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Coronavirus LIVE Updates: The latest news from across Gloucestershire on Friday, March 5

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, March 5 

Update #8485 - 13.11 Uncertainty removed for house buyers

Latest data from bank Halifax has revealed house prices slightly softened in February, with a 0.1 per cent dip when compared to January figures.

However, analytics shows that during the latest quarter (December 2020 to February 2021) house prices were 0.5 per cent higher than in the period September to November 2020.

Year-on-year numbers show that house prices are 5.2 per cent higher than in February 2020.

Russell Galley, managing director, Halifax, said: "The housing market has been at something of a crossroads at the start of this year, with upcoming events key to determining the path of activity and prices over the next few months. The government's decision to extend the stamp duty holiday - one of the main drivers of demand from home movers during the pandemic - has removed a great deal of uncertainty for buyers with transactions yet to complete." 

Update #8484 - 13.03 Cyprus to welcome vaccinated Brits from May

The Cypriot government has said it will open its borders to vaccinated UK tourists from the start of May, despite our own government's travel restrictions remaining in force.

The country has said that those who had both coronavirus jabs could travel there from May 1, two weeks before the UK prime minister said people will be able to go abroad.

However, it has not yet revealed how British tourists will be required to provide they have had both vaccine doses. 

Update #8483 - 12.57 "Near worthless" rates relief forces Frasers Group review

The owners of Cavendish House in Cheltenham have warned they will need to review its "entire portfolio" after the details of business rates relief were revealed in the Budget.

And the Frasers Group, owned by Mike Ashley and includes Sports Direct, has said the £2million cap from July until March would prevent it from buying former Debenhams shops.

In a statement to the Stock Exchange, Frasers described the support package as "near worthless" for large retailers.

READ MORE  

Update #8482 - 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 124,025 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 242 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 6,573 people have tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hour period and 4,201,358 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 20,982,571 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of March 3 and 963,862 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 21,796, as of Thursday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test has risen to 941 - an increase of one on the previous day.

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

Gloucester - 6,241 cases (increase of 11)

Cheltenham - 3,627 cases (increase of 11)

Stroud - 3,603 cases (increase of 13)

Tewkesbury - 2,825 cases (increase of four)

Forest of Dean - 3,004 cases (increase of 10)

Cotswold - 2,496 cases (increase of one)

Thursday, March 4

Update #8481 - 12.44 Amazon opens first UK cashier-less store

E-commerce giant Amazon has opened its first physical store outside of the US, in London.

Located in Ealing and named Amazon Fresh, the shop allows customers to enter, pick up the products they wish to purchase and walk out again without having to use any form of checkout.

Instead, the items they have picked up appear on a virtual receipt linked the the customer's Amazon account.

Around 2,500 sq ft in size, the store will also serve as a place for the brand's shoppers to collect and return goods they have bought online.

SEE MORE  

Update #8480 - 12.42 Budget 2021: The national verdict

Everyone, it seems, has had an opinion on Chancellor Rishi Sunak's Budget which spelled out his plans for an economic road map to recovery post-pandemic.

We sorted through the reaction from business groups representing a range of sectors.

READ MORE 

Update #8479 - 11.27 B & M lifts predicted earnings after strong sales performance

Discount retailer B & M has raised its earnings forcast for the year, after seeing further strong sales in the last quarter of 2020.

B & M told investors it had 'strong revenue growth' in the three months to the end og December, down to their stores retaining the essential retailer status.

The business now predicts to publish adjusted earnings of between £590 and £620 million for the year ending March 27, up from the previous forcast of between £540 and £570m.

This is despite the firms promise to repay £80 million business rates relief it received from the government due to the coronavirus crisis. 

Update #8478 - 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 123,783 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 315 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 6,385 people have tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hour period and 4,194,785 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 20,703,615 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of March 2 and 895,412 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 21,748, as of Wednesday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test has risen to 940 - an increase of five on the previous day.

