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Gloucestershire Business News

Coronavirus LIVE Updates: The latest news from across Gloucestershire on Thursday, May 7

With the UK-wide lockdown in week seven, 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.

Thursday, May 7

Update #463 - 17.15 Further563 coronavirus deaths in the UK

In tonight's daily press briefing, foreign secretary Dominic Raab has revealed the latest department of heath and social care coronavirus testing and death figures for the UK.

He said that an additional 539 people with coronavirus in the UK has sadly passed away, including those outside of hospital in care homes and the community.

This brings the total number of deaths to 30,615.

Mr Raab also added that 86,563 tests had taken place in the 24 hours up to 9am this morning (May 7). This is up by more than 17,000 on the previous day, but the fifth day running that it has been below the government's daily target of 100,000.

Update #462 - 16.40 First of new mental health services launched

Qwell is the first of a new package of mental health support launched by Gloucestershire County Council and will work alongside existing mental health services in the county to make sure there is a range of options for people depending on their need.

Anyone over 18 in Gloucestershire can now access free anonymous counselling from qualified counsellors via the online chat based platform at www.qwell.io.

The service is designed for people experiencing issues with their emotional wellbeing, such as anxiety, low mood or stress.

The site has a range of self-help tools, including friendly online discussion boards to connect with people having similar experiences, journals and goal trackers, and self-help articles with the option to contribute your own experiences or advice.

Go to www.qwell.io to access support today. If people can't easily access the internet or would prefer to talk to someone over the phone, other services like Let's Talk (0800 073 2200) are also available.

Update #461 - 15.38 England coronavirus deaths rise by 383

NHS England have released new information indicating that a further 383 people with COVID-19 in hospitals in England have sadly passed away.

This takes the total number of hospital deaths in England to 22,432.

Update #460 - 15.00 Relaxation of restrictions will be "very limited"

Any lifting of coronavirus restrictions will be "very limited" according to a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The Prime Minister is due to announce any changes to the system at 7pm on Sunday.

But a spokesman said: "We are at a critical moment in the fight against the virus and we will not do anything that risks the progress the British public has made."

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the "stay at home" message would remain in place north of the border for a further three weeks.

Update #459 - 13.35 Two thirds of Gloucestershire COVID-19 intensive care patients discharged

Two thirds of coronavirus patients who received intensive care at Cheltenham General and Gloucestershire Royal Hospitals have been discharged.

In total 57 patients who were critically unwell have now recovered.

Data for the period 15 March to 1 May 2020 show that 68 per cent of those who needed intensive care survived. In that period 87 patients have been treated in intensive care.

Clinicians say the high ratio of survival is a strong signal of success in response to the pandemic locally and have put this down to extensive planning, the professionalism, dedication and compassion of healthcare staff across Gloucestershire and the public's ongoing support in continuing to obey strict lockdown rules.

Dr David Windsor, clinical lead for Critical Care in Gloucestershire, said: "Our response to this pandemic to date has filled me with immense pride. It's been quite incredible to see the levels of co-operation, commitment and compassion shown by healthcare staff not only within the Department of Critical Care but throughout the hospitals more generally and across the health and care system in Gloucestershire. 

"Every single member of our team - domestics, nurses, ward clerks, therapists, managers and doctors have stepped up to deliver the best possible care in very unique and challenging circumstances" 

Update #458 - 13.15 Gloucester not on latest list of Debenhams closures

Five more Debenhams stores have been earmarked for closure.

The Gloucester branch is not among the latest announcements - in Birmingham's Bullring, Reading, Croydon, Leicester and Glasgow - which come after the troubled retailer could not agree new terms with shopping centre owner Hammerson.

Next has snapped up space in the five stores to extend its online Beauty concept.

Debenhams has struck deals with landlords to keep 120 of its 142 stores open after going into administration for a second time.

Fifteen stores have now been announced as set for closure.

Update #457 - 13.13 O2 and Virgin Media join forces

Consumer group Which? has called on the Competition and Markets Authority to look into the merger between mobile operator O2 and broadband giant Virgin Media.

Liberty Global, which owns Virgin Media, and Spanish firm Telefonica have agreed terms to form one of the UK's largest entertainment and telecoms firms.

