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Coronavirus Crisis Updates: The latest news from across Gloucestershire on Thursday, April 9

Schools have now closed to all but the children of key workers and many of us - the Punchline team included - are now working from home due to the coronavirus crisis.

The situation is changing by the hour with announcements being made about businesses and services that are being forced to adapt and change.

Punchline is committed to trying to keep you up to date with all the news that matters to you and your business.

Our team will update this story throughout the day, to ensure that the latest important developments can be found in one - clickbait free - place.

If you or your business has any news, views or advice to share with the Gloucestershire business community, get in touch with Punchline team at news@moosemarketingandpr.co.uk 

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Thursday, April 9

Update #213 - 17.15 New UK coronavirus figures released

The department of heath and social care have released new information regarding coronavirus testing and deaths in the UK.

A statement said that 65,077 people have now tested positive for coronavirus since the outbreak began.

They have also said that 16,784 patients are currently being treated for the virus in hospitals across the country.

As of 5pm yesterday (April 8), a total of 7,978 hospitalised patients with coronavirus have sadly died.

This is a rise of 881 on yesterday's figure.

Update #212 - 16.30 Shareholders expected to lose billions

Shareholders are likely to lose around £25 billion after companies scrapped dividends during the coronavirus pandemic.

Financial date firm Link Group says 45 per cent of Britain's biggest public companies have cancelled scheduled investor payouts or are planning to do so.

Aviva, RSA, Hiscox and Direct Line are among firms who announced such measures this week.

Link Group predicts a further £24billion of payouts remain at risk. 

Update #211 - 16.15 Gloucestershire firefighters help with ambulance duties

Firefighters from Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service are playing a key role in relieving pressure on paramedics during the coronavirus outbreak.

The South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) has invested in additional ambulances for the region, two of which will be coming to Gloucestershire.

They will be driven by first-aid trained firefighters from the county to help support the ambulance service when they arrive next week. They will mainly be transferring patients to and from hospital and will also act as first responders for some life-threatening calls while paramedics are on their way.

Some other ambulances will also be driven by fire engine drivers to help relieve the increasing pressure on paramedics as they deal with the crisis.

The Service has also reintroduced co-responding across many of its fire stations, that will see staff respond to certain types of medical trauma alongside SWASFT ambulance crews.

Update #210 - 15.50 Stay in and save lives this bank holiday weekend says APPC

The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners has urged the public to stay at home and save lives as the country expects to see temperatures rise this Bank Holiday weekend.

APCC Chair, Katy Bourne OBE said: "This weekend is when many families would normally be setting off on holiday or gathering with family and friends to mark Easter, so it will be especially frustrating for us all to stay at home and stick to the social distancing guidance.

"We must, however, continue with this collective endeavour if we are to make our earlier efforts worthwhile, protect our NHS and save lives."

Update #209 - 15.30 Shambles Market open this weekend

Coronavirus may have all but wiped out events across the country, but one county fixture will continue to run over Easter.

The outdoor section of Stroud's Shambles Market in Stroud will be open on Good Friday and Saturday, offering food stalls only.

Queuing lines have been installed to help keep everyone two metres apart.

A post on the market's Facebook page said: "Please comply or the market will be closed and please be nice and considerate as we are working very hard to make the Shambles a very safe place to buy your food.

"Thank you for supporting our small businesses."

Update #208 - 14.45 Coronavirus deaths in England increase by 765

NHS England has released new data showing a further 765 hospitalized patients with coronavirus have died.

This takes the total to 7,248.

It has been reported that those who had died were aged between 24 and 103. A total of 43 had no known underlying health conditions.

Due to the way in which data is recorded, this latest increase spans several weeks - 140 of these deaths occurred yesterday and 568 occurred between April 1 and April 7.

The remaining 57 deaths took place in March - two on March 19 and one on March 16.

Update #207 - 13.55 Ventilator and PPE deliveries reaching frontline NHS

A No 10 spokesperson has said that the NHS now has 10,000 ventilators available to hospitalised patients in the UK and a further 1,500 are on order.

It was added that deliveries of personal protective equipment (PPE) is also now reaching the frontline, with 33 million items delivered to NHS trusts across the country on Wednesday alone.

This amounts to more than 600 million units distributed over the past month.

The spokesperson said: "We're confident that enough supply is now reaching the front line, but if there are distribution problems as we deal with very significant increase in demand then we need to address them straight away and that is what we have the phone line for."

Update #206 - 13.45 Charity asks community to 'set up camp' for grieving children

Looking for cool new ways to keep the kids creatively occupied and give back to the community? Look no further.

In response to the recent lock-down, Cheltenham-based childhood bereavement charity, Winston's Wish, has created a virtual event that will take place on Saturday 18 April at homes across the UK, using simple items found around the house.

For one night only, 'Fort Night' will see children everywhere challenged to build a family fort in their own front rooms, and come together virtually for an evening of live-streamed fun, before bedding down for the night in their very own creations.

After planning and erecting their home-made den, children will be treated to line up of family-friendly entertainment. The charity hopes its programme of singing, dancing and storytelling will keep kids busy in the run-up to bedtime.

Winston's Wish hopes that families will rise to the challenge of sleeping in their forts to raise vital funds in support of its work with grieving children across the UK - sharing that just £16 would help the charity provide a memory box for a child whose loved one has died.

Find out more at http://winstonswish.org/fortnight.

