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Coronavirus LIVE Updates: The latest news from across Gloucestershire on Friday, August 21

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, August 21 

Update #1279 - 17.05 Update on coronavirus cases in the UK

The Government's Department of Health and Social Care has released the latest figures on the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

It has been said that a further 2 people have sadly passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus, as of 4pm today (August 21).

The latest total COVID death toll for the UK now sits at 41,405 - which specifically includes those that have died within 28 days of a laboratory-confirmed positive COVID test.

Across the UK, 1,033 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours, with a total of 323,313 positive cases since the outbreak began.

Update #1278 - 17.29 Update on Gloucestershire's mobile testing unit locations

An important part of minimising and managing any future spread of COVID-19 is the speed at which people can be tested and isolation measures put in place, should an outbreak occur.

In addition to the regional testing centre at Hempstead Meadow in Gloucester which offers around 700 tests a day, a mobile testing unit also visits other sites around the county.

FIND OUT THE LATEST DATES AND LOCATIONS 

Update #1277 - 15.58 Gloucester Rugby unveils new kit celebrating key workers

Gloucester Rugby has launched its 20-21 season home kit with local key worker fans showcasing the new look.

The new kit was launched on social media this morning and will be worn for the first time in the much-anticipated clash against Bristol Bears later today.

The kit stays true to the colours of the club, featuring wide stripes of 'cherry' interspersed with smaller white lines. The kit has been designed with supporters in mind who the club say are 'the fabric of Gloucester Rugby'.

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Update #1276 - 14.48 Farmers set for major boost from new trade deals

Farmers across the South West will benefit from future Free Trade Agreements with the US, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, opening up new opportunities to sell local produce overseas.

Ranil Jayawardena, international trade minister, visited a number of farms across the South West, including Quicke's Farm and The Black Farmer, to see first-hand the agricultural exporting potential of the region and discuss future opportunities for growth.

Government analysis shows that a future trade deal with the US could deliver a £284 million boost to the South West economy, including for the South West's specialist dairy producers and agricultural industry. The deal will help to create new jobs and boost wages nationwide by £800 million a year in the long run.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #1275 -14.42 Furlough rates in the South West among highest in UK

The South West has seen some of the highest employee furlough rates in the country.

Latest figures show that under the government's Job Retention Scheme, 808,900 people in the region were furloughed as at the end of June, with take-up on the South-West of 32.1%, the second highest region in England after the West Midlands.

Nationally, the wholesale and retail sector saw over 1.9m people furloughed (42%) while nearly 1.7m people were furloughed in the accommodation and food services sector which had easily the highest rate of furloughs at 77%.

READ MORE 

Update #1274 - 13.01 UK government debt hits £2 trillion for first time

UK government debt has risen above £2 trillion for the first time.

Heavy spending on measures to support the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic have led to the landmark.

Spending on measures such as the furlough scheme means the debt figure now equals the value of everything the UK produces in a year.

READ MORE 

Update #1273 - 11.58 Makeup brand to cut 2,000 jobs

Wearing makeup hasn't been a priority during lockdown and endless months of working at home, now cosmetics brand Estee Lauder says it needs to cut 2,000 staff.

The company, which includes the M.A.C and Too Faced makeup brands, was hit by a double whammy of closed stores and reduced demand through people staying at home, as reported by Retail Gazette.

READ MORE 

Update #1272 - 11.26 Funding available for community groups across Tewkesbury borough

Community groups across Tewkesbury borough are being asked to express an interest for funds that could make a real difference to local projects in their community.

A number of areas have seen new homes introduced recently including Brockworth, Stoke Orchard, Shurdington and Winchcombe.

And as a result of Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, the borough council has collected contributions from the developers to invest back into local community projects, specifically for sport, leisure and playing pitches. 

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Update #1271 - 10.10 Big post-Covid loss for TK Maxx

The owner of discount fashion retailer, TK Maxx, made a net loss of £160.8 million in its second quarter, as it continued to struggle with post-lockdown trading.

Although in the three months to 1st August, TJX UK said sales were better than expected, at £5 billion, compared to £7.34 billion last year, as reported by Retail Gazette.