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

Gloucester - 6,230 cases (increase of five)

Cheltenham - 3,618 cases (increase of four)

Stroud - 3,590 cases (increase of nine)

Tewkesbury - 2,821 cases (increase of two)

Forest of Dean - 2,994 cases (no change)

Cotswold - 2,495 cases (increase of four)

Wednesday, March 3

Update #8477 - 12.13 Contactless card limit will rise to £100

The Treasury has confirmed that the limit on single payments using contactless card technology will rise to £100 later this year.

It was just last April that the limit was raised from £30 to £45, following the move towards a more cashless society.

Regulators said that businesses could still decide themselves whether to accept the higher limit.

"As we begin to open the UK economy and people return to the High Street, the contactless limit increase will make it easier than ever before for people to pay for their shopping, providing a welcome boost to retail that will protect jobs and drive growth," said Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Update #8476 - 11.33 French Connection in talks about takeover

Fashion retailer French Connection is launching a formal sale process after receiving interest about a takeover.

The chain, which has a branch in Cheltenham, is in discussions with several interested parties.

French Connection called off a year-long search for a buyer before the pandemic.

Update #8475 - 11.30 Prices fall at sharpest rate for months

Shop prices fell during February at the fastest rate since May as lockdown restrictions continued to drive changes in consumer demand.

According to the BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index, prices were down 2.4 per cent across the month, more than the 1.7 per cent average across the year.

Non-food prices fell by 3.9 per cent while food inflation of 0.2 per cent was the lowest rate since February 2017.

Update #8474 - 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 123,296 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 343 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 6.391 people have tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hour period and 4,188,400 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 20,478,619 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of March 1 and 844,098 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 21,724, as of Tuesday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test has risen to 935 - a rise of one on the previous day.

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

Gloucester - 6,225 cases (increase of 13)

Cheltenham - 3,614 cases (increase of four)

Stroud - 3,581 cases (increase of eight)

Tewkesbury - 2,819 cases (increase of two)

Forest of Dean - 2,994 cases (increase of six)

Cotswold - 2,491 cases (increase of one)

Tuesday, March 2

Update #8473 - 11.54 Wickes plan returns as Travis Perkins posts loss

Travis Perkins has posted a loss on the back of a restructuring process which will continue with the demerger of its Wickes business.

The builders merchant had put plans for the DIY business on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it is expected to be completed in the next couple of months.

Travis Perkins, which has branches in Gloucester, Cheltenham, Tewkesbury, Stroud, Cirencester, Lydney, Coleford and Cinderford, reported the loss of £22million for 2020.

READ MORE 

Update #8472 - 11.52 Volvo Cars to be fully electric by 2030

Volvo Cars is committing to the fast-growing premium electric car market and plans to become a fully electric car company by 2030.

By then, the company intends to sell only fully electric cars and phase out any car in its global portfolio with an internal combustion engine, including hybrids.

Håkan Samuelsson, chief executive of Volvo Cars said: "To remain successful, we need profitable growth. So instead of investing in a shrinking business, we choose to invest in the future - electric and online. We are fully focused on becoming a leader in the fast-growing premium electric segment."

Volvo Cars launched its first fully electric car, the XC40 Recharge, in markets around the globe last year. Later today, the company will reveal its second fully electric car, a new model in the 40 series. 

Update #8471 - 11.47 Zoom sees record growth in 2020

Video conferencing plateform Zoom has said it expects sales to rise more than 40 per cent this year, reaching an estimated £2.66 billion.

The company's sales in the last three months of 2020 were up 370 per cent compared to the same time in 2019.

Zoom boss Eric Yuan said that he did not expect growth to continue at last year's pace, but so far business remains strong.

He said: "The fourth quarter marked a strong finish to an unprecedented year for Zoom. As the world emerges from the pandemic, our work has only begun." 

Update #8470 - 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 122,953 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 104 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 5,455 people have tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hour period and 4,182,009 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 20,275,451 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of February 28 and 815,816 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 21,690, as of Monday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test has risen to 934 - a rise of three on the day before.

