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Gloucestershire Business News

Coronavirus LIVE Updates: The latest news from across Gloucestershire on Friday, October 23

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, October 23 

Update #1728 - 16.50 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 224 people have sadly passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus, as of 4.21pm today (October 23).

The latest total COVID death toll for the UK now sits at 44,571 - which specifically includes those that have died within 28 days of a laboratory-confirmed positive COVID test.

Across the UK, 20,530 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 830,998 since the outbreak began.

Update #1727 - 16.40 Youngest juice producers in the county and Cotswold inn raise money for school

Eight-year-old twins Mina and Rohan Stoten have teamed up with their local pub to sell their own apple juice to raise much-needed funds for their primary school.

When the entrepreneurial brother and sister heard that North Cerney Primary School would be unable to put on its Christmas fair this year due to the Covid pandemic, they thought of another way of selling their own product and wrote a letter Bathurst Arms landlord, Jordan Pelly.

Jordan said: "I received this delightful letter in the post from Mina and Rohan, offering me their super apple juice to sell in the pub and was more than happy to help. I am setting up a little deli-style shop in the pub and thought their product would fit in really well. You cannot get more locally-sourced, as the children's orchard and home is just quarter of a mile away."

READ MORE  

Update #1726 - 15.38 Stepping up the fight against cyber criminals

A cyber company which started in humble beginnings in rural Gloucestershire outlined how it has gone from working in a shed to tackling security issues around the globe at a virtual event.

Jeremy Annis, chief executive of Cheltenham software company Ripjar, described how cyber threat intelligence has been transformed during the latest online event organised by Cynam.

The not-for-profit Cyber Cheltenham organisation brought together experts to discuss security and other issues facing the growing cyber community in Gloucestershire.

Mr Annis, one of the founders of Ripjar seven years ago, said: "Cynam has been great for the local community in Cheltenham and the wider cyber community in the UK.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #1725 - 15.31 Business leaders offer verdict on Chancellor's changes

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced more changes to the Government's coronavirus economic support package yesterday, providing more help to businesses hit by the tighter restrictions.

He broadened the scope of the Job Support Scheme for businesses forced to close - which is due to start on November 1 - increased help for the self-employed and announced grants for businesses who have seen their ability to trade affected by restrictions.

Punchline canvassed reactions from the business community to his latest announcements.

SEE MORE 

Update #1724 - 14.25 Gap explores options over shops' future

Fashion retailer Gap could shut its UK stores in favour of a franchise model in Europe as part of a potential shake-up in its operations.

The US company, which lost £740million is the three months to May, said it could also close its distribution centre in Rugby.

Head of brand global Mark Breitbard said: "As we conduct the review, we will look at transferring elements of the business to interested third parties as part of a proposed partnership model expansion.

Update #1723 - 13.09 Twenty four people ordered to pay almost £5,000 for flouting lockdown regulations

Twenty four people who flouted Covid-19 lockdown regulations in Gloucestershire in the Spring have been ordered to pay almost £5,000 in fines and costs by Cheltenham Magistrates in just one court sitting last weekend.

One offender, Amy-Kate Butler, 19, of Barkers Leys, Bishops Cleeve, was handed a £588 bill for breaching the Coronavirus regulations by leaving her home twice without reasonable excuse, on April 17th and then again on May 10th.

Penalties imposed on the other 23 defendants who faced the court last Saturday (Oct 17) ranged from £72 to £352 each.

READ MORE 

Update #1722 - 13.05 County cider and cheese producers set to benefit from UK-Japan trade deal

Gloucestershire producers and farmers are among the businesses set to benefit from the historic UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) to be signed by International Trade secretary  Liz Truss and Japan's foreign minister Motegi Toshimitsu in Tokyo today, October 23.

The British-shaped deal is the first agreement that the UK has secured that goes beyond the existing EU deal, with enhancements in areas such as food and drink, creative industries, digital and data.

This  agreement could benefit farmers and agri-food exporters, from English wine producers to dairy products, within an industry that employs more than 30,000 people across the South West.