Update #205 - 13.25 Family firm delivers vital face masks to NHS front line

With many of his own staff furloughed and a business to keep running you might have thought Lee Derbidge had enough on his mind.

While his own company, Redbridge and Sons, continues to operate - allbeit with a skeleton staff - Mr Derbidge's aim was to help what have become known as front line staff if he could.

Determined to get vital PPF3 face masks to the NHS he set up a drop off with a member of staff from the Gloucestershire NHS Foundations Trust.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #204 - 13.07 Update on PM Boris Johnson's condition

A spokesperson for No 10 has said that the prime minister had a "good night" in hospital and his condition "continues to improve".

Mr Johnson has so far spent three nights in the intensive care unit at St Thomas' Hospital, London.

Update #203 - 12.27 Clap for Carers back for third week

Join thousands across the country as we show appreciation for the incredible frontline NHS staff and key workers working hard to get us through the coronavirus crisis.

At 8pm tonight, join thousands of Brits and simply clap your hands together from the comfort of your front door, garden, balcony, window or living room.

Those who choose to take part are urged to film or live stream it, uploading the footage to social media using the hashtag #clapforourcarers.

Update #202 - 12.15 Urgent appeal to keep mobile cancer care on the road 

Hope for Tomorrow, the Gloucestershire-based charity which provides Mobile Cancer Care Units to NHS Trusts across the country, has launched an urgent appeal for donations as it struggles to meet increased demand and plummeting funds.

Each of the charity's 11 Mobile Cancer Care Units costs £198 per day to run, providing a safe facility for NHS staff to provide chemotherapy and other treatments for cancer patients, whose immune systems are often severely weakened.

Hope for Tomorrow says that it relies totally on voluntary donations as it doesn't receive any government funding, but since the coronavirus outbreak began it has seen an 84 per cent drop in income due to the cancellation of fundraising events.

That's why the charity has launched an emergency appeal to raise £59,400 to keep all 11 Mobile Cancer Care Units on the road during April, providing cancer care treatments in the safest possible environment for patients with severely depleted immunity.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #201 - 11.30 Temporary morgue to be set up in Gloucestershire

Health chiefs have announced plans to set up a temporary morgue in Gloucestershire in preparation for further deaths during the coronavirus outbreak.

Specific details of the morgue's location have not been revealed, however it has been confirmed to be within Tewkesbury Borough. 

Sarah Scott, chair of Gloucestershire's strategic coordinating group on the local resilience forum, said: "With our partners we have plans in place to ensure we can effectively support the county through this ongoing pandemic, this includes having a temporary resting place facilities organised, which will be located in the Tewkesbury area.

"To respect the sensitivity surrounding these facilities we will not be providing more specific details regarding the location but I can assure everyone that its location has been carefully thought through to ensure the dignity, respect, safety and welfare of all concerned.

"I would ask everyone to respect the need for privacy and time to grieve for all those that will be affected directly and indirectly as a result of covid-19."

Update #200 - 10.30 NHS and BBC trusted amid coronavirus fake news

False information has become the latest symptom of the coronavirus pandemic with almost half of adults in the UK finding misleading claims online.

And the BBC has emerged as the most trusted broadcaster with the NHS topping the poll as the most reliable source.

The figures come from research by communications regulator Ofcom and cover the first week of the lockdown.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #199 - 09.30 Gloucestershire NHS pledge to remember lives lost to COVID-19

The NHS in Gloucestershire has launched a new campaign, to ensure that nobody who loses their life as a result of Covid-19 is seen as just a number.

The campaign called 'Every Name a Person' was inspired by Dr Emma Husbands, consultant in palliative medicine at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and her colleagues working together in the One Gloucestershire End of Life Collaborative.

The campaign pledges to never forget that every name is a person, every person a life lived and every life a story behind it.

Deborah Lee, chief executive at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: "Sadly, we know that some local families will lose their loved ones as a result of Covid-19, and we understand how distressing it will be not to be with them at the end of their lives.

"We pledge to recognise that every person we treat in our hospitals and in our communities has a story. Whilst we may have little time to get to know each person, we will learn something that matters, provide comfort and endeavour to ensure they are not alone in their final moments."

Dr Emma Husbands added: "As our community faces its biggest challenge for generations, it is inevitable that we will have to act in ways that may not allow us to provide the kind of end of life care that we have fought so hard to achieve across Gloucestershire."

Advice and support for people dealing with a bereavement can be found by visiting the One Gloucestershire website. 

Update #198 - 08.40 Gloucestershire coronavirus figures released

The latest coronavirus data has been released by Public Health England for the county.

New information said that the number of patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19 now stands at 402.

The total deaths of hospitalised patients with coronavirus in Gloucestershire has also risen by six - from 47 to 53.

Wednesday, April 8 

Update #197 - 17.42 Temporary mortuary almost finished at Birmingham Airport

A temporary mortuary able to cope with up to 12,000 bodies and expected to open next week at Birmingham Airport is almost complete.

It is understood work is almost finished  on the new facility as the nation races to prepare itself for what is feared will be the worst of the current coronavirus pandemic.

A large hangar at the airport usually used for commercial and freight cargo now has three big white marquee-type tents in place.

Officials have told reporters the facility will be full operation by Friday, April 17, or before.

Birmingham Airport is next to the city's National Exhibition Centre (NEC), which is also the location for another Nightingale Hospital, which is due to open this weekend.

Update #196 - 17.05 UK coronavirus deaths rise by record 938

The total number of people who have died with coronavirus across UK hospitals has now increased to 7,097.