The company said it saw strong sales at its Homesense chain, which has stores in Gloucester and Cheltenham.

READ MORE 

Update #1270 - 09.25 Pied Piper charity auction raises more than £16,000

The Pied Piper auction concluded in dramatic fashion with the star Tom Kerridge dine-in experience securing a winning bid of £12.500 in the closing minutes.

In total, the auction raised an impressive £16,750 with its sporting memorabilia, fashion, food and drink and wide variety of experiences.

Auction organiser and trustee Cat Hage said: "Well that went well! From the germ of an idea in lockdown on how to plug the deficit in fund raising revenue for Pied Piper and then making contact with the great guys at the Bid-In Group who ran successful high-profile auctions for Chris Evans on Virgin Radio, we created an impressive online auction platform that just worked."

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Update #1269 - 08.40 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 Thursday show the UK death toll of people with coronavirus rose to 41,403 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 6 on the previous day's figures.

In Gloucestershire, confirmed coronavirus deaths remain at 229 according to figures released by NHS England - no increase for several weeks.

It has been reported that of those who have died, 194 were being cared for at Gloucestershire Hospitals while 35 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 sits at 1,948 as of Thursday afternoon.

These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 562 cases

Cheltenham - 449 cases

Stroud - 278 cases

Tewkesbury - 270 cases

Cotswolds - 220 cases

Forest of Dean - 169 cases

Thursday, August 20

Update #1268 - 16.32 Update on Gloucestershire's mobile testing unit locations

An important part of minimising and managing any future spread of COVID-19 is the speed at which people can be tested and isolation measures put in place, should an outbreak occur.

In addition to the regional testing centre at Hempstead Meadow in Gloucester which offers around 700 tests a day, a mobile testing unit also visits other sites around the county.

Anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 can have a test. You must book a test in advance. Please do not turn up to one of the locations without booking.

To book a test or for more information on testing, go to the NHS website or call 119.

This week's locations:

Update #1267 - 16.12 Airbnb bans all house parties worldwide

Holiday rental marketplace Airbnb has announced the desistion to put a global ban on all parties and events at Airbnb listings, to limit gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic.

New restrictions put an occupancy cap on 16 visitors for listings and will apply to all further bookings through the platform.

A statement posted on the website said: "In many large jurisdictions, public health mandates on gatherings have changed - and in some places swung back and forth in response to the changing rates of COVID cases - as have regulations on bars, clubs and pubs.

"Some have chosen to take bar and club behavior to homes, sometimes rented through our platform. We think such conduct is incredibly irresponsible - we do not want that type of business, and anyone engaged in or allowing that behaviour does not belong on our platform."

Update #1266 - 15.23 How the pandemic turned the nation into online shoppers

New findings revealed by the Waitrose.com 'How Britain Shops Online Report' show significant shifts in behaviour within online grocery sector.

The supermarket's report was based on comprehensive new OnePoll consumer research of people across Britain - not just Waitrose shoppers.

Waitrose found that three quarters (77 per cent) of people now do at least some of their grocery shopping online, compared to 61 per cent per cent a year ago.

Also, 60 per cent of people shop for groceries online more frequently since the pandemic, with 41 per cent of people citing convenience as the reason and one in five people saying that they hadn't considered it before COVID-19.

The report found that the most marked increase in online grocery shopping is within the over-55 age group, where regular online shoppers have nearly trebled from just eight per cent in 2019 to 23 per cent in 2020. 

There has also been a big shift in the shopping behaviours of 35-44 year-olds, with 32 per cent now doing at least one online shop each week, compared to 16 per cent in 2019.

Update #1265 - 15.05 Coronavirus action cards for businesses now available

Quick reference action cards are now available for a variety of public or private businesses or community-based organisations to use in the event of a coronavirus outbreak.

The cards, developed by Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) and Public Health England, with contributions from local authorities and other partners, are available to download and keep-to-hand provide guidance for the beauty, construction, hospitality, manufacturing, retail and tourism sectors, and other workplace organisations and places of worship.

Owners and managers will be able to quickly identify, report and respond to one or more confirmed cases of Covid-19 in their business, setting or organisation.