READ MORE  

Update #1721 - 10.49 KFC creating 5,400 new jobs

KFC is planning to create 5,400 jobs across the UK and Ireland as it looks to build on a growth in demand for takeaway meals.

The fast food chain, which created 4,300 in March, said it is aiming to use the Government's Kickstart Scheme to subsidise the hiring of 16-24 year olds.

KFC, which operates 965 outlets across the country, said the new roles would be for a minimum of 25 hours a week.

The news follows Domino's Pizza announcing an additional 5,000 jobs after a five per cent leap in sales.

Update #1720 - 10.47 Barclays profits outstrip predictions

Barclays has reported stronger results for the third quarter than expected - but warned of tough times in the coming months.

The bank made a profit of £1.1billion for the three months to September, considerably more than the predicted £507million.

Provisions for bad loans totalled £608million, a fall of 63 per cent on the previous three months and well below the £1billion which had been forecast by analysts.

But Barclays said it was still looking at further cost-cutting measures having changed is forecasted fall in GDP for the year from 8.7 per cent in June to 10.3 per cent.

Update #1720 - 10.44 Furloughed employees asked to keep working

Nearly one in 10 people on furlough were asked to carry out work by their bosses, according to new figures.

The report from the National Audit Office said nine per cent of furloughed workers carried out work with more than 10,000 reports to a fraud hotline set up by HMRC.

The NAO also said some employers had claimed furlough payments without passing them on to their staff in full while up to £2billion may have gone to criminals using fake companies.

Update #1719 - 10.42 Retail sales continue upward trend

Retail sales across the UK rose by 1.5 per cent from August to September - a fifth successive monthly rise.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed a 17.4 per cent increase during the three months to September from the previous quarter - the largest rise on record.

And the figures put sales 5.5 per cent higher than the last full month before the pandemic in February.

Grocery and home improvement sales continued to fare well, but fuel was down 8.6 per cent on February with the number of journeys lower throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Online sales made up 27.5 per cent of the market compared to 20.1 per cent in February.

Update #1718 - 08.25 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 yesterday show the UK death toll of people with coronavirus rose to 44,347 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 189 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 21,242 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 810,467 since the outbreak began.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 3,484 as of Sunday afternoon - an increase of 72 on the day before.

These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 931 cases (increase of 18)

Cheltenham - 779 cases (increase of 14)

Stroud - 528 cases (increase of 19)

Tewkesbury - 453 cases (increase of eight)

Cotswolds - 445 cases (increase of ten)

Forest of Dean - 348 cases (increase of eight)

Thursday, October 22

Update #1717 - 16.31 Council looks for feedback on plan for future

Cotswold District Council has launched a consultation on its Green Economic Growth Strategy.

After being approved by the council's cabinet, the authority is seeking views on the priorities in the strategy which is designed to help the Cotswold economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic and transform over the next four years.

Priorities including growing key sectors such as agritech, cyber/digital and green technologies while the strategy is committed to enabling town centres to thrive, supporting the visitor economy, improving infrastructure, boosting skills and training and attracting inward investment.

READ MORE 

Update #1716 - 15.53 Police message as Covid cases increase: "Don't throw it all away"

Gloucestershire's Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner have made a joint appeal to the public not to flaunt the Government's social distancing rules, amid fears of a further surge in Covid cases.

Tensions may be rising in other parts of the country, but the number of recorded cases means Gloucestershire is still in the category of medium risk, the lowest possible.

So while impatience appears to be growing, particularly in some northern areas, Chief Constable Rod Hansen told PCC Martin Surl it was important people in Gloucestershire avoid the temptation to disregard the rule of six and other current regulations.

SEE MORE 

Update #1715 - 14.32 Chancellor announces changes to support packages

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced three new measures designed to help workers and businesses work through the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Job Support Scheme, announced as part of his Winter Economic Plan, will be available to employees who work 20 per cent of their normal hours rather than 33 per cent.

And employers will now have to pay only a five per cent contribution for the unworked hours when the scheme starts on November 1.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #1714 - 14.29 Unilever reports better than expected sales growth

Consumer goods giant Unilever has reported a stronger than expected return to sales growth in its third quarter.

