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Coronavirus LIVE Updates: The latest news from across Gloucestershire on Friday, February 19

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, February 19

Update #8423 - 12.15 NatWest posts £351 million pre-tax loss

NatWest Group has revealed its latest financial results, revealing that the bank sank to a loss last year after setting aside billions to cover unpaid loans amid the pandemic.

The group posted a pre-tax loss off £351m and said it had set aside £3.2billion for bad loans. It also said that it would resume making dividend payments to shareholders.

In a separate announcement, NatWest said it would be closing down its Ulster Bank business in the Republic of Ireland.

NatWest chief executive Alison Rose said: "Following an extensive review and despite the progress that has been made, it has become clear Ulster Bank will not be able to generate sustainable long-term returns for our shareholders." 

Update #8422 - 11.14 More than a third of retail sales are online in January

New Office of National Statistics research has revealed that online sales rose in January, accounting for 35.2 per cent of overall retail spending.

This figure compares to 19.5 per cent in January 2020, and 29.6 per cent last December.

ONS data also said that 12.2 per cent of all grocery sales were made online in January, the highest level ever recorded. But total retail sales fell 7.2 per cent year on year, due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Update #8421 - 11.03 Charities forced into rethink by pandemic

Almost one in five charities are looking at downsizing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research.

The research by Gloucester-based specialist insurer Ecclesiastical showed 19 per cent were considering the move while 17 per cent are looking at closing some or all of their offices.

The Charity Risk Barometer highlighted a shift in how charities are operating due to the pandemic with 95 per cent cent working remotely and 37 per cent considering staff continuing to do so on a full-time basis.

READ MORE 

Update #8420 - 10.10 UK government borrowing reaches highest January level on record

Borrowing by the UK government hit £8.8billion last month, the highest level since records began in 1993.

Reflecting the cost of pandemic support measures in place, it is the first time in 10 years that more has been borrowed that collected through tax.

This is despite January usually being a key revenue-raising month for the government, when taxpayers submit their self-assessment returns.

Tax income for the month fell by less than £1bn, whereas the government spent more than £19.7 on schemes like furlough. 

Update #8419 - 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 119,387 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 454 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 12,057 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 4,083,242 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 16,423,082 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of February 17 and 573,724 have received their second dose.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county since the start of the pandemic sits at 21,292, as of Wednesday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test has risen to 920, an increase of three.

New cases for the latest 24 hour period are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 6,147 cases (increase of seven)

Cheltenham - 3,538 cases (increase of seven)

Stroud - 3,466 cases (increase of 10)

Tewkesbury - 2,772 cases (increase of nine)

Cotswold - 2,446 cases (increase of four)

Forest of Dean - 2,923 cases (increase of eight) 

Thursday, February 18

Update #8418 - 11.30 Aldi to cut plastic from Easter range

Aldi is set to remove two million pieces of throwaway plastic from its Easter treat range this year.

Some of its Easter eggs will have a square-shaped bottom, so they don't need to be supported with inner packaging, cutting plastic completely, as reported by Retail Gazette.

The supermarket will have six Easter lines which are entirely plastic free, while in other products plastic windows will be replaced with compostable cellulose film made from wood fibres.

The changes will get rid of a total of 29 tonnes across the Easter range.

Update #8417 - 11.15 Car maker to cut 2,000 jobs

Jaguar Land Rover has confirmed it will cut around 2,000 jobs over the next year.

The company's headquarters are in Coventry and it also has plants in Castle Bromwich, Solihull, and Halewood near Merseyside. Job losses will be from the worldwide workforce and the company has said they won't affect manufacturing staff, as reported by the BBC.

Thousands of jobs have already been lost at Jaguar Land Rover over the past two years, due to both a decline in sales and Brexit uncertainty.

Production stopped entirely last March and restarted at a reduced capacity in the summer.

Update #8416 - 10.55 Bank says loans worth £4.8bn may never be repaid

Barclays has reported a big drop in annual profits, having set aside billions of pounds for loans which may never be repaid due to the pandemic.