O2 has about 34 million mobile phone users while Virgin has around six million broadband and TV customers with another three million mobile users.

Which? said the merger "could have a significant impact on consumers".

Update #456 - 13.00 PM to address the nation on Sunday evening

It has been confirmed that the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will deliver a statement at 7pm on Sunday.

The statement is expected to give the public an idea of what happens next and how lockdown restrictions are going to change as early as Monday.

Update #455 - 12.45 Testing centre set up in Gloucester

Key workers, their families and people over 65 are being offered tests for COVID-19 at a mobile centre in Gloucester.

The mobile site at Oxstalls Tennis Centre is operating from today until Monday, May 11 and being run by the Department for Health and Social Care.

Soldiers from the Royal Welsh Regiment, who helped assemble the site, are helping NHS staff and the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC).

FIND OUT MORE 

Update #454 - 11.30 Community foundation hands out more than £200k in grants

The Gloucestershire Community Foundation has approved 64 grants as part of its Gloucestershire Coronavirus Emergency Appeal.

As a central point of support for local charities and community groups in Gloucestershire, GCF works to provide funds, support and advice to organisations across the county.

Coronavirus means these organisations are facing both a shortage of income and increased demand for their services.

Food donations have reduced due to stockpiling, fundraising events have been cancelled and local charities cannot get out into their communities to do their usual fundraising.

The grants totalling £203,812 will provide additional financial support, allowing them to continue supporting the most vulnerable people in Gloucestershire during these difficult and unprecedented times.

 READ THE FULL STORY  

Update #453 - 10.50 Bank of England predicts record fall in economy

The UK economy is heading for its deepest recession on record according to the Bank of England.

The Bank, which has kept interest rates at a record low of 0.1 per cent, predicts the economy will shrink by 14 per cent this year if coronavirus lockdown measures are phased out from June to September.

It forecast a three per cent decline in the first quarter, followed by an unprecedented 25 per cent plummet from April to June.

UK growth is expected to bounce back by 15 per cent in 2021, the forecast says the size of the economy will not return to pre-virus levels until the middle of next year.

Update #452 - 10.45 British Airways' owners losses soar 

The owner of British Airways has reported a loss of almost £1.5billion over the first three months of the year.

And International Airlines Group chief executive Willie Walsh, who has delayed his retirement to help the company through the coronavirus crisis, said it will be three years before passenger demand returns to pre-pandemic levels.

IAG, which includes Aer Lingus and Iberia among its airlines, reported losses after tax of £1.47billion - mostly in the closing weeks of March as the virus took hold - compared with a profit of 70million euro in 2019.

It said it was not planning for a "meaningful return" of passengers until at least July with only half its planned passengers throughout the year.

Update #451 - 10.42 Uber rating falls as 3,700 jobs cut

Taxi service Uber is to cut 3,700 full-time staff following a drop in demand during the coronavirus pandemic.

The firm, which made a loss of $8.5billion in 2019, says the cuts will largely come from customer support and recruiting teams.

Demand for taxi services fell by more than 60 per cent during March in its main, big city markets although orders through the Uber Eats food delivery service had increased.

Chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi has waived his base salary of $1million to the end of the year.

Update #450 - 08.45 "Corona Class of 2020" need help as jobs vanish

An extra 600,000 people under 25 will join the ranks of the unemployed unless the Government acts to help school leavers and graduates remain in education.

That is the view of the Resolution Foundation think tank which has labelled the 800,000 due to join the job market from education the "Corona Class of 2020".

It says it is the most exposed age group in a likely unemployment surge caused by the coronavirus pandemic, warning one million people under 25 will be out of work in the coming year without support.

READ THE FULL STORY  

Wednesday, May 6

Update #449 - 17.10 Coronavirus death toll in the UK passes 30,000

In today's press briefing, communities secretary Robert Jenrick has announced the latest figures on the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

He said that a further 649 people had sadly passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus.

The total death toll in the UK now sits at 30,076 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

It was also mentioned that the number of daily tests have dropped to 69,436 - more than 30,000 tests below the Government's daily target of 100,000.

