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Gloucestershire Business News

Coronavirus LIVE Updates: The latest news from across Gloucestershire on Friday, April 17

Due to the coronavirus crisis the 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.

This LIVE FEED is now closed - click here for the latest 

Friday, April 17

Update #273 - 17.00 An incredible achievement for NHS Hospitals in Gloucestershire

Update #272 - 16.30 BREAKING Chancellor announces extension to furlough scheme

The Job Retention Scheme, which pays 80 per cent of the wages for furloughed workers during the coronavirus crisis, has been extended by one month.

The scheme, announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak last month to allow employers to retain staff they may have been forced to lay off, will now run until the end of June.

Mr Sunak said: "We've taken unprecedented action to support jobs and businesses through this period of uncertainty, including the UK-wide Job Retention Scheme.

"With the extension of the coronavirus lockdown measures, it is the right decision to extend the furlough scheme for a month to the end of June to provide clarity.

"It is vital for people's livelihoods that the UK economy gets up and running again when it is safe to do so and I will continue to review the scheme so it is supporting our recovery."

Update #271 - 16.20 Gloucestershire coronavirus cases rise

Public Health England have confirmed the total number of coronavirus cases in the county - which has now risen to 825. 

This is an increase of 57 on yesterday's figure of 768.

Update #270 - 15.30 Meals keep Queen's Head open for business at heart of community

Anton Williams, Queen's Head

A Gloucester landlord is putting his pub firmly in the heart of the community by providing customers with home-cooked meals.

When normal Mother's Day service was cancelled due to the coronavirus lockdown, Anton Williams of the Queen's Head, Longford , was determined it would not spoil the weekend for his regulars.

So he offered a pub grub pick-up service.

Four weeks later, he has served up hundreds of meals - not only to people living nearby and those unable to get out for regular shopping, but also to NHS and police frontline workers in need of a pick me up.

Anton, his wife Donna and daughter Millie have been running the Queen's Head for four years and he says the move to meet the culinary needs of his customers is his way of paying them back for their support.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #269 - 15.00 UK coronavirus deaths pass 14,000

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

Information shows that another 847 people have died with coronavirus in UK hospitals, taking the total death toll to 14,576.

The total number of tests for the virus has also risen to 438,991 and of these, 108,692 were positive.

Update #268 - 13.45 Government warns not to book summer holidays

A spokesperson for No 10 has said that Government guidelines and official Foreign Office advice does not allow for people going on holiday.

They added that travelling within the UK for holidays was "not something which the current guidelines allow" and Foreign Office advice says that "you should go abroad for essential travel only".

Transport secretary Grant Shapps also suggested this morning that people should not book summer holidays for later in the year, as reported by the BBC.

Update #267 - 13.35 Blue Badge renewal dates relaxed

Gloucestershire County Council have said in a statement that Blue Badge holders with a blue badge expiration date of January 1 2020 onwards can now continue to use their expired badge while they apply for a new one.

Cllr Kathy Williams, cabinet member for adult social care delivery at Gloucestershire County Council said: "Lots of people rely on their Blue Badges to help them stay independent, which is especially important during these difficult times. 

"We know people have a lot to worry about at the moment - and we hope this change will help.

"This will hopefully help vulnerable residents and those shielding at home to continue staying safe, while those making essential trips can continue to park closer to their destination".

The relaxation of enforcement will continue initially until 30 September 2020.

Update #266 - 13.10 Company who built Gloucester's Transport Hub handed NHS Nightingale contract

Quedgeley-based firm Kier is using its construction expertise to support the NHS in its response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The company, who built the new Gloucester Transport Hub and who are responsible for the overhaul of Shire Hall, has been assigned the job of converting the conference centre at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) into a temporary hospital.

The site in the south west of England, will be a new NHS Nightingale hospital and form part of the NHS' nationwide efforts to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

By transforming the conference centre, Kier will provide North Bristol NHS Trust with additional beds and facilities, to cater for up to 1,000 patients.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #265 - 12.55 Downton supports Nightingale Hospitals Project

Gloucestershire-based EV Cargo company CM Downton has come to the aid of medical charity Cobalt, allowing it to support the new Nightingale Hospitals in Birmingham and Bristol with crucial scanning facilities.

Cobalt was asked by NHS England to provide mobile CT scanners, to facilitate scanning of patients with COVID-19 up to 24 hours a day. 

