as Covid legislation comes to an end later this month.

Following the lifting of lockdown and Covid restrictions last year, a number of establishments located at central locations such as Thomas Street, Stevenson Square, Dale Street and Edge Street spilled out into the streets to maintain social distancing restrictions.

The move proved to be a roaring success and enabled several restaurants to not only stay open throughout the uncertain aftermath of the pandemic, but to expand their cover count and serve more customers safely.

@manc_wanderer / Instagram

However, thanks to emergency Covid legislation coming to an end later this month, the beloved outdoor spots could very well disappear with twenty-five city centre roads due to reopen to vehicles – though councillors and business owners alike have been attempting to oppose the decision entirely.

Jonny and Charlotte Heyes, the co-owners of Edge Street bar Common, said the outside spaces have kept them going this year and have totally changed the atmosphere in the city, telling the Manchester Evening News: “We’ve seen a huge benefit from the closure of Edge Street, essentially we wouldn’t have been able to trade across the majority of last year without it.

“And then the change in atmosphere down the street when all of our, and our neighbours tables have been filled with people. The council turned it around so quickly which was a massive help in an incredibly stressful moment for all of us.”

Though fear not – it is believed that Manchester city council is currently setting out plans to launch a public consultation on whether to make the closures permanent by the end of the year, with plans to close much of the Northern Quarter to cars for good already being well underway.

@manc_wanderer / Instagram

At the start of the year, Manchester Council approved a £2.3million plan to permanently close certain streets to car traffic in the Northern Quarter.

The temporary closures on Ducie Street and Thomas Street will be made permanent under the plan, and new footpaths will be built in a bid to encourage walking and cycling.

A statement by the council read: “Our plans would make Manchester’s brilliant Northern Quarter streets even more dynamic, lovely to look at and pleasant to use. They would be safer, greener and better for everyone – especially for those enjoying this buzzing quarter of our city as it should be enjoyed: on foot and by bike – as well as other transport users.”

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The RSPCA is looking for people to cuddle rabbits and cats here in Manchester

The dream job!

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RSPCA Manchester & Salford Branch / Facebook

The RSPCA is on the lookout for kindhearted Mancunians to help with the care of their cats and rabbits across Greater Manchester.

If you dream of cuddling and caring for vulnerable animals while they wait for their forever homes, this could be the opportunity for you as several volunteer roles have become available at the Manchester and Salford branches of the RSPCA.

In 2021, the teams had a total of 624 animals admitted into their care, and saw 503 of these animals rehomed – 259 cats, 117 rabbits, and 127 ‘smalls’.

However, the Eccles Road-based RSPCA centre is required to raise all of its own funds to operate, so relies heavily on the help of volunteers in order to keep things running smoothly.

RSPCA Manchester & Salford Branch / Facebook

Volunteers are responsible for jobs such as cleaning the enclosures and spending quality time with the rescued animals in order to socialise them ahead of their adoptions.

And now, the branch has posted an advertisement for these positions, which reads: “Join our wonderful team of volunteers at our small animal centre in Salford.

“We are looking for folks who can commit to a weekly slot (a couple of roles are available fortnightly) for at least the next three months, and this is because a lot of time is taken training volunteers and so temporary placements are not manageable for us.”

For insurance reasons, RSPCA Manchester & Salford says it is looking for volunteers who are over eighteen years of age, and said that any applicant who has cats, dogs, rabbits or ferrets in their home must be up to date with their vaccinations.

RSPCA Manchester & Salford Branch / Facebook

The roles on offer are as follows:

  • Cattery Cleaning: 8:30am/9am start on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, either weekly or fortnightly.
  • Small Animal Room Cleaning: Start between 8:30am – 10am on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays.
  • Cat Socialising: Anytime from 1pm until 4pm on Mondays – Fridays.
  • Rabbit Socialising: Anytime from 12:30pm until 4pm, seven days a week.

If you think you’re up to joining the volunteer team at RSPCA Manchester & Salford and have plenty of cuddles to give, then you can email adoptions@rspca-manchesterandsalford.org.uk for more information.

Visit the RSPCA website for more information.

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Morrisons becomes first supermarket to cut sick pay for unvaccinated staff who have to isolate

Morrisons has become the latest retailer to announce the controversial policy

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Jim Barton / Geograph & @morrisons / Instagram

Morrisons has confirmed it has cut sick pay for unvaccinated staff members who have to self-isolate after being exposed to Covid.

Following Ikea’s decision to lower the sick pay rate for unvaccinated staff members last week, the supermarket chain has made a similar announcement as their staff absences continue to rise.

Much like those employed by the Swedish furniture retailer, unjabbed Morrisons workers – who usually get paid at least £10 an hour – will now get statutory sick pay of £96.35 a week if they are told to isolate but test negative.

@morrisons / Instagram

Covid-positive staff will get full sick pay regardless of vaccination status, however.

According to The Guardian, Morrisons executive Dave Potts first mentioned the policy in a conference call with investors in September 2021 as part of a plan to tackle the ‘biblical costs’ of dealing with the Covid pandemic.

Potts said Morrison’s had been on the ‘front foot’ in helping workers stay safe during the pandemic, saying: “We are normalising some of those policies.”

The newspaper reported that this move was the supermarket’s way of encouraging their staff to take the vaccine.

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The requirement for fully-vaccinated people to isolate when exposed to Covid was dropped in England in August, meaning unvaccinated workers were more likely to take time off than their vaccinated colleagues as a Covid contact.

And just one week ago, the health secretary announced that the Covid isolation period had been reduced from seven days to five.

Sajid Javid revealed the move in a Commons statement to MPs last week, citing data from the UK Health Security Agency and saying: “Two-thirds of positive cases are no longer infectious by the end of day five.”

This means people will be able to leave isolation if they test negative on days five and six regardless of vaccination status.

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Aldi shoppers claim new 69p tea is ‘better than sleeping pills’ as well as helping with anxiety

The tea has been praised by a number of sleep-deprived Aldi customers

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Debbie Blayney / Facebook

Insomniacs, rejoice; Aldi customers have been hailing one of the supermarket’s teas as ‘better than sleeping pills’.

And, better yet, a box of the tea itself costs just 69p for twenty teabags.

Aldi’s Diplomat Night Time tea was brought to the attention of fans of the budget supermarket in the Aldi UK Shoppers Facebook group courtesy of a shopper called Debbie.

Debbie Blayney / Facebook

Debbie shared a photo of the tea, which is passionfruit flower, camomile and apple flavoured, and revealed that she was trying it for the first time ‘to see if it works’. 

Debbie’s post was inundated with comments from other satisfied customers, with one writing: “I tried for the first time last night and slept so well!!

“It could of [sic] been the 16,000 steps I did as well and my lavender pillow mist spray or just being knackered. It tasted lovely and would highly recommend it.”

Another even said the tea helped with their anxiety, writing: “I’ve been taking the sleep one since 2 days ago and honestly it works better than sleeping pills and also works on my anxiety levels so I drink a cup here and then during the day…. And the taste is lovely too!!”

Debbie Blayney / Facebook

Sadly, Debbie didn’t quite get the experience she was hoping for with the tea, saying in a follow up post that while it made her feel more relaxed, it made her ‘want to wee twice’. 

Another person agreed that while the tea tastes lovely, it didn’t have the desired knock-out effect they’d hoped for, writing: “Soooo tired this morning. But I will give it the benefit of doubt and stick with it!

“I will either be a walking zombie by next weekend or I will be full of beans! Time will tell! On a plus note, it tastes lovely!”

Visit the Aldi website for more information on the tea.

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