Update #448 - 17.00 Latest Gloucestershire coronavirus figures

NHS England has released the latest figures for coronavirus-related deaths and confirmed cases of the virus.

New information shows that within the county, there have been a total of 203 deaths of hospitalised patients who had tested positive for coronavirus.

It was added that of those who died, 174 were being cared for at Gloucestershire Hospitals, while the other 29 were being treated through Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust.

The number of confirmed cases of the virus in Gloucestershire has also reached 1,267 - according to data published yesterday by Public Health England.

Update #447 - 16.15 Pubs face last orders if grants not paid quickly

Pubs and brewers need faster delivery of Government-backed loans and grants if they are to be in a position to reopen their doors after the coronavirus pandemic.

That is the stark warning of the British Beer & Pub Association which says 75 per cent of its businesses are still waiting a decision on whether applications for grants have been approved.

And more than half are still waiting for payments for which they are eligible.

A survey by the association revealed 58 per cent of leased and tenanted pubs were yet to received a £10,000 grant and 61 per cent were waiting for a £25,000 payment.

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Update #446 - 14.55 England coronavirus death toll rises by 331

NHS England have released new information indicating that a further 331 people with COVID-19 in hospitals in England have sadly passed away.

This takes the total number of hospital deaths in England to 22,049.

Update #445 - 13.40 Prime Minster aims for Monday start on lockdown changes

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed some coronavirus lockdown restrictions will start to be lifted on Monday.

Speaking during Prime Minister's Questions on his first appearance in the Commons since recovering from the virus, he confirmed he would be outlining plans to begin lifting the lockdown on Sunday.

He added that he he hoped to "get going on some of these measures on Monday" but warned it would be an "economic disaster" if such a relaxation triggered a second wave of coronavirus cases.

Facing his first PMQ clash with new Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, the Prime Minister pledged to reach 200,000 tests for coronavirus a day by the end of this month.

Update #444 - 13.05 Kohler Mira make PPE for NHS and Sue Ryder

While demand for new showers has fallen during the coronavirus crisis, staff at Kohler Mira in Cheltenham have turned their hand to making masks for the NHS and Sue Ryder.

After designing its own prototype, which was approved by NHS Gloucestershire, the company produced 12,500 face shields in just two weeks.

Sixty three members of staff worked tirelessly to produce the face shields for Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Trust, for staff at both Gloucester Royal and Cheltenham General Hospitals.

That's why the company has earned a nomination as a Punchline Business and Community Champion - an initiative backed by GFirst LEP, the Growth Hub, Gloucestershire County Council and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #443 - 12.08 Clarks call in help to size up future

Three accountancy giants are working on future plans for shoe retailers Clarks.

According to Sky News, Clarks' family shareholders have asked KPMG to advise them while Deloitte has been hired by the company's management and PricewaterhouseCoopers are believed to be working with a syndicate of the chain's lenders.

A familiar name on the high street, the company has been largely owned by descendants of Cyrus and James Clark for 195 years.

A company spokesman said: "Like all businesses, Clarks continues to face the fast-changing challenges of operating in today's environment and political uncertainty.

"Our leadership team is reviewing all options to protect our business, our people and the Clarks brand for future long-term growth."

Clarks trades from almost 350 shops around the UK and last year reported a post-tax loss of more than £80million.

Update #442 - 11.50 Fresh call for firms to apply for grant help 

Small businesses across Gloucestershire are again being encouraged to contact their local councils to avoid missing out on government help.

The county's six city, district and borough councils are distributing the money from their allocation for the Business Support Grant Fund and Retail Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund.

Figures show each of the councils has paid out more than 75 per cent of the funds allocated to them by the Government to help firms cope with a loss of income during the coronavirus pandemic.

But companies can still get in touch with more than 150 being identified as eligible last week.

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Update #441 - 10.50 Chancellor looks at options to end furlough scheme

Plans are being drawn up to phase out the Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Almost a quarter of the UK's workforce has been placed on furlough with the Government paying 80 per cent of wages.

But after extending the scheme until the end of June, Chancellor Rishi Sunak is looking at ways of winding it down.

