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Gloucestershire Business News

Coronavirus LIVE Updates: The latest news from across Gloucestershire on Friday, May 22

The ongoing coronavirus 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.

Friday, May 22

Update #585 - 17.15 Costa Coffee Bakers Quay reopens

In need of a caffeine fix or pastry? Costa Coffee have reopened their drive thru in Bakers Quay.

On opening, the full drinks menu is available and a special Bank Holiday weekend offer of buy one get one free on all food and cakes until Sunday evening.

Adrian Goodall, director at Rokeby Merchant Developments, said: "I feel more businesses opening in whatever capacity is helping to create a positive energy within Bakers Quay in these challenging times."

Drive thru is open from 7am-6pm Monday to Saturday and 8am-5pm on Sundays.

Update #584 - 16.35 You can be part of history for future generations - here's how

Artistic messages of support are offering hope across our communities - and Stroud District Council's museum staff want to collect them for a special project.

Drawings of rainbows and messages of support for key workers have appeared in windows and pavements across the district as a response to the Coronavirus pandemic and staff at Stroud District Council's Museum in the Park are keen to collect as many as possible to form a historical record of this unique period of time.

"Museums don't just display items from the past, an important part of our work is to document the present and preserve memories for future generations," said The Museum in the Park's manager Kevin Ward.

"If your family has created a message, whether it's to thank key workers, cheer up passers-by or just help you get through the days at home we'd like you to take a photograph and email it to us."

The Museum will accept physical items of drawings and paintings also, but people are asked to keep hold of them until the museum re-opens to the public.

You can either:

  • Email a photo of your creation to museum@stroud.gov.uk along with your name and address
  • Post it on the Stroud District Council or Museum in the Park Facebook pages
  • Keep your rainbow message, and when the museum re-opens bring it in, or post it along with your contact details.

Update #583 - 16.20 Vacancies are at six-year low

The impact of coronavirus on the jobs market has seen vacancies fall to their lowest levels since March 2014.

With 637,000 jobs advertised in the UK between February and April 2020, these figures equate to a 25 per cent year-on-year decrease in vacancies. There has also been a fall of 170,000 available roles since the previous quarter (November 2019-January 2020).

It is unclear when the job market will pick up again, with figures released in April showing that 63 per cent of businesses have taken a financial hit from the effects of COVID-19.

READ MORE 

Update #582 - 14.30 Coronavirus death toll in the UK rises by 351

The department of health and social care has announced the latest figures on the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

It has been said that a further 351 people have sadly passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus.

The total death toll in the UK now sits at 36,393 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

Update #581 - 14.20 Warning following reports of video conferences being hijacked

Gloucestershire Constabulary are reminding the public to be vigilant when using video conferences apps after two incidents of 'Zoom-bombing' have been reported in recent weeks.

This is where uninvited guests are able to join the virtual chat sessions and hijack them - in one incident reported a yoga session was joined by an unknown person who displayed indecent images of children to the group.

The stream was quickly closed down, but this can understandably be shocking for those within the conference. In this instance the joining instructions had been publicised online.

Zoom, and other video conferencing apps, have a number of safety features you can use to stop unknown or unwanted persons from joining your conference and sharing inappropriate or illegal material. These include:

  • Making meetings private, or locked, and securing them with strong passwords
  • Not sharing links to meetings on social media
  • Only sharing links to meetings privately and only with those you want to invite
  • Limiting who can 'Present' or share their screen with the group
  • Making use of features such as virtual waiting rooms to verify participants before they are allowed into the meeting

UK police forces with reports such as these are working with the National Crime Agency to identify links between offences, and to identify and protect the children involved.

Update #580 - 11.35 Treasury adds three months to mortgage break

Mortgage holidays to help borrowers through the coronavirus pandemic have been extended by three months.

The break from payments, introduced in March, had been due to end in June for the first applicants.

But the Treasury has extended the scheme to provide greater certainty for those affected with applications now open until the end of July.

Economic secretary to the Treasury John Glen said: "We're doing everything we can to help people with their finances at this difficult time and that includes making sure people get the support they need with their mortgages.

