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Coronavirus LIVE Updates: The latest news from across Gloucestershire on Friday, January 15

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 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, January 15

Update #8265 - 11.54 Card Factory warns of £10m loss

Gift card retailer Card Factory has said it is expecting losses of about £10m in its full-year results due to stores being closed due to the pandemic.

The High Street chain, with stores in Gloucester, Cheltenham, Stroud, Tewkesbury and Cirencester, revealed a 38.1 per cent decline in year-on-year store sales in the 11 months to December 31st 2020.

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Update #8264 - 11.39 UK bans arrivals from South America amid coronavirus variant concerns

Transport minister Grant Shapps yesterday announced that Britain will ban arrivals from South American countries and Portugal due to concerns over a new Brazillian variant of the virus.

This new variant shares come characteristics with those found in Britain, which are believed to be more transmittable but not to cause more severe disease.

"I've taken the urgent decision to ban arrivals from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela - from tomorrow, 15 Jan at 4am (0400 GMT) following evidence of a new variant in Brazil," Mr Shapps wrote on Twitter.

He later said Portugal would also be added to the list because of close travel links with Brazil.

Update #8263 - 10.53 UK economy shrank by 2.6 per cent in November

Official figures suggest that the UK economy shrank by 2.6 per cent in November as England went into its second lockdown.

The Office for National Statistics said this meant that gross domestic product (GDP) was 8.5 per cent below pre-pandemic levels. November's decline has come after six months in a row of growth.

Pubs and hairdressers were worse hit as the service industry suffered, whereas some manufacturing and construction activity improved.

Update #8262 - 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 UK figures show the total number of deaths within 28 days of positive test rose to 86,015 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 1,248 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 48,682 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 3,260,258 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 2,918,252 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of January 13.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 17,079 as of Thursday afternoon - an increase of 320 on the day before.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 729.

Cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 4,904 cases (increase of 106)

Cheltenham - 2,925 cases (increase of 54)

Stroud - 2,753 cases (increase of 40)

Tewkesbury - 2,162 cases (increase of 36)

Cotswold - 1,954 cases (increase of 21)

Forest of Dean - 2,333 cases (increase of 51)

Thursday, January 14

Update #8261 - 11.56 High Street Chemists start vaccination programme

Some High Street pharmacies in England are set to start vaccinating people from prority groups from today, expanding to 200 sites in the next two weeks.

The first to offer appointments are six chemists in Halifax, Macclesfield, Widnes, Guildford, Edgware and Telford.

These sites have been chosen because of their ability to deliver large numbers of vaccines whilst allowing space for social distancing.

Coronavirus vaccines are now being offered at more than 1,000 locations across the country, including 200 hospitals, 800 GP-led services and seven mass vaccination centres. 

Update #8260 - 11.37 Debenhams reveals which stores won't reopen after lockdown

Debenhams has revealed that six of its stores won't reopen after lockdown, with the threat to 320 jobs.

Gloucester's Debenhams store has survived the latest round of cuts.

But staff at stores in Worcester, Portsmouth, Staines, Harrogate and Weymouth weren't so lucky. They have been told their stores won't reopen after the end of Covid restrictions, as reported by Sky.

The company will also be leaving London's Oxford Street, after the administrator was unable to agree a lease extension with the landlord.

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Update #8259 - 11.35 Tesco expects £810m Covid costs after revealing record Christmas

Britain's biggest supermarket chain has reported a record Christmas but warned that costs linked to the pandemic are likely to hit £810m.

Tesco revealed a 6.1 per cent rise in like-for-like sales over the 19 weeks to January 9, increasing to 8.1 per cent in the Christmas period.

The business said the increased demand was from food sales and it had completed seven million online orders over the Christmas season, with sales up by more than 80 per cent over the 19 weeks.

However, it added that the coronavirus cost burden for its current financial year was now expected to top £810m, up £85m from its last forecast. 

