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

Update #8629 - 12.26 Nestle sales boom thanks to coffee surge

A surge in home coffee drinking and closed coffee shops has helped Nestle achieve its best quarter of sales growth in the last decade.

The food and drink business reported sales growth of 7.7 per cent in the three months to March. This far exceeds the 4.3 per cent sales rise reported for the quarter last year.

Nestle said this increase has been largely down to a 17.7 per cent jump in sales of Nespresso pods, Nescafe instant coffee and Starbucks branded products.

Chief executive Mark Schneider said: "We are pleased with Nestlé's strong organic sales growth in the first quarter, building on broad-based contributions from most geographies and product categories. Retail sales saw solid growth and out-of-home channels saw signs of improvement." 

Update #8628 - 11.10 Borrowing breaks through another milestone

Economic support throughout the pandemic has seen government spending top £300billion in the last year - the highest level since the end of World War Two.

Official figures from the Office for National Statistics put the amount for the year to March at £303.1billion.

March borrowing hit £28billion, a record for the month.

Update #8627 - 11.01 Nearly half of consumers in England have been back to visit hospitality

Nearly half of consumers in England have been back to pubs, bars and restaurants since they reopened for outdoor service, new CGA research shows.

The Consumer Pulse survey found that 44 per cent of adults have visited the hospitality sector since April 12.

The figure is nine percentage points higher than the 35 per cent of consumers who returned in the first ten days of reopening after the end of England's first national lockdown in July 2020.

Rachel Weller, CGA's director of consumer research and marketing, said: "It's great to see that consumers have embraced outside eating and drinking in hospitality's first week back. Pubs, bars and restaurants have worked very hard to make the most of their outside spaces, and the good weather has undoubtedly encouraged a speedy return." 

Update #8626 - 10.10 Pizza Express to recruit 1,000 workers

Italian restaurant chain Pizza Express has said it plans to 1,000 new staff, as it gears up to reopen sites across the UK.

This news comes just six months after the business closed 73 restaurants and axed 2,400 jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Pizza Express said 300 of the positions would fall within the Government's Kickstart Scheme, aimed at getting unemployed young people back into work.

Managing director Zoe Bowley said: "We're expecting millions of people to flock back to restaurants as restrictions are eased, so we are delighted to be in a position to be able to recruit a thousand new team members to help us serve customers at Pizza Express." 

Update #8625 - 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 127,345 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 18 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 2,729 people have tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hour period and 4,398,431 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 33,257,651 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of April 21 and 11,192,601 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 22,415, as of Thursday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 952.

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

Gloucester - 6,372 cases (increase of four)

Cheltenham - 3,752 cases (increase of six)

Stroud - 3,742 cases (increase of two)

Tewkesbury - 2,912 cases (no change)

Forest of Dean - 3,082 cases (increase of one)

Cotswold - 2,555 cases (increase of four) 

Thursday, April 22

Update #8624 - 12.46 Princess Royal thanks NHS staff on hospital visits

The Princess Royal has visited three hospitals in Gloucestershire to thank staff for their hard work throughout the pandemic.

She officially opened a garden at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital which commemorates loved ones lost to Covid-19 before visiting neighbouring Wotton Lawn Hospital and Cheltenham General Hospital, where she saw hundreds of wire dandelions dedicated to coronavirus victims.

The garden at GRH, which also marks the contribution of NHS staff and carers in the county over the last year, was designed by The Black Gardener, Danny Clarke.

SEE MORE 

Update #8623 - 11.28 Ikea holding company puts together renewable energy plan

The holding company which controls the majority of Ikea stores is to invest an extra £3.4billion in renewable energy.

Ingka Group said the investment is designed to reduce its climate footprint.

The group has invested £2.1billion into renewable energy over the past decade through wind and solar power.

The announcement comes on Earth Day with US President Joe Biden committing to cutting the country's greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent by 2030.

Update #8622 - 10.33 Covid to cost airlines £7bn more than expected

The International Air Transport Association has predicted that delays to getting covid under control will result in a further loss of $10bn (£7.2bn) to airlines.

Industry body IATA believes a slower than expected global vaccine rollout and failure to control the virus will result in total losses of $48bn for the sector in 2021, a jump from the $39bn previously predicted.