Potential options include tapering the scheme to 60 per cent of wages and lowering the £2,500 monthly cap or allowing furloughed staff to return to work with a reduced subsidy.

Mr Sunak said: "I'm working to figure out the most effective way to wind down the scheme and to ease people back into work in a measured way.

An announcement is expected before mid-May to give any employers planning to make more than 100 staff redundant time to run the necessary 45-day consultation before the scheme ends.

Update #440 - 10.10 Public encouraged to report suspicious cars driving at night

Members of the public are being asked to report any suspicious looking vehicles that they see driving in the early hours of the morning.

It follows the theft of four 4x4 vehicles across the county overnight between 10.30pm on Sunday, May 3 and 2am on Monday, May 4. The incidents took place in Gloucester, Cotswolds and Tewkesbury.

It was reported that a dark blue vehicle - possibly a BMW or Mercedes - was seen in the areas at the time of the thefts.

Gloucestershire Constabulary is now asking people to let them know if they see any suspicious cars on the road overnight.

Detective superintendent Steve Bean said: "It is unlikely that any vehicle with multiple occupants that is driving in the small hours of the morning will be doing so for essential travel or because they are key workers.

"I would ask that anybody who has seen a vehicle with multiple occupants who they do not recognise, driving in their area overnight, reports it to us."

Update #439 - 8.20 Update on coronavirus cases in Gloucestershire

Public Health England have released new data showing that the total number of positive cases of coronavirus in the county has reached 1,267, as of 9am on May 5.

It was also announced yesterday that there had been a rise in deaths of hospitalised patients in Gloucestershire who have tested positive for coronavirus.

New information released on Tuesday said that the death toll in Gloucestershire has reached 199 - an increase of five on yesterday's figure.

Of these deaths, it has been reported that 171 were in the care of Gloucestershire Hospitals and 28 were patients at Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Tuesday, May 5

Update #438 - 17.20 Coronavirus death toll in the UK rises by 693

The department of health and social care has announced the latest figures on the coronavirus outbreak in the UK.

He said that a further 693 people had sadly passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus.

The total death toll in the UK now sits at 29,427 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community. 

Update #437 -16.20 £6.1 million funding boost for BIDs

Hundreds of local business partnerships across England will share £6.1m of funding to spend on projects that will help their local economies through the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic, the Government has said.

The money will be paid to local authorities and dispersed to Business Improvement Districts (BIDs).

Many BIDs, including our county-based Cheltenham BID and Gloucester BID, are now playing a crucial role during these challenging economic times.

They continue to offer hands-on support to those businesses affected, including advice services, increased security to protect businesses that have closed, and providing key intelligence to local and central government on the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on their local economies.

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Update #436 - 16.00 England coronavirus death toll rises by 366

NHS England have released new information indicating that a further 366 people with COVID-19 in hospitals in England have sadly passed away.

Not all of these deaths took place within the last 24 hours, with 65 passing away more than a week ago.

The total number of hospital deaths in England now stands at 21,750.

Update #435 - 14.49 M&S introduces delivery service

Marks & Spencer had announced its first home delivery service.

Available from 142 outlets, the company says the service offered by its Simply Food stores through Deliver, will take 30 minutes with a £4.99 charge.

It follows a similar scheme announced by Sainsbury's for up to 20 items with a one-hour delivery time.

Online grocery sales are expected to rise by more than a quarter this year as the coronavirus lockdown accelerates the number of people shopping from home.

Tesco has more than doubled its delivery and click and collect slots to 1.2million in six weeks while Sainsbury's is predicted to reach 600,000 this week - a rise of 75 per cent.

Update #434 - 14.46 Barclays deny issues as demand for loans soars

More than 100,000 businesses applied for Bounce Back Loans on their first day in operation.

NatWest said it processed 30,000 applications and Lloyds more than 26,000 yesterday, but some Barclays customers reported difficulties accessing the system.

The bank, which received 6,000 requests by lunchtime yesterday, said the vast majority of customers were able to apply online and said it had already paid approved "hundreds of millions of pounds" in loans.

The loans for small businesses are 100 per cent guaranteed by the Government with no fees or interest for the first 12 months.