To enable Cobalt to provide this vital new service, it needed a location to position its MRI scanners, equipped with the dedicated power supply needed to run the scanners. That's when Downton came to the rescue, offering to house the mobile scanners at its headquarters in Gloucestershire, allowing Cobalt to step up its support of the two new hospitals.

READ MORE 

Update #264 - 11.30 Dunelm adapts factory for NHS gowns

Dunelm is retooling a curtain factory to make medical gowns for NHS workers.

The furniture retailer said it is working with the NHS to repurpose its curtain production site in Leicester.

Chief executive Nick Wilkinson has taken a 90 per cent pay cut for the next three months with the chairman and non-executive directors agreeing to waive their fees.

The company, which said it will not need to apply for a support loan from the Bank of England unless its stores are closed for more than six months, reintroduced online sales this week.

It reported "significantly higher" order levels than before online operations closed last month.

Update #263 - 11.27 Netflix value soars past oil giant

Our hunger for TV and film streaming services during the coronavirus lockdown has helped shares in Netflix soar.

Shares rose five per cent on Wall Street yesterday to a record high of $448, valuing the company at $196billion.

The rises sees the value of Netflix rise above ExxonMobil which was the world's most valuable company in 2013, but has fallen behind the likes of Apple and Microsoft.

The oil firm's shares fell three per cent yesterday as the price of oil fell, putting the company's market value at $166billion.

Netlix has more than 160 million subscribers worldwide with Amazon's Prime Video (18 million users) and Disney's new streaming service also attracting new users.

Disney+ has doubled its global subscribers to 50 million since launching in the UK and across western Europe in February.

Update #262 - 11.20 Barbour joins the coronavirus battle

A brand synonymous with the Cotswold set has turned its attentions from waxed jackets to PPE.

The high-end British fashion retailer, which has a store at Gloucester Quays, is producing 23,000 protective gowns for frontline medical workers battling coronavirus, as reported by Retail Gazette.

READ MORE 

Update #261 - 10.30 Only nine per cent of Brits want a total return to "normal" after lockdown

Social and environmental changes seen during lockdown - including people valuing food more and noticing cleaner air - should guide future policy, experts urge, as a new poll reveals only  nine per cent of Brits want a total return to "normal" after lockdown.

The newly-released YouGov survey, commissioned by the RSA's Food, Farming and Countryside Commission (FFCC), found that a clear majority (85 per cent) want to see at least some of the personal or social changes they have experienced continue afterwards.

It also identified significant changes to our relationship with food, family and the environment:

  • 51 per cent said they have noticed cleaner air, and 27 per cent more wildlife, since the lockdown began.
  • Social bonds are stronger, with 40 per cent feeling a stronger sense of local community and 39 per cent more in touch with friends and family.
  • 42 per cent said the outbreak has made them value food more, and one in ten have shared something like food or shopping with a neighbour for the first time.
  • More than 19 million of us (38 per cent) said they are cooking more from scratch and 17 million are throwing away less food (33 per cent). Six per cent, or three million people, have tried a veg box scheme or ordered food from a local farm for the very first time.
  • But although nine per cent feel fitter and 27 per cent are getting more exercise, more people (36 per cent) said they are getting less exercise than before.

Update #260 - 10.00 Aldi launches online grocery service

Discount supermarket chain Aldi UK have announced that they will sell food parcels on its website for the first time today, to help vulnerable people and those self-isolating.

The parcels will be for home delivery and contain 22 products including tinned soup, rice and pasta. Each parcel will also include antibacterial handwash and a four-pack of toilet roll.

Aldi say that the parcels will retail at £24.99 inclusive of delivery and will be limited to one per customer. The move marks the first time Aldi UK has sold groceries online.

Fritz Walleczek, managing director for corporate responsibility at Aldi, said: "We are committed to providing quick, safe and affordable access to food for all our customers and understand that, for some, visiting one of our stores is not an option at the moment.

"We're constantly looking for new and better ways to support our customers in these uncertain times and I'm hopeful that these food parcels will make life a little easier for some of the country's most at-risk people."

Update #259 - 09.30 Further help proposed for motor finance and high cost credit customers 

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has today announced another proposed package of measures to directly support consumers facing payment difficulties due to coronavirus.