Cllr Andrew McKinlay, member for development and safety said: "These action cards will help businesses and organisations recognise, report and respond to an incident of Covid-19 to help keep Cheltenham safe. I'd urge businesses to download the relevant action card for their sector and to keep it to hand should they have an outbreak."

Update #1264 - 14.28 County colleges to receive £2.6 million

Three Gloucestershire colleges are among more than 180 colleges nationally to receive a share of £200 million from the government for repairs and refurbishments of their buildings.

Hartpury College of Further Education will receive £511,181, while Gloucestershire College will receive £991,547 and South Gloucestershire and Stroud College (SGS) will receive £1,134,567.

The funding will allow essential work to begin immediately, ensuring they continue to be great places to learn for their local communities.

The funding marks the latest step in the government's drive to overhaul further education and deliver the skilled workforce employers and the economy need.

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Update #1263 - 13.04 Gloucester Quays Victorian Market cancelled

The annual Victorian Market at Gloucester Quays has been cancelled in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Organisers have made the difficult decision to cancel this year's event, which normally marks the start of the festive season in Gloucester.

Although the Victorian market won't be there this year, festivities are still being planned. These are hoped to include an outdoor ice rink, whose plans are still being finalised and will be confirmed soon.

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Update #1262 - 12.32 Lloyds Bank support is perfect remedy for Stroud firm

A Stroud-based microbiome company has been able to resume normal operations following the coronavirus pandemic, with the support of a six-figure finance package from Lloyds Bank.

Invivo, which produces diagnostic and therapeutic products for healthcare practitioners, saw its turnover drop by around 30 per cent during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. The funding ensured the business could continue to pay its staff and overheads during this period.

It also helped the microbiome company to continue with its planned move to a new 4,000 sq ft site in Stroud. The new office will consolidate Invivo's team of 20 employees in the region under one roof, while increasing the firm's capacity as demand increases again following the easing of lockdown restrictions. 

READ MORE 

Update #1261 - 11.48 Thousands of teenagers to get access to pot of cash

Teenagers across the county are set to benefit for the first time from money in Child Trust Funds (CTFs) which has been waiting for them since they were babies.

Since 2002, 6.3 million CTF accounts have been set up - around 4.5 million of them by parents or guardians. In the South West alone, there are approximately 463,000 accounts.

Around 1.8 million accounts nationally were set up by HMRC, because parents or guardians didn't open an account. This means some children don't know there are accounts in their name and are unaware their money is waiting for them.

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Update #1260 - 11.02 Mike Ashley's Frasers Group profits slump

The Frasers Group, owned by British retail billionaire Mike Ashley, has released its latest trading figures which warn of further store closures.

The business, which owns Sports Direct and Evans Cycles said it had been the most challenging year in the history of the company.

Results, which were postponed from release last Thursday, show an increase in sales across the group up 6.9 per cent to £3.96billion in the 12 months to April 26. Pre-tax profits fell by almost a fifth, to £143.5million.

In a statement The Frasers Group said: "There are anticipated to be further closures over the coming period, the number of which will depend on the outcome of lease negotiation." 

Update #1259 - 10.47 Shoppers four times more likely to buy from Amazon and Ebay than direct from retailers

New research into the online shopping habits of UK consumers between March and June found that online marketplaces, such as amazon, were four times more popular than retailers' own websites.

The research by Adobe found that since March, 69 per cent of Brits regularly shopped online and that more than half of them (57 per cent) made a purchase from an online marketplace, compared with just 13 per cent who bought directly from retailers' websites.

Findings suggest that even with more time on their hands and restrictions to shopping in-store, consumers were drawn to the broad product ranges, robust delivery infrastructure and limited stems between logging-on and checking-out that characterise marketplaces.

Additionally, between March and June, the average online shopper made 11 purchases from an online marketplace, and just three from an online retailer.

Update #1258 - 10.15 Stroud body repair shop closes its doors

Stroud's ChipsAway car body shop repair business has revealed that it will be closing its doors.

Jim and Caroline Clennell have run the franchise business for the last four years and made the announcement on Facebook.

In the post, Caroline said: "We have loved it, but the Covid-19 lockdown has made us review what we want from life.

"We are both in our 50s and the physical strain of spraying cars is taking its toll.