The company, which owns the ice cream factory in Barnwood, said it is recovering well from a fall in the previous period which saw a drop in revenue from its foodservice, out-of-home ice cream, and non-hygiene personal care products.

Unilever posted a 4.4 per cent increase in underlying sales, however overall turnover decreased 2.4 per cent to €12.9 billion.

Home care was reported as the firm's best-performing sector with sales up 6.7 per cent, driven predominantly by demand for its household cleaning products during the pandemic.

READ MORE 

Update #1713 - 12.54 Socially distanced concerts for Cheltenham

If you're missing live music, Chapel Arts in Cheltenham is offering a series of socially distanced concerts in a safe environment.

There are a handful of ticket's for tonight's show (22nd October) featuring Robin A Smith on piano, with Bryn Thomas, Hannah Hughes and guests, playing a mix of jazz, soul and cinema music. 

SEE MORE 

Update #1712 - 11.57 Sales recover for Travis Perkins

National building materials supplier Travis Perkins has reported a rise in like-for-like sales, as part of its most recent trading figures.

The business which owns more than 20 brands has revealed a like-for-like sales growth of 3.9 per cent in its third quarter, compared to the same period last year.

For the year to September 30, like-for-like sales dropped 11.8 per cent but Travis Perkins said that since July volumes have "picked up strongly" as the UK-wide lockdown was lifted.

Nick Roberts, chief executive at the business, said: "We have reported a positive overall like-for-like sales performance in the quarter as our markets have continued to recover following the impact of the national lockdown earlier this year.

"Whilst local trade activity has recovered well, our trade businesses continue to experience a lag in recovery from larger housebuilding and construction projects." 

Update #1711 - 11.36 Restaurant fined over missing test and trace QR code

An Indian restaurant in Tewkesbury has been hit by a fixed penalty fine of £1,000 for failure to follow coronavirus safety requirements.

Crystal Rivers received the fine - reduced to £500 for paying within 14 days - for failing to display a test and trace QR code after environmental health officers received a complaint.

The restaurant was also found to not be keeping test and trace records while staff were advised on the need to wear face masks when serving tables.

READ MORE 

Update #1710 - 10.48 Number of new eBay millionaires soars 35 per cent

Online marketplace eBay UK has revealed the number of new, self-made millionaires on the platform has risen by 35 per cent in the last 12 months as British entrepreneurialism continues to thrive despite challenging trading conditions prompted by the pandemic.

The data also reveals the "eBay millionaire capitals" across the UK - the cities that have created the most eBay millionaires in the last 12 months. While London tops the list with 52 new eBay millionaires coming out of the capital last year, Manchester and Birmingham also come out on top.

SEE MORE 

Update #1709 - 08.30 Latest coronavirus figures for 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.

In Gloucestershire, confirmed coronavirus related deaths in hospital and care settings sit at 588 - with the latest death recorded on October 20 at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Trust.

Latest government figures show that the total number of cases within the county since the pandemic began sits at 3,412 as of Wednesday afternoon - an increase of 77 on the day before.

These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 918 cases (increase of 20)

Cheltenham - 765 cases (increase of 11)

Stroud - 509 cases (increase of nine)

Tewkesbury - 445 cases (increase of eight)

Cotswolds - 435 cases (increase of 18)

Forest of Dean - 340 cases (increase of 11)

Wednesday, October 21

Update #1708 - 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 191 people have sadly passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus, as of 4.43pm today (October 21).

The latest total COVID death toll for the UK now sits at 44,158 - which specifically includes those that have died within 28 days of a laboratory-confirmed positive COVID test.

Across the UK, 26,688 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 789,229 since the outbreak began.

Update #1707 - 16.11 Netflix growth slows down

Tiger King might have helped get many people through lockdown, but the growth of streaming giant Netflix is slowing.

The company delivered fewer subscribers than expected in the three months to September 30 as the return of live sport and an increase in competition slowed its growth, as reported by Sky.

SEE MORE 

Update #1706 - 14.38 Guildhall and Museum of Gloucester plan for future after grant

Two Gloucester venues will use a grant of £100,000 to develop exhibitions and live attractions as they look to bounce back from being closed during the coronavirus pandemic.

