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Gloucestershire Business News

Coronavirus LIVE Updates: The latest news from across Gloucestershire on Friday, September 18

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 that 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, September 18

Update #1499 - 15.33 Journey to work getting back on track

Almost two thirds of employees are travelling to work as people return to their offices after the coronavirus pandemic.

Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show 62 per cent said they commuted to work last week - up from 36 per cent when the first survey took place in late May.

While some are mixing where they work, the figures showed 20 per cent continue to work exclusively from home.

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Update #1498 - 15.25 'Fragile recovery' as retail sales edge up

DIY and household goods have continued to provide the cornerstone of increasing retail sales across the UK.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed sales were up 0.8 per cent between July and August and are now four per cent higher than February, the last full month before lockdown restrictions were introduced.

The increase for August was smaller than the 3.6 per cent growth in July - when many shops reopened after lockdown - with online sales falling 2.5 per cent on the previous month.

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Update #1497 - 13.12 Lockdown restrictions could call time on pubs again

Parts of the hospitality could be forced to close again if fresh restrictions are introduced across England in a bid to arrest a rise in coronavirus cases.

Lockdown measures were introduced yesterday in the north east which includes the closure of restaurants and pubs at 10pm.

Further lockdown measures in the north west, Midlands and Yorkshire were announced today with similar restrictions.

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Update #1496 - 13.09 Gloucestershire awarded nearly £300,000 to provide housing support for vulnerable people

Thousands of vulnerable people who were housed during the pandemic will be helped to stay in accommodation this year thanks to new government funding.

Gloucestershire is set to receive almost £300,000 to ensure interim accommodation and support for the most vulnerable people.

A joint bid in Gloucestershire, led by Gloucester City Council and incorporating Cheltenham, Cotswold, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, Stroud and Tewkesbury councils, secured £296,542.

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Update #1495 - 10.48 Food Warehouse raises a glass to partnership

Cheltenham is among the Food Warehouse branches taking part in a trial partnership between the retailer's owners Iceland and Bargain Booze.

It is one of three stores which contain a dedicated Bargain Booze section and the partnership will be rolled out across other outlets if successful.

The partnership could more than double The Food Warehouse's alcohol selection.

Food Warehouse commercial director Justin Addison said: "We're passionate about offering our customers the best range at the best value and our latest partnership is testament to this commitment."

Update #1494 - 10.46 Ten-year freeze on minting coins

No new 2p or £2 coins are likely to be made for the next 10 years as the demand for cash falls.

Less than 30 per cent of purchases last year involved cash, compared with 60 per cent a decade ago, and The Royal Mint said it has a mountain of coins in storage.

A report from the National Audit Office warned people who rely on cash, typically the elderly or those on a lower income, could find it harder to access.

NAO head Gareth Davies said: "As society progresses towards the wide use of digital payments, the use of cash in transactions is dwindling.

"It may become harder for people to access cash when they need it and those without the means to pay digitally will struggle if cash is not accepted."

Update #1493 - 08.33 Latest coronavirus figures for 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.

In Gloucestershire, confirmed coronavirus deaths remain at 230 according to figures released by NHS England - no increase since August 27.

It has been reported that of those who have died, 195 were being cared for at Gloucestershire Hospitals while 35 were being treated through Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Latest Government figures show that the total number of cases within the county since the pandemic began sits at 2,144 as of Thursday afternoon.

These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 604 cases (increase of four)

Cheltenham - 503 cases (increase of three)

Stroud - 312 cases (no change)

Tewkesbury - 297 cases (increase of one)

Cotswolds - 242 cases (no change)

Forest of Dean - 186 cases (no change) 

Thursday, September 17

Update #1492 - 16.53 Update on coronavirus cases in the UK

The Government's Department of Health and Social Care has released the latest figures on the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

It has been said that a further 21 people have sadly passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus, as of 15.45 today (September 17).

The latest total COVID death toll for the UK now sits at 41,705 - which specifically includes those that have died within 28 days of a laboratory-confirmed positive COVID test.

Across the UK, 3,995 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 381,614 since the outbreak began. 