READ MORE 

Update #579 - 10.35 Borrowing hits record high

The cost of the coronavirus pandemic has produced the highest monthly figure for government borrowing on record.

The Office for National Statistics revealed borrowing surged to £62billion in April as the cost of government support during the crisis took hold.

The cost of the Job Retention Scheme, which places workers on 80 per cent of their salary, was £14billion across the month.

ONS deputy national statistician Jonathan Athow told the BBC: "Borrowing is about six times what it was in April last year, so we are talking about some really significant changes in the government finances.

Government borrowing in March has been revised from £11.7billion to £14.7billion by the ONS.

Update #578 - 08.25 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 1,354 as of 9am on May 22.

It was also announced yesterday that there had not been a rise in deaths of hospitalised patients in Gloucestershire who have tested positive for coronavirus.

New information released on Monday said that the death toll in Gloucestershire sits at 220.

Of these deaths, it has been reported that 186 were in the care of Gloucestershire Hospitals and 34 were patients at Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Thursday, May 21 

Update #577 - 16.50 Coronavirus death toll in the UK rises by 338

The department of health and social care has announced the latest figures on the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

It has been said that a further 338 people have sadly passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus.

The total death toll in the UK now sits at 36,042 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

Data shows that 2,064,329 people have now been tested for the virus, of which 250,908 tested positive.

Update #576 - 15.05 Bank of England not ruling out negative interest rates

Government bonds have been sold in Britain for the first time with a negative yield.

And the Bank of England has admitted it would be "foolish" to rule out cutting interest rate to below zero.

The negative yield bond (a £3.8billion three-year gilt auction with an interest rate of -0.003 per cent) effectively means investors are paying lend money to fund the Government as it deals with the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

And Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey said how low the cost of borrowing could go would be kept under "active review".

READ MORE  

Update #575 - 14.47 Clarks cutting 900 office jobs

Shoe retailers Clarks is to cut 900 office jobs worldwide.

The firm, which is 195 years old, employs 13,000 people globally with the cuts coming over the next 18 months as part of a plan designed to create 200 new roles.

All Clarks shoes in the UK have been closed since the end of the March.

Chief executive Giorgio Presca said: "There are exciting opportunities ahead for our business and we are having to make some difficult decisions to get there."

The company, which posted a loss of £84.4million last year, confirmed it will close some of its worst-performing shops.

Update #574 - 14.45 Monthly property sales hit record low

There were just 38,060 property sales in April - less than half of the same month a year ago and the lowest since records began in 2005.

The figures from HMRC cover a month when the housing market was all but closed down by coronavirus restrictions, although several of these have been lifted in England.

Last month's figures go below the previous record of January 2009 in the wake of the financial crisis.

Update #573 - 13.00 Join a Zoom Q&A with Richard Graham MP

What does the economic future of Gloucester look like? How is the city placed to bounce back from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic?

Punchline-Gloucester.com will look to find out the answer to these questions and more in an exclusive Q&A session with Gloucester MP Richard Graham.

In the first of a series of Zoom chats with our county MPs, Punchline editor Mark Owen will be chairing the session with Mr Graham from 2pm on Friday, May 22.

FIND OUT MORE 

Update #572 - 12.30 Last orders on drinking at the bar under guidelines

Drinking at the bar could be stopped under proposals put forward to enable pubs to reopen after coronavirus restrictions are eased.

Other recommendations put forward by the trade group UKHospitality include patrols in smoking areas, no returning empty glasses and limiting the number of children in outdoor play area.

Proposals for a potential July reopening also including restaurant tables being spaced out with cutlery and individually wrapped sachets of condiments provided with each meal.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #571 - 11.45 Bulky waste collections are back for Stroud residents

Stroud District Council's bulky waste collection service has re-started after a temporary pause at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The bulky waste collection is a paid-for service for items that are too large for the normal household waste collection. It costs £25 to have up to three items collected from your home.

"It is likely that demand for the bulky waste service will be high, so please expect to wait for a collection slot, and please help the crews by placing your items as close to your boundary as possible," said Cllr Simon Pickering, chair of Stroud District Council's Environment Committee.

