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Gloucestershire Business News

Coronavirus Crisis Updates: The latest news from across Gloucestershire on Friday, April 3

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. 

* This live feed is now closed - click here for the latest updates * 

Friday, April 3

16.50 Kingpin of Gloucester high street considers administration 

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

It is understood the department store is in talks to line up an administrator in an effort to protect it from creditors during the coronavirus crisis.

According to Sky News the 420-plus year-old business which employs 22,000 staff could file a notice of intention to appoint administrators as early as next week.

READ MORE 

16.20 English football will not return in May

The Premier League has said today that the season "will not resume at the beginning of May - and that the 2019/20 season will only return when it is safe and appropriate to do so."

The statement went on to say: "The restart date is under constant review with all stakeholders, as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic develops and we work together through this very challenging time.

"The Premier League is working closely with the whole of professional football in this country, as well as with the Government, public agencies and other relevant stakeholders to ensure the game achieves a collaborative solution.

"With this, there is a combined objective for all remaining domestic league and cup matches to be played, enabling us to maintain the integrity of each competition.

"However, any return to play will only be with the full support of the Government and when medical guidance allows."

15.30 Schools issue jobs warning over unpaid fees 

Private schools and colleges have urged parents not to withhold fees during the Covid-19 coronavirus crisis - or risk job cuts.

Independent schools across Gloucestershire have closed or introduced remote learning although King's School in Gloucester is among those offering supervision for a small number of key workers' children before the spring term ends on Friday.

The chief executive of the Independent Schools Association has warned some schools may close if fees are withheld and explained schools were working with parents to ease financial concerns. 

READ THE FULL STORY  

14.35 Queen to make televised address to the nation on Sunday

A public address by Her Majesty the Queen will take place at 8pm on April 5, as announced by Buckingham Palace. 

As well as being broadcasted television and radio, the address will also be shown on The @RoyalFamily's social media channels.

14.15 Coronavirus death toll in the UK rises by 684 in a day

The Department of Health and Social Care have released new figures on the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

The statement said that as of 5pm on April 2, a further 684 people had sadly died from the virus. The total death toll in the UK is now sitting at 3,605.

It also added that as of 9am on April 3, a total of 173,784 patients have been tested by the NHS and 38,168 of these tested positive.

Additional information on a tweet shows that 11,764 coronavirus tests were carried out yesterday in England, with testing capacity for inpatient care in England currently standing at 12,799 tests per day.

13.30 Boris Johnson to remain in self-isolation

In a video published on Twitter, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that he will remain in self-isolation as he is still showing some symptoms of coronavirus.

Mr Johnson said: "Although I'm feeling better and I've done my seven days of isolation, alas, I still have one of the symptoms, a minor symptom, I still have a temperature.

"And so in accordance with government advice, I must continue my self-isolation until that symptom itself goes."

13.05 Engineering firm working around the clock to make NHS ventilator parts

A Gloucester engineering business is among the team of fleet-of-foot UK firms which have adapted overnight to meet the urgent demand for ventilators to help COVID-19 patients.

Stratos Precision Engineering, based on Waterwells Business Park, Quedgeley, is one of the firms in overdrive racing to make good the emergency NHS order for parts for the life-saving machines.

Hospitals nationwide are already dealing with rising numbers of patients struggling to breath and are bracing themselves for a spike in numbers which has caused the dramatic rise in the need for more ventilators.

It is a deadline all too apparent to managing director Jonathan Caple at Stratos Precision Engineering.

READ THE FULL STORY 

12.50 Nearly 100 homeless people have been found somewhere to stay

Council's across Gloucestershire have been working closely to ensure those in the county who are homeless are offered accommodation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Gloucestershire County Council has said that all known rough sleepers and homeless people in the county have been offered accommodation since March 20 - with 95 of them securing somewhere to stay.

Those who have declined accommodation are being supported by the outreach teams and partner organisations to encourage them to come in off the streets.

Anyone who sees a rough sleeper can refer them for support by telling Street Link on www.streetlink.org.uk, via the app or by calling 0300 500 0914.

12.20 Westonbirt's Forest Live cancelled for 2020

Forest Live, the summer concert series presented by Forestry England, where acts perform in spectacular woodland locations around the country has been cancelled.

Tetbury's Westonbirt Arboretum was set to host world-acclaimed musicians Keane, Madness and Rag 'n' Bone Man as well as James Morrison and Will Young between Thursday 11 and Sunday 14 June.

But unfortunately the coronavirus epidemic has halted the show for 2020.

READ MORE 

11.40 BBC to deliver biggest push on education in its history

The television broadcaster said that the enhanced resource will ensure that every child in the UK has the opportunity to continue to follow the appropriate core parts of their nation's school curriculum in these challenging times.