Update #1491 - 14.48 Interest rate remains at record low amid EU warning

The Bank of England has held interest rates at 0.1 per cent amid a warning that lingering doubts about the UK's trade relationship with the EU could threaten the economic recovery.

Confirming the continued historic low rate, the Monetary Policy Committee said earlier forecasts of recovery were based on a move to an agreement by the end of the year.

And said the ongoing coronavirus pandemic would also drive the economy which is about seven per cent below the end of last year.

The committee said: "The recent increases in COVID-19 cases in some part of the world, including the United Kingdom, have the potential to weight further on economic activity, albeit probably on a lesser scale than seen earlier in the year."

Any rise in the interest rate is unlikely with inflation below the Bank's two per cent target and it was announced at a five-year low of 0.2 per cent earlier this week.

Update #1490 - 14.43 Kier reports loss as pandemic leaves its mark

Kier Group chief executive Andrew Davies admitted the coronavirus pandemic had made a huge impact as the company reported a pre-tax loss of £225.5million for the first six months of the year.

The construction firm, which has a base in Quedgeley and is involved in various projects around the county, saw revenues fall 15 per cent to £3.4billion as the pandemic bit in the final three months of the period.

While the construction division made an operating loss of £58.9million with revenue falling 15 per cent to just over £1.5billion, infrastructure service made an operating profit of £9.6million as revenue was down 10 per cent at £1.5billion.

Adjusted profit before tax fell 70 per cent on the previous year to £16.9million.

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Update #1489 - 13.04 Support hospitality or face massive job losses Government told

More than 900,000 jobs in the hospitality industry will be lost if the Government fails to provide a package of support, according to one leading figure in the sector.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the trade body UKHospitality, issued the warning while giving evidence to the House of Lords economic affairs committee.

She said: "The people that work in hospitality are key to its success and we are very proud of the fact that we are the third biggest employing sector in the country.

"As a sector we provide fantastic employment opportunities for everyone - including offering young people their first taste of the world of work."

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Update #1488 - 13.01 Council shares £100k across Cheltenham organisations

Cheltenham Borough Council has allocated all of its available £100,000 of community resilience grants to 51 local groups and voluntary sector agencies.

The funding, brought together during the coronavirus pandemic, is made up of the council's annual community pride fund and £50,000 from Gloucestershire County Council.

Among the grants were more than £1,300 to the Gloucestershire Deaf Association, £1,700 for Cheltenham Autism Support and £4,951 to Caring for Communities and People (CCP) to help a food bank meet unprecedented demand.

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Update #1487 - 10.51 Next strengthens forecast as sales hold up

Next has upgraded its profit forecast after reporting stronger sales than expected - but still has a note of caution for the second half of the year.

The fashion retailer, which yesterday announced an agreement to take a majority holding in Victoria's Secret UK, is predicting a pre-tax profit for the year of around £300million - up from £195million in July.

It said sales had risen four per cent over the past four weeks but expects sales for 2020 to fall 12 per cent.

Next reported a 34 per cent fall in sales for the first six months to July to £1.34billion with a pre-tax profit of £9million.

And it warned that ongoing restrictions to social gatherings "is likely to depress demand for gifts and clothing associated with traditional Christmas family get-togethers".

Update #1486 - 10.49 Staying close to home helps Co-up sales

Co-op saw food sales increase by 8.8 per cent in the six months to the end of July as shoppers stayed close to home and ate out less.

Revenues for the first six months of the year were up by 7.6 per cent to £5.8billion with coronavirus-related costs expected to hit £97million for the full year

Profit before for the period was up 35 per cent to £27million compared with the same time last year.

Update #1485 - 08.30 Latest coronavirus figures for 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.

In Gloucestershire, confirmed coronavirus deaths remain at 230 according to figures released by NHS England - no increase since August 27.

It has been reported that of those who have died, 195 were being cared for at Gloucestershire Hospitals while 35 were being treated through Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Latest Government figures show that the total number of cases within the county since the pandemic began sits at 2,136 as of Wednesday afternoon.