READ MORE  

Update #570 - 11.04 Rainbow painting at Cheltenham College 

Update #569 - 10.56 Bank holiday weekend opening for furniture stores

DFS product photo

Furniture Village is to reopen all of its outlets for the bank holiday weekend with DFS returning in a limited number of stalls.

Both have branches in Cheltenham with Furniture Village opening its 46 branches on Saturday after testing social distancing measures while DFS will open some of its outlets from tomorrow.

Furniture Village commercial director Charlie Harrison said shoppers would have their temperatures checked and asked to sanitise their hands on arrival with disposable pens available for paperwork.

Update #568 - 10.54 Aviva predicts £160m of coronavirus claims

Aviva is expecting insurance claims of around £160million in relation to the coronavirus pandemic.

And the firm, which saw life insurance sales rise by 28 per cent to £12.3billion in the first quarter, expects sales to have fallen in the following three months.

Chief financial officer Jason Windsor said: "We've had a pretty good first quarter. Q2 could look pretty different, we know there will be materially lower activity."

Aviva said most claims relating to the pandemic were down to business interruption and travel insurance.

Update #567 - 10.52 Mortgage holiday could be extended

Mortgage holders could be granted an extension to the three-month payment holiday introduced by the Government at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 1.6 million customers have taken advantage of the break in payments with UK Finance estimating an average saving of £755 a month.

The first applicants for the scheme would see three-month break in June, but the Financial Times is reporting that Chancellor Rishi Sunak is considering extending the scheme to prevent a sudden impact on savings with the crisis still ongoing.

The Treasury declined to comment on any plans.

Update #566 - 10.49 Benefit rush could have sparked fraudulent claims

Up to £1.5billion of fraudulent Universal Credit claims have been paid over the past few weeks as applications soared.

More than 1.5 million people applied for the benefit in the four weeks up to April 9 - six times the normal level.

And, according to the BBC, benefit officials fear relaxed processes to help speed up transactions may have helped increase the number of false claims.

A statement for the Department for Work and Pensions told the BBC: "We continue to monitor benefit fraud very closely and will relentlessly pursue the minority attempting to abuse the system using the full range of available powers, including prosecution through the courts."

Update #565 - 10.46 EasyJet targeting June take-off

EasyJet says it will resume flights on June 15 with all passengers and crew wearing masks.

The initial limited schedule will include domestic routes and from Gatwick to Nice.

The budget airline grounded its entire fleet as coronavirus restrictions measures all but ended airline travel.

No food will be provided on the resumed services with customers provided with hand sanitiser and disinfectant wipes.

EasyJet said aircraft would undergo "enhanced cleaning and disinfection".

Ryanair and British Airways say they will increase the number of flights in July.

Update #564 - 08.30 Latest coronavirus figures for the UK and Gloucestershire

The latest data for coronavirus cases and deaths of patients with COVID-19 were released yesterday by the Government's department of health and social care and NHS England.

Updated figures released on Wednesday (May 20) show that the UK death toll of people with coronavirus rose to 35,704 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 363 on the previous day's figures.

It was also announced that 1,996,648 people had been tested for the virus in the UK, of which 248,293 tested positive.

In Gloucestershire, there have now been a total of 220 confirmed deaths according to figures released by NHS England on Wednesday.

It has been reported that of those who have died, 186 were being cared for at Gloucestershire Hospitals while 34 were being treated through Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county hit 1,354 as of yesterday afternoon.

Wednesday, May 20 

Update #563 - 16.45 How is Gloucestershire economy placed to bounce back?

Business leaders in Gloucestershire have welcomed the realistic tone of Chancellor Rishi Sunak's assessment of the British economy.

And they found glimmers of optimism among the bleak outlook painted by the Chancellor - while calling for more realism about what lies ahead.

The Chancellor was speaking to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committed after it was revealed the number of people claiming unemployment benefit had soared by 856,000 in April to 2.1million.

And he admitted a full recovery from the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic would take time.

Punchline canvassed the views of senior business figures across the county.

READ MORE 

Update #562 - 15.05 Ask your business questions to Richard Graham MP

What does the economic future of Gloucester look like? How is the city placed to bounce back from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic?