Complementing what schools are providing remotely, or as a standalone resource, the BBC added that the newly expanded education offer will bring 14 weeks of educational programmes and lessons to every household in the country - whatever your child's age.

Key parts of the schedule will include:

  • Every child in the UK to have their education supported as BBC offers a wide range of curriculum related learning for children of all ages across all four nations
  • Famous faces Karim Zeroual, Oti Mabuse and Katie Thistleton alongside top quality teachers and organisations such as Royal Shakespeare Company, Premier League and Puffin Books lend their support
  • Daily programmes to help guide parents and children through their learning day
  • BBC Bitesize to deliver daily online lessons for all age groups
  • Content such as videos, quizzes, podcasts and articles will bring core subjects to life online at BBC Bitesize

Commencing on 20 April, BBC Bitesize Daily, as the service will be called will deliver a tailored day of learning across BBC iPlayer, Red Button, BBC Bitesize website and app, BBC Four and BBC Sounds.

11.20 University of Gloucestershire provides accommodation for frontline NHS workers

Frontline NHS staff working in Gloucestershire's hospitals and healthcare facilities are making the difficult decision to move out of their homes, to safeguard family members and those they live with who are vulnerable. Many staff also travel long distances from their home for their shifts, which are becoming ever more demanding.

With many students now studying from home, the University of Gloucestershire offering up accommodation in unoccupied halls of residence to NHS staff on the frontline in Cheltenham and Gloucester.

The university said that the move builds on a long-standing relationship with Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and a continuing alliance with the University's School of Health and Social Care.

A spokesperson from the University said: "In light of the national Covid-19 emergency, the University of Gloucestershire has gladly agreed to a request from our NHS partners to provide accommodation to NHS staff from local hospitals. We have allocated some vacant halls of residence in Cheltenham and Gloucester for use by NHS staff over the coming weeks."

11.02 Police descend on Gloucestershire Royal Hospital - to salute fellow front-line staff

As the people of Gloucestershire stepped outside their homes last night (Thursday, April 2) to join the nation applauding the work of NHS staff the police were not to be left out.

On-duty officers from Gloucestershire Constabulary pulled up in their cars en-mass outside the front doors of Gloucestershire Royal Hospital and at the appointed hour (8pm) they made sure everyone knew about it.

It was blue lights, sirens and horns all round in a show of recognition both visual and audible to everyone (at least anyone who is not deaf).

The 8pm show of unitary and solidarity on Thursday's is now a national event - a show of respect, of encouragement and a salute to staff who have left Great Britain in awe as they risk themselves to help those most affected by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

10.30 Additional NHS Nightingale Hospital announced for Bristol

With the first NHS Nightingale Hospital at London's ExCeL exhibition centre set to open today, it has been announced that a further temporary hospital will be built in Bristol.

North Bristol NHS Trust said that work has started to convert the Exhibition and Conference Centre on UWE Bristol's Frenchay campus into a 300-bed temporary hospital.

The new hospital is expected to provide hundreds of extra beds for the region during the peak of coronavirus.

The hospital is expected to be fully operational and treating patients from April 2020.

Accommodation that is not currently being used by students will also be made available for NHS staff at Frenchay campus to provide doctors and nurses with easy access to the new emergency facility.

The hospital is expected to remain operational over the summer and the site will be returned to the University ready for the next academic year in the autumn.

Professor Steve West, vice-chancellor at UWE Bristol, said: "I'm pleased we are able to offer our facilities to help the NHS and support the local community and wider region at this exceptionally challenging time."

09.50 Food club transforms into meals on wheels saviour 

A Stroud charity which specialises in gathering people for food and friendship has been transformed into a super kitchen delivering hundreds of meals a week.

When the gravity of the current coronavirus pandemic hit home Severn View Food joined many other businesses and charities - not shutting up shop, but sitting down for a dramatic re-think of how it could survive.

The impact of the social lock-down immediately closed it lunch clubs in Stroud and the Cotswolds, but its food supply chain remained intact.

READ THE FULL STORY 

08.10 Gloucestershire coronavirus cases reach 208

The latest figures provided by Public Health England show that the number of patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Gloucestershire has now reached 208 - up by 36 on the previous day.

It was also announced yesterday that the death toll of coronavirus patients, in the county that had sadly passed away after testing positive for the disease, had reached 19.

This comes as global coronavirus cases hit the grim one-million milestone last night, according to data produced by US-based Johns Hopkins University.

Thursday, April 2

17.20 Cheltenham Borough Council begins £24.5 million grant handout

Cheltenham Borough Council has revealed that it has received £24.5 million from Government and grants have already started to be paid out.

The authority has said that payments will continue to be made daily.

The Council is one of the first local authorities in the country to get grants paid to businesses and to date, over £4 million has been paid to 250 businesses; the latest grants will hit bank accounts by Monday.