This is an increase of 938 on yesterday's figure of 6,159.

Information released by the Goverment's department of health and social care also added that 232,708 people have now been tested for the virus, of which 60,733 tested positive.

Update #195 - 16.55 Furloughed firms kept safe by Glevum Security 

It might have missed many people's eyes but when keyworkers were singled out by Government but security officers were among the list.

As firms went on ice in the hours following the lockdown imposed by Government to help negate the spread of the COVID-19 virus the phones at good security firms starting ringing.

Gloucester-based Glevum Security was ready and has also had to adapt as customers who previously only wanted their property and assets kept watch over out of hours, now needed more comprehensive reassurance.

"It has been super busy," said Steve Barnett, who runs the firm with business partner Mark Baker.

"But we have been doing this a long time and know company's will have enough on their plate without having to worry about whether their property is safe and secure or whether their premises have any issues.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #194 - 16.30 400,000 pieces of PPE arrive in Gloucestershire

A drop of more than 400,000 items of personal protective equipment (PPE) arrived in the county last night to support the work of social care and health workers.

On the eight pallets were stocks of face masks, aprons, gloves and eye protection which have today been distributed to frontline staff across the county.

The delivery came via the national distribution hub following a request by the Local Resilience Forum, which is made up of representatives from a range of organisation including the county and district councils, health, police and the ambulance service.

READ MORE 

Update #193 - 15.30 NHS launches mental health hotline for staff

 The NHS has launched a mental health hotline as part of a package of measures to support the NHS' 1.4 million staff as they help people deal with the coronavirus.

NHS staff will be able to call or text a free number staffed by thousands of specially trained volunteers, to receive support and advice for the pressures they face every day during the global health emergency.

The volunteers will listen to NHS staff and give psychological support to those in need.

Anyone who requires further help will be signposted to other services ranging from practical and financial assistance through to specialist bereavement and psychological support.

The phone line will be open between 7am and 11pm every day, while the text service will be 24/7.

Update #192 - 15.00 Coronavirus death toll in England increases by 828 

An additional 828 people who tested positive for coronavirus in England have died over the past 24 hours.

This brings the total number of confirmed deaths of hospitalised coronavirus patients in England to 6,483.

The other home nations have also reported increases in deaths - Scotland by 70, Wales by 33 and Northern Ireland by five.

Full UK figures will be published later today by the department of health and social care.

Update #191 - 13.45 Barometer reveals pressure rising on manufacturing

Manufacturers across the South West are being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic with 87 per cent of SMEs reporting a significant decrease in production volumes.

Initial findings of the Manufacturing Barometer, which surveys firms across England, reveals a stark picture of how the virus is affecting industrial confidence.

READ MORE  

Update #190 - 13.15 PM responding to treatment

It has been reported that the UK PM Boris Johnson is 'responding to treatment', after spending two nights in intensive care.

A spokesperson for No 10 has said that the Prime Minister "remains clinically stable and is responding to treatment". 

They added that "He continues to be cared for in the ICU at St Thomas' Hospital (in London)."

Update #189 - 12.45 Superdry pledges to help NHS and frontline staff

Apparently when a Superdry designer mentioned how friends who worked in the NHS would appreciate something comfortable to wear post shift a certain someone's ears pricked up.

And when that certain someone is company founder Julian Dunkerton, a man not adverse to a little altruism, winning his backing can propel your idea along just nicely thank you.

Which is exactly what has happened and at least helps introduce the story behind a Crowdfunding push to raise money to raise money to buy comfy clothes for those coming off the back of hospital shifts.

All of which, of course, was prompted by the desire to do more.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #188 - 12.20 Coney hill cemetery grounds closed to visitors

Gloucester City Council have announced that Coney Hill Cemetery is now closed except for funerals.

Coney Hill Cemetery. Picture: Google

A statement released by the council said that the closure of the cemetery complies with Government regulations stating that crematoriums must close except for funeral services, and if a crematorium sits within a cemetery then the cemetery must close too, except for funerals or burials.

Services at Coney Hill Crematorium are still continuing with a maximum of five mourners in attendance, but other visits to the cemetery can no longer be permitted.

Guidance from Public Health England and central Government states that people must only leave their home for specific purposes. This are: shopping for basic necessities such as food or medicine; one form of exercise per day; medical needs such as donating blood or providing care to someone vulnerable; and travelling to work if working from home is not feasible.

Visiting a grave, memorial or book of remembrance is considered non-essential.

Update #187 - 12.00 Wychwood Music Festival postponed until 2021 

Organisers of Wychwood Festival have announced that this year's festival will be postponed until 2021.

Normally taking place at Cheltenham Racecourse at the beginning of June, the 2020 festival would have seen 100 acts performing across four stages including headliners The Divine Comedy and The Christians.

Instead the usual mix of dance, song, arts, crafts, circus, comedy, puppet workshops and much more will take a year break due to the coronavirus epidemic - returning in June 2021.

A statement published by the festival said: "This difficult decision has been made following government guidelines and advice regarding the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic."

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #186 - 11.30 Update announced on the Gloucester 10k

Organisers of the Gloucester 10k have released a statement to runners regarding this year's highly anticipated event, scheduled for 5th July 2020.

Nigel Tillott, race director said: "As you will be aware, the current coronavirus situation means that we don't know at the moment whether or not we will be able to go ahead with the race."