As reported by Punchline-Gloucester.com earlier this week, Gloucester Guildhall and the Museum of Gloucester will share the Arts Council of England grant, part of the Government's £1.57billion Culture Recovery Fund.

Gloucester City Council's Culture Services applied for the grant after both venues were forced to close for six months by the pandemic. 

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #1705 - 14.37 Parcel collection added to postmen's rounds

Royal Mail is expanding its parcel delivery system with postmen picking up pre-booked packages as part of their rounds.

The Parcel Collect service has been tested around Bristol and will be rolled out nationwide from Wednesday with a 72p charge, plus postal costs.

Pre-paid packages can be collected for 60p per item as part of the service, which will operate six days a week.

SEE MORE 

Update #1704 - 12.36 Supermarkets to slash prices on essentials

Waitrose and the Co-op are cutting prices on hundreds of essential products this week, in preparation for a budget Christmas for customers.

Today Waitrose, which has stores in Cheltenham, Stroud and Cirencester, is cutting prices on more than 200 own-label products, including beef mince, tea and washing-up-liquid, by an average of more than 15 per cent, as reported by The Guardian.

Meanwhile, the Co-op, which has stores across the county, is investing £50m in lowering the price of more than 300 branded and own-label products, including rice, pasta and coffee, by nearly 15 per cent. It is also introducing a new low-price range for shoppers on a budget, which will include meat, fruit and vegetables.

READ MORE 

Update #1703 - 10.56 William Hill revenue falls amid lack of crowds at sporting events

The bookmaker has revealed a hit to revenues for the last quarter, blaming the unpredictable results on the crowd restrictions at sporting events.

William Hill UK revenues were down nine per cent in the three months to the end of September when compared to the same period in 2019. Turnover for the first half of the year was also down due to the closure of shops, falling by 32 per cent.

However the business says group wide performance remains robust as live sport returns and their retail estate reopens.

CEO Ulrik Bengtsson said: "We are very pleased with the trading performance of the Group, which has been borne out of the commitment, resilience and hard work of our teams across the business. I could not be prouder of them." 

Update #1702 - 10.46 Treasury reviews spending as borrowing soars

The Treasury has announced a one-year spending review to focus on tackling the coronavirus pandemic after borrowing hit 103.5 per cent of GDP.

A planned multi-year review has been replaced by the single-year review of funding for government departments and the UK's devolved administrations.

The announcement comes as the Office for National Statistics put the national debt at £2.06trillion, the highest debt to GDP ratio since 1960.

September's borrowing reached £36.1billion, up £28.4billion from the same month in 2019 and taking the total for the first six months of the financial year to £208.5billion.

Update #1701 - 10.44 Inflation rises as eating out costs more

Inflation rose to 0.5 per cent in September as the end of the Eat Out to Help Out discount scheme drove up the price of eating out.

The Consumer Price Index showed catering prices rose 4.1 per cent as the overall figure went up from 0.2 per cent.

Transport costs also rose for the first time since March as increased demand for second hand cars saw prices increase by 2.1 per cent as people turn away from public transport.

September's inflation rate is used to decide annual rises in benefits and business rates.

Inflation remains well below the Bank of England's target of two per cent.

Update #1700 - 08.30 Latest coronavirus figures for 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.

In Gloucestershire, confirmed coronavirus deaths remain at 230 according to figures released by NHS England - no increase since August 27.

It has been reported that of those who have died, 195 were being cared for at Gloucestershire Hospitals while 35 were being treated through Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Latest government figures show that the total number of cases within the county since the pandemic began sits at 3,335 as of Tuesday afternoon - an increase of 70 on the day before.

These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 898 cases (increase of 25)

Cheltenham - 754 cases (increase of 13)

Stroud - 500 cases (increase of nine)

Tewkesbury - 437 cases (increase of 10)

Cotswolds - 417 cases (increase of seven)

Forest of Dean - 329 cases (increase of six)

Tuesday, October 20

Update #1699 - 17.03 Gloucestershire's recycling centres switch to winter opening hours

Gloucestershire County Council's Household Recycling Centres (HRCs) will be moving to winter opening hours from October 25, but residents will still have nearly 9,000 booking slots available each week across the county.