Director general of IATA Willie Walsh said: "Losses will be reduced from 2020, but the pain of the crisis increases. There is optimism in domestic markets where aviation's hallmark resilience is demonstrated by rebounds in markets without internal travel restrictions.

"Government-imposed travel restrictions, however, continue to dampen the strong underlying demand for international travel." 

Update #8621 - 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 127,327 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 22 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 2,396 people have tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hour period and 4,395,703 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 33,139,742 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of April 20 and 10,775,817 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 22,398, as of Wednesday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 952.

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

Gloucester - 6,368 cases (increase of seven)

Cheltenham - 3,746 cases (increase of two)

Stroud - 3,740 cases (increase of two)

Tewkesbury - 2,912 cases (increase of one)

Forest of Dean - 3,081 cases (no change)

Cotswold - 2,551 cases (increase of two)

Wednesday, April 21

Update #8620 - 15.12 Soaring house sales hit record levels

House sales hit record levels in March as buyers and sellers sought to take advantage of the Stamp Duty holiday.

Figures from HMRC said 180,690 transactions took place during the month - twice the figure for the same month a year before and the highest since data was first published in 2005.

There were 399,060 sales in the first quarter, the busiest three months since 2006.

The Office for National Statistics said the average house price rose by 8.6 per cent during the year to February.

The Stamp Duty level was originally lifted to £500,000 in England until the end of March before being extended until the end of June in the Budget before being reduced in phases.

Update #8619 - 12.37 Netflix shares tumble after subscriber slowdown

Streaming service Netflix has reported a slowdown in subscriber growth on its platform, causing its share price to plunge.

The company said that around 3.98 million people signed up for its video-streaming service between January and March. This is well below the six million subscriber prediction.

Netflix said a lack of fresh content on the platform may have contributed to the shortfall, and expected figures to recover as new shows are released in the coming months.

READ MORE  

Update #8618 - 11.41 Poundland chilled over food offering

Poundland is adding chilled and frozen food to 46 shops with plans to increase the numbers ove the next couple of years.

The latest rollout by the discount retailer will take the number of outlets with cold food cabinets to 175 with another 70 to follow by the autumn.

It plans to increase that number to around 500 within two years.

Update #8617 - 11.39 Fuel powering rise in inflation rate

The biggest rise in fuel prices for more than a year pushed UK inflation up from 0.4 per cent to 0.7 in March.

The Office for National Statistics saw fuel costs showed the largest annual increase since January 2020 with the price transport and clothes also on the up.

Predictions of a larger inflation rise were offset by lower food prices but further increases in oil and energy prices are forecast to drive higher rates.

The Bank of England has forecast a rate of 1.9 per cent by the end of the year with other predictions exceeding the Bank's two per cent target.

Update #8617 - 08.27 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 127,307 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 33 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 2,524 people have tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hour period and 4,393,307 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 33,032,120 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of April 19 and 10,425,790 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 22,384, as of Tuesday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test rose to 952.

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

Gloucester - 6,361 cases (increase of six)

Cheltenham - 3,744 cases (increase of three)

Stroud - 3,738 cases (increase of four)

Tewkesbury - 2,911 cases (increase of two)

Forest of Dean - 3,081 cases (no change)

Cotswold - 2,549 cases (increase of two)

Tuesday, April 20

Update #8616 - 09.42 Car insurance sees biggest price drop in years

Motorists in the UK are facing the biggest drop in car insurance quotes in almost six years, according to Confused.com.

The price comparison website said the average cost of car insurance fell by £87 (14 per cent) in 12 months.

The reductions are thought to be due to a 43 per cent drop in average mileage, meaning a lower risk of accidents.

Data tracking six million insurance quotes during the first quarter of 2021 showed that the cost of insurance for men fell by £91, with female drivers saving £82. 

Update #8615 - 08.28 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 127,274 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

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

Across the UK, 2,963 people have tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hour period and 4,390,783 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 32,932,448 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of April 18 and 5,683,509 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 22,384, as of Monday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test remains at 951.

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

Gloucester - 6,355 cases (increase of four)

Cheltenham - 3,741 cases (increase of one)

Stroud - 3,734 cases (increase of one)

Tewkesbury - 2,909 cases (increase of two)

Forest of Dean - 3,081 cases (increase of three)

Cotswold - 2,547 cases (increase of five)

Monday, April 19

Update #8614 - 15.34 Shopping numbers soar in reopening week

Shoppers headed back to the high street in droves with the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions with numbers across all destinations up almost 90 per cent on the previous week.