The statement said that the organisers have decided to delay a decision for as long as possible for a number of reasons: -

  1. If restrictions on public gatherings have been lifted by this date many runners will be very keen to participate in races.
  2. Many other races over this period have already been postponed and there will be limited opportunities for runners to race elsewhere during this time.
  3. So many races have already been postponed until the Autumn and we don't think it is practical to add yet another race to the schedule over this period.
  4. The race raises very valuable funds for good local causes, and we want to be able to make those donations if at all possible. All proceeds from this event go to charity.

Mr Tillott added: "As you will have gathered from the above, if it is not possible to run the race on 5th July 2020, we will not hold the race this year.

"Instead, we will hold over all current entries until next year's race which is likely to take place on 4th July 2021.

"For now, given the uncertainty over whether the event will take place we would ask those

considering entry to hold off doing so pending further updates.

"I hope that this helps to clarify matters. Let's all hope that the current crisis is brought under control quickly which would be a relief for all of us in so many ways."

Update #185 - 11.14 Tewkesbury to become home to coronavirus-only hospital

Tewkesbury Community Hospital is to be used to support Gloucestershire patients with Covid-19.

The hospital's 30 beds will be use by patients transferred from Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the community.

According to the trust the decision is "part of a system-wide approach to ensuring the best use of resources, while prioritising patient comfort and safety, and reducing the risk of infection".

Patients being cared for at the hospital have been "discharged appropriately into other care environments, depending on their needs".

A statement from the trust said "infection prevention and control will be carefully managed - both within the hospital and while patients are being transferred".

Other services previously provided at Tewkesbury Hospital, such as the Minor Injury and Illness Unit and day case surgery, have been temporarily suspended.

John Trevains, director of nursing, quality and therapies at Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Sadly, we are seeing increasing numbers of patients in the county who require hospitalisation due to coronavirus.

"Tewkesbury Hospital will play a key role in providing high quality nursing care to patients and at the same time free up beds in Gloucester and Cheltenham for those who continue to need intensive and specialist medical care.

"The beds and staff at Tewkesbury Hospital will also be available to support patients with Covid-19 from a community setting.

"We are grateful to colleagues at Tewkesbury Hospital for making this possible, and to our wider community, patients and carers for supporting us and our NHS partners during this challenging time. We are also keeping wider capacity under constant review. "

Update #184 - 11.00 TUI cancels beach and cruise holidays until at least mid-May

Travel firm TUI has released a statement regarding a number of changes to their holiday programme due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Following the recent update to the Foreign and Commonwealth's office travel advice, the company have cancelled beach holidays travelling up to and including 14 May, and also Marella Cruise holidays travelling up to and including 31 May.

The firm also added that TUI River Cruise, due to launch last month, will now commence on the 26 November.

The statement released earlier today said: "We are constantly monitoring the situation and will start taking people on holiday again as soon as we are able to do so. 

"At this point in time, nobody can accurately predict when that will be, so for the time being we will keep a close eye on our programme and continue to amend and adapt timings in line with the latest global travel advice. 

"We will update our customers as soon as we can of any changes to their holidays. We, like other travel companies, want to travel again as soon as we possibly can and will do so in line with government advice."

Update #183 - 10.50 Holland & Barrett keeping shops open despite staff safety fears

Holland & Barrett has kept shops open during the coronavirus outbreak, despite staff raising health and safety concerns.

The health food chain's 750 stores are currently remaining open as they are seen as essential because they sell food that caters for those with special dietary needs.

But employees who are worried about risks to health associated with going into work everyday have set up a petition and are pleading with management to close stores.

A statement posted online by an employee said: "Being on the front lines, dealing with customers day in and day out, increases the chances of the virus spreading rapidly.

"The company has not been providing us hand washes, anti-bacterial gels and other form of protection to reduce the chance of catching the virus. 

"The stores need to be closed, so we not only keep ourselves safe but also the nation."

The petition has so far been signed more than 4,200 times.

Update #182 - 10.20 Stroud man jailed after deliberately coughing in the face of paramedic

A man who deliberately coughed in a paramedic's face after telling him he had Covid-19 has been jailed for 20 weeks by a judge who warned that anyone who behaves in the same way can expect to go to prison.

Jonathan Brunsdon, 43, of Mason road, Stroud, told the paramedic 'Ha Ha, you got it now," after coughing at him.

At Cheltenham Magistrates Court yesterday District Judge Joti Bopa Rai told Brunsdon that his punishment had to be a deterrent to others considering the same course of action.

She said: "We are in the middle of a massive pandemic and any assault on an emergency worker is taken seriously by this court."

Brunsdon appeared via video link from Gloucestershire Police's custody suite and admitted a charge of common assault by threatening to infect a paramedic with the coronavirus by coughing in his face.

READ THE FULL STORY  

Update #181 - 9.30 More than £10m paid out in grants to Forest of Dean businesses

Forest of Dean District Council has announced that it has successfully processed more than 1,000 business support grants.

These grants are now said to be heading to businesses across the district that have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

As of 9am on Tuesday 7 April, the council has identified 2,150 businesses eligible for grants, and made payments to a total of 1,050 firms.

This represents in excess of £10 million of cash support.

READ MORE  

Update #180 - 8.40 Don't go to your second home this Easter 

Update #179 - 8.20 Update on coronavirus cases in Gloucestershire

Public health England have released new data showing that the total number of positive cases of coronavirus in the county has reached 364, as of 9am on Tuesday 7 April.

This is an increase of 58 on the previous day. 