Punchline-Gloucester.com will look to find out the answer to these questions and more in an exclusive Q&A session with Gloucester MP Richard Graham.

In the first of a series of Zoom chats with our county MPs, Punchline editor Mark Owen will be chairing the session with Mr Graham from 2pm on Friday, May 22.

And we want you to take part.

FIND OUT MORE 

Update #561 - 13.35 Gloucester coronavirus testing in full swing

New photographs have been released by the Ministry of Defence, providing us with a fresh insight into COVID-19 testing in Gloucester.

Soldiers from Wiltshire based 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh set up and delivered a Coronavirus Mobile Testing Unit at Oxstalls in Gloucester on Thursday, May 7 and it has been testing those with symptoms ever since.

The drive through service to eligible local people and provided more than 800 tests in its first week of operation.

Last Friday, Gloucestershire County Council announced that the site will now remain open until May 21.

SEE MORE 

Update #560 - 12.50 Law firm donates £12,000 to charities in need

Lodders Charitable Foundation has handed £4,000 to each of three independent charities, in a bid to ease growing financial pressure and unprecedented calls for their support as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cheltenham Open Door

The Shakespeare Hospice and Lifespace, both based in Stratford upon Avon, and the Cheltenham Open Door charity here in Gloucestershire, were each told of the surprise donations in a letter from Lodders Charitable Foundation's chairman David Lodder.

And that's why the business behind the foundation has been nominated as Punchline's latest Business and Community Champion - an initiative backed by GFirst LEP, the Growth Hub, Gloucestershire County Council and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.

READ MORE 

Update #559 - 12.00 Rolls-Royce announces 9,000 redundancies

Rolls-Royce is to cut 9,000 jobs as the shockwaves from the coronavirus pandemic's impact on the aviation industry continue to be felt.

The redundancies represent about one fifth of the firm's global workforce but has not said where the cuts will be made.

Chief executive Warren East said: "This is not a crisis of our making. But it is the crisis that we face and we must deal with it.

"Our airline customers and airframe partners are having to adapt and so must we."

READ MORE 

Update #558 - 11.40 Birmingham Airport expansion work suspended

Birmingham Airport has said the coronavirus pandemic has had a considerable impact on its expansion latest project - despite good progress earlier this year.

A spokesperson for the airport told Building.co.uk: "Due to the impact of COVID-19, all non-essential work has currently been delayed or deferred, including the terminal extension.

"We will review our capital investment plan once we have a clearer picture of what the recovery looks like for our industry. Our focus at this time is to maintain a safe and secure airport, capable of serving the return of traffic at the earliest possible time."

Main contractor Mace added: "We are disappointed that Birmingham Airport has been forced to make the difficult decision to delay the expansion of its terminal, but it is clear it faced no choice given the current circumstances.

"Mace was very proud to have been chosen to the deliver this project on their behalf - but the reality is that the aviation sector is facing huge challenges. We will do everything we can to support our client through this tough period, and we look forward to working with them in the future."

Update #557 - 11.02 M&S plans for change as profits fall

Marks and Spencer has outlined a £1billion plan to fight the impact of coronavirus after reporting a 21 per cent fall in annual trading profits.

The retailer's trading profits fell to £403.1million for the 12 months up to March 28, leaving a pre-tax profit of £67.2million after one-off costs were deducted - most due to the challenges of the pandemic.

Its plan of action included £500million of cost reductions and an accelerated reshaping of its shops, although it did not reveal if that included closures.

Chief executive Steve Rowe said: "The COVID crisis has galvanised our colleagues to secure the future of the business.

"While some customer habits will return to normal, others have changed forever, the trend towards digital has been accelerated and changes to the shape of the high street brought forward."

Update #556 - 11.00 Petrol powers drop in inflation

Inflation in the UK is at its lowest level since August 2016 after the first full month of the coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

The Consumer Price Index fell from 1.5 per cent to 0.8 per cent in April with falling petrol and diesel prices combined with lower energy bills the main contributors.

Prices of games and toys rose with people spending more time at home.