The proposed range of targeted temporary measures cover motor finance and high cost credit agreements, which include: high-cost short-term credit (including payday loans), buy-now pay-later (BNPL), rent-to-own (RTO) and pawnbroking.

Christopher Woolard, interim chief executive at the FCA, said: "We are very aware of the continued struggle people are facing as a result of the pandemic. These measures build on the interventions we announced last week, and will provide much needed relief to consumers during these difficult times."

In summary, the organisation is asking:

  • For firms to provide a three-month payment freeze to customers who are having temporary difficulties meeting finance or leasing payments due to coronavirus. If customers are experiencing temporary financial difficulties due to coronavirus, firms should not take steps to end the agreement or repossess the vehicle.
  • That high-cost short-term credit (payday lending) firms will be expected to provide a one month interest-free payment freeze to customers facing payment difficulties due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • That firms that enter into RTO, BNPL, or pawnbroking agreements will be expected to provide a 3-month payment freeze to customers facing payment difficulties due to coronavirus.

Update #258 - 08.15 Latest Gloucestershire coronavirus figures

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

New information shows that within the county, there have been a total of 113 deaths of hospitalised patients who had tested positive for coronavirus.

It was added that of those who died, 105 were being cared for at Gloucestershire Hospitals, while the other eight were being treated through Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust.

The number of confirmed cases of the virus in Gloucestershire has also reached 768, according to data published yesterday by Public Health England.

Thursday, April 16

Update #257 - 17.30 Coronavirus lockdown to continue for another three weeks

The government has announced that the UK wide lockdown will remain in place for at least a further three weeks.

In today's daily press briefing, foreign secretary Dominic Raab said: "Indications suggest that the measures we've put in place have been successful at slowing the spread of the virus, but it's a mixed and inconsistent picture.

"Overall, we still don't have the infection rate down as much as we need to.

"Any change to our social distancing measures now would risk a significant increase in the spread of the virus, and that would threaten a second peak substantially increasing the number of deaths

"It would undo the progress that we have made to date and as a result would require an even longer period of the more restrictive social distancing measures

"The advice is that relaxing any of the measures currently in place would risk damaging both public health and the economy.

"Based on this advice, the government has decided that the current measures must remain in place for at least the next three weeks." 

Update #256 - 17.00 New survey data reveals impact of COVID-19 on UK economy and society

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) have released new survey findings on the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Indicators that formed the results were reportedly constructed from rapid response surveys, novel data sources and experimental methods.

Some of the key ONS survey results included:

  • Of the 5,316 businesses responding to the Business Impact of Coronavirus Survey, 25 per cent reported they had temporarily closed or paused trading for the period 23 March to 5 April 2020, while 75 per cent were continuing trading.
  • For responding businesses who were still trading, an average of 21 per cent of the workforce had been furloughed (under the terms of the UK government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) in the period March 23 to April 5.
  • The Opinions and Lifestyle Survey results show just over half of adults (53.1 per cent) said the coronavirus was affecting their well-being.
  • Staying in touch with friends and family remotely is the most common action that is helping people cope with staying at home (76.9 per cent).
  • Overall, online prices of items in the high-demand products basket have increased by 1.8 per cent over the period week 3 (March 30 to April 5) to week 4 (April 6 to April 12).
  • Daily shipping data shows, up to 11 April 2020 there has been a gradual decrease in daily ship visits to the UK during the past few weeks.

Update #255 - 16.35 UK mass-participation event organisers unite to launch The 2.6 Challenge

Thousands of fundraising events across the UK have been cancelled due to Covid-19 with a devastating impact on charity income that means many charities are facing closure.

In response, the organisers of the biggest mass-participation sports events across the country have come together to create a new campaign named 'The 2.6 Challenge' to raise vital funds to help save the UK's charities.

"The 2.6 Challenge can be anything that works for you," says Nick Rusling, co-chair of the Mass Participation Sports Organisers group (MSO) and CEO of Human Race.

"You can run or walk 2.6 miles, 2.6km or for 26 minutes. You could do the same in your home or garden, go up and down the stairs 26 times, juggle for 2.6 minutes, do a 26 minute exercise class or get 26 people on a video call and do a 26 minute workout - anything you like. 

"We want people to get active, have fun and raise money to help Save the UK's Charities by giving money or raising funds for the charity close to your heart."