READ MORE  

16.50 Steam railway volunteers amazed as appeal raises £100k in just 10 days

More than £100,000 has poured in to the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway Trust's (GWRT) emergency appeal fund over just ten days.

This key milestone was passed on April 1 - just ten days after the railway called out for help.

The money is to help the popular heritage railway overcome double disaster: both an embankment landslip which is costing around £500,000 to repair, at a time when the railway has no income thanks to the Coronavirus crisis which has closed down Cotswold tourist attractions.

Glyn Cornish, chairman of the charitable GWRT that supports the volunteer-run Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR), said he is 'stunned and deeply grateful' for the outpouring of public support for the line, which operates steam and heritage diesel trains over its 14-mile railway between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway.

READ MORE  

16.10 Punchline Coronavirus Crisis Survey: Have you applied to your bank for business finance?

With financial pressure mounting for many companies banks are one of the first places they are turning to for help - but are they delivering?

Social media has been carrying plenty of comment that getting help with loans or overdraft extensions is not the simple task many had hoped, and Punchline wants to know what your experience is.

PARTICIPATE IN OUR SURVEY 

15.01 UK coronvirus death toll reaches 2,921

The latest statistics as released by the Department of Health and Social Care show that 2,921 people have sadly died of COVID-19 across the UK - a rise of 569 on the previous day. 

Further information released by Public Health England said that a total of 2,698 hospitalised patients have died in England, 126 in Scotland, 117 in Wales and 36 in Northern Ireland.

NHS England have said that the patients that have died in England were aged between 22 and 100.

It has also been reported that of the 561 that have died in the last day in England, 44 had no known underlying health conditions. These patients were aged between 25 and 100.

In a tweet, the Department of Health and Social Care also added that as of 9am this morning a total of 163,194 people have been tested for the virus, of which 33,718 tested positive.

13.39 Major sporting classics to be replayed by the BBC

The cancellation of many sporting fixtures due to the coronavirus outbreak is leaving many in a somber mood.

The BBC are playing their part in raising the spirits of Brits across the country, by replaying TV coverage of many sporting classics from years gone by.

With the likes of the Tokyo Olympics, Euros and Wimbledon Championships cancelled or postponed for 2020, the broadcaster is looking to fill the void with some of the most memorable sporting moments of all time - keeping the British public entertained through these troubling times.

Some of the highlights will include:

  • The full London 2012 opening ceremony will be aired in the Spring.
  • Highlights from both the 2012 Olympics and Rio 2016 will fill the void left by the postponement of Rio 2020.
  • A number of football matches from Euro 96 will appear on TV screens across the nation in June and July.
  • Tennis coverage of Andy Murray winning Wimbledon in 2013 will also be televised in July.
  • The cancelled World Snooker Championships that would have taken place in April will be replaced by coverage of some of the best matches from past tournaments.

Exact timings will be released soon. 

13.20 Business gives 100 face masks to emergency services

Stories are generosity are emerging by the day - like this one of a Cotswold business which has just handed over 100 face masks to our emergency services.

Qing Lin, who runs Cirencester-based Join in China, is no stranger to the impact of the coronavirus crisis with many family and friends weathering the pandemic in China.

Usually it is Ms Lin helping build contacts between Gloucestershire and Chinese business, and vice versa, but this time it was her contacts helping her.

READ THE FULL STORY 

12.51 National Express announces full suspension of services

Coach operator National Express has announced that it will fully suspend its national network of scheduled coach services from midnight on Sunday 5 April 2020.

Chris Hardy, managing director of National Express UK Coach said: "We kept a limited coach network running to be able to help those individuals with essential travel needs but it is no longer viable to continue to do this.

"Passenger numbers continue to fall as the public rightly follow government advice to avoid non-essential travel. The decision to temporarily suspend all services is the right one based on the current unprecedented circumstances and I hope our passengers understand this."

READ MORE 

12.20 Food hampers sent to Gloucestershire children who receive free school meals

As reported by Punchline yesterday, The Department for Education announced additional funding for a supermarket voucher scheme, which will help schools to support families where they are not able to get free school meals to children through the council and Caterlink.

Gloucestershire County Council are playing their part in this initiative by distributing much-needed food hampers throughout the county.

From this week, children in Gloucestershire who receive free school meals will get a hamper with ten days of food inside as well as children's packed lunches.

Each hamper also comes with recipe cards so parents can cook with their children during this period of distancing.

READ THE FULL STORY 

11.36 Firms to furlough half of their employees next week 

Almost half of UK businesses expect to furlough at least 50 per cent of their staff next week, according to the British Chambers of Commerce.

Results from the BCC's first Coronavirus Business Impact Tracker paints a concerning, if unsurprising, picture for business communities affected by coronavirus.

Many businesses are struggling with cashflow, with 18 per cent reporting less than a month's worth of cash in reserve, while 44 per cent reported only one to three months' worth of cash. Only six per cent of respondents said they had over 12 months' worth of cash in reserve.

