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Coronavirus LIVE Updates: The latest news from across Gloucestershire on Friday, March 12

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 12

Update #8512 - 12.42 Residential property investment topped £6billion in 2020

Despite a difficult year for the commercial property market, UK residential investment volumes matched 2018's all-time high, reaching £6.1billion in 2020.

Some £3.5bn of the investment was placed in the growing Build-to-Rent (BTR) sector. By the end of the year the total BTR pipeline stood at 126,085 units, a 17 per cent increase on a year earlier.

READ MORE  

Update #8511 - 11.43 Pandemic lockdowns lead to fall in motor insurance claims

The number of motor insurance claims settled by insurers in 2020 fell by 19 per cent according to figures published by the ABI (Association of British Insurers).

This unsurprising fall reflected the coronavirus lockdowns during the year, which led to significantly fewer vehicle journeys.

Total payouts also fell, but at a much lower rate. During 2020 the average personal injury payout rose 13 per cent on the previous year to £12,100.

Laura Hughes, ABI's manager, General Insurance, said: "The pandemic has forced many motorists to change their driving habits. Predictably, lockdowns have led to far fewer vehicles on the roads, reflected in the fall in the number of motor claims." 

Update #8510 - 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 125,168 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 181 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 6,753 people have tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hour period and 4,241,677 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 23,053,716 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of March 10 and 1,351,515 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 21,970, as of Thursday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test has risen to 944 - no change on the previous day.

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

Gloucester - 6,273 cases (increase of eight)

Cheltenham - 3,652 cases (increase of two)

Stroud - 3,643 cases (increase of six)

Tewkesbury - 2,857 cases (increase of four)

Forest of Dean - 3,031 cases (increase of four)

Cotswold - 2,514 cases (increase of two)

Thursday, March 11

Update #8509 - 12.44 Pandemic costs hit Morrisons profit despite sales rise

Costs incurred due to the coronavirus pandemic saw Morrisons profit drop by more than a half in the past year.

The supermarket chain saw pre-tax profits fall by 50.7 per cent to £201million for the 12 months to January 31.

Like-for-like sales rose by 8.6 per cent as revenue grew by 0.4 per cent to £17.6billion and online sales tripled.

But £290million in costs from the pandemic struck profits with the chain handing back £230million of business rates relief.

Update #8508 - 12.38 Rolls-Royce brought down to earth with heavy loss

An "unprecedented" year with the global collapse in air travel has seen engine maker Rolls-Royce report a massive loss.

Rolls-Royce, which has a base in Barnwood, plunged from a profit of £583million in the previous year to a pre-tax loss of £3.95billion.

The biggest hit came in the civil aerospace division which saw a loss of £2.57billion.

The defence arm of the company posted a profit of £448million with power systems making £178million.

SEE MORE 

Update #8507 - 12.26 Morrisons extends NHS discount for the whole of 2021

Supermarket chain Morrisons is extending its 10 per cent discount for NHS employees, first introduced in April 2020, for the whole of 2021.

From April 1, the NHS 10 per cent discount will be available exclusively for NHS customers shopping in store, but cease for online orders.

In addition, Morrisons has said it has made it easier and quicker for NHS staff to redeem their discount in store after listening to feedback from key workers. From April, NHS customers will be asked to join the NHS Club and then use their Morrisons More Card app at the till to claim the discount.

David Potts, Morrisons chief executive, said: "This has been an incredibly difficult year for everyone in the NHS and we have done our best to be there for them from the start. Today, I'm really pleased to be extending the 10 per cent discount for the whole of 2021 which I know will make a big difference to so many NHS staff who are working so hard to care for us all." 

Update #8506 - 12.13 Justice ministry backs county's stand on virtual court hearings

Gloucestershire's Police and Crime Commissioner and Chief Constable have been given a virtual pat on the back by the Ministry of Justice for continuing to support VRH despite a national steer to stop reviewing cases online.

As the backlog of local court cases passed 1,000 the Commissioner and Chief Constable decided that suspending virtual remand hearings would delay local justice even longer, placing more strain on victims, witnesses and offenders and compounding an ever growing backlog of cases.

While many other police forces stopped running the hearings online due to their expense, this added to the waiting list in the process. Gloucestershire was one of the few forces in the country to take an independent stand.

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Update #8505 - 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 124,987 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 190 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 5,926 people have tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hour period and 4,234,924 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 22,809,829 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of March 9 and 1,254,353 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 21,944, as of Wednesday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test has risen to 944 - no change on the previous day.