For more information on The 2.6 Challenge, visit twopointsixchallenge.co.uk.

Update #254 - 16.25 Free Stagecoach bus travel for Gloucestershire NHS staff 

A Gloucester-based bus operator has announced today that NHS staff will be able to travel for free on all of its buses in Gloucestershire.

Stagecoach says that it has organised the scheme in partnership with Gloucestershire County Council, to help health staff as they continue their efforts to treat people with coronavirus.

And that's why we are naming the transport firm one of our latest Punchline Business and Community Champions - an initiative backed by the Gloucestershire local enterprise partnership, GFirst LEP, and the Growth Hub, which runs the network of business support centres county-wide.

READ MORE 

Update #253 - 15.45 Fashion retailers may have to write off billions of pounds of stock 

An unprecedented amount of clothing is piling up in warehouses around the UK as fashion retailers are unable to sell spring and summer stock.

With the majority of physical shops in the UK closed under the government's lockdown, sales of non-food items are down by 70 per cent, as reported by Retail Gazette. £18 billion of spring and summer clothing is building up in warehouses, as shoppers are forced to stay at home.

It's thought that spring and summer will be a write-off for most retailers, with excess stock set to flood the market in June and July, leading to significant discounting in an attempt to shift the stock. Retailers who focus particularly on the latest trends are set to be hit the hardest.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #252 - 15.00 New UK coronavirus figures announced

The Government's Department of Health and Social Care have announced the latest data relating to coronavirus cases and deaths across the UK.

Latest information shows that a further 861 hospitalised patients with coronavirus have died in the UK, with the total now standing at 13,729. 

It was also added that as of 9am this morning (April 16), 327,608 people had been tested for the virus and 103,093 of these tested positive.

Update #251 - 14.40 740 further hospital deaths reported in England

NHS England have reported that a total of 12,396 hospitalised patients with coronavirus have now died across the country.

This is an increase of 740 on yesterday's England figure of 11,656.

Deaths in Scotland are up by 80, with their total now sitting at 779.

Update #250 - 13.10 Government approves ventilator design 

The first design for new ventilators has been approved by the UK Government. 

It has been reported that Oxford-based Penlon has worked with other companies as part of the VentilatorChallengeUK Consortium to finalise the design and the government has now placed 15,000 orders. 

Gloucestershire-based firms involved in the project include BAE Systems, Renishaw, Rolls Royce and Unilever.

Dick Elsy, chief executive of the consortium, said: "I'm very pleased to confirm that we have now secured MHRA approval for the Penlon Prima ESO2 device which has been undergoing stringent testing and clinical trials for the last two weeks.

"Ventilators of this type are complex and critical pieces of medical equipment so ensuring the absolute adherence to regulatory standards and meeting clinical needs were always our priorities.

"We will now accelerate the ramp up of production at the Penlon site in Oxfordshire and the new VCUK production lines we've built in Broughton, Dagenham and Woking.

"Having already commenced deliveries of the Smiths Group's paraPAC plus devices, we are working closely with our supply chain partners to rapidly scale up production to achieve our target of at least 1,500 units a week of the combined Penlon and Smiths models.

"I want to take this opportunity to again thank every member of the consortium and the hundreds of dedicated colleagues who have been working day and night to get us to this point."

Update #249 - 13.00 Corin vows to keep all employees on full pay

Orthopaedic technology company Corin Group has vowed to retain all its employees at full salary during the coronavirus pandemic - and share bonuses with them.

The Cirencester-based firm made the commitment in a statement on its response to the crisis in which it set out its goals for the rest of the year.

The company said it aimed to sustain itself through the crisis by protecting cash and focusing on "critical initiatives".

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #248 - 12.45 Gloucester charity sets up coronavirus emergency fund

A Gloucestershire charity which provides support to families of children and young adults with special educational needs and disabilities, has set up a coronavirus emergency fund.

The Spring Centre Trust in Quedgeley had to suspend its day centre activities on March 23 due to the pandemic.

And the charity has set up the Helping Hand Fund to ensure it can reopen when the time is right.

READ MORE 

Update #247 - 12.25 Office seeks new owner

It has been reported that the parent company of footwear retailer Office is seeking a new owner, making it the most recent high street retailer to appeal for new funding amid the coronavirus pandemic.