Update #433 - 14.29 Virgin Atlantic cutting more than 3,000 jobs

Virgin Atlantic has become the latest airline to announce job cuts with up to a third of its staff facing the axe.

The airline, partly-owned by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group, is cutting 3,150 jobs as it ends its operations at Gatwick airport.

Landing slots at Gatwick are being retained in case operations are able to resume in the future but the airline's fleet will be reduced from 43 planes to 36 through the retirement of seven Boeing 747s.

Virgin said the moves were designed to "reshape and resize the business to ensure that it is fit for the future".

British Airways is consulting with staff over 12,000 redundancies - as well as a potential move away from Gatwick - while Ryanair plans to cut 3,000 jobs. Virgin Australia has been placed in voluntary administration.

Update #432 - 14.26 Big Macs remaining out of reach as openings announced

Anyone craving a McDonald's fix in the county will have to wait a while longer after the fast food chain announced the first 15 outlets which will reopen.

The sites, which will open for delivery only from May 13, are largely in London and the South East with three in Luton, two in Chelmsford and two in Gillingham

McDonald's says it has carried out "controlled tests" to ensure the restaurants can open safely with perspex screens, floor markings and protective equipment introduced and each employee having their temperature taken before each shift.

Update #431 - 12.50 Gloucestershire CCC cancel deals

Gloucestershire County Cricket Club have revealed in a statement released yesterday that they have cancelled the contracts of several overseas players for the 2020 season.

The statement from Club Chairman and CEO said: "In order to protect our finances and the Club as best we can we have had to sadly terminate our 2020 season contracts with our three overseas players Cheteshwar Pujara, Qais Ahmad and AJ Tye who was due to join the team later in the Summer.

"We know how excited we all were at the prospect of seeing both new and returning faces this year and we're very sorry that this won't be possible. The delay to the season, the postponement of The Hundred and the later start of the T20 Blast as well as the aforementioned financial pressures meant it just wasn't feasible to 'bring them over' in 2020. 

"We would like to thank all three of them for their support and understanding."

Update #430 - 12.45 'One stop shop' for recruitment created for Gloucestershire 

Whether you are searching for a new job, have an interest in volunteering or are looking to recruit new employees - GFirst LEP, The Growth Hub Network and GlosJobs have created a new partnership for all things recruitment in Gloucestershire.

In response to the recruitment challenges being faced by businesses in these difficult times, and to support individuals who may find themselves being made redundant during the coronavirus pandemic, the partnership are asking the Gloucestershire business community, to list their current vacancies on www.glosjobs.co.uk, so that the county has one central point for jobs available.

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Update #429 - 11.54 Coming soon: Vue hopeful of return to cinemas

Vue Cinemas is hopeful it will be able to reopen its doors in July.

Vue Stroud. Picture: Google

Cinemas have been closed since government coronavirus restrictions were introduced in late March, but Vue's chief executive Tim Richards believes the chain - which has a venue in Stroud - can be back in business on July 17.

He told the BBC: "We can control how many people come into our cinemas - we have the ability to control the exit and entrance."

The planned reopening is timed to coincide with the release of director Christopher Nolan's action movie Tenet.

Update #428 - 11.52 Healthcare workers most confident about future careers

Construction and healthcare workers fell the most secure about their future according to new research.

The latest UK Workforce Confidence Index conducted by LinkedIn found those in the leisure, travel, media and communications were feeling the least confident about their jobs, finances and career prospects.

The research revealed 36 per cent of respondents experienced a drop in income with 64 per cent of self-employed people suffering a loss in earnings.

Just under half of UK workers (47 per cent) say their companies are providing well-timed communications to deal with the coronavirus crisis.

Update #426 - 11.10 Emergency Living Fund set up to help people in financial hardship

Gloucestershire County Council has extended its existing Welfare Support Scheme to create a new Emergency Living Fund to help people who are in financial hardship because of the coronavirus.

The council has also increased the funding that is available to support people through the COVID-19 pandemic by almost 40 percent, and has also changed the criteria so more people will be able to apply.

The Welfare Support Scheme already provides practical support to those in financial hardship for things like food deliveries, rent, gas and electricity top-ups, and essential household items such as furniture and white goods.