The bank was one of the biggest providers of emergency loans during the crisis, and gave £27bn to businesses, as well as 680,000 payment holidays for customers with mortgages, credit cards and loans, as reported by the BBC.

Barclays set aside £4.8bn to cover loans unlikely to be paid back as a result of Covid.

It reported a 30 per cent fall in pre-tax profits to £3.1bn for 2020, down from £4.3bn in 2019.

Update #8415 - 10.40 Topshop suppliers set to be £176m out of pocket

Suppliers from China and Turkey, as well as property owners, have been hit hardest by the collapse of Topshop and Topman.

Creditors are owed £219 million in total, but with only £42.4 million of assets available, they are likely to miss out on £176 million, as reported by Retail Gazette.

Earlier this month, Topshop, Topman and Miss Selfridge were sold to online fashion site Asos, while other Arcadia brands, Burton, Wallis and Dorothy Perkins, were sold to Boohoo, but stores weren't part of the deal.

The Green family, which owned the Arcadia Group, is likely to receive funds from the sale of Topshop, as it is owed £50 million relating to an interest-free loan made two years ago. This is expected to be paid before any funds are shared with suppliers, landlords and the taxman.

Update #8414 - 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 UK figures show the total number of deaths within 28 days of positive test rose to 118,933 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 738 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 12,718 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 4,071,185 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 15,940,972 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of February 16 and 558,577 have received their second dose.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county since the start of the pandemic sits at 21,247, as of Wednesday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test has risen to 917, an increase of three.

New cases for the latest 24 hour period are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 6,140 cases (increase of eight)

Cheltenham - 3,531 cases (increase of three)

Stroud - 3,456 cases (increase of five)

Tewkesbury - 2,763 cases (increase of 10)

Cotswold - 2,442 cases (increase of five)

Forest of Dean - 2,915 cases (increase of two) 

Wednesday, February 17

Update #8413 - 11.20  Early indicators of post-lockdown cost increases

Inflation could exceed the Bank of England's two per cent target by the end of 2021, according to some experts.

Increased food prices in January, combined with smaller price reductions on furniture in new year sales, could indicate the first step of increasing costs post-lockdown, as reported by the BBC.

Inflation rose 0.7 per cent in the 12 months to January, up from December's 0.6 per cent, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Update #8412 - 11.05 Thousands of pubs to stay shut if outdoor service allowed

A trade association representing pubs said it believes 29,000 pubs - 60 per cent of all pubs in the UK - will remain closed if only outdoor service is permitted from April.

The British Beer & Pub Association said the majority of UK pubs don't have enough outdoor space to re-open and serve customers without opening indoor space too, and many would struggle to break even.

It said pubs should be allowed to re-open fully, outside and inside, when non-essential retail also opens, or suffer a £1.5 billion loss to the sector compared to trading in normal times.

Update #8411 - 10.20 China becomes EU's biggest trading partner

China overtook the USA to become the EU's biggest trading partner in 2020.

Trade between China and the EU was worth £511bn (€586bn) last year, compared with £483bn ($671bn) worth of imports and exports from the US, as reported by the BBC.

China's economy plummeted in the first quarter due to the pandemic, before it became the only major global economy to see growth in 2020, fuelling demand for European cars and luxury goods.

China's exports to Europe were boosted by demand for medical equipment and electronics.

Update #8410 - 10.05 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 118,195 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 799 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 10,625 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 4,058,468 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 15,576,107 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of February 16 and 546,165 have received their second dose.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county since the start of the pandemic sits at 21,212, as of Monday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test has risen to 914, an increase of 5.

Cases are split across the following regions: (changes over the past 24 hours)

Gloucester - 6,132 cases (increase of 5)

Cheltenham - 3,528 cases (increase of 2)

Stroud - 3,449 cases (increase of 4)

Tewkesbury - 2,753 cases (increase of 5)

Cotswold - 2,437 cases (increase of 7)

Forest of Dean - 2,913 cases (increase of 8)

Tuesday, February 16

Update #8410 - 11.05 Lockdown sees frozen food sales soar

Brits have become big frozen food fans, as the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we all shop, according to a new report.