As reported by Sky News, South Africa-based Truworths International hired Alvarez & Marsal to run an accelerated sale process of Office, which currently operates 130 stores across the UK - including one on Cheltenham High Street.

Despite the prospects of the Office's imminent sale being bleak, information sent to potential buyers reportedly hinted that the process could be completed "within a short time-frame".

Update #246 - 12.01 Safran teams up with sports retailer to manufacture coronavirus PPE

Safran has partnered with sporting goods retailer Decathlon and Segula Technologies to produce protection masks for frontline workers fighting COVID-19.

The firm, which has a base at Staverton, has adapted Decathlon's Easybreath Subea snorkelling mask, which will help to protect medical personnel from airborne droplets that could transmit the virus.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #245 - 11.00 Stroud MP raises concerns over lighting sky lanterns for the NHS

Update #244 - 10.37 NHS patients in private Cheltenham hospital

The NHS is using a private hospital in Cheltenham as it copes with the extra demand created by the coronavirus pandemic.

Nuffield Health has been closed to new referrals as the Hatherley Lane site is used to support patients with COVID-19 and other urgent health conditions.

A Nuffield Health spokesman said: "Our Cheltenham hospital team is proud to be working with the NHS to care for COVID-19 patients in the national effort against the pandemic.

"We have been provided with a full supply of personal protective equipment from the local NHS trust so that all members of the team are protected when they treat COVID-19 patients.

"The team has also been given the appropriate training to ensure they can carry out their roles safely."

Update #243 - 10.35 Easy Jet consider removing middle seats

Air passengers could be given more room for social distancing with the removal of the middle seat.

Easy Jet chief executive Johan Lundgren said that is among the options being explored by the low-cost airline, which has seen its entire fleet grounded since March 30.

He said a projected drop in passenger demand when flights resume would allow for the removal of seats.

But the idea was labelled "hopelessly ineffective" and unaffordable by Michael O'Leary, chief executive of rival Ryanair.

Update #242 - 10.00 Warehouse and Oasis fall into administration

Oasis and Warehouse have become the latest retailers to enter administration as a result of the coronavirus epidemic.

Oasis and Warehouse Limited has appointed administrators from the advisory firm Deloitte, leaving 200 employees immediately without jobs and a further 1,800 at risk.

Owned by Icelandic bank Kaupthing, the chains shut their 90 UK shops last month during the coronavirus lockdown.

Rob Harding, joint administrator at Deloitte, said: "Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the entire retail industry, and not least the Oasis Warehouse group.

"Despite management's best efforts over recent weeks, and significant interest from potential buyers, it has not been possible to save the business in its current form. Therefore it has been placed into administration."

Update #241 - 09.35 Cheltenham's Municipal Offices closed until further notice

Cheltenham Borough Council have released a statement to say that from today (April 16) the Municipal Offices will be closed to visitors and all enquiries will now be dealt with online or by telephone.

They added that following government advice that is designed to help reduce the spread of coronavirus and protect the most vulnerable in our community, the council has taken a number of steps to help ensure the wellbeing of customers, staff and the wider community, while also keeping essential services running.

Councillor Alex Hegenbarth, cabinet member for corporate services, said: "We have made this difficult decision to ensure we protect the wellbeing of our customers and employees so to focus our efforts on ensuring we can continue to provide services that are of critical importance." 

Update #240 - 08.50 Burger King, KFC and Pret stores in the UK to partially reopen

After deciding to close their doors when the lockdown began in March, three UK food chains have said that they will reopen selected restaurants for deliveries.

Burger King has said that it will reopen four of its restaurants with a simplified menu. These outlets will be two in Bristol, one in Coventry and one in Swindon.  The business also added that it will donate 1,000 meals per week to NHS staff.

KFC has said that it reopened 11 of its UK restaurants in the past week for delivery only. These outlets are situated in Aldershot, Birmingham, Glasgow, Ipswich, London, Manchester, Portsmouth, Stockport, and Tamworth. It also added that it had donated "thousands" of meals to frontline workers.

Pret a Manger announced that it will be opening ten stores near hospitals in London today. It also pledged to donate an additional 7,000 meals per week to the homeless and also currently offers NHS workers a 50 per cent discount.

Update #239 - 08.30 Nine more people die with coronavirus in Gloucestershire

NHS England confirmed last night that a further nine hospitalised patients within the county with COVID-19 had sadly passed away - bringing the death toll to 107.