"Jim is moving to employment in the renewable energy sector and Caroline is going to continue painting as an artist." 

The business is expected to close at the end of September.

Update #1257 - 09.57 Poets and locations announced for new project in Gloucester

The city of Gloucester will become the backdrop for poetry of epic proportions from Monday, August 24, as a major new artwork from international artist Luke Jerram opens.

The event will showcase poems, words and lyrics by local residents across more than 30 different locations.

After a major callout for poetry in July, Luke Jerram's 'Of Earth and Sky' team has selected the work of 30 poets from different communities across the city and beyond, to feature in large-scale installations throughout Gloucester.

READ MORE 

Update #1256 - 08.19 Update on coronavirus cases in the UK

The Government's Department of Health and Social Care has released the latest figures on the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

It has been said that a further 16 people have sadly passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus, as of 4pm yesterday (August 19).

The latest total COVID death toll for the UK now sits at 41,397 - which specifically includes those that have died within 28 days of a laboratory-confirmed positive COVID test.

Across the UK, 812 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours, with a total of 321,098 positive cases since the outbreak began (as of 4pm yesterday, August 19).

Wednesday, August 19

Update #1256 - 14.50 Railway ticket prices to rise despite fall in passenger numbers

Commuters and railway season ticket holders will see a 1.6 per cent rise in fares from January, despite a dramatic fall in passenger numbers.

The rise compares to 2.8% last year and is the lowest since 2015, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Passenger figures for lockdown haven't yet been released, but numbers fell by 11.4 per cent between January and March and had already fallen by 70 per cent by the time lockdown was announced, as reported by the BBC.

Update #1255 -  13.30 Coronavirus monitoring programme to be stepped up

Random coronavirus tests are to be carried out on more people, as part of the government's programme to get a better idea of the spread of the virus.

The Office for National Statistics' Infection Survey currently tests 28,000 people a fortnight. This number will rise to 150,000 by October, as reported by the BBC.

The survey is separate from testing people with symptoms to diagnose cases, and instead uses a representative sample of the population to pick up people who may be asymptomatic.

The data can provide estimates for the true spread of the virus and help with identifying potential local hotspots.

Update #1254 - 11.30 Asda online sales double

Online sales at Asda doubled in the last quarter, as the coronavirus crisis caused a fundamental shift in shopping habits.

The supermarket chain, which has stores in Gloucester, Quedgeley and Cheltenham, reported a 3.8 per cent rise in like-for-like sales for the three months to 30th June 30. Online sales doubled during this time, as it increased its delivery capacity by 65 per cent, as reported by Retail Gazette.

Read more 

Update #1253 - 08.55 Update on coronavirus cases in the UK

The Government's Department of Health and Social Care has released the latest figures on the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

It has been said that a further 12 people have sadly passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus, as of 4pm yesterday (August 18).

The latest total COVID death toll for the UK now sits at 41,381 - which specifically includes those that have died within 28 days of a laboratory-confirmed positive COVID test.

Across the UK, 1,089 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours, with a total of 320,286 positive cases since the outbreak began (as of 4pm yesterday, August 18).

Tuesday, August 18

Update #1252 - 13.20  - M&S to shed 7,000 jobs before Christmas

High street giant Marks & Spencer is to 7,000 jobs over the next three months, in both in-store and management roles.

The retailer, which has 10 stores in the county - in Cheltenham, Gloucester, Cirencester and Tewkesbury, said in-store sales of clothing and home goods were significantly down on 2019, while online and home deliveries were strong. 

It is set to cut almost a tenth of its workforce and and said it hoped most of these could be made up of voluntary redundancies and early retirements.

Read more 

Update #1251 - 12.20 - Mears confident of bouncing back after Covid crisis

Brockworth-based Mears Group has swung into a first-half loss after being hit by Covid-19.

Mears, which provides support services to the social housing and care sectors across the UK, saw group revenue for the first six months of 2020 reduced to £407.0m (2019: £439.2m) with a reduction in maintenance revenues to £261.7m (2019: £323.3m).

Mears said a recovery in activity levels was expected during the second half of 2020, as working arrangements progressively return towards more normal levels.