Update #555 - 10.57 Get picking, Government urges workers

Fresh calls have been made for people to apply for jobs picking fruit and vegetables as proposed quarantine restrictions and lockdown restrictions limiting the number of workers from abroad.

Environment Secretary George Eustice told the daily Downing Street press briefing that farms would be relying on British workers while Prince of Wales added his voice to the call for people to come forward.

The Pick for Britain website, set up to recruit workers, was not working as Mr Eustice spoke.

Food and Drink Federation chief executive Ian Wright said: "I think there is a big concern about access to labour in the UK for seasonal workers."

Update #554 - 10.10 Men at work for longer hours under new rules

Cheltenham Borough Council has relaxed restrictions on working hours at construction sites during the coronavirus pandemic.

After the Government urged authorities to look kindly on requests for working outside normal hours to help the return to work, the council is allowing sites to work from 7am-8pm on Monday-Friday and 8am-4pm on Saturday until the end of August.

No work will be allowed on Sundays and bank holidays with no noisy work before 7.30am, after 6pm and from 1pm on Saturdays.

Update #553 - 08.15 Latest coronavirus figures for the UK and Gloucestershire

The latest data for coronavirus cases and deaths of patients with COVID-19 were released yesterday by the Government's department of health and social care and NHS England.

Updated figures released on Tuesday (May 19) show that the UK death toll of people with coronavirus rose to 35,341 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 545 on the previous day's figures.

In Gloucestershire, there have now been a total of 220 confirmed deaths according to figures released by NHS England on Tuesday.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county hit 1,353 as of yesterday afternoon.

Tuesday, May 19

Update #552 - 17.10 Enterprise donates £10k to Hospitals Charity

NHS staff have been given a boost with an incredible £10,000 donation to the Cheltenham and Gloucester Hospitals Charity's COVID-19 Appeal.

The team at Gloucestershire Enterprise wanted to give thanks for the amazing work done throughout the current crisis and decided to make a direct impact by supporting their local hospitals charity.

And this is why the business has been picked out as Punchline's latest Business and Community Champion - an initiative backed by GFirst LEP, the Growth Hub, Gloucestershire County Council and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.

READ MORE 

Update #551 - 17.00 Cheltenham Science Festival from your own home

Star names, free online events, interactive workshops and live Q&As will feature in a Cheltenham Science Festival with a difference next month.

Cheltenham Science Festival @ Home will run online from June 2-7 with Professor Brian Cox, GCHQ director Jeremy Fleming and TV presenter Liz Bonnin among the star attractions.

Festival events will run from 10am-8pm each day and be screened on YouTube with AIDA - the world's first AI festival curator.

Head of programming Marieke Navin said: "We have put together the next best thing to our amazing tented village in the heart of Cheltenham - six days of exciting free events for everyone to enjoy at home and for 30 days after the Festival ends."

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #550 - 16.07 EasyJet admits nine million customers details hacked 

EasyJet has released a statement saying that a "highly sophisticated cyber-attack" has affected approximately nine million of its customers.

A statement posted on the airline's website said: "Following discussions with the Information Commissioner's Office ("ICO"), the Board of easyJet announces that it has been the target of an attack from a highly sophisticated source.

"Our investigation found that the email address and travel details of approximately nine million customers were accessed. 

"These affected customers will be contacted in the next few days. If you are not contacted then your information has not been accessed. Other than as referenced in the following paragraph, passport details and credit card details of these customers were not accessed.

"Our forensic investigation found that, for a very small subset of customers (2,208), credit card details were accessed. Action has already been taken to contact all of these customers and they have been offered support."

"We're sorry that this has happened, and we would like to reassure customers that we take the safety and security of their information very seriously."

Update #549 - 15.34 Hospital coronavirus deaths in England increase by 174

NHS England have just announced that the death toll of hospitalised patients in England who have died after testing positive for COVID-19 has hit 24,913.

This is a rise of 174 since Monday.

Update #548 - 15.30 Another brand becomes latest high street name in trouble 

Luggage maker Antler Holdings has called in the administrators with most of the company's 200-strong workforce expected to lose their jobs.