The NHS added that of those who died, 99 had been cared for at Gloucestershire Hospitals while eight were treated through Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust. 

The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Gloucestershire has now also reached 701.

Wednesday, April 15

Update #238 - 17.00 Gap in government support for self-employed and directors

Many self-employed workers and owner directors are in danger of falling through the cracks in the government's proposed package designed to steer them through the coronavirus crisis.

The Federation of Small Business says it has received more than 500 emails to a special hotline highlighting examples of those not covered by the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.

READ THE FULL STORY  

Update #237 - 16.05 Coach firm forced off the road

County coach firm Alexcars has been forced to close as the effects of the coronavirus lockdown take hold.

The family-run Cirencester firm, which has been operating for more than 70 years, announced the decision on its Facebook page last night.

Nobody was available for comment today but the company's statement said the impact of the coronavirus pandemic forced the decision.

It read: "It gives great sadness to announce that the directors of Alexcars Ltd have taken the extremely difficult decision to hang the keys up and cease trading."

READ MORE 

Update #236 - 15.30 Smokery turns supermarket as it launches 'call or click and collect'

An award-winning Gloucestershire smokery has launched a telephone and online supermarket and a nationwide delivery service, in a bid to keep supplying its retail customers.

With the ongoing coronavirus outbreak set to be with us for some time, Severn & Wye Smokery is offering a call-or-click-and-collect and nationwide delivery service of its smoked fish and other grocery and deli products.

Ordinarily, the Forest of Dean-based smokery sells its produce on-site and supplies high-end establishments including Harrods, Fortnum & Mason, The Ritz and Claridge's. Now the smokery is offering a 'call and collect' service and a nationwide delivery service, following a successful trial period delivering locally.

READ MORE 

Update #235 - 14.48 Latest UK coronavirus figures released  

The Goverment's Department of Heath and Social Care have announced the latest data for cases and deaths of hospitalised patients with coronavirus across the UK.

Latest information shows that the death toll of hospitalised patients with coronavirus has now reached 12,868 - an increase of 761 on yesterday's figure.

It was also added that 313,769 people have now been tested for the virus, of which 98,476 tested positive.

Update #234 - 14.40 How Gloucestershire is set up to cope with dire economic forecast 

The UK economy could shrink by a record 35 per cent by June according to one forecast as the coronavirus crisis takes hold.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak stressed the Office for Budget Responsibility's predictions were only one view of what lies ahead, but admitted the coming months were tough for businesses.

The OBR forecast expects the economic impact of coronavirus to be temporary with the Chancellor pledging the government is "not just going to stand by" without supporting the economy.

Punchline asked business leaders in the county for their reaction and how they felt businesses in the area were set up to cope with the crisis.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #233 - 13.25 Cheltenham Guardians change tactics during lockdown

Cheltenham Guardians are a group of volunteers who spend their Saturday nights making sure that people who have had too much to drink in Cheltenham can get home safely.

But during lockdown, there has been no call on their valuable service.

Rather than enjoying the break and putting their feet up, Cheltenham Guardians have turned to supporting the NHS and keyworkers across the county.

They have already raised £9,400 for initiatives directly related to Covid-19. They have raised the cash by appealing to the community through their established social media platforms on Facebook and Twitter and by making their own donations.

READ THE FULL STORY  

Update #232 - 13.05 UK to receive nearly 3m additional units of paracetamol

Update #231 - 12.30 The changing picture of the nation's concerns amid Covid-19 crisis

Citizens Advice says it has seen record-breaking demand for advice on its website over the past month with nine million pageviews, a 39 per cent rise on the same period last year. 

After an initial surge in enquiries about sick pay and redundancy, data from the charity now shows a dramatic increase in people seeking advice on paying bills and accessing benefits.

Coronavirus was the most searched word on the charity's website, followed by people looking for information on Universal Credit and the government's furlough scheme.

The service, which is now only provided via telephone, email and web chat due to social distancing rules, helped 220,000 people one-to-one with specific issues over the last month.

Dame Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: "Last month we helped millions of people. Behind each enquiry was a family struggling to pay rent, someone self-employed who could no longer afford their bills, or a person attempting to claim benefits for the first time.

"These personal stories combine to paint a bigger picture of how lives have been interrupted by coronavirus."