Update #8258 - 10.50 Vaccine confidence boosts over-50s holiday bookings

Holiday businesses are reporting a growth in bookings over the last two weeks, reports the BBC.

The UK's largest tour operator TUI said that 50 per cent of bookings on their website are currently by over 50s.

And National Express also said that bookings made by those 65 and over have increased by more than 185 per cent in the last fortnight.

"Since the announcement of the vaccine, it's given our customer base, predominantly those over 65, increased confidence to book and have that summer getaway in 2021," Jit Desai, head of holidays and travel at National Express told the BBC.

"We launched the brochure for spring-summer 2021 just this weekend gone, and on Monday we took a week's worth of bookings in a day and that's continued so far.

"What the vaccine does is give certainty and confidence." 

Update #8257 - 08.35 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 UK figures show the total number of deaths within 28 days of positive test rose to 84,767 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 1,564 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 47,525 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 3,211,576 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 2,639,309 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of January 12.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 16,759 as of Wednesday afternoon - an increase of 305 on the day before.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 720.

Cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 4,798 cases (increase of 93)

Cheltenham - 2,871 cases (increase of 51)

Stroud - 2,713 cases (increase of 32)

Tewkesbury - 2,162 cases (increase of 36)

Cotswolds - 1,933 cases (increase of 39)

Forest of Dean - 2,282 cases (increase of 54)

Wednesday, January 13

Update #8256 - 15.19 Debenhams keeping doors shut on six stores

Debenhams will not reopen six of its stores when coronavirus restrictions are relaxed.

Plans are going ahead for the winding down of the department store chain and branches were selling off remaining stock before they were forced to close by the current lockdown.

Gloucester is not among the stores which will remain shut which includes the Oxford Street outlet in London after the failure to agree a lease extension with the landlord.

More than 300 jobs will be affected by the closures.

A Debenhams statement said administrator FRP Advisory is in talks over the sale of all or parts of the business.

Update #8255 - 15.00 Latest coronavirus vaccination figures revealed

The number of coronavirus vaccinations administered in England reached 2,661,850 yesterday, according to the latest NHS figures.

The figure was a rise of 187,645 on the previous day.

Tom Keith-Roach, UK president of AstraZeneca, told Parliament's Science and Technology Committee said the company would deliver two million doses of the Oxford vaccine per week 'imminently'.

Update #8255 - 12.34 PM approves 24-hour vaccine hub plans

Boris Johnson has approved a pilot 24/7 coronavirus vaccine programme in an attempt to further speed up its rollout.

When asked earlier this week whether a vaccination service could be offered 24 hours a day, the message from Downing Street said that they believed there was 'no clamour' for appointments beyond 8pm.

Now Boris Johnson has gone back on this message, saying "we will be going 24/7 as soon as we can", starting with late night and early morning appointments for NHS workers.

Update #8254 - 11.33 Lidl sees festive sales rise in store

Discount supermarket Lidl saw UK sales increase by 17.9 per cent in the build-up to Christmas.

Bucking the trend for online shopping, Lidl saw the rise over the four weeks to December 27 was driven by more sales in store.

Average basket size was up 24.8 per cent year on year.

Update #8253 - 11.30 Brexit costs loom after Christmas surge for ASOS

Online fashion retailer ASOS saw a surge in sales over Christmas but has warned of a major financial hit from Brexit-related costs.

UK sales were up 36 per cent over the last four months of 2020 to £554million, part of a group revenue rise of 23 per cent to almost £1.4billion.

While the company forecast a £40million profit in the first half of its financial year, it predicted tariff costs for shipments between the EU and UK would amount to £15million across the year.

ASOS announced last week it was creating 2,000 jobs with the creation of a new centre in Staffordshire.

Update #8252 - 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 UK figures show the total number of deaths within 28 days of positive test rose to 83,203 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 1,243 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 45,533 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 3,164,051 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 2,431,648 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of January 11.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 16,454 as of Tuesday afternoon - an increase of 243 on the day before.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 716.

Cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 4,705 cases (increase of 60)

Cheltenham - 2,820 cases (increase of 44)

Stroud - 2,681 cases (increase of 44)

Tewkesbury - 2,126 cases (increase of 29)

Cotswolds - 1,894 cases (increase of 20)

Forest of Dean - 2,228 cases (increase of 46)

Tuesday, January 12

Update #8251 - 16.01 Edinburgh Woollen Mill deal completed

Almost 1,500 jobs have been save after a deal was agreed to buy Edinburgh Woollen Mill out of administration.

The deal with Purepay Retail, backed by an investor consortium, will keep 246 Edinburgh Woollen Mill and Ponden Home shops open with 1,453 jobs saved.

Administrators FRP said 119 shops have been closed with 485 being made redundant, on top of the 866 lost when the group went into administration in November.

Tony Wright, partner at administrator FRP, said: "This transaction provides the best chance to save stores and jobs, but also meet our own statutory obligations to creditors."

Update #8250 - 15.15 Supermarkets join clampdown on masks

Tesco and Asda have followed Sainsbury's and Morrison's in saying they will block entry to their supermarkets to anyone not wearing a mask or face covering.

John Lewis Partnership, which owns Waitrose, is also making face coverings mandatory and is suspending click and collect services at its department stores.

Update #8249 - 15.00 Gloucestershire working through key vaccination groups

Gloucestershire is making good progress in vaccinating against the coronavirus with the county's Health Scrutiny Committee hearing 48,000 people in the top four priority groups receiving the vaccine.

There are 129,000 people in the county in those four categories - over-70s, the clinically vulnerable and health and care workers - and NHS chiefs are confident they will all receive the jab by mid-February.

More than two-thirds of over-80s in Gloucestershire have been vaccinated while all care home residents are expected to receive a jab by the end of the week.

Update #8248 - 12.11 Kingfisher swoops on DIY demand

The owners of B&Q and Screwfix have continued to cash in on the popularity of home improvement after reporting another strong set of sales figures.

Kingfisher said sales in the 10 weeks to January 9 were up 16.9 per cent - helped by online growth of more than 150 per cent compared with the same period a year ago.

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Update #8248 - 11.37 Deliveroo expanding delivery area

Takeaway delivery service Deliveroo said it is looking to reach almost two thirds of the population after announcing plans to expand to 100 more UK towns and cities this year.

Deliveroo, which took on an additional 25,000 riders to deal with increased demand last year, operates in more than 200 locations.

Chief UK business officer Carlo Mocci said: "With further lockdown measures now in place across the UK, we want to do everything possible to help households get the food they need and want and play our role to make sure families across the country have a wide selection of amazing food, drink and household products to order in as little as 30 minutes."

Update #8247 - 11.35 Supermarkets blocking entry without masks

Morrisons and Sainsbury's have said they will take steps to tackle customers entering their shops without masks.

From Monday, Morrisons will refuse entry to anybody who does not wear a mask unless they have a medical exemption.

Sainsbury's said staff would challenge anyone not wearing a face covering or who were shopping in groups.

The supermarket chain said security guards would be at the front of their shops to challenge shoppers.

Update #8246 - 11.33 Spending dropped at rapid rate in December

Spending in December dropped at the fastest rate in six months according to Barclaycard.

The card provider said the 2.3 per cent drop compared to the previous year - the largest monthly drop since June.

Lockdown restrictions saw spending at pubs and bars tumble by 71 per cent and 65 per cent in restaurants.

Update #8245 - 11.30 Marks & Spencer seals deal for Jaeger brand

Marks & Spencer has bought the Jaeger fashion brand from administration, but it will not be taking over any of the company's shops or concessions.

Jaeger, which has a shop at Gloucester Quays, was part of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group which went into administration in November.

It employed around 244 staff at 63 outlets and it is unclear whether any jobs will be saved as part of the deal.

M&S announced May it would be selling "complementary third party brands" as part of a transformation plan.