The Antler brand trades from 18 shops across the UK, including one in Gloucester Quays, and at department stores including John Lewis and Selfridges.

READ MORE 

Update #547 - 15.15 Tourism chief calls for extra bank holiday

The Government has been urged to introduce an extra bank holiday this year to help the tourism industry.

The plea came from Visit Britain's acting head Patricia Yates, who told MPs an extra day off - probably in October around the scheduled half term - would help soften the blow of two bank holidays during the coronavirus lockdown.

She told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee: "Every time we do the modelling the figures get worse.

"We were looking at the beginning of the year at about £26.6billion coming from inbound tourism, we reckon a £15billion drop in that."

She added that domestic tourism was due to fall by around £22billion.

A Government spokesman confirmed it would consider the idea but warned about the economic costs of an extra bank holiday in other sectors.

Update #546 - 14.58 Cheltenham Cricket Festival cancelled

The Cheltenham Cricket Festival has become the latest sporting event to fall victim to the coronavirus pandemic.

Popular with fans and county businesses, the 10-day festival was due to be played at Cheltenham College from June 29, although the England & Wales Cricket Board says no matches will be played until July 1 at the earliest.

A statement from Gloucestershire County Cricket Club said: "The club's preparations for the Cheltenham Cricket Festival would need to ramp up in order to deliver this annual showpiece event.

"Due to the many and varied logistical and administrative issues we face in our planning, we are afraid the club has decided to cancel this year's Cheltenham Cricket Festival."

Gloucestershire had been due to host Hampshire and Yorkshire in four-day County Championship matches, plus Sussex and Kent in T20 Blast games which will now be played at Bristol's County Ground if they are able to go ahead.

Refunds for tickets are available from the club.

Update #545 - 13.40 Teams start running and walking for Ben

Around 800 runners and walkers are putting in the miles on the virtual road to Istanbul in memory of Ben Brown, who died last month.

Ben, 22, was a valued member of the Punchline delivery team. Ten teams are covering the 4,600 miles from Loughborough to Istanbul to raise funds and awareness for suicide prevention charity Papyrus during World Mental Health Awareness Week.

Ben was a member of Typhoon Squadron on the Loughborough University Defence Technical Undergraduate Scheme and had been planning a squadron trip to Istanbul for the summer.

His stepfather Mark Hartery, who runs event management company Aitch and Aitch Bee with Ben's mum Helen, said: "Ben had been very involved in planning that, but with Covid-19 it had all been cancelled."

Teams representing four DTUS squadrons and the Royal Navy began clocking up the miles yesterday and they are joined by five more groups today - Gloucester Penguins for Ben, including Punchline staff; Team Ohana; Worldline; and teams representing the rugby community and Crypt School.

FIND OUT MORE 

Update #544 - 12.20 Larger businesses to benefit from loans of up to £200 million

The Government has announced an increase in the maximum loan size available through the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS).

The maximum loan size available under the scheme will be increased from £50 million to £200 million to help ensure those large firms which do not qualify for the Bank of England's Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) have enough finance to meet cashflow needs during the outbreak.

These expanded loans will be available from May 26.

John Glen, the economic secretary to the Treasury, said: "We're determined to support businesses of all sizes throughout this crisis and our loans and guarantees have already provided over £32 billion to thousands of firms."

Companies borrowing more than £50 million through (CLBILS) will be subject to restrictions on dividend payments, senior pay and share buy-backs during the period of the loan, including a ban on dividend payments and cash bonuses, except where they were previously agreed.

These restrictions will also apply to CCFF participants that wish to borrow money beyond 12 months from today. They say that this will ensure that the money is used to keep the company going through the crisis.

Update #543 - 11.46 Number of unemployment claimants soars

Unemployment figures rose to 2.1million people in the UK in April.

The Office for National Statistics' latest figures showed 865,000 more people claiming unemployment benefit as job vacancies fell by nearly a quarter in the past three months.

According to research by the Resolution Foundation, young people are most likely to have lost their job or seen a drop in income during the coronavirus pandemic.

More than one in three people aged 18-24 is earning less than before the crisis.