READ MORE 

10.30 Clap for carers returns at 8pm this evening  

After last week's hugely successful community campaign saw thousands of participants clap in support of frontline workers, the national applause is set to return.

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.

Do your bit and show your support for workers on the front-line fighting Covid-19.

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

10.10 Toilet roll shortage causes more than 3,000 sewer flooding and blockage reports 

With toilet roll supplies in supermarkets running low, people have been turning to kitchen roll and wipes as an alternative.

Severn Trent said that this is having detrimental impact on sewage systems and they are pleading to the public to be mindful of what they flush down the loo.

The regional sewage and waterworks firm have said that they have dealt with more than 3000 reports of sewer flooding and blockages in the last two weeks - with more and more of these blockages being full of kitchen roll.

READ MORE  

08.50 Coronavirus cases in Gloucestershire reach 172

Public Health England has released new statistics this morning that show that the number of COVID-19 cases in the county have risen to 172 - a 10.25 per cent increase from yesterday's total of 156. 

Yesterday afternoon, the government also announced that the UK coronavirus death toll of hospitalised patients had hit 2,352. This was an increase of 563 on the previous day and the largest single day rise for the UK since the epidemic began.

Latest data also shows that 152,979 people across the UK have been tested for the virus and 29,474 of those tested positive.

7.30 Gloucestershire bikers' charity helps to ease pressure on NHS

The Gloucestershire Blood Bike charity who provide regional hospitals with a vital out of hours medical courier service, are truly 'going the extra mile' as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Severn Freewheelers have just gone live with not one, but two new services to help take some of the stress away from county hospitals.

READ MORE 

Wednesday, April 1

16.33 Gloucestershire coronavirus deaths rise to 16

Information released by Public Health England show that the COVID-19 death toll within the county has reached 16. 

This morning they also announced that confirmed cases of the virus in the county have risen to 156 - an increase of 47 on the previous day.

16.10 Wimbledon 2020 cancelled 

A statement released this afternoon by the Main Board of the All England Club (AELTC) and the Committee of Management of The Championships have said that The Championships had been cancelled due to public health concerns amid the coronavirus epidemic.

Ian Hewitt, AELTC Chairman, said: "This is a decision that we have not taken lightly, and we have done so with the highest regard for public health and the wellbeing of all those who come together to make Wimbledon happen.

"It has weighed heavily on our minds that the staging of The Championships has only been interrupted previously by World Wars but, following thorough and extensive consideration of all scenarios, we believe that it is a measure of this global crisis that it is ultimately the right decision to cancel this year's Championships, and instead concentrate on how we can use the breadth of Wimbledon's resources to help those in our local communities and beyond.

"Our thoughts are with all those who have been and continue to be affected by these unprecedented times."

The 134th Championships will now be staged from 28 June to 11 July 2021.

16.01 Fourth cabinet minister self-isolates

The defence secretary Ben Wallace has become the fourth member of the UK cabinet to have self-isolated, as reported by the BBC.

Mr Wallace said that he has now recovered after showing symptoms of coronavirus, and continued to work throughout the period of isolation.

15.10 BP to supply free fuel to Gloucestershire's air ambulance 

BP have said that they will provide free jet fuel for use by the helicopters of a number of UK air ambulance services, including the Great Western Air Ambulance Service based in the county.

Great Western Air Ambulance Charity, Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, Wales Air Ambulance Charity and Yorkshire Air Ambulance will receive free fuel until at least the end of April 2020.

Air BP, the aviation division of BP, will provide free jet fuel for use by the helicopters of a number of UK air ambulance services, supporting their life-saving work during the current coronavirus pandemic.

The air ambulance crews are on stand-by 24/7, ready to respond to emergencies where they are needed most. 

READ MORE 

14.35 UK coronavirus deaths rise by 563

Public Heath England have just announced that the UK death toll of hospitalised patients who have died after testing positive for COVID-19 has hit 2,352.

This is a rise of 563 since Tuesday.

They also added that as of 9am this morning, 152,979 people within the UK have been tested for the virus and 29,474 of those tested positive.

13.50 Voucher scheme will help children entitled to free school meals

Children eligible for free school meals will benefit from a national voucher scheme, allowing them to continue to access free meals whilst they stay at home.

Schools can now provide every eligible child with a weekly shopping voucher worth £15 to spend at supermarkets while schools are closed due to coronavirus.

READ THE FULL STORY 

13.29 Stroud business helps stock London's COVID-19 super hospital

Staff in London's high-profile intensive care coronavirus Nightingale Hospital have received an emergency supply of equipment from a Gloucestershire firm.

Staff at Stroud-based Platform-14, a leading supplier of pain management, interventional devices and radiation protection equipment pulled out all the stops to fulfil the call for help.