M&S Clothing & Home managing director Richard Price said: "In line with this, we have bought the Jaeger brand and are in the final stages of agreeing the purchase of product and supporting marketing assets from the administrators of Jaeger Retail Limited. We expect to fully complete later this month."

Update #8244 - 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 UK figures show the total number of deaths within 28 days of positive test rose to 81,960 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 529 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 46,169 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 3,118,518 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 2,286,572 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of January 11.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 16,211 as of Monday afternoon - an increase of 261 on the day before.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 703.

Cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 4,645 cases (increase of 72)

Cheltenham - 2,776 cases (increase of 47)

Stroud - 2,637 cases (increase of 27)

Tewkesbury - 2,097 cases (increase of 35)

Cotswolds - 1,874 cases (increase of 19)

Forest of Dean - 2,182 cases (increase of 61)

Monday, January 11

Update #8243 - 15.35 Shopping figures tumble as lockdown takes hold

Shopping numbers fell across Britain by 27.1 per cent last week as the latest coronavirus restrictions came into operation.

The latest figures from retail analysts Springboard showed footfall on high streets were down 26 per cent across the seven days to Sunday compared with the previous week.

At shopping centres the drop was 35 per cent with retail parks down 21.3 per cent as all but essential ships were forced to close.

Across all UK retail destinations, the figure was down 63.8 per cent on the same week last year.

Update #8242 - 15.28 Online Reach helps to improve profit forecast

Reach, the publishers of the Citizen, Gloucestershire Echo and the Gloucestershire Live website, has reported record digital performance.

The UK's largest regional publisher said it expects underlying operating profit for 2020 to be between £130-135million, ahead of market expectations.

While print circulation sales fell 11.7 per cent in the last quarter - an improvement from a 12.6 per cent drop in the previous three months - digital revenue grew by 24.9 per cent.

Reach reached five million online customer registrations during December.

Chief executive Jim Mullen said: "The changes made in the business during 2020 to develop a new, more efficient operating model put us in a strong competitive position."

Update #8241 - 11.45 Edinburgh Woollen Mill close to deal

A potential rescue package for parts of Edinburgh Woollen Mill looks a step closer with reports of the retailer's administrators FRP Advisory issuing sales contracts to a potential buyer.

The Sunday Times reported the development which is likely to save only some of the retailer's 400 outlets.

Marks & Spencers are believed to be close to a deal with Jaeger which is also part of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill group.

Update #8240 - 11.43 JD Sports upgrade forecast on back of digital sales

A rise in digital sales during the coronavirus has seen JD Sports increase its annual profit forecast by more than £100million above market expectations.

The sportswear retailer reported a five per cent rise in like-for-like revenues for the 22 weeks to January 2 compared to the same period 12 months ago.

Average market forecasts for the year to January 30 put profit before tax at £295million - a figure the company now puts at £400million.

The company also predicts a 10 per cent rise in profitability for the next 12 months.

Update #8239 - 11.40 Dr Martens set to float on the stock market

Dr Martens has announced plans to float on the London Stock Exchange in a move it hopes will aid its expansion.

Best known for its footwear, the business is currently owned by private equity firm Permira, which would sell part of its stake as part of the stock market listing.

The brand sells in excess of 11 million pairs of footwear annually in more than 60 countries.

Kenny Wilson, chief executive at Dr Martens said: "The announcement of our intention to float reflects the great achievements of the Dr Martens team and brand over the last seven years.

"We have invested massively to ensure that we deliver the best digital and store experiences to connect with our wearers, and through this we are driving our long term, sustainable growth." 

Update #8238 - 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 UK figures show the total number of deaths within 28 days of positive test rose to 81,431 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 563 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 54,940 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 3,072,349 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 1,296,432 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of January 3.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 15,950 as of Sunday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 702.

Cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 4,573 cases

Cheltenham - 2,729 cases

Stroud - 2,610 cases

Tewkesbury - 2,062 cases

Cotswolds - 1,855 cases

Forest of Dean - 2,121 cases

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