Coronavirus – Daily Digest

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is have a significant impact on the daily lives of everyone in Great Britain and Ireland, and across the world.

Rotary is no different. As a membership and service organisation, we operate around on two principles; making connections and making a difference.

Despite the restrictions currently in place on people’s movements and activities, we are doing our best to continue with those two principles.

Although our members and clubs are unable to meet physically, they are continuing to do so digitally and via online platforms. And when it comes to service, Rotary clubs and members have been taking action with innovative and essential volunteer services to support those in need in their communities, while responsibly adhering the government guidelines.

If you’re supporting your community during the coronavirus outbreak, please share you story with us by emailing pr@rotarygbi.org.

On this page we will be endeavouring to provide daily updates which will be of interest to the general public and our Rotary members. These include government announcements, changes in guidance (e.g. around social distancing), cancellations of events and the status of the virus around the world. Thank you to HROC for their support providing this content.


Daily Digest

Positive News

  • Camping Out For The NHS, an initiative encouraging Brits to raise money for the NHS by sleeping in their motor home or in their garden, has raised over £80,000
  • 1,750 British Gas engineers have signed up to a scheme which will see them deliver food across the UK, with hopes they could be making as many as 50,000 deliveries by the end of April
  • Students at the Music School, Havering, will be putting on live concerts from their windows every Friday at 5pm; one of many groups of performers finding innovative ways to entertain, even in lockdown
  • The Jockey Club launch ‘My Stake For Their Sake’, encouraging those who would have placed a bet on the Grand National to donate that money to the NHS instead
  • MyLondon – A herd of wild deer have colonised an empty housing estate in East London, marking the first time the deers have been spotted in such numbers in the region
  • Vogue – The #HomeCouture hashtag on Instagram is bringing together housebound fashionistas the world over, recreating runway looks with items that can be found around the home
  • The Independent – More than 28,000 volunteers worldwide have signed up to the virtual ‘Adopt a Grandparent’ scheme, launched by Surrey-based carehome group CHD
  • Evening Standard – Andrew Lloyd-Webber has announced he’ll be making his back catalogue of musicals available for free online, to help theatre lovers get through lockdown. He’ll be starting with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, tonight at 7pm
  • Heart – Hypnotherapist Paul McKenna has launched the ‘Positivity Podcast’, a three part series providing top tips on safeguarding mental health during the Coronavirus
  • Newser – Families have been putting teddy bears in their windows to lighten things up during the outbreak.
  • BBC – A baby girl who had pioneering surgery on her spine while she was in her mother’s womb is celebrating her first birthday in lockdown.
  • BBC – A postman from Nottinghamshire has been doing his rounds in fancy dress.
  • Good News Network – Scientists in San Francisco have developed an app that will allow people from all over the world to contribute to research on coronavirus.
  • Sky News – The Pussycat Dolls’ Ashley Roberts has been teaching the groups dance routines over social media during lockdown.
  • Express – BBC newsreader George Alagiah has revealed he’s beaten coronavirus despite having terminal bowel cancer.