Pyke Quarry, in Stroud will also be going back to its normal pre-covid opening days from Sunday as well as winter opening hours, 10am-4pm.

The site has been open seven days a week since mid-August to meet increased demand, but with the seasonal reductions in use it will revert to being closed on a Wednesday.

SEE MORE  

Update #1698 - 16.35 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 241 people have sadly passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus, as of 4.18pm today (October 20).

The latest total COVID death toll for the UK now sits at 43,967 - which specifically includes those that have died within 28 days of a laboratory-confirmed positive COVID test.

Across the UK, 21,331 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 762,542 since the outbreak began.

Update #1697 - 16.11 Survey reveals bleak picture in hospitality trade

More than 750,000 jobs could be lost in the pub and hospitality trade by February without further government support, leading trade bodies have warned.

According to a survey by UK Hospitality, the British Institute of Innkeeping and the British Beer & Pub Association, 76 per cent of businesses are making a loss as they continue to deal with coronavirus restrictions.

And with 50 per cent believing restrictions will reduce turnover by at least half this winter, one in four are predicted to fail by the end of the year - rising to 50 per cent by the end of the following quarter.

SEE MORE 

Update #1696 - 15.30 Unemployment could outstrip forecasts

Unemployment could outstrip existing forecasts according to a senior figure at the Bank of England.

The Bank is predicting a peak unemployment rate of 7.5 per cent as the furlough scheme closes at the end of the month but Gertjan Vlieghe, a member of the Monetary Policy Committee, warned that could rise.

He said: "The risks are skewed towards even larger losses.

"Even though the headline rate of unemployment has moved up only moderately so far, evaluating unemployment accurately during the pandemic is a phenomenal challenge.

The latest figures, released last week, showed the unemployment rate reached 4.5 per cent in the three months to August - the highest for more than three years.

Update #1695 - 13.15 Update on Gloucestershire's mobile testing unit locations for October

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.

The mobile testing unit is now available at locations across the county.

Please click here for this week's locations. 

Update #1694 - 12.50 Cheltenham firm brings rapid 10 and 15 minute result Covid-19 tests to UK market

Two female entrepreneurs have joined forces to bring two new rapid result Covid-19 tests to the UK market.

The diagnostic finger-prick antibody testing kits return a result in 10 minutes and can determine if people currently have the virus, or have had it, by identifying antibodies developed against the virus.

The antigen tests detect virus DNA which can be identified from day one of infection, with the tests returning a result in 15 minutes.

As infection rates rise across the UK, one Cheltenham company believes its quick turnaround of mass antibody and antigen testing could prove crucial in allowing businesses, travel and events to continue operating as normal.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #1693 - 10.51 Care home visits on council's Covid plan

Gloucestershire County Council is advising care homes to suspend visiting as part of a six-step plan designed to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Director of public health Sarah Scott is writing to care homes to advise on a suspension as the council looks to protect vulnerable residents and increase enforcement action.

Sarah Scott said: "We recognise that some of these steps will be difficult for our community, especially where it affects people being able to be with loved ones, but they are crucial to minimise the risk of Covid-19 in our community.

"It is especially important as we head into the winter months, where demand for health and social care services is at its highest.

"We know everyone has already been working hard to keep to the guidance, but it is more important that ever that we don't give up."

READ MORE 

Update #1692 - 10.48 Asda makes zero carbon pledge

Asda has followed supermarket rival Sainsbury's in pledging to eliminate carbon emissions by 2040.

And the retail chain committed itself to cutting waster by 50 per cent and promised customers would not have to pay more for greener options.

Chief executive Roger Burnley said: "This is an issue that matters greatly to our customers. Our own insight tells us that more than 80 per cent believe that supermarkets have a responsibility to reduce the amount of single use plastics in store."

The company has launched its first sustainability shop trial in Leeds with items sold in refillable format, with plastic wrapping removed or in loose format.

Earlier this month, Walmart sold a majority stake in Asda to the Issa brothers - founders of Euro Garages - and private equity firm TDR Capital.