It was also announced yesterday that there had been a rise in deaths of hospitalised patients in Gloucestershire who have tested positive for coronavirus.

New information released on Tuesday said that the death toll in Gloucestershire has reached 47 - an increase of eight from Monday's figure of 39.

Of these deaths, it has been reported that 46 were in the care of Gloucestershire Hospitals and one was a patient at Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Tuesday, April 7

Update #178 - 17.20 Graph shows that UK cases are "moving in the right direction"

In this afternoon's press briefing, the UK's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said the UK has not seen a "big upswing in growth" and that things are "moving in the right direction".

Update #177 - 17.05 Nearly £9 million in support grants handed out to 685 businesses

Six hundred and eighty five business have already received £8,930,000 in Government grant money from Gloucester City Council to help them through the coronavirus pandemic.

A portal has been launched by the council for business owners to submit an application for the Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) or the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLG).

Since being allocated the grant funding by central Government, Gloucester City Council has been able to pay nearly £9 million in grant money directly to the Gloucester businesses that qualify for a portion of the fund.

READ MORE 

Update #176 - 16.55 Nightingale patients will be fed by Gloucestershire business

We highlight here another astonishing act of generosity from a county firm keen to stand up and be counted as the nation copes with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Patients on the wards of the Nightingale superhospital established in London to deal directly with those suffering the very worst effects of the Covid-19 virus will be dining courtesy of Ecotricity.

Or rather the Stroud based firm's 'plant-based food' subsidiary, Devil's Kitchen, which through its partner Compass has sent 75,000 of its spicy meatballs to serve to patients and staff.

The firm's owner, Dale Vince, admits it was unable to give the food away without charging, but said all proceeds would be given straight back to the NHS.

READ THE FULL STORY  

Update #175 - 16.40 Gloucestershire coronavirus death toll reaches 47

Government body Public Health England has released new figures showing a rise in deaths of hospitalised patients in the county who have tested positive for coronavirus.

New information says that the death toll in Gloucestershire has reached 47 - an increase of eight from Monday's figure of 39.

Update #174 - 16.30 Latest UK coronavirus figures released

The department of health and social care have announced the latest coronavirus figures for the UK.

In a statement, they said that as of 9am this morning 213,181 people had been tested for COVID-19. The number of people who have now tested positive for the virus has reached a total of of 55,242.

They also added that as of 5pm yesterday, of those hospitalised in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus, 6,159 have sadly passed away.

This is a rise of 786 on yesterday's death figures for the UK.

Update #173 - 16.10 Cheltenham Music Festival 2020 cancelled 

Cheltenham Festivals have announced the cancellation of this year's Music Festival amid the coronavirus crisis.

The 76th Cheltenham Music Festival was due to take place between July 3 and July 12, and would have seen more than forty events take place across 12 venues in the spa town.

A statement released this afternoon said: "With deep regret we have taken the decision to cancel this year's Cheltenham Music Festival.

"We had been optimistic that our Music Festival could still go ahead in July, but because of the continuing impact of the COVID 19 virus, we must put the safety of our audiences, artists, staff and volunteers first. We are sorry for this additional disappointment, following the cancellation of our Jazz and Science Festivals."

READ MORE 

Update #172 - 15.30 Cheltenham's Easter waste and recycling collections

Cheltenham Borough Council have said that changes to waste and recycling collections over the Easter Bank Holiday will be minimal.

A statement reads that crews will be working on Good Friday so collections will take place as normal on that day. No collections will be made on Easter Monday; collections that week will be a day later than usual. Crews will be working up to and including Saturday 18 April to complete the catch-up.

All collections will be back to normal from week commencing Monday 20 April.

The council reminds residents that in some areas refuse and recycling collections take place as early as 7am so please have your bins, boxes, bags and caddies presented in good time.

Update #171 - 15.10 Queen wishes PM a speedy recovery

The Queen has sent a message to Boris Johnson's family and fiancee Carrie Symonds. 

Update #170 - 14.30 NHS England reveal daily coronavirus figures

NHS England have released updated figures showing that another 758 hospital patients have died with COVID-19 in England.

Total confirmed hospital deaths in England now sit at 5,655 - increasing from the 4,897 last reported.

Update #169 - 13.30 No 10 to provide update on lockdown  

A No 10 spokesperson has said on behalf of the Prime Minister that an update on the lockdown will come later this week.

It was added that any decisions made on the lockdown restrictions would be guided by science.

Update #168 - 13.00 Update on Boris Johnson's health 

Sky News political correspondent Joe Pike has tweeted about the latest updates the Prime Minister's health after today's lobby briefing.

Update #167 - 12.58 Another Gloucestershire firm to go into mass production of ventilators

A major defence firm has revealed it is gearing up to manufacture up to 10,000 ventilators to help the UK deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

Babcock, which has a base at Brockworth on the Gloucester Business Park, revealed its plans as Gloucestershire-based Renishaw announced it has already begun mass-production of parts for thousands of the life-saving machines.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #166 - 12.56 Council urges landlords to help the business community survive

In these unprecedented times, businesses are extremely concerned about the severe impact that Covid-19 is having.

Punchline reported on Friday (April 3) that Cheltenham Borough Council had responded rapidly by being one of the first councils in the UK to start paying grants to eligible businesses.

To date, almost £5 million in grants and rate relief has been paid to over 300 Cheltenham businesses out of a £24.5 million government funded pot.

But the council is now urging commercial landlords to work together with business tenants, so that they are able to survive through these tough times.