  • Huffington Post – The Huffington Post has collected nine ways you can support the NHS while staying at home.
  • Huffington Post – Dolly Parton will create a ‘Goodnight with Dolly’ bedtime stories 10 week video series to ease coronavirus fears. The scheme is part of Dolly’s Imagination Library, which send out free books to children every month until their fifth birthday.
  • Good News Network – A man in Essex has completed a half-marathon on his balcony for charity.
  • Good News Network – A report has found that social distancing measures are beginning to make a real difference in a number of places around the world.
  • BBC – Communities in Wales have been decorating their homes in support of NHS workers.
  • Huffington Post – Sir Elton John will host a living room concert to benefit those affected by coronavirus.
  • Good News Network – A ‘virtual pub’ is struggling to cope with an influx of demand. Jo Bowtell, landlady of the Noel Arms in Leicestershire has been hosting live music, quizzes, DJ sets and comedy nights.
  • Newser – A 101 year-old Italian man born at the height of the Spanish Flu epidemic has made headlines after recovering from coronavirus.
  • Newser – A bookstore laid off and then rehired more than 300 employees due to a boom in buying books online during the pandemic.
  • Newser – Prince Charles, 71, has recovered from coronavirus and will no longer self-isolate.Today – An image of a flight packed with emergency workers set to treat coronavirus patients has gone viral.
  • BBC – A community of houseboat owners in Bristol have come together during the outbreak to put on a social distancing pop-up concert.
  • BBC – While many products are seeing less demand because of the outbreak, people’s changing behaviour has led to an increase in buying books, home and garden items, outdoor and indoor games well as exercise gear, as people aim to use their stay at home time productively.
  • BBC – Mercedes F1 teamed up with University College London to create a breathing aid that can help keep coronavirus patients out of intensive care.
  • Good News Network – Sikhs around the world are sending donated meals to the elderly and people in self isolation.
  • The Drum – Burger King have rebranded their ‘Home of the Whopper’ signage to instead read ’Stay Home’.
  • BBC – Across the UK, at 8pm last night people took part in a tribute to NHS and care workers by stepping outside and clapping at 8pm.
  • Good News Network – In Benfleet, Essex, care home residents sang ‘Que Sera Sera’ to relatives through their windows.
  • Good News Network – Hotels are giving up rooms to healthcare workers battling the outbreak.
  • Newser – Celebrities have begun to reach out to those struggling because of the outbreak, with stars such as Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande giving out several thousand dollars to fans in difficulty.
  • Newser – Dyson designed a new ventilator in just 10 days, and the company expects to fulfil an order of 10,000 in early April.
  • BBC – Alpacas visited care home residents in West Lothian to cheer up residents during isolation.
  • Sky News – Following the government’s call for 250,000 NHS volunteers, 560,000 people have signed up in just two days.
  • The Mirror – Holby City and Casualty have donated their equipment to the NHS as they’ve been unable to film.
  • Newser – 5,000 respirator masks found in a cathedral crypt have been donated to two local hospitals.
  • Inside Housing – The Mayor London has booked 300 hotel rooms for rough sleepers to allow them to self-isolate.
  • Good News Network – After a couple published a 3D-printing guide for face masks, hundreds started making them for free.