Those charged with ensuring the brand-new super hospital is kitted out called Steve Dechan's business and he was able to assist.

It is understood Nightingale, set up in London's ExCeL Centre near Royal Victoria Dock, has up to 5,000 beds for treating those struck down by Covid-19.

"We are supplying radiation personal protection equipment (PPE)," said Mr Dechan, managing director of the Bath Road business.

READ MORE 

13.09 NHS emergency general surgery changes announced

Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have announced a collection of new measures to help ensure it can continue to provide safe patient care.

As part of these new  measures, the trust has said that no emergency general surgery will take place at Cheltenham General Hospital and all patients will be diverted to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.

The statement said: "Given the fragile nature of our emergency general surgery service, it became clear that this service will soon become unsustainable given the impact COVID-19 will inevitably have on staffing levels, particularly medical staffing.

"In response to this, the Board of Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust met on Wednesday 25 March 2020 and approved a proposal to centralise emergency general surgery on the Gloucestershire Royal Site, should it be predicted safe staffing parameters can no longer be met.

"We can confirm these parameters can no longer be met and the emergency general surgery service will centralise at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital (GRH) from 8am on Wednesday, 1 April.

"The ambulance service (SWASFT) have been asked to take all patients with non-specific abdominal pain to the GRH site, where they can be received in the emergency department and assessed on the Surgical Assessment Unit and admitted to hospital or discharged as required.

"GPs, minor injury and illness units and ambulance colleagues are aware, and patients who self-present at the emergency department in Cheltenham and need specialist surgical care will be redirected or conveyed by ambulance."

12.50 Gloucestershire Ministry of Defence staff are part of the COVID Support Force

Details are emerging of the special part in the nation's fight against the pandemic being played by members of the Gloucester-based NATO Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC).

That its Innsworth-based personal have been getting ready for some time is no great secret - with Tweets from the base revealing high-level meetings.

But video and images have now been released of personal being sent to the capital in support of Operation RESCRIPT, the U.K. Ministry of Defence response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The group include specialist military planners from the British Armed Forces, as well as French army (l'armée de Terre) staff serving with the Gloucester-based NATO headquarters.

READ THE FULL STORY  

12.10 Eurovision will take place in 2020 - but not as you know it 

After the cancellation of the Eurovision Song Contest 2020 last week, a new show has been announced to air in the place of the original Netherlands Grand Final.

'Eurovision: Europe Shine A Light' will take place on Saturday, 16 May and honour all 41 songs, in a non-competitive format.

Organisers say that the show will bring together 2020's artists, from their locations across Europe, in a performance of a past Eurovision hit, with unifying lyrics appropriate for the current situation we find ourselves in.

Sietse Bakker, executive producer of the event said: "We want to make a show that puts a spotlight not only on the 41 artists that were due to appear in Rotterdam but also inspire those at home and connect people from across Europe and beyond in these difficult times."

11.50 Aldi to ease product limits put in place on majority of products

In a statement released yesterday, the discount supermarket giant has announced that it is easing the temporary restrictions put in place to limit the number of items shoppers can purchase.

From yesterday (Tuesday), only the following restrictions will apply across all UK Aldi stores.

Limited to four per customer: Antibacterial wipes, hand wash and soap, shower gel, bleach, toilet tissue, kitchen towel, tissues, nappies, pasta, canned tomatoes, canned beans and sausages, part baked bread, beers, wines and spirits

The following products will be limited to two per customer: antibacterial hand gel, UHT milk and baby formula.

They said that while they would still encourage people to buy only what they need, product availability in store is good and the move will make it easier for people to shop for vulnerable people and those who are self-isolating.

11.20 Temporary NHS Nightingale Hospital taking shape

The BBC have released time-lapse footage showing the construction of the new 2,000 bed hospital within London's ExCel Centre.

The site is expected to be complete and operational by the end of next week.

10.10 Lockdown grocery sales go through the roof 

Grocery sales in March were the highest ever recorded - up 20.6 per cent on the previous year.

The latest grocery market share figures from Kantar show year-on-year supermarket sales grew by the fastest rate in over a decade - up 7.6 per cent over the last 12 weeks as a whole.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: "It has been an extraordinary month and social distancing measures have had a profound impact on all our daily lives - from the way we work and socialise, to how we shop and care for our loved ones.

"Retailers and their staff have been on the frontline as households prepare for an extended stay at home, with grocery sales amounting to £10.8 billion during the past four weeks alone - that's even higher than levels seen at Christmas."

READ THE FULL STORY 

08.50 Cases of coronavirus in Gloucestershire rise to 156

Public Health England have released the latest figures of confirmed coronavirus cases across the UK.

This morning they have confirmed that cases of the virus in the county have risen to 156. This is an increase of 47 - the largest single day rise since the start of the outbreak.