Read more 

Update #1250 - 11.00 - Small retailers spending £22k to reopen after lockdown

Owners of small retailers are spending an average of almost £22,000 to reopen after the economic lockdown, according to a new study.

The study by Nucleus Commercial Finance suggests that one in five small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are using their own savings to cover the cost of recovering from the impact of the coronavirus crisis.

The extra costs come at a time when smaller businesses have already reported an average loss of more than £250,000 due to the impact of Covid-19, according to the research.

Read more 

Update #1249 - 08.55 Update on coronavirus cases in Gloucestershire

The Government's Department of Health and Social Care has released the latest figures on the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

It has been said that a further 3 people have sadly passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus, as of 4pm yesterday (August 17).

The latest total COVID death toll for the UK now sits at 41,369 - which specifically includes those that have died within 28 days of a laboratory-confirmed positive COVID test.

Across the UK, 713 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours, with a total of 319,197 positive cases since the outbreak began (as of 4pm yesterday, August 17).

Monday, August 17

Update #1248 - 16.10 John Lewis announces stores to close permanently

The partnership has confirmed the list of eight stores that will permanently close, after announcing they were at risk last month. It said the affected stores were already facing challenges before the coronavirus crisis, as reported by Retail Gazette.

John Lewis said it would work with staff to find new roles where possible over the coming weeks, but that it was unable to find a way to turn the stores around.

The partnership had cut the bonuses of 80,000 staff before the closure announcement, as it tried to find a way to cut costs. John Lewis said the store closures will allow it to remain sustainable.

Staff who have worked for the company for more than a year will qualify for redundancy pay, which equates to two weeks' pay for every year of service, regardless of age.

Read more 

Update #1247 - 12.18 Morrisons set to bin bags for life

Supermarket chain Morrisons is starting trials which could see it ditch plastic bags for life.

From today (17th August) it will offer strong paper bags instead of reusable plastic ones in eight stores. If customers seem happy, it will roll them out to all of its 494 stores, as reported by the BBC.

The chain, which has stores across the county, says the paper bags can carry up to 16kg - the equivalent of 13 bottles of wine - just like their plastic counterparts.

Read more 

Update #1246 - 12.13 First GWSR post-lockdown trains sold out

The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GWSR) ran its first post-lockdown public train service on Saturday.

This was five months to the day since services were brought to an abrupt halt after the last train of the 2020 season, on March 15.

It was a triumphant occasion for the railway's volunteers, who the previous weekend had rehearsed the new, socially-distanced arrangements and timetable.

The first train of the 'new-normal' season departed from Toddington promptly at 10am, and was sold out.

The GWSR is running trains on Saturdays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays for the time being. Tickets can only be booked online through www.gwsr.com and may be printed at home or downloaded onto a smartphone.

Read more 

Update #1245 - 11.50 Second support grant for self-employed available now

Self-employed people whose work has been hit by the covid-19 pandemic can now apply for a second support grant from the government.

More than three million people could be eligible for a payment of up to £6,570 each. Chancellor Rishi Sunak says this will be the final hand-out, as reported by the BBC.

The first grant, launched in May, saw £7.8bn claimed by 2.7 million people.

The scheme is open to self-employed people who made a trading profit of less than £50,000 in 2018-19, or an average trading profit of less than £50,000 from 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-To be eligible for the grant, more than half of a their income needs to come from self-employment.

To be eligible, applicants will need to confirm their business has been affected by the virus on or after 14th July. They do not need to have claimed the first grant to be eligible for the second.

A number of self-employed people, such as directors who pay themselves in dividends, freelancers, and the newly self-employed, are unable to apply for the self-employment support package.

Read more 

Update #1244 - 10.30 Update on coronavirus cases in Gloucestershire

The Government's Department of Health and Social Care has released the latest figures on the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

It has been said that a further 7 people have sadly passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus, as of 4pm yesterday (August 16).

The latest total COVID death toll for the UK now sits at 42,311 - which specifically includes those that have died within 28 days of the first laboratory-confirmed positive COVID test.

Across the UK, 1,040 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours, with a total of 318,484 positive cases since the outbreak began (as of 4pm yesterday, August 16).

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