Update #230 - 12.15 Tour De France postponed

It has been announced by the Union Cycliste Internationale (the world governing body of cycling) that this year's Tour De France will now begin at the end of August due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Update #229 - 11.30 Spirax Sarco answers SOS to produce breathing aids

One of Cheltenham's biggest employers is joining the fight against coronavirus - by extending its expertise from steam solutions to the manufacture of components for use in specialist medical equipment.

Worldwide leaders in steam engineering, Spirax Sarco have announced their important part to play in the production of specialist UCL-Ventura breathing aids.

The Charlton Kings headquartered firm with 1,100 employees has begun machining a critical component part for use in the breathing aids, which will provide potentially life-saving oxygen to patients affected by the virus.

Spirax responded to an urgent enquiry from Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains, who are working in conjunction with University College London, asking if the company could produce the component at its manufacturing plant in Cheltenham.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #228 - 10.45 Oasis and Warehouse close to administration

Picture: Google

Oasis and Warehouse have become the latest high street names close to administration.

The women's fashion retailers are expected to follow Debenhams and Cath Kidston in appointing administrators with 2,300 jobs at risk.

Owned by Icelandic bank Kaupthing, the chains shut their 90 UK shops last month during the coronavirus lockdown.

The group also has 437 concessions in department stores including Debenhams and Selfridges.

Oasis has a concession at Debenhams in Gloucester while Warehouse has branches in High Street and Gallagher Retail Park in Cheltenham.

Update #227 - 10.10 More than one in five deaths linked to Covid-19

New data released by the Office of National Statistics yesterday show that more than 20 per cent of registered deaths in England and Wales for the week ending April 3 were linked to coronavirus. 

A summary of the findings said: "The provisional number of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 3 April 2020 (Week 14) was 16,387; this represents an increase of 5,246 deaths registered compared with the previous week (Week 13) and 6,082 more than the five-year average."

"Of the deaths registered in Week 14, 3,475 mentioned "novel coronavirus (COVID-19)", which was 21.2 per cent of all deaths; this compares with 539 (4.8 per cent of all deaths) in Week 13.

"Of deaths involving COVID-19 registered up to Week 14, 90.2% (3,716 deaths) occurred in hospital, with the remainder occurring in hospices, care homes and private homes."

Update #226 - 09.30 Financial help could smooth road for car loans 

Borrowers struggling with car loans are poised to follow mortgages and card repayments in being offered a three-month payment holiday.

The measures are set to be introduced by the Financial Conduct Authority and follow government steps to offer a a similar deal for mortgages during the coronavirus crisis.

READ MORE 

Update #225 - 08.15 Police reminding young and old to #StayHomeSaveLives 

Tuesday, April 14

Update #224 - 17.05 More than 900 vehicles stopped as police respond to Covid-19 incidents over Easter

More than 900 vehicles were stopped along routes across the county over the Easter weekend as police encouraged holidaymakers to stay at home, Gloucestershire Constabulary have said in a statement released this afternoon.

They said that while most drivers had a good reason to be on the road, a total of 14 penalty notices were given out across the weekend.

The force added that 89 special constables worked more than 870 hours to help get the message out.

More than 1,300 calls were made to Gloucestershire Constabulary relating to Covid-19 over the Easter weekend.

Many of the calls to the force reporting Covid-19 related incidents were about social distancing breaches and officers were sent to patrol key areas based on this information.

Among those stopped was a car travelling through Bourton-on-the-Water from London with a group of people heading to stay in a rented holiday home. Officers encouraged them to return to their primary address and have contacted the owner of the holiday home to establish why the booking wasn't cancelled.

One penalty notice was issued to a person towing their caravan to go on holiday, and their vehicle was subsequently seized as it was not insured.

Chief constable Rod Hansen said: "I would like to thank the public for their co-operation during a time when most people would want to be enjoying the weather, meeting friends and family or pursuing hobbies and pastimes with others.

"Our officers have had a challenging time in striking the right balance but by and large I believe they have done a great job."

Update #223 - 16.30 Suspension of garden waste collection continues in Tewkesbury borough

Tewkesbury Borough Council has announced that it will continue the suspension of its garden waste collection service for at least another two weeks.

It added that the decision follows a review of how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting waste and recycling collection services across the borough.