07.27 Locals deliver NHS cash with Isolation Beard Challenge

A group of big-hearted Gloucestershire locals from all walks of life have turned a lack of grooming into The Isolation Beard Challenge, to raise money for the Cheltenham and Gloucester Hospitals Charity in its efforts to tackle Covid-19.

With social isolation, social distancing and working from home, not to mention the closure of hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons, grooming is the last thing on the mind for many people. And what started as a joke between friends Dave Feltham, Dave Colliver and Rob Harding is growing in momentum, with over £8000 already pledged in just a few days.

The campaign was started by Dave Feltham, with Dave Colliver and Rob Harding quickly getting on board. Dave Colliver is an HGV driver at Gloucestershire logistics company, Downton, and his wife is a nurse at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. Rob Harding and his wife are both police officers.

READ MORE  

Tuesday, March 31

17.01 Waste collection update from Gloucester City Council

After Cotswold District and Tewkesbury Borough councils made changes to their refuse collection schedules amid the coronavirus outbreak, Gloucester City Council have now also updated local residents with their current plans.

The statement on Facebook said: "Recycling may be collected by different vehicles throughout the day, please present your items as normal and leave them out until they have been collected.

"As a reminder, items should be presented for 07:00am on your scheduled collection day (even if your collections normally take place later on in the day).

"Parking considerately will help our crews with collections.

"If they can't get into a street, they will not be able to return due to current resource, non-collections can affect your whole street."

It added that residents should put green bins out as normal and that refuse teams will collect if they can. If bins are not collected, they should be taken in and put back out on your next collection date.

15.41 NHS frontline workers visas extended so they can focus on fighting COVID-19

Doctors, nurses and paramedics with visas due to expire before 1 October 2020 will have them automatically extended for one year, it has been announced by the Government.

The extension, announced today (Tuesday, 31 March) by Home Secretary Priti Patel, will apply to around 2,800 migrant doctors, nurses and paramedics employed by the NHS.

The extension will also apply to their family members, demonstrating how valued overseas NHS staff are to the UK.

The Government has said that by giving them the peace of mind that they do not need to apply for a visa extension, this will allow those at the frontline - working around the clock in hospitals to treat the most seriously ill - to focus fully on combatting coronavirus and saving lives.

READ MORE 

15.05 Coronavirus deaths in the UK jump by 381 

Public Health England have announced that a further 381 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died. This is the largest single day increase recorded so far during the epidemic.

This brings the death toll in the UK to 1,789 as of 5pm on March 30.

As of 9am this morning  (31 March 2020), a total of 143,186 people have been tested, of which 25,150 were confirmed positive for the virus.

13.55 Business group C2S rallies to help county's most vulnerable

A conversation online led to an emergency supply of hand sanitiser to a county care home, and there is now no stopping members of the business community Circle2Success.

Even the team which leads the powerful business group has been overwhelmed by the generosity of its members - and the scale of the need for help.

What started as a few of its members discussing ways they could support the wider community during the coronavirus lockdown has fast snowballed into an operation to help bolster two county charities in particular.

Which is why Punchline has singled it out as one of its Business and Community Champions - a campaign sponsored by GFirst LEP and the county's Growth Hubs to highlight some of the incredible efforts being made during the current epidemic.

READ THE FULL STORY 

12.11 NUS calls for non-essential exams to be scrapped 

The National Union of Students has called for all non-essential formal exams to be cancelled for first and second-year students due to the impact of COVID-19.

The union is asking institutions to find flexible solutions to help these students progress to their next stage of learning.

In a statement released on its website it said that following government clarifications on GCSE's, A-Levels and AS levels on March 20, they believe that no institution should be holding compulsory examinations.

The body proposes that there should be no non-essential exams and assessments, particularly for first and second years, who should be allowed to progress base on previous work, with a robust appeal process, and flexibility for those who feel this will disadvantage them.

READ MORE 

11.30 Staff sought to keep Gloucestershire waste collections going

Staff are being recruited to keep Gloucestershire's waste and recycling collections operational.

If you live in Tewkesbury you will already have been made aware the town's council has announced that all 'non-essential waste' collections have ceased.

In the context of the coronavirus epidemic that your garden waste is yours for a while longer might seem like no big deal, but the decision is a symptom of the impact of the virus on staff numbers and of the stress on the service as a whole.

Cheltenham-based business Ubico has had to reassess its priorities in order to keep its refuse and food waste collections from 52,000 households operational. And the impact has been such it needs mechanics (vehicle technicians) to help bolster its teams.

READ THE FULL STORY 

11.01 Regional rail services protected in new government deal

Vital rail services that people across the South East, South West and South Wales depend on will continue to run thanks to a new government deal.

Contracts signed by the government and rail operators, GWR and Southeastern, will also ensure that jobs are protected in these unprecedented circumstances.

The deal announced yesterday will provide those who cannot work from home with the connections they need to get to where they need to and keep the country running.