Update #542 - 11.44 Waterstones plans fresh chapter on quarantine

Waterstones is planning a coronavirus quarantine with a difference when it is allowed to reopen shops - for its books.

The high street bookseller has announced plans for any book touched by customers to be placed on a trolley to be placed in storage for at least 72 hours before being returned to the shelves.

Online sales have risen by more than 300 per cent rise during lockdown with Rutger Bregman's Humankind - which argues that most people's instincts are good - the bestseller at Waterstones.

Other popular choices include lengthy classics by the likes of Leo Tolstoy or Marcel Proust or books inspired by pandemics, such as Albert Camus' The Plague.

Update #541 - 11.42 Self-employed scheme attracts more than two million

More than two million people have applied for the Government's scheme to support self-employed workers.

Launched last week, the scheme pays grants of up to £7,500 with Chancellor Rishi Sunak putting the cost of claims so far at £6billion.

The Job Retention Scheme, which pays furloughed workers 80 per cent of their wages, now covers eight million people.

Update #540 - 11.40 Energy firm cuts jobs after takeover

OVO Energy is to cut 2,600 jobs, just months after buying the household supply business SSE.

The company said integration plans between the two companies had been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic.

It said the cuts would hopefully come from voluntary redundancy.

Update #539 - 10.50 More than 440 coronavirus patients safely sent home from Gloucestershire hospitals

Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has said that 441 patients have been successfully discharged from hospitals across the county and are now recovering at home. 

Update #538 - 08.26 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 1,346 as of 9am on May 18.

It was also announced yesterday that there had not been a rise in deaths of hospitalised patients in Gloucestershire who have tested positive for coronavirus for the second day in a row.

New information released on Monday said that the death toll in Gloucestershire sits at 216.

Of these deaths, it has been reported that 184 were in the care of Gloucestershire Hospitals and 32 were patients at Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Monday, May 18 

Update #537 - 17.00 Coronavirus death toll in the UK rises by 160

The department of health and social care has announced the latest figures on the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

It has been said that a further 160 people have sadly passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus.

The total death toll in the UK now sits at 34,796 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

Update #536 - 15.21 Restructuring on menu for Bella Italia

The owner of the Bella Italia chain is in talks with creditors about a radical restructuring which will include an injection of new funds.

Casual Dining Group is believed to be close to announcing insolvency arrangements for two of its three brands - Bella Italia, Cafe Rouge and Las Iguanas - aimed at securing the long-term future of the restaurant chain.

The third brand is expected to be placed into administration.

Bella Italia has branches in Gloucester Quays and Cheltenham with Cafe Rouge in Cheltenham.

Update #535 - 15.19 Clampdown calls against coronavirus price hikes

The Competition and Markets Authority has urged the Government to introduced emergency measures to prevent prices being inflated during the coronavirus pandemic.

The consumer watchdog said it had received more than 20,000 coronavirus-related complaints up to April 19 with the rising price of hand sanitisers high on the list.

A CMA spokesman confirmed it had written to hundreds of businesses about charging inflated prices.

Update #534 - 15.17 Aldi goes mobile with Deliveroo deal

Aldi has become the latest supermarket to offer to team up with Deliveroo.

The German discount retailer has started deliveries from a store in Nottingham and is extending the service next month, having launched a grocery parcel delivery service designed to help vulnerable and elderly shoppers.

Aldi, which has previously only sold wine and non-food items online, will initially offer a range of 150 items with a minimum order of £15.

The sales of groceries online has risen from less than seven per cent to more than 10 per cent in recent months.

Update #533 - 15.12 Coronavirus self-isolation advice updated 

Update #532 - 15.00 Gloucester Quays retailers hit hard by coronavirus

Two of the big name retailers at Gloucester Quays, Nike and North Face, have warned that the COVID-19 pandemic has hit their global sales.

VF Corp, owner of North Face, has warned of a potential halving of its first quarter revenue, as countries slowly start to ease their coronavirus lockdowns, as reported by Retail Gazette.

Meanwhile, Nike has issued a warning that store closures as a result of a worldwide lockdown will hit both is retail and wholesales businesses in the fourth quarter.