The council's waste and recycling contractors, Ubico, will continue to focus its efforts on completing statutory collections (i.e. refuse, food waste, recycling and litter bins), and is continuing to suspend non-essential collections to allow for drivers and crews taking time off to self-isolate if needed.

Councillor Jim Mason, lead member for clean and green environment, said: "Ensuring the wellbeing of collection crews, who are key workers and not immune to this terrible virus, is an absolute priority.

"Ubico is doing a fantastic job of keeping statutory waste and recycling collection services going under very difficult circumstances and I echo the many messages of support and gratitude that crews have received from residents."

Update #222 - 15.40 Five further deaths of patients with coronavirus in Gloucestershire

New figures have been released by NHS England regarding the coronavirus death toll in the county.

In Gloucestershire, as of today, there have been a total 98 deaths of hospitalised patients with coronavirus - an increase of five on Monday's figure.

Of the patients who have died, 92 were being cared for at Gloucestershire Hospitals and six were being treated through Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust.

Update #221 - 15.15 UK coronavirus death toll passes 12,000

The Government's department of health and social care have announced the latest coronavirus figures.

Data shows that deaths of hospitalised patients with coronavirus in the UK has risen to 12,107 - up 778 on yesterday's figure.

As of 9am this morning, 302,599 people have been tested for the virus, of whom 93,873 were confirmed as positive.

Update #220 - 13.35 Dominic Cummings returns to work

A spokesperson for No 10 has said that PM Boris Johnson's advisor Dominic Cummings has returned to work after two weeks off due to exhibiting coronavirus symptoms. 

It was announced that he would self-isolate on March 30 (three days after the PM) and has not been at work since.

Update #219 - 12.30 Gyms call for government help amid rent fears

Gyms have become the latest business sector to call for government help due to fears they could be evicted during the coronavirus pandemic.

The government introduced new rules to protect commercial tenants last month.

But the body which represents gyms and leisure centres has called for more help with landlords still able to use a loophole to force the payment of rent withheld during the lockdown.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #218 - 11.20 Up to 50m pints going to waste in pub cellars

Brace yourself for some bad news if you fancy a pint down your local - around 50million of them face being thrown away if the coronavirus lockdown continues much longer.

That is how many pints of ale and lager are estimated by the Campaign for Real Ale to be in the cellars of the UK's 39,000 pubs.

And while pasteurised beer, which includes most lagers, has a best before date of three to four months from delivery, that figure shrinks to between six and nine weeks for unpasteurised beer and real ales. 

READ MORE 

Update #217 - 10.45 Financial services expectations deteriorate over pandemic fears 

Financial services optimism had already fallen in the three months to March, and firms expect a sharp decline in business ahead, according to a recent survey.

The quarterly survey of 103 firms by CBI/PwC, which was conducted between 2-26 March, found that business volumes, profitability, and employment are all tipped to fall over the next quarter. Investment plans for the year ahead have also deteriorated. Optimism about the overall business situation in financial services fell sharply in the three months to March.

READ MORE 

Update #216 - 10.10 More PPE being distributed across Gloucestershire

Gloucestershire County Council have recently tweeted about their progress in delivering a further 66,000 items of personal protective equipment across the county with the help of Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service, Gloucestershire Constabulary and other volunteers. 

Update #215 - 09.00 Forest business starts cottage industry supporting NHS 

Staff at Calico Interiors were forced to be furloughed after workload dropped as a result of the coronavirus lockdown.

But the employees felt that they couldn't just stand by and watch the efforts of front line NHS workers. They wanted to use their expertise to help fight the virus too.

Using the skills they usually apply to their day job - making quality furnishing for people's homes - boss Pauline Nash and her staff have been busy.

Together with some other independent machinists they have been making laundry bags for NHS staff to use to safely wash their uniforms.

READ THE FULL STORY 

Update #214 - 07.59 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 Monday (April 13) show that the UK death toll of hospitalised patients with coronavirus rose to 11,329 - an increase of 717 on the previous day.

It was also announced that 290,720 people had been tested for the virus in the UK, of which 88,621 tested positive.

In Gloucestershire, there have now been a total of 93 confirmed deaths according to figures released by NHS England on Easter Monday.

It has been reported that of those who have died, 88 were being cared for at Gloucestershire Hospitals while five were being treated through Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust.

The Bank holiday Weekend saw the total number of cases within the county hit the 600 milestone, with confirmed cases currently sitting at 644.

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