In the longer-term, tens of thousands of passengers are set to benefit from improvements including increased capacity at peak times, more front-line staff and more fares trials for passengers. The direct awards will allow services to be stepped up when the rail network returns to normal following disruption from COVID-19.

READ MORE 

10.34 Huge demand for industrial and logistics space due to panic buying Brits

Research by real estate advisors Colliers International has revealed that food production is currently up 50 per cent due to panic buying.

As a result, the COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed an uptick in flexible requirements for industrial and logistics assets.

This means that occupiers who manufacture or distribute essential items are in urgent need of flexible space to keep up with the increase in demand.

READ MORE  

10.28 Facebook Live Q&A to outline support for Cotswold businesses

Leader of Cotswold District Council, Cllr Joe Harris, is due to host a special live online question and answer session for businesses and residents today at 3.30pm.

The council 'surgery' is due to take place on the social media platform Facebook Live at at 3:30 pm and will aim to address the Council's response to the coronavirus epidemic and the support available for residents and local businesses.

Cllr Harris will host the event and will be joined by Cllr Andrew Doherty, cabinet member for waste and recycling. There will also be a message from Cllr Jenny Forde, cabinet member for health, wellbeing and public safety.

You can be part of the session by following Cotswold District Council on Facebook.

If you would like to ask a question, please post your questions to us on Facebook or email joe.harris@cotswold.gov.uk .

08.44 Robinswood Hill Country Park car park closed

 Gloucester City Council have announced in a Facebook post that the popular destination for walkers and cyclists is now closed to vehicles. 

In the post, the council said: "The hill is still open for those who can reach it on foot from home.

"Please follow national COVID-19 guidance and do not drive to nature spots to go for a walk."

Cllr Richard Cook, leader of Gloucester City Council, said: "While we appreciate that people want to stay healthy and make use of the open spaces available, the government guidance is clear.

"If you want to exercise, your journey must start from home either on foot or by bicycle. You absolutely should not drive to a location to then conduct your exercise.

"Everyone should also practice social distancing while taking exercise. Please remember to keep at least two metres away from anyone who is not part of your household.

"Lastly, when you return home remember to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds with the proper technique advised by the NHS."

08.09 Coronavirus cases in Gloucestershire sit at 109

Public Health England announced yesterday afternoon (Monday) that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Gloucestershire had risen to 109.

Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust also confirmed that two additional patients at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital who had tested positive for the virus had sadly passed away on Sunday, March 29.

This brings the Gloucestershire coronavirus-related death toll to eight.

On Monday afternoon, chief executive of the trust Deborah Lee said: "Sadly, we can confirm that two patients who had been cared for at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital died at the hospital yesterday and tested positive for COVID-19.

"Our thoughts and condolences are with their families at this difficult and distressing time."

Monday , March 30 

17.30 Government announces £75m repatriation plan for Britons stuck abroad

In today's daily press briefing, foreign secretary Dominic Raab announced a detailed rescue plan to bring home tens of thousands of UK travellers' home.

In his speech, Mr Raab said: "We haven't faced challenges like this to get people home from abroad in recent memory.

"Airports are closing down or preventing airlines from operating on a commercial basis.

"Local authorities are placing restrictions on movement that prevents people getting to the airport.

"And the critical transit hubs that we rely on for long-haul flights are also shutting down or in some cases limiting their flights.

"International collaboration is absolutely vital.

READ MORE 

15.55 Coronavirus death toll in England rises by 159

NHS England has recently announced that the number of people who have died in England after testing positive for COVID-19 has now hit 1,284.

This is a rise of 159 in the last 24 hours.

The people who have died were aged between 32 and 98 years old and the majority had underlying health conditions.

The four that did not were aged between 56 and 87 years old.

15.32 Jobs at risk as Quays' restaurant and a high street retailer enter administration

Jobs at risk as Quays' restaurant and a high street retailer enter administration

A long-standing Gloucester Quays restaurant and a rent-to-own retailer with stores in the city and in Cheltenham have both filed for insolvency.

Nationwide the move by Italian-themed restaurant chain Carluccio's and the firm BrightHouse is understood to have put 4,500 jobs at risk.

Both companies filed for insolvency on Monday, with it being reported it was the coronavirus crisis that tipped them over the edge to bankruptcy.

It is reported that Carluccio's staff could well be in the best position of the two groups of staff. Administrators FRP Advisory telling Sky News it planned to use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to furlough the majority of the company's 2,000 employees.

READ MORE 

13.40 Council clarifies help for Forest of Dean businesses during Coronavirus

Forest of Dean District Council has announced how it will support businesses during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Some local business properties will not be asked to pay their business rates this year.

These will be businesses classed as day nurseries, retail, leisure and hospitality including all those defined in the government guidance such as employment agencies and estate agents.