International Updates

International COVID-19 Cases Update

Italy 

  • 75,528 active cases.
  • Italy has extended its lockdown until Easter, but there is some hope as the country reports a declining infection rate.
  • The governor of the southern region of Puglia said on Saturday the restrictions should remain in place until May.
  • Italy’s prime minister Giuseppe Conte warned on Saturday that the European Union could lose its purpose if it failed to deliver a strong response to the coronavirus threat and accused other member states of a reacting timidly to an unprecedented economic shock.
  • Italian scientists investigate possible emergence of Coronavirus in Lombardy towards the end up 2019, due to a higher than usual rate of people hospitalised for pneumonia and flu-like symptoms.
  • The government has increased punishments for breaking virus control measures, including fines of thousands of euros and five-year prison terms for anyone who tests positive and breaks their quarantine.
  • Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy said he was raising the fines on those who defied the country’s lockdown.
  • Italy has banned any movement inside the country and closed all non-essential businesses as it desperately seeks to stem the spread of coronavirus following a horror weekend in which more than 1,400 people died.
  • More than 5,500 Italians are testing positive every day, with the average age of those dying 78.5.

Germany

  • 52,901 active cases.
  • Germany has so far avoided a deadly outbreak on the scale of Spain and Italy, but it did report a jump in cases on Monday of 4,751.
  • German researchers plan to introduce coronavirus ‘immunity certificates’ to facilitate a proper transition into post-lockdown life.
  • Researchers to test thousands for immunity as Berlin plans exit strategy for pandemic lock down.
  • The researchers plan to test 100,000 members of the public at a time, issuing documentation to those who have overcome the virus.
  • The government in Berlin agreed to a comprehensive package worth up to €750 billion to mitigate the damage of the coronavirus outbreak on the economy. It is the first time the country is set to take on new debt since 2013.
  • German hospitals with spare capacity will take in at least 47 coronavirus patients from Italy in a sign of European solidarity.
  • An additional budget increase was also given to the Health Ministry of more than €3 billion, or around 20%, this year.
  • Germany’s finance minister has announced he will free up a sum of around €600 billion that could be used to provide emergency help for large companies if necessary.
  • Germany’s coronavirus infection curve could have now flattened, according to the country’s public health chief.
  • Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany tested negative for the virus days after being exposed to an infected doctor, a spokesman said.
  • Merkel’s cabinet announced plans to make 150 billion euros in emergency funds available.
  • Germany barred groups of more than two people from gathering, except for families.

USA

  • 155,589 active cases.
  • President Trump suggested to the governors of America’s 50 states on Monday that a chronic lack of kits to test people for the coronavirus was no longer a problem.
  • Governors in America say that their hospitals are facing dire shortages of ventilators, following Trump’s claim that the U.S. would ship ventilators to France, Italy and Spain “as we outpace what we need.”
  • President Donald Trump has said federal coronavirus guidelines such as social distancing will be extended across the US until at least 30 April.
  • New York governor Andrew Cuomo has described Trump’s idea of a lockdown in the state as “anti-American”.
  • On Saturday residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut were instructed not to travel elsewhere within the country for 14 days.
  • Non-essential gatherings in New York City are banned and most businesses are closed as the city faces more than 33,000 cases. Police can issue fines of $250-500 (£200-£400).
  • Last week 3.3 million people filed for unemployment – the biggest single-week jump in history
  • Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday that the state’s stringent restrictions on social gatherings appeared to be slowing the virus’s spread.
  • Senators and The White House agreed this morning on a roughly $2 trillion economic stimulus plan, the biggest in modern U.S history to act a lifeline for businesses, hospitals and families.
  • US President Donald Trump has said he hopes the US will shake off coronavirus by Easter.
  • The U.S. Olympic Committee joined calls by other countries for the Summer Games in Tokyo to be postponed, hours after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan suggested as much.
  • President Trump hinted that the economic shutdown meant to halt the spread of the virus across the country, would not be extended, even as his team warned of an alarming spread in and around New York City.
  • New York warns of major medical shortages in 10 days.
  • New York now accounts for roughly 5% of Covid-19 cases worldwide.
  • The US Army Corps of Engineers will help build four medical stations in New York with 1,000 beds, according to President Trump.

Spain

  • 63,460 active cases.
  • The authorities in Spain on Monday called for a period of nationwide “hibernation” until April 9 to help avert the collapse of hospitals overwhelmed by the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Foreign Minister Arancha González says the latest national figures show the virus’s upwards curve appears to be flattening out.
  • Spain has joined Italy and France in demanding that Europe do more to help as it reported another record single-day increase in coronavirus deaths and moved to further tighten its already strict national lockdown.
  • Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sànchez, described the crisis as “the most difficult moment for the EU since its foundation”.
  • The Spanish government has defended its response to the coronavirus pandemic as the death rate in the country slowed for the first time in a week, insisting its actions have always been firmly rooted in scientific advice.
  • Spain extended its lockdown to at least April 12, as the death toll rose to 4,089.
  • Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo has tested positive for the virus.
  • MPs are to vote on extending the country’s state of emergency for another two weeks until 11 April.
  • 5,400 healthcare professionals have been infected in Spain.
  • Pep Guardiola, has donated €1m towards providing medical equipment for the fight against the coronavirus in his home country Spain.
  • Doctors in Spain have complained of a lack of basic protective equipment as 514 people died with the virus in the country in a single day.
  • Spanish government approved a range of measures to support the tourism sector, which include a €400m, state-guaranteed credit line for the transport, tourism and hospitality industries, and allowing people more flexibility when it comes to paying taxes.
  • The government has imposed a 15-day period of strict restrictions on Spanish citizens, meaning the Spanish people can only leave their homes to buy essentials, commute, or provide care.
  • Spain’s coronavirus death toll has more than doubled in just three days, rising to over 2,000 on Monday morning.
  • Spain’s Parliament is expected to approve the government’s request to extend a national state of emergency until at least April 11.
  • Authorities also said they were acquiring more medical equipment, including 700 ventilators. Around 1.3 million protective masks were distributed on Saturday across Spain for healthcare staff and patients.