READ MORE 

Update #165 - 12.30 Three journalists on furlough at county publishers

The publisher of two major Gloucestershire newspapers has placed 20 per cent of its workforce on furlough and is reduciing pay of all staff by at least 10 per cent.

But Reach plc, who publish the Gloucester Citizen and Gloucestershire Echo, pledged all its "key national and regional titles" will continue to publish.

Three journalists at gloucestershireshirelive.co.uk have been placed on paid leave - head of sport Rob Iles and digital reporters Kim Horton and Zasha Whiteway-Wilkinson.

In an article announcing the moves, senior editor for Gloucestershire Rachael Sugden said: "They will be sorely missed by their contacts and their readers and we will do our best to hold the fort for their patches until they are back at their desks.

"With almost every sector suffering significantly, we are seeing the inevitable knock-on effects on all areas of the Reach plc business.

"So the business has had to make some tough decisions, which we'd never normally want to make, or indeed ever expected to.

"This is about doing what's right; protecting jobs and future-proofing our journalism."

READ FULL STORY 

Update #164 - 11.40 WhatsApp implements new measures to help constrain viral content

The messaging platform has this morning announced new restrictions on message forwarding, with an aim to stop the spread of misinformation relating to coronavirus.

In a statement, WhatsApp said:  Last year we introduced users to the concept of messages that have been forwarded many times. These messages are labeled with double arrows to indicate they did not originate from a close contact. 

"In effect, these messages are less personal compared to typical messages sent on WhatsApp. We are now introducing a limit so that these messages can only be forwarded to one chat at a time.

"We've seen a significant increase in the amount of forwarding which users have told us can feel overwhelming and can contribute to the spread of misinformation.

"We believe it's important to slow the spread of these messages down to keep WhatsApp a place for personal conversation."

Update #163 - 11.25 Watch Renishaw on BBC Points West 

Punchline flagged up last week how Wotton-under-Edge headquartered Renishaw was at the heart of one of those groups, and we can now confirm it has begun "mass production" of parts.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #162 - 11.10 Michael Gove self-isolating

The UK Cabinet Office minister is self-isolating after a family member began showing symptoms of coronavirus, it has been reported by the BBC. 

He is said not to be exhibiting any of the virus symptoms himself.

Update #161 - 11.00 Sue Ryder launches emergency appeal to save its hospices

National healthcare charity Sue Ryder is launching an emergency appeal to save its end of life services.

The charity runs Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice, which is Gloucestershire's only inpatient unit for specialist palliative care. Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice provides care for people with life-limiting conditions, as well as supporting their families.

Before the Coronavirus struck, statutory funding only covered approximately one third of the costs involved in running the charity's end of life care. Sue Ryder bridged that gap with fundraising efforts and income from its 450 shops nationwide.

With fundraising events now cancelled and its shops closed, the charity has a matter of months before it will have to close its hospices and hospice at home services across the country.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #160 - 10.20 Schools support efforts to keep essential services running

The county council has been working with schools, nurseries and partners in the NHS to make sure essential frontline staff can continue to go to work.

As of Friday 3rd April, 1274 children were being supported by schools in the county, as parents and carers continue their roles in hospitals, care homes, shops, out on the roads delivering goods and more.

In addition, nurseries and other early years providers have pulled together, and every child in the county who needs care has been found a place. Some nurseries have taken on extra youngsters, as others were forced to close.

READ MORE 

Update #159 - 09.55 Gloucester City Police out and about checking reasons for travel

Update #158 - 07.56 PM spends night in intensive care after condition worsens  

Boris Johnson has spent the night in intensive care after it was announced that he had been moved there due to his worsening coronavirus symptoms.

A statement from No 10 said: "The prime minister has been under the care of doctors at St Thomas' Hospital, in London, after being admitted with persistent symptoms of coronavirus.

"Over the course of this afternoon (April 6), the condition of the prime minister has worsened and, on the advice of his medical team, he has been moved to the intensive care unit at the hospital."

It added: "The PM is receiving excellent care, and thanks all NHS staff for their hard work and dedication."

Monday, April 6

Update #157 - 17.25 Home deliveries could prove lifeline for Gloucestershire brewery

Hit hard by the pandemic as customer demand and finance dried up, a quick-thinking Gloucestershire brewery turned to home delivery - and it could be its saviour.

Severn Brewing (S7N) , based in Tortworth, Wotton-under-Edge, is an independent, locally owned and operated brewery on the edge of the Cotswold escarpment, overlooking the
 Severn Vale.

Started by Iain Crockett (pictured) back in 2017, the brewery has won awards for its beer, building a reputation for creating unique tasting beers, lagers and ciders.

"The brewery and our staff were hit hard by the news that all the local pubs and shops we supplied had to close under the Coronavirus lockdown," said Iain.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #156 - 17.10 Coronavirus deaths in Gloucestershire rise to 39

NHS England have released new Gloucestershire figures showing that the total deaths of hospitalised patients, who tested positive for COVID-19 have reached 39.

This comes as total positive cases of coronavirus in Gloucestershire have also risen to 306.

Update #155 - 16.50 UK coronavirus death toll reaches 5,373 

The UK department of health and social care have announced the latest coronavirus figures.

New information shows that as of 9am this morning, 208,837 people in the UK have been tested for the virus. A total of 51,608 tested positive.

As of 5pm yesterday (April 5), of those hospitalised in the UK who tested positive for coronavirus 5,373 have sadly died.