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Update #531 - 13.20 Cinemas could look very different after lockdown

Under the Government's current plans for easing lockdown, cinemas may be able to open from July 4 - but things are likely to look very different.

Last year, cinema box offices globally hit a new high of £35billion in sales, but the impact of coronavirus could have a long-term negative effect on the sector. Cinemas have already been closed since the start of lockdown in March.

Strict social distancing rules are likely to still be in place when the cinemas reopen, which will hit sales of both tickets and snacks. But an even bigger problem could be big studios holding back the release of blockbusters - or releasing them straight to streaming to services like Netflix and Disney+, as reported by The Times.

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Update #530 - 12.57 Deal close to save Carluccio's 

Part of the Carluccio's chain could be saved by a potential rescue deal by the owner of the Giraffe restaurant.

Sky News is reporting Boparan Restaurants is close to a deal to but the Carluccio's brand, head office and around 30 of its restaurants.

The deal is expected to save around 900 jobs at the chain, which went into administration in March, but would mean more than 1,000 people still face redundancy.

Carluccio's has restaurants in Gloucester Quays and Cheltenham.

Update #529 - 11.25 Cotswold Household Recycling Centre re-opens

The Household Recycling Centre (HRC) at Fosse Cross, near Cirencester re-opens today for pre-booked visits only.

Last week the two largest sites in the county at Hempsted in Gloucester and Wingmoor Farm at Stoke Orchard re-opened for essential visits only with all trips needing to be booked in advance.

And from today, May 18, the HRC at Fosse Cross near Cirencester will re-open.

Social distancing measures will be in place to help keep visitors and staff safe and crucially anyone with covid-19 symptoms and those in self-isolating households MUST NOT visit.

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Update #528 - 11.15 The role of Gloucestershire Police in the pandemic has changed 

Update #527 - 10.40 Council seeks new economic development lead

Could you help lead the Cotswolds on the road to economic recovery and regeneration?

Cotswold District Council is calling for those with a knowledge of business, securing investments and the local economy to come forward and apply for the role.

The successful applicant will be based out of Cirencester, the largest town in the Cotswolds, and for 37 hours-per-week will oversee its economic recovery plan, support and build relationships with local businesses as well as secure investment into the area.

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Update #526 - 10.17 Shops look to eBay to keep selling

Small retailers are turning to eBay to keep trading with their shops shut during the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 50,000 new sellers joined in the online marketplace last month, many of them small or independent retailers.

With eBay allowing new businesses registering to pay no fees until the end of July, the daily rate of new sellers joining the site has doubled since lockdown restrictions were introduced.

eBay's UK vice president Rob Hattrell said: "Customers have had to move online to buy the products they need, but this has largely accelerated the shift we were already seeing."

The move to selling online comes as the UK retail industry continues to suffer - figures from BRC-Shoppertrak revealing a record 84.7 per cent slump in footfall during April with the majority of shops closed.

Update #525 - 10.15 Carmakers look for help to get back on road

Carmakers are in talks with the Government and the EU over subsidies as demand for new vehicles plummets during the coronavirus pandemic.

Peugeot confirmed early discussions were in place with the UK Government while the heads of BMW, Daimler, Fiat Chrysler and Jaguar Land Rover discussed grant support with the EU last week.

Support is available for battery-powered cards and hybrids but manufacturers are calling for similar packages for traditional engines.

Update #524 - 08.30 Latest coronavirus figures for the UK and Gloucestershire

The latest data for coronavirus cases and deaths of patients with COVID-19 were released yesterday by the Government's department of health and social care and NHS England.

Updated figures released on Sunday (May 17) show that the UK death toll of people with coronavirus rose to 34,636 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 170 on the previous day's figures.

It was also announced that 1,818,712 people had been tested for the virus in the UK, of which 1,818,712 tested positive.

In Gloucestershire, there have now been a total of 216 confirmed deaths according to figures released by NHS England on Sunday - an increase of zero over the previous 24 hours.

It has been reported that of those who have died, 184 were being cared for at Gloucestershire Hospitals while 32 were being treated through Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county hit 1,345 as of yesterday afternoon.

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