Poland

  • 2,024 active cases.
  • Poland expects rapid growth in coronavirus infections, Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski said on Monday.
  • Poland has shut schools, theaters and cinemas, and limited public gatherings. It has also closed its borders until mid-April.
  • The main opposition candidate in Poland’s presidential election has suspended her campaign and called on voters to boycott the poll because of the dangers posed by the accelerating spread of coronavirus.
  • A peak of 9,000 cases is expected when the virus peaks in mid-April.
  • Poland released an app which requires people in quarantine to periodically send selfies on request to prove they’re sticking to their quarantine.
  • Poland’s government said on Tuesday it would expand restrictions on citizens to prevent the spread of coronavirus, including a limit on the number of people taking part in masses.
  • Poland’s Ministry of Finance said Friday that some 660 gallons of confiscated alcohol were recently donated to emergency responders and health care facilities to be used to prepare disinfectants.
  • Poland’s finance minister has dismissed the EU’s economic response to the coronavirus pandemic as “smoke and mirrors”, and urged the bloc to do more to help workers whose jobs are at risk from the slump in economic activity.
  • Poland had been forecasting gross domestic product growth of 3.7 per cent this year, growth could now fall to between 1 and 1.5 per cent.

China

  • 2,161 active cases.
  • It is no longer compulsory to wear a mask when going shopping or on public transport, and it is no longer compulsory for restaurants and shops to take the temperatures of customers, as they had been doing previously.
  • The city in China where the coronavirus pandemic began, Wuhan, has partially re-opened after more than two months of isolation.
  • China has announced a temporary ban on all foreign visitors, even if they have visas or residence permits. It is also limiting Chinese and foreign airlines to one flight per week, and flights must not be more than 75% full.
  • Beijing ordered airlines to sharply cut international flights.
  • Over the last five days, health authorities have reported only one new locally transmitted case of Covid-19 – a patient in Guangdong province infected by someone travelling from abroad.
  • The Chinese province of Hubei, where the coronavirus pandemic began, will start allowing most of its 60 million residents to leave today, ending a nearly two-month lockdown.
  • China has encouraged airlines to keep international flights running by offering cash subsidies.
  • Wuhan has begun to loosen its two-month lockdown on citizens.
  • The first train arrived in the city ferrying more than 1,000 workers from elsewhere in the province back to the city for work.