These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 600 cases (no change)

Cheltenham - 500 cases (increase of three)

Stroud - 312 cases (no change)

Tewkesbury - 296 cases (increase of four)

Cotswolds - 242 cases (increase of four)

Forest of Dean - 186 cases (no change)

Wednesday, September 16

Update #1484 - 17.20 Iceland: Be transparent about plastic

Frozen food specialist Iceland has called on fellow retailers to be more transparent about their use of plastic packaging.

Iceland, which has stores in Gloucester, Cheltenham and Stroud, has joined forces with campaigners Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, A Plastic Planet, and Surfers Against Sewage to demand more transparency across the supermarket sector, as reported by Retail Gazette.

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Update #1483 - 17.04 Update on coronavirus cases in the UK

The Government's Department of Health and Social Care has released the latest figures on the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

It has been said that a further 20 people have sadly passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus, as of 16.12 today (September 16).

The latest total COVID death toll for the UK now sits at 41,684 - which specifically includes those that have died within 28 days of a laboratory-confirmed positive COVID test.

Across the UK, 3,991 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 378,219 since the outbreak began.

Update #1482 - 16.24 Forest Green picked for fans pilot

Forest Green Rovers will welcome back fans to The New Lawn for the first time when they host Bradford City in League Town on Saturday.

It is one of 10 Football League matches selected for the latest pilot with up to 1,000 fans allowed through the turnstiles.

Chairman Dale Vince described the announcement as "fab news".

He tweeted: "We've done all the planning and preparation, now we want to put it into practise ahead of getting fans back in limited numbers more regularly, we hope, in October.

"Looking forward to Saturday even more now."

And he had a clear message for fans who attend - "no mask, no entry".

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Update #1481 - 16.22 Hit to economy not as bad as first feared

Coronavirus will cause less damage to the global economy than earlier forecasts - but the UK will be among the hardest hit.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has predicted a decline of 4.5 per cent this year, compared with the six per cent drop it forecast.

The latest prediction no longer has the UK have the largest contraction of the major G20 economies, but a 10.1 per cent contraction (improved from a forecast 11.5 per cent) remains among the worst - above only Italy, India and South Africa.

Next year's recovery is predicted to be less than previously forecast with a 7.6 per cent growth in the UK leaving the economy smaller than it was in 2019.

That forecast is based on the UK and EU agreeing a basic free trade agreement.

Update #1480 - 16.20 Amazon reveal UK tax bill

Amazon UK Services paid just £6.3million in Corporation Tax last year, despite racking up more than £13.5billion in sales.

The figures were published in accounts with Amazon saying it reflected the underlying condition of its main UK subsidiary.

It follows a report published last week which said Amazon incurred £293million of taxes in the UK.

A company statement said: "Corporation tax is based on profits, not revenues, and our profits have remained low given retail is a highly competitive, low-margin business and we continue to invest heavily."

Update #1479 - 15.50 Royal Agricultural University celebrates landmark at a distance

Freshers enjoyed a shared of a birthday cake as The Royal Agricultural University has celebrated its 175th anniversary.

Chair of governors John Pain, vice-chancellor Jo Price, vice president Earl Bathurst and Students' Union president Lewis Bebb gather to cut the cake

The Cirencester university - the Royal Agricultural College for its first 169 years - marked the occasion with a socially-distanced cake cutting ceremony with vice-chancellor Jo Price and chairman of governors John Pain joined by the Earl and Countess Bathurst.

But more than 400 new students settling into life at the university did not miss out as the cake in the shape of the RAU's main building was shared out among them.

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Update #1478 - 14.59 Insurance ruling provides clarity for small businesses

Small firms and hospitality businesses have welcomed the clarity and potential lifeline thrown by a High Court ruling that some insurers should have paid out for losses caused by the coronavirus lockdown.

As reported by Punchline-Gloucester.com yesterday, the court judgment followed a test case brought by the Financial Conduct Authority against eight insurance companies who argued the policies were not meant to cover such unprecedented restrictions.

