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Coronavirus LIVE Updates: The latest news from across Gloucestershire on Friday, January 29

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 29

Update #8310 - 14.31 Coronavirus spread levels out

The number of coronavirus infections in the UK remained largely unchanged up to the start of the week, according to latest figures.

The Office for National Statistics data for the week to January 23 said rates in England and Wales were unchanged from the previous week with a slight fall in Scotland and a small rise in Northern Ireland.

The R number for the UK, which measures the rate at which the virus is spread, is between 0.7 and 1.1 - a figure mirrored in the South West.

In England, the rate is estimated at 0.6 to one, the point below which the virus is shrinking.

Update #8309 - 11.09 Screwfix hits £2billion sales landmark

Screwfix has broken through the £2billion annual sales barrier for the first time as it continues to prosper during the coronavirus pandemic.

The tools and hardware retailer hit the landmark for the past year, weeks after it was forecast by parent company Kingfisher.

Screwfix opened 30 new stores over the last year, taking the total in the UK and Ireland to 725 which have remained open after being classed as essential retail.

It has shops across Gloucestershire including Gloucester, Cheltenham, Stroud, Tewkesbury, Cirencester and Ross-on-Wye.

Update #8308 - 11.07 Boohoo in talks over more high street brands

Online fashion retailer Boohoo has confirmed it is in talks to buy some of the big-known brands from the failed Arcadia Group.

Days after completing a deal to buy Debenhams brand and website for £55million, Boohoo said the "exclusive" talks covered Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton.

Fellow online retailer Asos is leading the way to buy the Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT brands from Arcadia's administrators.

Around 13,000 jobs are under threat following Arcadia entering administration in November.

Update #8307 - 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 103,126 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 1,239 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 28,680 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 3,743,734 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 7,447,199 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of January 27.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 19,510 as of Thursday afternoon - an increase of 168 on the previous day.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 848.

Cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 5,676 cases (increase of 45)

Cheltenham - 3,285 cases (increase of 31)

Stroud - 3,046 cases (increase of 12)

Tewkesbury - 2,549 cases (increase of 24)

Cotswold - 2,247 cases (increase of 10)

Forest of Dean - 2,679 cases (increase of 30) 

Thursday, January 28

Update #8306 - 14.35 Paperchase rescue deal saves jobs

About 1,000 jobs have been saved after stationery chain Paperchase was bought from administration.

The deal with Aspen Phoenix NewCo, completed just over three weeks after the company filed a notice to appoint administrators, will rescue up to 90 of 127 shops.

Roughly 500 jobs will be lost despite the pre-pack administration rescue plan.

Paperchase has a branch in Cheltenham and a presence in the Next store at Gloucester Quays.

Update #8305 - 12.20 Forecast provides hope of avoiding double-dip recession

The UK economy is on course to avoid a double-dip recession according to a major new economic forecast after a stronger than expected performance in November.

After the economy contracted by 2.6 per cent in the month as England went through a lockdown, the EY ITEM Club's Winter Forecast predicts a flat performance across the fourth quarter.

While the latest coronavirus restrictions are expected a 3-4 per cent contraction in the first two quarters of 2021, the absence of a flatline means the UK may just avoid a first double dip recession since the 1970s.

READ MORE 

Update #8304 - 11.33 EasyJet looks to future while grounded

EasyJet predicts it will fly only one tenth of its normal services in the first three months of the year.

Revenues in the last quarter fell 88 per cent to £165million as passenger numbers were down 87 per cent.

The budget airline said customers remained wary about booking during the pandemic, but predicted "pent-up demand" after March.

Cost-cutting measures which included losing 1,400 jobs reduced weekly cash burn to £40million per week.

Update #8303 - 11.30 Apple enjoys ripe Christmas harvest

Sales of Apple products soared in the final three months of the year to £81billion.

The technology giant said sales ahead of Christmas were up 21 per cent on the previous year with more than 1.65 billion devices active around the globe, more than one billion of them iPhones.

Sales were particularly strong in the China region, up by 57 per cent, while they were up 17 per cent in Europe and 11 per cent in the Americas.

Profits for the quarter were up 29 per cent on the same period a year ago to $28.8billion.

Update #8302 - 10.37 Pandemic puts brakes on car production

The production of new cars in the UK fell to its lowest level since 1984 last year.

Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders showed 920,928 vehicles rolled off the production line - down 29.3 per cent on the previous year.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: "These figures, the worst in a generation, reflect the devastating impact of the pandemic.

"The industry faces 2021 with more optimism, however, with a vaccine being rolled out and clarity on how we trade with Europe, which remains by far our biggest market."

Update #8301 - 10.34 Lidl reports loss after major investments

Investment in stores and an expanding workforce saw Lidl report a heavy loss in the year before the coronavirus.

The German-owned discounter, which was named supermarket of the year at the Retail Industry Awards, suffered a £25.2million pre-tax loss in the UK for the year to February 29.

That compared to profits of £19million in the year before, but the company said an administrative organisation meant it was not a like-for-like comparison.

Lidl spent £654million on 51 branches and a new warehouse during the year when it also increased its workforce by almost 1,800.

It has opened a further 50 shops in the last year with an extra 8,000 employees.

Update #8300 - 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 UK figures show the total number of deaths within 28 days of positive test rose to 101,887 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 1,725 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 25,308 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 3,715,054 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 7,164,387 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of January 26.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 19,342 as of Wednesday afternoon - an increase of 116 on the previous day.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 838.

Cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 5,631 cases (increase of 38)

Cheltenham - 3,254 cases (increase of 16)

Stroud - 3,046 cases (increase of 12)

Tewkesbury - 2,525 cases (increase of 17)

Cotswold - 2,237 cases (increase of 13)

Forest of Dean - 2,649 cases (increase of 30)

Wednesday, January 27

Update #8299 - 15.04 Rise considered for contactless payment limit

 The limit on contactless card payments could more than double to £100.

The Financial Conduct Authority said it planned to hold consultations on the change for payments by debit cards, credit cards and via smartphones.

Card issuers would be able to set their own limits within FCA boundaries, which rose from £30 to £45 at the start of the pandemic.

Contactless payments rose by 16 per cent in October compared to the previous year, according to UK Finance and hit a record level in August during the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme.

An FCA statement said: "It is important that payments regulation keeps pace with consumer and merchant expectations."

Update #8298 - 11.29 Book sales top 200 million in 2020

More than 200 million physical books were sold in the UK last year despite the closure of shops for parts of the year.

Figures from Nielsen BookScan showed sales grew by 5.2 per cent on the previous year to 202 million books - the first time the 200 million barrier has been broken since 2012.

Sales were worth £1.76billion, up 5.5 per cent on 2019.

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy was the year's bestseller ahead of Richard Osman's The Thursday Murder Club.

Update #8297 - 11.25 Shop prices head down during January

Shop prices have continued to fall during January as sales and closures pushed the cost of non-food items down.

The BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index said prices have fallen by 2.2 per cent in January after going down 1.8 per cent last month.

Non-food items were down 3.6 per cent this month after dropping by 3.2 per cent in December.

Food inflation eased to 0.2 per cent while fresh food was down 0.8 per cent.

Update #8296 - 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 100,162 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 1,631 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 20,089 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 3,689,746 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 6,853,327 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of January 25.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 19,226 as of Tuesday afternoon - an increase of 95 on the previous day.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 826.

Cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 5,593 cases (increase of 37)

Cheltenham - 3,238 cases (increase of 9)

Stroud - 3,034 cases (increase of 11)

Tewkesbury - 2,508 cases (increase of 12)

Cotswold - 2,224 cases (increase of 8)

Forest of Dean - 2,629 cases (increase of 18)

Tuesday, January 26

Update #8295 - 15.20 UK's predicted growth downgraded

The International Monetary Fund has downgraded its forecast on the strength of the UK's economic recovery throughout 2021.

The UK's GDP fell by 10 per cent through the coronavirus pandemic last year with the IMF predicting it will grow by 4.5 per cent over the next 12 months - down from a previous prediction of 5.9 per cent.

Activity is forecast to remain below pre-pandemic levels at the end of 2019 until next year when growth is expected to be five per cent, 1.8 per cent higher than previous predictions.

Predicted global growth for the year has risen by 0.3 per cent to 5.5 per cent.

Update #8294 - 12.42 Coronavirus deaths reach another grim landmark

Deaths from coronavirus in the UK have topped 100,000 according to latest figures.

The Office for National Statistics said almost 104,000 death certificates mentioned the virus put to January 15 - higher than the Government's daily figures which record deaths following positive tests.

Almost 75 per cent of those who died with the virus were over 75.

Update #8293 - 12.33 Cotswolds bakery feeding young minds during lockdown

A Cotswolds bakery and tearooms has gone beyond providing tasty treats during lockdown to keeping children entertained.

Huffkins, which is based in Burford with branches in Stow-on-the-Wold, Cheltenham Promenade and at the town's John Lewis store, is offering a range of free, printable activity sheets on its website for children aged three to 11.

#HuffkinsAtHome offers a range of spot the difference sheets with colouring-in sheets which also includes additional activities of varying difficulty and effort, such as spelling, writing and maths tasks.

READ MORE  

Update #8292 - 12.30 Hospitality and manufacturing bear brunt of jobless rise

The jobless rate in the UK rose slightly to five per cent in the three months to November as the coronavirus pandemic continued to hit the job market.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics saw the rate rose from 4.9 per cent as unemployment numbers hit 1.72 million people - the highest for five years.

And it is 418,000 higher than at the same period 12 months before which is the largest increase for 11 years.

Hospitality and manufacturing both saw unemployment figures rise by more than 50,000 over the year. 

SEE MORE 

Update #8291 - 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 98,531 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 592 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 22,195 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 3,669,658 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 6,573,570 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of January 24.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 19,131 as of Monday afternoon - an increase of 118 on the previous day.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 816.

Cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 5,556 cases (increase of 37)

Cheltenham - 3,229 cases (increase of 13)

Stroud - 3,023 cases (increase of 22)

Tewkesbury - 2,496 cases (increase of 19)

Cotswold - 2,216 cases (increase of 12)

Forest of Dean - 2,611 cases (increase of 15)

Monday, January 25

Update #8290 - 10.26 Praise for Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service in COVID-19 inspection report

Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS) has been praised by government inspectors for its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was inspected by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) between November 9 and 20 and the report, covering the first peak of the pandemic between April and June 2020, was published on Friday (January 22).

The report said GFRS had made a 'positive contribution to your community' and adapted well so it could continue to provide its core functions as well as extra support to its partners and the wider community.

READ MORE  

Update #8289 - 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 97,939 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 610 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 30,004 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 3,647,463 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 6,353,321 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of January 23.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county since the start of the pandemic sits at 19,013, as of Sunday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 871.

Cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 5,519 cases

Cheltenham - 3,216 cases

Stroud - 3,001 cases

Tewkesbury - 2,477 cases

Cotswold - 2,204 cases

Forest of Dean - 2,596 cases

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