Australia & New Zealand

  • 4,201 active cases in Australia, 572 active cases in New Zealand.
  • The New Zealand government’s swift move to lock down the country when there had been no deaths and only a few hundred cases of Covid-19 has drawn widespread praise.
  • In a package worth $1.3bn, the Australian government will pay private hospitals to help out with the demand faced by the public system as a result of coronavirus.
  • Britons stranded in New Zealand are facing costs of £40,000 to return home.
  • Australians should stay at home except for essential activities and announces six-month moratorium on rental evictions.
  • Australian government continued work on Sunday night on the third economic stimulus package in as many weeks – which will include a wage guarantee allowing businesses to keep people on the payroll during a shutdown.
  • Australia will enact mandatory quarantine measures for all new arrivals by midnight, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said
  • The Real Estate Institute of Australia supports calls for a six-month ban on evictions. The Shopping Centre Council of Australia has called on owners not to evict retail tenants for non-payment of rent.
  • Research released by Te Pūnaha Matatini suggested that, left unchecked, the virus could eventually infect 89% of New Zealand’s population and kill up to 80,000 people in a worst-case scenario.
  • New Zealand has declared a national state of emergency.
  • The Australian market opened up almost 6%.
  • Universities warn Australia could see more than 50,000 cases by Easter.
  • Eight universities have written to the health minister, Greg Hunt, with new advice on social distancing requested by the chief medical officer.
  • Pubs, clubs, gyms, cinemas, and places of worship in Australia will be shut from midday on Monday, while restaurants and cafes will have to switch to takeaway only.
  • The Australian Olympic Committee told athletes to prepare for an Olympic Games in the northern summer of 2021, conceding that the Covid-19 pandemic meant the 2020 Tokyo Games were unlikely to proceed.
  • No weddings or funerals are allowed indoors, except in small groups observing the 1 person per 4sqm rule.

UAE

  • 545 active cases.
  • The six-month multibillion-dollar trade fair that organisers had hoped would attract 25 million visitors will not go ahead. as scheduled in October. Dubai was pinning many of its economic forecasts on the trade it was expected to generate.
  • To limit the spread of the virus, the UAE will continue nationwide disinfection of streets and public transport until April 4
  • Residents have been told to stay at home between 8pm to 6am. People are allowed to leave their homes during the day but trips must be restricted to essential shopping or medical appointments
  • The United Arab Emirates has imposed overnight curfews to allow for a nationwide disinfection to combat the coronavirus.
  • Saudi Arabia reported its second coronavirus death and tightened a nationwide curfew, barring entry to and exit from the capital Riyadh and the holy cities of Mecca and Medina as well as movement between all provinces from on Wednesday.
  • With mall closures, border restrictions and strict “stay at home” orders, the UAE government is stepping up efforts to tackle the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Visitors who are currently in the UAE and unable to leave the country due to the closure of airspace and border crossings of many countries will be allowed to continue their stay in the UAE legally.
  • Emirates says it will ground all passenger flights from Wednesday 25 March – initially for two weeks – in a bid to limit the spread of Covid-19.
  • The UAE has decided to close all commercial centres, and shopping malls along with fish, meat and vegetable markets for a renewable period of two weeks.

Other 

  • Malaysia will extend a two-week restriction of movement order and unveil a second economic stimulus package as the number of coronavirus cases continue to climb.
  • There are 423,121 confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide, of which 108,619 patients have recovered. There have been 18,919 deaths. Italy’s number of deaths (6,820) is more than twice those in Hubei, China (3,160). Spain looks likely to lose more lives than Hubei soon, too, with 2,991.
  • As of this morning, India’s 1.3 billion residents are under orders to stay at home for three weeks.
  • Canada said it would not send its athletes to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, after the International Olympic Committee announced that it would decide within four weeks whether to delay or scale down the Games.
  • The Palestinian authorities reported the first two coronavirus cases in the densely populated Gaza Strip, where aid workers say the virus’s spread could quickly lead to a public health disaster.

4th - 6th April 2020

Update

  • Boris Johnson has been hospitalised ‘as a precaution’ after Coronavirus symptoms show no signs of abating
  • Matt Hancock says lockdown restrictions will have to be tightened further if ‘small minority’ of rule breakers don’t start complying
  • A tiger at the Bronx Zoo has tested positive for COVID-19 after displaying a persistent dry cough, sparking fears the virus could be spread between species
  • Spain, Italy and France all report consistent drop in both new cases and deaths across the weekend, showing signs that stringent lockdown measures might finally be working
  • Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer has resigned after receiving a police caution for visiting her holiday home during lockdown
  • New car registrations dropped by more than 40% in March; a steeper decline than witnessed at any point during the financial crisis of 2008-09