Among them was Gloucester-based Ecclesiastical whose business interruption policies were among those ruled not to cover the losses.

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Update #1477 - 14.57 Redrow turns away from capital as profits tumble

Homebuilder Redrow will resume paying dividends next year, despite reporting a huge fall in annual profit.

The company, which has developments in Gloucester, Cheltenham, Bishop's Cleeve, Stonehouse and Lydney, said it would halt investments in London and focus on its regional business and Heritage Collection.

The company, which saw revenue tumble by 37 per cent to £1.34billion, completed 4,032 in the 12 months to June 30 - compared with 6,443 the previous year.

Pre-tax profits fell from £406million to £140million.

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Update #1476 - 12.56 Gloucestershire claimants rise by more than two per cent

Almost 1,000 more people in Gloucestershire claimed Universal Credit according to the latest figures from the Department of Work and Pensions.

The latest figures showed 978 more people were claiming the benefit on August 13 compared with the previous month.

It represents a rise of 2.2 per cent with the total number of claimants reaching 44,555.

Broken down by local authority areas, Gloucester had the biggest increase with 308 new claimants to 11,755, which was the largest percentage in the county at 2.7 per cent.

READ THE FULL STORY  

Update #1475 - 12.48 Zara owner returns to profit

Owner of high-street fashion retailer Zara, Inditex, has reported a return to quarterly profit after the coronavirus crisis forced temporary store closures.

The business revealed a 31 per cent fall in sales between May and July this year, but since stores reopened figures for August 1 to September 6 have improved reaching 89 per cent of the sales total for the same period in 2019.

Inditex second-quarter net profit rose to €214 million, bolstered by a 74 per cent jump in online sales in the first half of the period.

A spokesperson said: "Store sales have been recovering progressively. Online sales continue growing at a remarkable pace."

Update #1474 - 11.27 Next slips into Victoria's Secret deal

Next is to take a 51 per cent in the UK arm of Victoria's Secret, saving 500 jobs.

The retailer has agreed a joint deal with the US lingerie firm's owners L Brands after the business attracted widespread interest after going into administration.

Chief executive Lord Simon Wolfson said: "Next is very pleased at the prospect of working in partnership to expand the Victoria's Secret brand in the UK and Ireland, both in stores and online."

Update #1473 - 11.25 Creditors back rescue package for New Look

Fashion retailer New Look has been given approval for a restructuring process aimed at safeguarding more than 11,000 jobs.

Landlords and creditors backed a company voluntary agreement which includes a three-year holiday for 68 of its branches with rent reductions on more than 400 others.

The reduced rents will be between two and 12 per cent of sales, but landlords will be able to end leases easier if they can secure better terms with other potential tenants.

Several major landlords voted against the firm's second rescue deal in 18 months which will also see debt holders inject £40million into the business.

Chief executive Nigel Oddy said: "We still fundamentally believe the physical store has a significant part to play in the overall retail market."

Update #1472 - 11.03 Cut-price meal offer drives large fall in inflation

Inflation has hit a five-year low with the help of the Eat Out to Help Scheme.

The initiative to attract diners back to restaurants with half-price meals for part of the week helped to drive down prices as the Consumer Price Index fell from one per cent to 0.2 per cent in August.

The Office in National Statistics said a VAT cut from 20 per cent to five per cent in the hospitality sector also contributed to the fall.

And it said a 2.6 per cent drop in restaurant and cafe prices on last August was the first reduction since records began in 1989.

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Update #1471 - 08.25 Latest coronavirus figures for 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.

In Gloucestershire, confirmed coronavirus deaths remain at 230 according to figures released by NHS England - no increase since August 27.

It has been reported that of those who have died, 195 were being cared for at Gloucestershire Hospitals while 35 were being treated through Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Latest Government figures show that the total number of cases within the county since the pandemic began sits at 2,125 as of Tuesday afternoon.

These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 600 cases

Cheltenham - 497 cases

Stroud - 312 cases

Tewkesbury - 292 cases

Cotswolds - 238 cases

Forest of Dean - 186 cases

Tuesday, September 15

Update #1470 - 17.01 Warning over fake council tax letter and email

Residents are being warned to be on their guard against a scam offering a reduction in council tax as part of the Government's response to COVID-19.