This is an increase of 439 deaths on the previous day.

Update #154 - 16.28 From scratch to 1,500 ventilators a week - Renishaw is at it again

In an effort reminiscent of the last world war British manufacturing has scrambled, united in its efforts to deliver enough ventilators to help the nation save lives during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Small-scale manufacturers and even schools have been making more protective equipment for the NHS and front line health workers.

But groups of some of the biggest manufacuring firms in the country have joined forces to tackle how to deliver mass production of complicated ventilators to help those most seriously affected by the virus.

Punchline flagged up last week how Wotton-under-Edge headquartered Renishaw was at the heart of one of those groups, and we can now confirm it has begun "mass production" of parts.

According to Renishaw the firm has been told tens of thousands of these complex machines are needed in just a few weeks.

Update #153 - 16.22 75-year-old arrested for drink driving after attending party

A 75-year-old woman has been arrested for alleged drink driving after she attended a family party in apparent defiance of the coronavirus lockdown regulations at the weekend.

The woman crashed into a parked car on her way home from the party and was breathalysed and arrested, Gloucestershire chief constable Rod Hansen revealed today.

He gave brief details of the incident when telling the BBC Radio Gloucestershire breakfast show about the varied ways that people in the county had flouted the lockdown over the last few days.

READ MORE 

Update #152 - 16.10 Delay in latest figures from the Government

They have tweeted that the latest information has been delayed and that the latest figures will be published later today.

Update #151 - 15.50 BT pledge not to sack or furlough any workers

Britain's largest telecoms company has announced that it will not to sack or furlough any of its employees for the next three months - as a direct result of changing trading conditions brought about by coronavirus. 

In a statement, the firm said: "BT will continue to pay all employees' salaries in full and - in line with its commitment to maximise support to the UK's national effort - will not put any staff on publicly-funded 'furlough'.

"We are currently supporting thousands of colleagues who are unable to work; have protected the jobs of 400 new engineers who cannot currently be trained; and are re-skilling and redeploying many of our 4,200 retail staff to provide services to some of our most vulnerable customers.

"To recognise these frontline key workers, who are doing so much to keep the UK connected through the crisis, BT has also decided to offer an annual pay increase of 1.5% effective from 1 July 2020 to its team members (non-managerial staff) in the UK.

"At the same time, BT has decided not to make an annual pay increase to its managers in 2020/21.

"BT also reconfirms its previous commitment to make an award of £500 worth of BT of shares to all employees in June."

BT Chief Executive Philip Jansen has also decided that, for at least the next six months, he will donate his salary to the NHS Charities Together Covid-19 appeal and to affected small businesses in his local community.

Update #150 - 15.15 Prime minister tweets from hospital

Update #149 - 14.30 Chief medical officer back at work

The BBC has reported that England's chief medical officer Chris Whitty has now returned to work after experiencing coronavirus symptoms and self-isolating.

He announced on March 27 that he was self-isolating - shortly after health secretary Matt Hancock and PM Boris Johnson had both announced that they had tested positive for the virus.

Update #148 - 12:30 PCC backs early release to cut coronavirus threat in prisons 

The Ministry of Justice announced at the weekend detailed plans for reducing the spread of coronavirus in prisons. The measures are aimed at safeguarding prisoners and prison staff, as well as protecting the NHS from further pressure.

Risk-assessed prisoners who are within two months of their release date will be temporarily released from jail, as part of the national plan to protect the NHS and save lives.

Early release will apply to selected low-risk offenders and those eligible will be electronically tagged and temporarily released on licence in stages. Violent and sexual offenders and those considered a risk to security will not be considered.

Under the plans, offenders released early can be recalled at the first sign of concern.

Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl, who is chairman of the Gloucestershire Criminal Justice Board, said: "The ministry's move is both logical and humane, as it moves to avoid the possibility of thousands of prisoners who live in close proximity to one another, often in the same cell, becoming infected."

READ THE FULL STORY  

Update #147 - 11.58 Community transport operators given £100k funding boost

Six community transport operators have been given a one-off payment of £100,000 by Gloucestershire County Council to ensure vulnerable residents continue to access services.

Some operators had raised concerns that they may not be able to continue trading because of funding pressures.

The county council has stepped in to help these organisations so they can continue to provide rural and isolated residents with transport access to essential services this month and in the year ahead.

The payment is being shared as follows:

* Community Connexions - £35,000

* Cotswold Friends - £24,000

* Lydney Dial A Ride (DAR) - £18,000

* Newent DAR - £18,000

* Villager - £2,500

* Hedgehog - £2,500

The payments are in addition to the £500,000 a year the county council provides in grants to support community transport in the county.

Update #146 - 11.40 Debenhams to file for administration

Debenhams, the kingpin of Gloucester retail and stalwart of high streets nationwide, is set to file for administration.

Last week, Sky News reported that the department store was is in talks to line up an administrator in an effort to protect it from creditors during the coronavirus crisis.

This morning, the 420-plus year-old business which employs 22,000 staff, confirmed that it had filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators.

READ MORE  

Update #145 - 11.30 A message from Gloucester MP Richard Graham

Richard Graham, MP for Gloucester has released the following key contact information and advice to Gloucester residents:

  

Update #144 - 11.15 Newspaper publisher cuts wages and places staff on furlough

The publisher of two major Gloucestershire newspapers is to place 20 per cent of its workforce on furlough and reduce pay of all staff by at least 10 per cent.