The new fund will offer more help, and now covers the replacement of white goods that have broken down, supermarket vouchers and cash when necessary.

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Update #425 - 09.57 Almost one in four workers placed on furlough

Almost one quarter of the UK workforce is being paid by the Government under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Around 2.5million people registered for the scheme, in which the Government pays 80 per cent of wages up to £2,500 a month, taking the total to 6.3million.

That means 23 per cent of the employed workforce in the UK is on furlough.

The scheme, which has cost around £8billion to date, is due to run until the end of June and Chancellor Rishi Sunak said extending that expenditure could not be continued indefinitely.

He said: "I am working to figure out the most effective way to wind down the scene and ease people back into work in a measured way.

"But as some scenarios have suggested, we are potentially spending as much on the furlough scheme as we do on the NHS, for example.

"Now clearly that is not a sustainable solution."

Update #424 - 08.34 Police fine drivers for breaching restrictions

Fines were handed out to five people in the same vehicle who had come from Slough to buy a car, despite the ongoing coronavirus restrictions.

It was one of more than a 1,000 vehicles stopped by Gloucestershire police in the past week and while the vast majority were obeying the rules, a handful were issued with fines.

Among the recipients was a motorist driving friends from Bristol to Wales and someone making repeated short trips to visit a friend.

READ THE FULL STORY  

Monday, May 4 

Update #423 - 17.10 Further 288 coronavirus deaths in the UK

In tonight's daily press briefing, health secretary Matt Hancock has revealed the latest department of heath and social care coronavirus testing and death figures for the UK.

He said that an additional 288 people with coronavirus in the UK has sadly passed away, including those outside of hospital in care homes and the community.

This brings the total number of deaths to 28,734. 

Mr Hancock also added that the UK's testing capacity is now at 108,000 per day, with 85,186 taking place in the 24 hours up to 9am this morning (May 4).

Update #422 - 16.15 Anxiety levels soar amid coronavirus lockdown

A new Office of National Statistics survey has revealed that between March 20 and March 30 2020, almost half (49.6 per cent) of people in the UK reported "high" (rating 6 to 10) anxiety.

 ONS said that this was sharply elevated compared with the end of 2019 (21 percent), and equates to over 25 million people (out of the population aged 16 years and over).

People's most common concerns related to their well-being, their work, and their finances; those who think they will not be able to save money in the next year reported anxiety 33 per cent higher on average compared with those who think they will.

Data also showed that people who had already been impacted financially were also reporting lower well-being; people who had experienced a reduction in household finances because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) reported 16 per cent higher anxiety on average.

Those who rent and the self-employed were also seen as particularly affected by the pandemic.

Update #421 - 15.53 Government stockpiling face masks

The Defence Secretary has confirmed the Government is stockpiling face masks ahead of an expected announcement asking people to wear them on public transport and in shops.

Ben Wallace said an effort was underway to 'source as many masks as possible" with workplaces also likely to be included in any official advice ahead of a potential easing of lockdown restrictions.

He said: "It's not the amazing thing if you wear a mask that no one's going to get it.

"At the same time, to anticipate should different rules be made around masks, we're trying to source as many masks as possible."

Update #420 - 15.27 Conservation organisation could lose £200 million 

The National Trust could lose up to £200million this year due to the coronavirus crisis.

The conservation organisation, which has a number of properties usually open to visitors in the county, including Westbury Court Garden in Westbury-on-Severn and Lodge Park in the Cotswolds, is appealing to the government for urgent support during the pandemic, as reported by the Swindon Advertiser.

The charity estimates it lost around 50 per cent of its income when it shut its properties this year, threatening the future of nature sites and staff across the country.

The National Trust urged ministers to step in to support nature, wildlife and environmental organisations and to be environmentally-minded in its economic recovery plan.

Update #419 - 14.40 England hospital deaths rise lowest amount since March 30

NHS England have just announced that the death toll of hospitalised patients in England who have died after testing positive for COVID-19 has hit 21,384.

This is a rise of 204 since yesterday's total - the lowest increase since March 30.