The letters or emails may appear to have been sent from Stroud District Council, but in fact are a scam, designed to obtain people's personal data and bank details.

Simon Killen, Stroud District Council's revenues & benefits manager warned: "We have been made aware that there are a variety of scams associated with council tax refunds and discounts happening, both nationally and locally. 

"If you have received any correspondence about a council tax refund or discount that asks you to click a link, then input personal details please delete it."

READ MORE 

Update #1469 - 16.42 Update on coronavirus cases in the UK

The Government's Department of Health and Social Care has released the latest figures on the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

It has been said that a further 27 people have sadly passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus, as of 15.58 today (September 15).

The latest total COVID death toll for the UK now sits at 41,664 - which specifically includes those that have died within 28 days of a laboratory-confirmed positive COVID test.

Across the UK, 3,105 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 374,228 since the outbreak began. 

Update #1468 - 15.25 High Court rules on Ecclesiastical's coronavirus test case

The High Court has ruled some business interruption policies should have seen payouts from insurers to cover losses caused by the coronavirus lockdown.

But the judgment stated losses arising from the pandemic are not covered by Ecclesiastical's business interruption policies.

The court ruling comes after a test case brought by the Financial Conduct Authority featuring eight insurance companies which included Gloucester-based Ecclesiastical.

They argued the policies were not meant to cover such unprecedented restrictions.

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Update #1467 - 15.20 Gloucestershire finds space among rental hotspots

Gloucester and Cirencester are among the fastest-rising destinations searched for by renters as they look outside London and other major cities.

With the increase in home working, figures on searches from leading property website Rightmove suggest more space has moved above the need to commute into the city.

Rightmove analysed 60 million searches made on the site throughout August with a sharp drop in areas of London - Earl's Court falling 40 per cent on the year before.

Cirencester saw the second largest rise outside London up 75 per cent - just one below Cambridge in the top spot and 11 per cent clear of Oxford in third.

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Update #1466 - 12.35 New clothes among top lockdown purchases

We might not have had anywhere to go, but that didn't stop Brits from splashing out on new clothes during lockdown.

New research by the Royal Mail reveals what the nation was ordering online during lockdown; with clothing, drinks and plants emerging as some of the most popular products delivered to home across the country.

Nearly half of UK adults have been receiving more parcels since 23rd March. The most popular product categories ordered online since this date include clothing, food and drink and books.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #1465 - 12.05 Demand for furniture creates extra jobs

Furniture retailer ScS has created 300 new jobs thanks to a surge in demand for furniture over the last few months.

The sofa and carpet specialist, which has branches in Gloucester and Cheltenham, saw a 92 per cent rise in order from May to July.

And that increase has continued throughout August and September with sales up by 51 per cent.

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Update #1464 - 11.23 Grocery sales remain up during pandemic

Grocery sales continue to be higher than last year as people work from home - but the increase slowed in August.

Figures by market researcher Nielsen showed sales were up 5.3 per cent in the four weeks to September 5 compared to the same period last year.

But that was down from a seven per cent rise last month as online sales rose by 102 per cent with those in stores down 1.6 per cent.

Growth of more than six per cent was forecast for the rest of the year, compared with flat growth in 2019.

Morrisons saw the biggest rise among Britain's main supermarkets over the 12 weeks to September 5, rising 10.4 per cent against 7.5 per cent for Tesco, 5.6 per cent for Sainsbury's and 4.2 per cent for Asda.

Update #1463 - 11.20 Delivery sales rise for Ocado

Online retailer Ocado saw sales jump by 50 per cent in the third quarter as it switched from delivering for Waitrose to Marks & Spencer.

Weekly orders were up 10 per cent in the 13 weeks to the end of August with average deliveries growing by five items per basket.

The firm said the new partnership with Marks & Spencer prompted its "biggest forward order day" when it launched on September 1, leading to some cancellations.