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

Gloucester - 6,265 cases (increase of seven)

Cheltenham - 3,650 cases (no change)

Stroud - 3,637 cases (increase of nine)

Tewkesbury - 2,853 cases (increase of two)

Forest of Dean - 3,027 cases (increase of three)

Cotswold - 2,512 cases (increase of three)

Wednesday, March 10

Update #8504 - 12.19 Third rapid, regular testing site opens in the Forest of Dean

Testing for people without symptoms is being extended across the county with the arrival of the third community testing site set to open in Cinderford today (Wednesday 10 March).

The forest-based community testing centre will be located at Miners Welfare Hall on Parragate Road in Cinderford. The testing on offer uses Lateral Flow Devices (LFDs) to help identify the virus, before it has the chance to spread.

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Update #8503 - 11.20 Wagamama owners look for financial injection

The Restaurant Group, owners of Wagamama and Frankie & Benny's, is looking to raise £175million from shareholders to pay down debt.

The group, which closed around 250 of roughly 650 outlets in the UK last year, reported a drop in sales of 57 per cent to £459.8million last year.

It posted a pre-tax loss of £127.6million compared with a £37.3million loss in 2019.

Chief executive Andy Hornby said: "While the sector outlook remains uncertain, and we are mindful of continuing restrictions across the UK, we are confident that the actions announced today will allow us to emerge as one of the long-term winners."

Update #8502 - 11.17 Restructuring on the cards after tough year

Card Factory is believed to be consulting with restructuring experts to raise funds as it looks to counter losses suffered during the pandemic.

The greetings card retailer, which has seen its shops forced to close due to lockdown restrictions, reported a fall in sales of 38.1 per cent despite a growth in online sales.

In January, pre-tax losses for the year were predicted to be £10million after a £65million profit in the previous year.

According to The Sunday Times, consultants from Deloittes have been drafted in to try to raise £100million from specialist lenders.

The report said new financing arrangements were being sought with existing lenders.

Update #8501 - 10.30 Losses for Just Eat despite 40 per cent leap in orders

Food delivery platform Just Eat Takeaway has reported a deeper loss for 2020, despite a surge in revenue due to the pandemic.

The business reported a £129.5m loss for 2020, compared to the loss of £98.5m in the 12 months previous. Revenue rose 54 per cent during the year, reaching £2bn.

It said the results reflected investment in the industry with its planned takeover of US-based firm Grubhub, which is expected to complete this quarter.

Just Eat also revealed a 40 per cent rise in orders when compared to 2019, hitting 588 million deliveries. 

Update #8500 - 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 124,797 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 231 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 5,766 people have tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hour period and 4,228,998 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 22,592,528 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of March 8 and 1,181,431 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 21,921, as of Tuesday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test has risen to 944 - an increase of two on the previous day.

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

Gloucester - 6,258 cases (increase of four)

Cheltenham - 3,651 cases (increase of 10)

Stroud - 3,628 cases (increase of six)

Tewkesbury - 2,851 cases (increase of seven)

Forest of Dean - 3,024 cases (increase of six)

Cotswold - 2,509 cases (increase of two)

Tuesday, March 9

Update #8499 - 12.52 DFS sitting pretty on back of sofa sales

Furniture sales during lockdown helped DFS chalk up a 17.3 per cent increase in revenue during the second half of 2020.

Despite the lengthy closure of shops during coronavirus lockdowns, a 66.2 per cent rise in online sales helped lift revenue soar to £572.6million compared with the previous year.

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Update #8498 - 12.50 Forest of Dean recycling site and car park to close temporarily

The overflow car park located off the main Newerne Street Car Park in Lydney will be closed for general access from Wednesday 10 March.

The closure is to allow the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to use the overflow car park as part of its Covid testing programme in the Forest of Dean.

Closing off the area will mean members of the public will be unable to access the recycling banks located there. Instead, residents should consider using alternative sites in the town, located at Bream Road Car Park and the staff car park at Tesco, or the local Household Recycling Centre.

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Update #8497 - 12.08 Outdoor planning changes confirmed

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has confirmed he intends to extend pavement licences for a further 12 months to help the hospitality industry recover once lockdown restrictions.

Mr Jenrick confirmed the plans, which were reported by Punchline yesterday and are subject to parliamentary approval, in a letter to councils.

The extended provisions will make it easier for venues to use outdoor space when they are allowed to reopen outdoors from April 12.

Mr Jenrick said: "It's vital we work together to do everything we can to help these businesses prosper again.

"That is why I've written to councils calling on their support to use these measures in a pragmatic way to help support the high street, businesses and jobs, once restrictions allow."