Update #1691 - 10.42 Geeks power plans for 100 shops

Scottish games and comic retailer Geek Retreat is planning to open 100 new stores in the next two years.

The retailers, who have 14 sites mixing shop space with cafes and games areas, said the move would create around 600 new jobs.

The games and hobby sector is valued at around £8billion a year in this country and is predicted to expand by three per cent this year.

Update #1690 - 10.35 Calls for control on credit card charges

Retailers have called for legislation to control fees from credit card giants Visa and Mastercard, saying they have almost doubled in the last two years.

The British Retail Consortium said the two firms controlled 98 per cent of the UK market and warned increased charges would have to be passed on to customers.

BRC head of finance policy Andrew Cregan told the BBC: "It is vital that the Government takes action to tackle excessive card costs.

"They're two of the most profitable organisations in the world and they've got merchants over a barrel."

Update #1689 - 08.35 Latest coronavirus figures for 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.

In Gloucestershire, confirmed coronavirus deaths remain at 230 according to figures released by NHS England - no increase since August 27.

It has been reported that of those who have died, 195 were being cared for at Gloucestershire Hospitals while 35 were being treated through Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Latest government figures show that the total number of cases within the county since the pandemic began sits at 3,265 as of Monday afternoon - an increase of 43 on the day before.

These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 873 cases (increase of nine)

Cheltenham - 741 cases (increase of eight)

Stroud - 491 cases (increase of eight)

Tewkesbury - 427 cases (increase of three)

Cotswolds - 410 cases (increase of eight)

Forest of Dean - 323 cases (increase of seven)

Monday, October 19

Update #1688 - 16.57 Rental commitments being met despite new lockdown measures

Two weeks since the September quarter day and almost three quarters of rents have been paid for the final quarter of the year, say Colliers International.

Data from the 6,000 strong portfolio managed by the property management company has shown that across three of the four commercial real estate sectors, there is more confidence amongst tenants who are paying their rents despite increasing COVID-19 lockdown measures introduced by the government.

Following the initial quarter day reporting two weeks ago, a further 31 per cent of rents have been paid by office tenants, 27 per cent paid on industrial units, 17 per cent paid by retailers, and 12 per cent paid by leisure operators. On average across all sectors 74 per cent of rents have now been paid, a rise from 48 per cent on September 29.

SEE MORE 

Update #1687 - 16.42 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 80 people have sadly passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus, as of 4.00pm today (October 19).

The latest total COVID death toll for the UK now sits at 43,726 - which specifically includes those that have died within 28 days of a laboratory-confirmed positive COVID test.

Across the UK, 18,804 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 741,212 since the outbreak began.

Update #1686 - 15.08 Shopping numbers fall for a fourth week

The number of shoppers across the UK fell for a fourth straight week as tougher coronavirus restrictions were introduced inputs of the country.

According to the latest figures from market research company Springboard, footfall at all venues was down 3.1 per cent in the seven days to October 17 when compared to the previous week.

The number was down 2.8 per cent on high streets, three per cent at retail parks and 3.5 per cent in shopping centres.

Compared to the same week a year ago, the total was down 32.3 per cent.

Update #1685 - 15.00 Gloucestershire handed £490k in cultural grants

Five Gloucestershire organisations have been awarded £490,000 in the latest round of grants from the Government's Culture Recovery Fund.

The funding is designed to provide support for cultural organisations hit by coronavirus restrictions.

The biggest amount in the county among this round of grants went to the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust, based in Coleford, which received £146,000.

SEE MORE  

Update #1684 - 14.55 Businesses warn of unanswered Brexit questions

The Government has launched a campaign reminding firms to ensure they are not caught out by trade rules ahead of the January 1 deadline.

But the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said many firms are facing a string unanswered questions about the changes.

The campaign, entitled Time Is Running Out, follows the Government declaring official negotiations over a trade deal as over without a deal.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK should prepare for what he described as Australia-style terms, although Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove told the BBC agreement could still be reached - if the EU was ready to change its position.

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Update #1683 - 13.18 Flybe to fly again after brand brought by shareholder

The airline that collapsed in March could restart flights as early as next year as a former shareholder has stepped in to purchase its assets.