A company statement said: "The weighting of M&S products in the average Ocado basket is higher than Waitrose prior to the switchover, reflecting positive customer reaction to the addition of M&S to the range."

Update #1462 - 11.17 Young hit hard as unemployment rate rises

Young people have been the hardest hit as the UK unemployment rate rose to its highest level for two years.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics put the unemployment rate in the three months to July at 4.1 per cent - up from 3.9 per cent.

That includes 156,000 fewer 16-24 year olds in employment compared to the previous quarter with 695,000 workers coming off payrolls since the introduction of coronavirus lockdown measures in March.

ONS director of economic statistics Darren Morgan said: "With the number of employees on the payroll down again in August and both unemployment and redundancies sharply up in July, it is clear that coronavirus is still having a big impact on the world of work."

There was one glimmer of light with job vacancies in the three months to August rising by 30 per cent to 434,000.

Update #1461 - 11.13 Trainees topping 5,000 extra jobs at Domino's

Domino's is creating 5,000 new jobs - topping up the 6,000 the pizza delivery chain has already added since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

And the UK's largest pizza chain said it would take on more than 1,000 young workers as part of the Government's Kickstart scheme.

Chief executive Dominic Paul said: "These 6,000-plus new roles will help Domino's continue to serve our local communities safely as we head towards the busy festive season."

Domino's employs more than 35,000 people across 1,184 outlets in the UK which are run by franchisees, bar some London stores which are owned by the company.

Update #1460 - 11.10 New clothes among top lockdown purchases

We might not have had anywhere to go, but that didn't stop Brits from investing in new clothes during lockdown.

New research by the Royal Mail reveals what the nation was ordering online during lockdown. Nearly half of UK adults have been receiving more parcels since 23rd March. The most popular product categories ordered online since this date include clothing, food and drink and books.

Gardening and DIY became very important to us all, with paintbrushes, compost and gardening gloves making the top 20.

Read more 

Update #1459 - 08.28 Update on coronavirus cases in the UK

The Government's Department of Health and Social Care has released the latest figures on the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

It has been said that a further 9 people have sadly passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus, as of 18.27 yesterday (September 14).

The latest total COVID death toll for the UK now sits at 41,637 - which specifically includes those that have died within 28 days of a laboratory-confirmed positive COVID test.

Across the UK, 2,621 people have tested positive for the virus over the last 24 hours and 371,125 since the outbreak began.

Monday, September 14

Update #1458 - 17.15 No daily coronavirus figures update today

Government coronavirus figures for the UK are usually released daily at around 16.00 GMT.

But today, the website still shows Sundays figures alongside a message about technical difficulties causing a delay in the data update.

A message displayed on the coronavirus dashboard reads: "Due to an ongoing issue with Microsoft Azure, we are currently unable to update the data. We are monitoring the situation closely and will update the website as soon as the services are restored."

Update #1457 - 17.10 Work preventing the spread of ash dieback

Highway crews are carrying out essential work around the county to reduce the risk of falling trees, by removing trees infected with ash dieback.

Ash dieback is a disease that causes leaf loss and dying branches, and can lead to the death of a tree. Diseased trees have an increased risk of collapsing which can be dangerous, especially if they fall on a road.

Ash dieback can spread tens of miles by wind-blown spores or by trees growing too close to infected ash trees. The disease attacks ash trees quickly and there is currently no prevention or treatment available. To prevent the spread, the county council's highways department needs to cut down the diseased trees to stop more from becoming diseased.

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Update #1456 - 16.10 Fresh initiative to keep Cheltenham moving

Cheltenham has launched a new campaign to encourage business growth and investment in the town.

The We're Moving to Cheltenham initiative follows the creation of an economic recovery task force and is designed to highlight opportunities in the town and businesses which have been attracted to the area.

It has been developed by Cheltenham Borough Council with Marketing Cheltenham, Cheltenham BID and brand agency ASHA.

Council leader Councillor Steve Jordan said: "Despite the many challenges that COVID-19 has thrown at us, as a local authority we have continued to act and respond as proactively as we've been able to in supporting our community and economy."