These businesses have one hundred per cent business rate relief for 2020-21 as per government guidance.

There will also be an additional cash grant of £10,000 for businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000, and £25,000 for businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000.

The council is aiming to have its processes in place to grant the new relief, and award any grants, by early April. 

READ MORE 

13.21 Tewkesbury Borough Council suspends garden waste collections

Tewkesbury Borough Council have announced that due to reduced contractor staffing levels, they are suspending garden waste collections from today for a minimum of two weeks.

In a Facebook post, the council said: "This has become necessary in order to keep the main waste and recycling services running.

"We will post updates on our website, on social media and we are working on phone message updates for those not online.

"Please do not report your brown bin as being missed, as we will not be able to return for it.

"We're really sorry if this will cause inconvenience or frustration, our sincere thanks and gratitude for your patience and support in these challenging times." 

13.00 Prince Charles out of virus self-isolation, reports the BBC

The BBC has reported that the Prince of Wales is now out of isolation, after testing positive for coronavirus just seven days ago.

As per government guidelines, he went into self-isolation last Monday after displaying mild symptoms of the virus. 

12.40 Aerospace firm reveals how it launched into tackling the coronavirus crisis

When your business is a major player in the world-wide sector of aerospace engineering there is no escaping the impact of the coronavirus.

We asked French engineering giant Safran how it was managing in an industry where the prompt movement of parts from its Staverton base to mainland Europe is key to its operations.

READ MORE  

12.10 Renishaw reveals it is part of a group about to deliver 10,000-plus ventilators

A consortium of UK industrial, technology and engineering businesses from across the aerospace, automotive and medical sectors, has come together to produce medical ventilators for the UK's battle aganst the coronavirus.

The Ventilator Challenge UK Consortium is led by Dick Elsy, CEO of High Value Manufacturing Catapult, a group of manufacturing research centres in the UK.

Over the past week the consortium has been working to investigate production of a range of ventilator design options to meet a high-level specification for a Rapidly Manufactured Ventilator System ("RMVS") developed by clinicians and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency("MHRA").

And Gloucestershire-based engineering and manufacturing firm Renishaw has been part of the consortium, which has been evaluating all requirements to design, manufacture, assemble and test components, as well as finished medical ventilators.

READ MORE  

11.50 All the bus service changes and reductions in Gloucestershire

Gloucestershire County Council have announced a number of changes to the bus services in the county - starting on Monday, March 30.

CLICK HERE FOR ALL THE CHANGES  

11.39 Stroud man remanded in custody accused of deliberately coughing in the face of paramedic

A 43-year-old self-isolating Stroud man has been remanded in custody today accused of coughing at a paramedic, who arrived at his house in answer to an emergency call on Saturday.

Jonathan Brunsdon, 43, appeared before Cheltenham Magistrates today via video link from Gloucestershire Police's custody suite and pleaded not guilty to threatening to infect a paramedic, with Covid 19, the coronavirus, at 10.45pm on Saturday evening (March 28).

District judge Joti Bopa Rai commented: "Something like this demands immediate action and I accept jurisdiction for the trial to be held at the magistrates' court."

CONTINUE READING  

11.09 Dominic Cummings self-isolating with COVID-19 symptoms

It has been reported that senior political adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings, is self-isolating after developing mild coronavirus symptoms. 

10.30 Essential retailer Wilko to cut opening hours

Wilko is keeping the majority of its 416 shops open, as an essential retailer selling over the counter medicine, cleaning and hygiene products, pet food, home maintenance and baby care, but will close stores earlier.

In an announcement on its website, the retailer which has stores in Cheltenham, Gloucester and Stroud, said it will be closing all stores at 5pm, to allow staff sufficient time for cleaning and to stock shelves for the following day.

READ MORE 

08.31 Gloucestershire Hospitals confirms death of four patients

Four patients at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital who had tested positive for coronavirus sadly passed away on Saturday, March 28.

Deborah Lee, chief executive of Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Sadly, we can confirm that four patients who had been cared for at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital died at the hospital yesterday (28.3.20) and tested positive for COVID-19.

"Our thoughts and condolences are with their families at this difficult and distressing time. Out of respect for their privacy we will not be commenting further."

These announcements bring the Gloucestershire death toll to six, with 107 confirmed cases of the virus across the county. 

07.51 Self isolating man arrested after allegedly deliberately coughing face of paramedics

A Stroud man who allegedly coughed in the face of paramedic has been arrested and charged with assault.

The ambulance service was called just before 11pm last night to reports of a man in Stroud who was feeling unwell.

They attended an address where another man who was self-isolating, allegedly deliberately coughed in the face of one of the paramedics.

The man, a 43-year-old, was arrested, charged and remanded for assaulting an emergency worker by way of coughing and threatening GBH by infecting with COVID 19.

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