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Community groups are responding with enthusiasm to news on the easing of restrictions on social gatherings.

The floodgates have opened on long-postponed indoor events, bringing people together after a long winter of isolation, although with advisory notes about mask-wearing and hygiene.

Among groups to restart this week, Tong toddlers held their first meeting since November on Monday (17 January) and will now be meeting every Monday during term time from 1.30-3pm. (https://www.facebook.com/tongtoddlers).

The Gaelic toddlers’ playgroup Thig a Chluich (https://www.facebook.com/thigachluichnaneileansiar) has restarted, with sessions in Stornoway, Shawbost and Tarbert already scheduled, and plans for new sessions in Ness, Lochs, Coll and Point.

Pairc Trust announced yesterday (Wednesday): “As the limit on how many people can meet indoors has now been lifted, we can move ahead with some of the clubs suggested by our community. Starting on Tuesday 25 January will be a Games Night. Come along to play a game, have a chat or just enjoy some home baking.”

Where exercise and sport are concerned, the lifting of restrictions on indoor contact sports from Monday 24 January means that Spornis in Lionel are planning the return of ladies’ netball and men’s five-a-side football from next week.

And Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s sport and health section have announced that primary swimming lessons for schools on the Westside are planned to restart in the next week, targeting resources at youngsters to develop their water confidence and skills.

A CnES spokesperson said: “Significant work has been undertaken by staff during the pandemic to ensure that the pools remain safe and operational and this is hopefully the first step towards a return to normality for sport and health services over the coming months.”

In all cases, organisers are asking those attending to remain vigilant about good hygiene protocols, including wearing masks where possible and not attending if you have symptoms or feel unwell.