Update #8496 - 12.05 Chancellor looks for online tax consensus

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has revealed he plans to talk to international counterparts about fresh ways to tax online retail giants.

Mr Sunak told The Sun he would lobby finance ministers at the G7 in June about levelling the tax playing field for high street retailers against the likes of Amazon.

He said: "One of my priorities in the G7, which I've already started to work on, is to try to get international agreement on a new way to tax these companies."

A digital services tax introduced a two per cent levy on online revenues in April but there have been concerns the costs are being passed on to smaller suppliers.

Update #8495 - 12.03 Schools return helps drive increased sales

Retail sales in the UK rose by 9.5 per cent during February compared with the same month the year before.

The rise revealed by the Office for National Statistics, helped by Valentine's Day and the sales of school uniforms, follows a 5.5 per cent drop in January.

British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson said: "While the uptick in sales is encouraging, many retailers are concerned about the months ahead.

"Many retail businesses will be hoping that customers will return to shops, and have spent hundreds of millions on making their premises Covid-secure, but previous reopenings have shown that demand can be slow to come back."

Update #8492 - 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 124,566 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 65 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 4,712 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 4,223,232 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 22,377,255 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of March 7 and 1,142,643 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 21,885, as of Monday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test has risen to 942.

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

Gloucester - 6,254 cases (increase of four)

Cheltenham - 3,641 cases (increase of four)

Stroud - 3,622 cases (increase of seven)

Tewkesbury - 2,844 cases (increase of three)

Forest of Dean - 3,017 cases (increase of three)

Cotswold - 2,507 cases (increase of two)

Monday, March 8

Update #8491 - 12.39 Aston Martin to make electric cars in the UK

Car manufacturer Aston Martin has said it will manufacture all of its electric cars in the UK from 2025, as reported in the Financial Times.

The company's owner Lawrence Stroll told the publication all of its electric sports cars will be made at its factory in Gaydon, Warwickshire. 

He also said that its electric SUV will be made at St Athan in Glamorgan.

This news comes as the government plans to ban the sale of traditional combustion engine cars from 2030. 

Update #8490 - 11.59 M&S expands international online business to more than 100 markets

High street brand M&S has launched 46 flagship websites in new markets, expanding its online reach to more than 100 countries and enabling millions more customers to purchase M&S products.

The company said the international website expansion is the next stage in its commitment to drive international growth through online channels at pace under its recently established online, digital and data division, MS2.

In its most recent interim results, M&S reported a 75 per cent increase in international e-commerce sales, underlining the recent shift in online customer spend throughout the pandemic.

Paul Friston, international director said: "Our international business has seen strong online growth since the start of the pandemic as increasing numbers of customers choose to shop through our range of flagship websites." 

Update #8489 - 11.39 Supermarkets see growth double in 2020

The number of new grocery store openings across the UK doubled last year, data from Local Data Company shows.

According to latest figures, the total number of grocery stores in the UK grew by 1.4 per cent in 2020, double the figure of 0.7 per cent recorded the year before.

Local Data Company research shows that German discount stores Lidl and Aldi came out on top with the most store openings - 76 and 66 new sites respectively.

READ MORE 

Update #8488 - 10.39 BP workers set to work from home two days a week

Oil giant BP has told its office staff they will be expected to work from home two days a week after lockdown ends.

The move to remote working, which is expected to impact 25,000 staff within the company including 6,000 in the UK, will see employees asked to work from home 40 per cent of the time.

BP said the policy will offer a "more flexible, engaging and dynamic way of working", and would come into force this summer.

It added that it would be discussed on a case-by-case basis how often different teams would work from home and which days they will commute in. 

Update #8487 - 10.26 Deliveroo posts £223m annual loss before stock market flotation

Food delivery app Deliveroo has revealed a £223.7m loss for 2020, as it plans to float on the London Stock Exchange.

Despite the loss, the firm's trading figures show a rise in demand for its online platform during the pandemic, with the number of transactions hitting a value of £4.1bn last year.

This is up 64 per cent on 2019 figures.

Underlying gross profit rose to £357.5m, but the total underlying loss for the year is lower than the £317.3m loss the year before.

Although it has not been confirmed by the company, analysts predict Deliveroo's value could sit anywhere between £6bn and £8bn when it floats. 

Update #8486 - 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 124,501 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 82 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 5,177 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 4,218,520 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 22,213,112 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of March 6 and 1,122,402 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 21,862 as of Sunday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 942.

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

Gloucester - 6,250 cases

Cheltenham - 3,637 cases

Stroud - 3,615 cases

Tewkesbury - 2,841 cases

Forest of Dean - 3,014 cases

Cotswold - 2,505 cases

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