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Update #1455 - 15.09 Online shopping shows signs of slowing

The surge in online sales has slowed but latest figures showed the return of shoppers to more traditional venues was also down last week.

According to figures from the IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, online sales were up 43.5 per cent in August on the previous year.

But sales were down 4.1 per cent compared to July.

Capgemini managing consultant Lucy Gibbs said: "As summer comes to a close, we have seen a slowdown in the growth online and we expect to see some shifts in the category spending as we move into autumn."

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Update #1454 - 15.08 Cheltenham marks the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain

Cheltenham will be commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain on 20 September 2020, remembering the day when RAF Fighter Command claimed victory over the German Luftwaffe in 1940.

To mark this anniversary, a short ceremony will be held at the War Memorial on Sunday 20 September, 11am. There will not be the usual church service and parade.

In attendance will be the Mayor of Cheltenham Cllr Roger Whyborn, RAFA Chairman Michael Bryant, RAFA President Air Marshal Sir Dusty Miller, Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk, and Chaplain Rev. Richard Coombs.

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Update #1453 - 12.51 Shopping numbers drop as schools return

The number of shoppers at retail destinations dropped by 6.3 per cent last week, according to the latest figures.

Market researcher Springboard said a fall in numbers is usual in the first week back at school in September, but the fall was larger than normal and was the first weekly decline since April.

And it saw the annual decline drop from 25 per cent - the best figure since lockdown was introduced - to 27.5 per cent.

Numbers on high streets - which saw a rise the previous week - were down 5.4 per cent with retail parks dropping 5.2 per cent and shopping centres down nine per cent.

Director Diane Wehrle said: "While this is a pattern of consumer activity that Springboard has come to expect - we have seen this drop occur in all but one year since we started publishing our footfall indices in 2009 - the magnitude of the drop has been larger than in any previous year."

Update #1452 - 11.48 Redundancies threaten to outstrip previous recession

Job losses across the UK are on course to more than double the number during the worst stretch of the last recession during the financial crisis.

And figures from the Institute for Employment Studies said the final figures for this autumn could almost double again.

Obtained from a Freedom of Information requests, the figures show from May to July more than 380,000 planned redundancies had been lodged with the Insolvency Service - a necessary step if 20 or more employees face losing their jobs.

That compares to 180,000 between January and March 2009.

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Update #1451 - 10.57 Aldi check out click and collect

Budget supermarket Aldi is to test its first click and collect grocery service.

The German retailer, which runs 894 stores across the UK, is trialling the service for staff from one store and said it will look to extend it to customers in the next few weeks before a potential rollout.

Aldi began selling food parcels online to help customers during the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic and has extended a delivery service with Deliveroo.

Online grocery sales has double to 14 per cent of the UK market since the start of the pandemic.

Update #1450 - 10.53 Think green to help economy urges CBI

The Government needs to think green in order to create jobs and help the economic recovery, according to the head of the Confederation of British Industry.

Opening the CBI's first virtual conference about plans for zero emissions, Dame Carolyn Fairbairn said the Government needs to invest in low-carbon technologies.

She is due to say: The world faces two seemingly separate yet fundamental problems - COVID-19, the biggest health crisis in living memory, and climate change - the defining challenge of the modern era.

"But they are not separate. The response to one affects success on the other.

"And the defining question is, how does the UK use this moment to rebuild our economy?"

Update #1449 - 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 figures released yesterday show the UK death toll of people with coronavirus rose to 41,628 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

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

In Gloucestershire, confirmed coronavirus deaths remain at 230 according to figures released by NHS England - no increase since August 19.

It has been reported that of those who have died, 195 were being cared for at Gloucestershire Hospitals while 35 were being treated through Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Latest Public Health England figures show that the total number of cases within the county sits at 2,112 as of Sunday afternoon.

These cases are split across the following regions:

Gloucester - 599 cases

Cheltenham - 493 cases

Stroud - 309 cases

Tewkesbury - 291 cases

Cotswolds - 236 cases

Forest of Dean - 184 cases

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