But Reach plc, who publish the Gloucester Citizen and Gloucestershire Echo, pledged all its "key national and regional titles" will continue to publish.

The UK's biggest regional publishing group, which also publishes the Western Daily Press, Daily Mirror, Daily Express and Daily Star, announced the measures in a statement this morning as reaction to the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the industry.

A fifth of all 4,700 Reach employees nationwide will be be furloughed with the government paying up to 80 per cent of wages under the coronavirus job retention scheme. It is not clear from what sectors of the business they will come from.

READ MORE  

Update #143 - 10.50 Cath Kidston calls in the administrators 

Cath Kidston, the quintessentially British retailer, is the latest high street casualty of the coronavirus crisis.

The modern vintage chain, which has a store in Gloucester Quays, filed a notice of intention to appoint Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) as administrator late on Friday, as reported by Sky.

READ MORE  

Update #142 - 10:25 Almost £400 million promised to keep buses running

England's buses will continue to serve those who rely on them thanks to a funding boost totalling £397 million for vital bus operators, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced on Friday (April 3).

The package, agreed jointly with the bus industry, will keep key routes running to provide a lifeline for those who cannot work from home. This includes those travelling to jobs on the frontline of the UK's fight against COVID-19, such as NHS staff.

New funding of up to £167 million will be paid over 12 weeks under the new COVID-19 Bus Services Support Grant.

As a condition of the funding, bus operators will be required to maintain necessary services at a level which is sufficient to meet much reduced demand, but also to allow adequate space between passengers on board. This is expected to be up to 50 per cent of normal service levels.

Operators will also be required to keep passengers properly informed about revised timetables to ensure that people know which services are running and when.

The government has also promised that £200 million of existing funding under the Bus Services Operators Grant will continue to be paid as normal even though not all services may run during this time. This funding is usually paid according to fuel consumption, and so the government's commitment to pay this on pre-COVID-19 levels will help ensure that bus companies are able to benefit despite fewer fare-paying passengers travelling.

Update #141 - 10.10 Thieves steal Gloucestershire doctor's transport to work

Bike thefts do not come more seriously currently that stealing the ride of a doctor working on the front line of the fight against the pandemic at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.

Police are still hunting the culprits, who stole the bike while the doctor was at work, but they were able to help him in the next best possible way - by getting him a free replacement.

Police Constable Emma Wiltshire-Hunt said: "I remembered that Glos Bike Project were offering refurbished bikes free to any Key Workers.

"I'd like to say a big thank you to Maureen at the project; she quickly sent me all her contact details in order to get the doctor new transport for work. Within an hour of reporting the theft staff at the project had arranged for a replacement bike for him free of charge.

"Our doctors and nurses are facing an extremely challenging time and we, as a community want to continue to support them in any way that we can."

Maureen Parker, project co-ordinator at Glos Bike Project, said: "We decided last week to gift all our refurbished bikes to nurses, NHS staff, public sector workers and key workers to help them travel to work safely and more easily during this crisis.

"It is our pleasure to be able to do so. It's Glos Bike Project's little way of saying thank you and that we appreciate all that our key workers are doing for us. Its times like this where we all need to pull together and support each other. Gloucestershire seems to be doing a great job of it too."

Officers have now released CCTV images of two people they would like to speak to in connection with the theft of the bike.

The doctor had locked his bicycle at the bike rack opposite the Tower Block entrance to the hospital at 9am on Tuesday 31 March. Returning at 5pm, he discovered both the bike and the lock had been stolen.

The bike, an Apollo Green mountain bike, had been bought just a few weeks ago.

CCTV enquiries show that two men had entered the car park with one bike and left with two at approximately 3.10pm.

It is believed the men went from the hospital along Great Western Road and through the city centre to Spa Road.

Anyone who recognises the men or knows who they may be is asked to call police on 101 and quote incident number 244 of April 1 or submit information via our online form: https://www.gloucestershire.police.uk/tua/tell-us-about/cor/tell-us-about-existing-case-report/ 

Information can also be given anonymously to independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111.

Update #140 - 9.30 Nationwide makes U-turn on business banking plans

The building society has scrapped plans to enter the business banking market, blaming the decision on the financial implications of coronavirus.

Nationwide said: "The impact of COVID-19, including assumption changes to short and long-term interest rates, has meant that the option of entering the business banking market is no longer commercially viable.

"As a consequence of its decision, Nationwide will cease activity directly related to its proposed market entry, it will return the £50 million grant funding it was awarded from the Banking Competition Remedies' Capability and Innovation Fund, as announced in May 2019, and won't participate in the Incentivised Switching Scheme."

Costs of cancellation are estimated to be in the region of £70 million in 2020 but the firm said that the running cost and investment savings will make this a net neutral cost over the next 24 months.

All employees are expected to be redeployed to other roles within Nationwide. 

Update #139 - 08.05 Latest coronavirus figures revealed 

The latest figures have been announced for the number of UK deaths, cases and tests as well as cases and deaths in Gloucestershire related to COVID-19.

As of 9am yesterday (April 5), Public Heath England have said that 195,524 people across the UK had been tested for the virus, of which 47,806 were confirmed positive.

They added that the death toll for those who have sadly died in hospital after being confirmed positive for coronavirus has now reached 4,934, as of 5pm on April 4.

Total deaths of hospitalised patients who had tested positive for Covid-19 in Gloucestershire now sits at 29, with confirmed cases rising to 281.

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