The Frozen Food Report by the British Frozen Food Federation (BFFF) said the value of frozen food sold in UK stores is now worth £7.21 billion, a year-on-year growth of 13.8 per cent, as reported by Retail Gazette.

Shoppers spent an extra £872 million on everything from frozen veg to complete frozen meals and ice cream in 2020, making frozen food the fastest growing grocery category.

Grocery sales as a whole grew 11.3 per cent last year, with the fresh and chilled category up 9.3 per cent.

Update #8409 - 10.45 Furniture sales soar thanks to stay-at-home Brits

Furniture retailer Cox & Cox saw a 74.5 per cent year-on-year rise in sales, thanks to demand from stay-at-home customers.

The brand attributed the rise to customers staying home due to pandemic restrictions and undergoing renovations or needing home office furniture, as reported by Retail Gazette.

To meet the work at home demand, it launched an expanded office range, which saw desk sales in the final quarter rise by 831 per cent and office chair sales increase by an incredible 2036 per cent.

Update #8408 - 09.22 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 117,396 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 230 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 9,765 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 4,047,843 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 15,300,151 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of February 15 and 539,630 have received their second dose.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county since the start of the pandemic sits at 21,181, as of Monday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 909.

Cases are split across the following regions: (changes over the past 24 hours)

Gloucester - 6,127 cases (increase of 8)

Cheltenham - 3,526 cases (increase of 2)

Stroud - 3,445 cases (increase of 12)

Tewkesbury - 2,748 cases (increase of 9)

Cotswold - 2,430 cases (increase of 6)

Forest of Dean - 2,905 cases (increase of 11)

Monday, February 15

Update #8407 - 12.38 Gloucestershire hits vaccination target

The NHS in Gloucestershire has reached the target of offering coronavirus vaccinations to the top four priority with more than 160,000 people in the county receiving their first dose.

GP-led vaccination services across the county have started to contact and vaccinate people in the next priority groups - the over-65s and 16-64 year olds with underlying health conditions.

Dr Andy Seymour, clinical chair of NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "What has been achieved across Gloucestershire is truly extraordinary.

"Our teams are now focused on the next priority groups and our message is - we will get to you very soon."

Update #8406 - 12.36 Moss Bros loses £7.4m across year

Moss Bros has reported a pre-tax loss of £7.4million for the last 12 months.

The menswear retailer's figures to January 25 compared to a £4.2million profit the previous year.

Online sales rose by 6.5 per cent and now make up 16.9 per cent of total revenue, up by 2.4 per cent.

Total sales dropped by 0.5 per cent to £128.3million with hire sales tumbling by 16.3 per cent.

A CVA, designed to secure rent reductions, was agreed by creditors in December.

Update #8405 - 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 117,166 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 258 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 10,972 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 4,038,078 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 15,062,189 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of February 13.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county since the start of the pandemic sits at 21,133, as of Sunday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 911.

Cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 6,119 cases

Cheltenham - 3,524 cases

Stroud - 3,433 cases

Tewkesbury - 2,739 cases

Cotswold - 2,424 cases

Update #8408 - 09.22 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 117,396 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 230 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 9,765 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 4,047,843 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 15,300,151 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of February 14.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county since the start of the pandemic sits at 21,181, as of Monday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 909.

Cases are split across the following regions: (changes over the past 24 hours)

Gloucester - 6,127 cases (increase of 8)

Cheltenham - 3,526 cases (increase of 2)

Stroud - 3,445 cases (increase of 12)

Tewkesbury - 2,748 cases (increase of 9)

Cotswold - 2,430 cases (increase of 6)

Forest of Dean - 2,905 cases (increase of 11)

Forest of Dean - 2,894 cases

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