Footfall in high streets was up 93.2 per cent on the previous seven days with shopping centres seeing numbers soar by 126.6 per cent.

And visitors to retail parks, which have remained partially open due to essential stores, were up 35.3 per cent.

The figures were up 330 per cent on the same week last year - in the opening weeks of lockdown - but were still down 25 per cent on 2019 levels.

Update #8613 - 15.32 Asda owners add fresh string to bow

Fast food restaurant chain Leon has been bought by the new parent of Asda.

And the EG Group, run by brothers Mohsin and Zuber Issa, is believed to be close to a deal for troubled coffee shop chain Caffe Nero.

The deal for Leon, which operates 71 outlets around the country, is believed to be worth up to £100million.

EG Group operates around 700 food outlets, many of them across its network of petrol stations.

Update #8612 - 11.16 Prices hit record high as properties sell at fastest pace ever recorded

A monthly house price surge of 2.1 per cent has propelled new seller asking prices to a new record high, reports online estate agent Rightmove.

The national average house price now stands at £327,797, shattering the previous record set in October last year, by over £4,000. Rightmove said this is now the fastest-selling market measured since the records began.

Findings also show 145,000 properties were newly marketed in April, but not enough to meet buyer demand. Number of sales agreed up by 55 per cent on same period two years ago, reducing the stock of properties that are available to buy to the lowest proportion ever recorded.

Tim Bannister, Rightmove's director of Property Data, said: "The stars have aligned for this spring price surge, with buyers' new space requirements being part of the constellation alongside cheap mortgages, stamp duty holiday extensions in England and Wales, government support for 95% mortgages and a shortage of suitable property to buy." 

Update #8611 - 10.56 UK retailers launch campaign against staff abuse

The UK's biggest retailers, the Home Office and independent charity Crimestoppers have today launched a new campaign urging the public to ShopKind.

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has said abuse and violence towards shopworkers is a bigger problem than many people might think, with at least 400 shopworkers abused every day.

The #ShopKind campaign urges the public to be mindful of shopworkers' essential role in supporting people during these difficult times, and emphasises that we should all treat workers and also other customers with respect, kindness and gratitude.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "Violence and abuse towards shop workers is utterly despicable and unacceptable, everyone has the right to feel safe at work.

"As the daughter of shopkeepers, I fully support ShopKind, a reminder to customers to consider their behaviour towards shop staff, and I would encourage all retailers to fully support it." 

Update #8610 - 10.44 Unilever hygiene campaign reaches one billion

A hygiene campaign spearheaded by Unilever and the Government aimed at tackling the spread of coronavirus has reached one billion people.

The global consumer goods company, which has a factory in Gloucester, partnered with the Government to provide advice, soap, sanitiser and surface disinfectants to developing countries.

Working through the United Nations, charities and other partners, the campaign has trained 140,000 staff, including health workers and teachers to deliver hygiene skills, including deep cleaning and effective hand washing.

READ MORE  

Update #8609 - 09.41 Low-deposit mortgage scheme launched

The new government guarantee scheme has now been launched, with High Street lenders now offering mortgages to borrowers offering a deposit of just five per cent.

As announced in this year's Budget, the scheme is designed to help more first-time buyers secure a home.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: "Every new homeowner and mover supports jobs right across the housing sector, but saving for a big enough deposit can be hard, especially for first-time buyers.

"By giving lenders the option of a government guarantee on 95 per cent mortgages, many more products will become available, boosting the sector, creating new jobs and helping people achieve their dream of owning their own home."

Update #8608 - 08.28 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 127,270 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

This is an increase of 10 on the previous day's figures.

Across the UK, 1,882 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 4,387,820 since the outbreak began.

But on a more positive note, 32,849,223 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine as of April 17 and 9,930,846 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 22,351 as of Sunday afternoon.

The total number of deaths in Gloucestershire within 28 days of a positive test sits at 951.

Cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 6,351 cases

Cheltenham - 3,740 cases

Stroud - 3,733 cases

Tewkesbury - 2,907 cases

Forest of Dean - 3,078 cases

Cotswold - 2,542 cases

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