Update #418 - 13.30 London's Nightingale hospital to be placed on standby 

Downing Street has said that the London NHS Nightingale hospital is to be put "on standby" as no new coronavirus admissions are expected in the coming days, reports Sky News.

The No. 10 spokesperson said: "It's not likely that in the coming days we will need to be admitting patients to the London Nightingale while coronavirus in the capital remains under control.

"That's obviously a very positive thing and we remain grateful to everybody in London for following the government's advice in helping to protect the NHS.

"What the Nightingale will be is effectively placed on standby so it would be ready to receive patients should that be required, but we are not anticipating that will be the case."

Update #417 - 12.45 O2 in talks to merge with Virgin Media

Spanish telecoms giant and owner of o2, Telefonica, has confirmed it is in talks with Virgin Media owner Liberty Global that could see the creation of one of the country's largest TV and mobile businesses to rival BT.

"The process initiated by both parties is in a negotiation phase, not being able to guarantee, to this date, neither the precise terms nor the probability of its success," Telefonica told the BBC.

O2 is said to be the UK's largest phone company, with more than 34 million members and providing network coverage to Tesco Mobile, Giffgaff and Sky Mobile.

Virgin Media provides TV and broadband services to about six million UK customers and an additional three million mobile users.

If the merger was successful, the organisation would become a key rival to both Sky's TV products and BT's telecoms business.

Update #416 - 11.50 Top-up scheme helps more businesses access grants

Businesses which fell through the gaps in the Government's coronavirus grant scheme could benefit from a new scheme which could provide up to £617million in help.

Small firms who did not claim business rates relief because they paid rates through their landlord or rented shared office space were not eligible to apply for a share of the Small Business Grant Fund.

But Business Secretary Alok Sharma and Simon Clarke, Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, have announced the new discretionary fund.

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Update #415 - 10.37 Airlines warn quarantine could "kill air travel"

Airlines have predicted that any 14-day quarantine imposed on people arriving in the UK "would effectively kill air travel".

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has admitted the Government is looking at introducing the measure in the fight against coronavirus.

But Airlines UK, which represents many of the country's leading airlines, said the move would "completely shut off the UK from the rest of the world when other countries are opening up their economies".

Chief executive Tim Alderslade said: "The danger is it would be a blunt tool measure when what the UK should be doing is leading internationally with health and aviation authorities on common standards, including health screening, which will enable our sector to restart and give people assurances that it's safe to travel."

British Airways last week announced plans to cut 12,000 jobs with Ryanair say it planned to lose 3,000 workers and ask remaining staff to take pay cuts.

Update #414 - 10.34 McDonald's in talks over rent cuts

Fast food chain McDonald's is in talks with landlords about cutting rent payments at some of its UK restaurants.

McDonald's, which is planning to reopen a limited number of branches next week, said rents have been paid in full for the current quarter.

But it admitted talks had been ongoing ahead of the next rent payments in June.

A spokesman said: "We have opened dialogue with some of our landlords to discuss how they might offer support on rent and service charges for a short period due to our restaurants not trading."

The chain said last week that sales had fallen 3.4 per cent in the first quarter.

Update #413 - 10.20 Online sales not so sweet for chocolatier

Hotel Chocolat saw a surge in online sales before Easter, but it wasn't enough to offset the impact of store closures during the coronavirus pandemic.

The chocolate retailer, which has stores in Cheltenham and Gloucester Quays, said it was encouraged by the resilience of its business model during lockdown and was continuing to explore ways to grow online sales, as reported by Retail Gazette.

Hotel Chocolat closed all of its stores and cafes from 22nd March, when the government brought in the closure of non-essential shops.

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Update #412 - 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 on Sunday (May 3) show that the UK death toll of people with coronavirus rose to 28,446 - which includes those in care homes, hospitals and in the community.

It was also announced that 882,343 people had been tested for the virus in the UK, of which 186,599 tested positive.

In Gloucestershire, there have now been a total of 194 confirmed deaths according to figures released by NHS England yesterday - a daily increase of seven.

It has been reported that of those who have died, 166 were being cared for at Gloucestershire Hospitals while 28 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 hit 1,231 as of yesterday afternoon.

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