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

Gloucester - 6,212 cases (increase of six)

Cheltenham - 3,610 cases (increase of four)

Stroud - 3,573 cases (increase of six)

Tewkesbury - 2,817 cases (increase of two)

Forest of Dean - 2,988 cases (increase of two)

Cotswold - 2,490 cases (increase of one)

Monday, March 1

Update #8469 - 12.47 Morrisons extends partnership with McColl's

Supermarket chain Morrisons has revealed an extension to its wholesale partnership with convenience store retailer McColl's as part of a deal to convert more of its stores into the Morrisons daily format.

An announcement to McColl's shareholders explains that the partnership will continue for another three years and Morrisons will be its sole wholesale supplier until 2027.

A total of 300 branches will be converted during the three-year period, with the new stores offering a full Morrisons convenience range while being ran by McColl's.

McColl's chief executive Jonathan Miller said: "I am delighted to extend our partnership with Morrisons, ensuring the continued supply of a supermarket-quality offer across our entire estate, as well as the planned conversion of additional Morrisons Daily stores."

Update #8468 - 12.00 Over 270,000 have jab in county and South Glos

More than 270,000 people in Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire have received a coronavirus vaccine so far - 29.7 per cent of the population.

The Forest of Dean ranks sixth among the 55 constituencies in the South West, with an estimated 37.5 per cent of the population having received at least one dose.

Elsewhere in the county, 23.4 per cent have received a vaccine in Cheltenham, 21.3 per in Gloucester, 29.1 per cent in Stroud, 28.7 per in Tewkesbury and 36.6 per cent in Cotswold.

More than 19 million people have received a vaccine so far, equivalent to one in three adults, including over 1.7 million in the South West.

Update #8467 - 11.45 John Lewis to launch shop-in-shops

John Lewis is set to launch hundreds of shop-in-shops inside Waitrose stores. The move is part of the department store chain's radical overhaul of its store estate.

John Lewis Partnership chair Dame Sharon White wants most of Waitrose's 331 stores to contain a John Lewis shop-in-shop in the next year to 18 months, as reported by Retail Gazette.

The chain has already permanently closed eight stores and is expected to announced plans to close eight more next week. It's not yet known if Cheltenham's store will be affected.

In total, the closures could reduce John Lewis's portfolio by a third to just 34 stores, resulting in more than 2,000 job losses.

Update #8446 - 10.55 More than one in nine have shopped at Amazon

An incredible 93 per cent of the UK population bought from Amazon at least once over the last year, as the online giant maintained its dominance during lockdowns.

Just seven out of 100 people in the UK avoided Amazon altogether over the last year, according to research by ecommerce specialist Pattern.

The UK's national lockdowns were a key factor in driving customers to Amazon, with 43 per cent citing closure of non-essential as the key reason for making a purchase, as reported by Charged Retail.

A further 40 per cent said they were now buying items online which they would previously have bought in store, and 39 per cent said they were now buying more from Amazon than before.

Update #8445 - 10.40 Halfords to pay back furlough cash

Halfords is set to pay back £10.7m in furlough scheme money to the government, after enjoying better than expected sales at the start of this year.

Halfords has benefited from a boom in demand for cycling products, as people are forced to stay at home and try to avoid public transport, but lockdowns have hit its car business, as reported by Sky.

Cycling sales were up 43 per cent on the same period last year, although supply chain disruption continued to have an effect.

Retailers which have been allowed to remain open during lockdowns have come under pressure to give furlough money back to the Treasury.

Update #8444 - 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 122,849 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 144 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 6,035 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 4,176,554 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 20,089,551 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of February 27 and 796,132 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 21,669, as of Sunday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 934.

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

Gloucester - 6,206 cases

Cheltenham - 3,606 cases

Stroud - 3,567 cases

Tewkesbury - 2,815 cases

Forest of Dean - 2,986 cases

Cotswold - 2,489 cases 

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