New owner Thyme Opco plans to "start off smaller than before".

Before it went into administration, the business employed 2,200 people, carried eight million passengers a year and ran 40 percent of regional flights across the UK.

A spokesperson for Thyme Opco told the BBC: "We are extremely excited about the opportunity to relaunch Flybe.

"The airline is not only a well-known UK brand, it was also the largest regional air carrier in the EU, so while we plan to start off smaller than before, we expect to create valuable airline industry jobs, restore essential regional connectivity in the UK, and contribute to the recovery of a vital part of the country's economy."

Update #1682 - 12.25 Multi-million funding to help county's care providers prevent spread of Covid-19

The county council has received an additional £6.6million from the Government to help tackle the spread of coronavirus in care homes and protect those who receive care at home.

The money comes from the government's Adult Social Care Infection Control fund which was introduced in May 2020 to help halt the spread of Covid-19 in and between care homes, by limiting staff movement and protecting wages. The funding is in addition to an earlier payment of £7.7m, which was shared with care providers in May.

Eighty per cent of the fund will be allocated directly to care providers supporting vulnerable adults in residential care, or in their own homes.

READ MORE 

Update #1681 - 11.40 Mike Ashley makes new bid for Debenhams

Sports Direct and House of Fraser owner Mike Ashley has begun a fresh attempt to take over the department store, reports The Sunday Times.

The billionaire, who also recently acquired DW Sports after it went into administration, saw his 30 per cent stake in Debenhams wiped out when lenders took over earlier in the year.

It has been said that he is now trying to acquire the business again and is set to bid as part of an auction for the chain, which has 120 stores and 12,000 staff nationwide.

Update #1680 - 11.37 Asda owners see sales soar

EG Group, the new owners of Asda, has recorded a strong performance over the last three months.

Run by brothers Zuber and Mohsin Issa, Euro Garages runs more than 4,500 forecourts across 10 countries and took a controlling share in Asda earlier this month.

And last week Punchline-Gloucester.com reported they had completed a deal to buy the Completely Motoring site on the corner of Bristol Road and Lower Tuffley Lane in Gloucester.

Group EBITDA increased by 90 per cent to £364million in the three months to September 30 compared with 12 months ago.

Grocery and merchandise gross profit increased by 45 per cent.

Update #1679 - 11.11 Store closures twice the rate of last year

Shop closures have hit record levels with over twice as many net store closures in the first half of 2020 in comparison to last year, according to research by the Local Data Company and PwC UK.

The data shows that 11,120 chain operator outlets have closed this year so far, with 5,119 shops opening, creating a net decline of 6,001, almost double the decline tracked last year (3509).

The steep decline comes amidst a challenging year for retail and leisure which has seen many stores have to close either temporarily or permanently as the impact of COVID-19 continues to influence consumer behaviour.

Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said: "We know that the pandemic will continue to impact the way we work, rest and play, however, in terms of how we shop, this isn't new. What we have seen is an acceleration of existing changes in shopping behaviours alongside forced experimentation from COVID-19 restrictions."

Update #1678 - 10.40 House asking prices hit all-time high

Research from online estate agent Rightmove reveals prices of newly-listed properties are at a record high and homes are selling quicker than ever before.

Data shows that the average price of property coming to market increased by 1.1 per cent this month, to an all-time national record of £323,530.

The business said this is more than £16,000 higher than a year ago, and the highest annual growth rate for over four years.

Rightmove data expert Tim Bannister said: "Previous records are tumbling in this extraordinary market, and there are still some legs left in the upwards march of property prices. We predict that the annual rate of growth will peak by December at around seven per cent higher than a year ago."

Update #1677 - 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 yesterday show the UK death toll of people with coronavirus rose to 43,646 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 67 on the previous day's figures.

In Gloucestershire, confirmed coronavirus deaths remain at 230 according to figures released by NHS England - no increase since August 27.

It has been reported that of those who have died, 195 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 3,222 as of Sunday afternoon. 

These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 864 cases

Cheltenham - 773 cases

Stroud - 483 cases

Tewkesbury - 424 cases

Cotswolds - 402 cases

Forest of Dean - 316 cases

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