3rd April 2020

Key outcomes of daily update (02.04) from Matt Hancock, Health Secretary 

  • Up to now, Britain has been following ‘the right steps at the right time’ and adhering to all of the relevant scientific advice
  • £13.4bn of historic debt owed by NHS trusts is to be written off; an historic move which the government say will leave the service in a ‘stronger position’ to fight the Coronavirus
  • Tests are still being prioritised, but government confirms it won’t approve a test that doesn’t completely work
  • Current target of 100,000 tests per day is set to be achieved by the end of April
  • Up to now, 5,000 NHS employees been tested across the various testing sites, but this is expected to dramatically scale-up in the coming days

Government updates

  • Boris Johnson is to continue self-isolating, after continuing to report ‘mild symptoms’ of the Coronavirus
  • ‘Immunity certificates’, distributed to those who have recovered from the Coronavirus and allowing them to return to work, are unlikely to be rolled out across the UK, according to government sources

NHS updates

  • London’s temporary Nightingale Hospital, the field facility which can support up to 4,000 patients, has been officially opened by Prince Charles
  • The NHS is working on an app, which will trace close contact to those infected with Coronavirus – helping medics track the spread of the disease
  • Residents across the UK continued to take to the streets at 8pm last night, as #ClapForCarers brought the nation to a temporary standstill

Business updates

  • Heathrow Airport is to close one of its runways, following the news that BA is to furlough more than 30,000 of its staff
  • Sainsbury’s has announced it will be easing its purchasing limits on certain items, but will now only allow one adult per household into store at a time
  • Business activity across the UK and the eurozone has plunged to the lowest level since records began, with fears the longer term effects of the crisis could trigger a deep recession worldwide
  • The government will cover the losses of bus companies in England and Wales over the next three months, with the £167m fund helping to ensure NHS staff can still get to work
  • Upwards of a million people applied to the DWP’s Universal Credit scheme last week, with that number expected to grow across the coming week
  • Sales of English wine are booming, as home drinkers face up to a three month ‘lock-out’ of the pub
  • Garden centres could be forced to destroy up to £200m worth of plants, due to falling sales during the lockdown
  • Contactless card payments limit is being increased to £45, to encourage shoppers to utilise the more hygienic method of payment

Major events

  • The iconic Edinburgh Fringe Festival has been postponed until 2021
  • More than 100 Pride events have been cancelled or postponed to date nationwide

Other news

  • Google is to publicly track people’s movements during the Coronavirus pandemic, issuing regular updates on the travel habits of citizens in more than 130 countries worldwide
  • Peru, South America’s hardest hit country, is introducing gender split lockdown, with nobody allowed to leave their home on Sundays
  • Birmingham’s Edgbaston cricket ground is to be converted into a drive through test centre for NHS workers
  • Pressure is mounting on UK Premier League football teams to enforce a mandatory payout on players, while in Belgium, the league has been ended early, with current standings the final results for the season
  • MPs have urged people to be vigilant after a number of families fall victim to Coronavirus charity scams

1st April 2020

Yesterday’s press conference was fronted by Michael Gove, minister for the cabinet office. There were no new policy announcements, but Gove gave the following updates:

  • Yesterday was the highest single daily increase in the number of deaths from Covid-19. For further details on numbers, click here.
  • Gove highlighted that London continues to have relatively more cases than the rest of the country, with the Midlands also accelerating.
  • The government is rapidly building ventilator capacity, and the minister noted that 8,000 ventilators had been deployed in the NHS, up from 5,000.
  • The government has purchased ventilators from a number of sources, with manufacturers such as Ford, F1 McLaren, GKN Aerospace, Rolls Royce and Dyson all producing ventilators.
  • Gove also highlighted the work between UCL and Mercedes Benz, who are looking at equipment to provide oxygen at an earlier stage of the disease, in order prevent people from requiring intensive care.

2nd April 2020

Last night’’s press briefing was fronted by the business secretary, Alok Sharma, and the medical director of Public Health England, Yvonne Doyle. In summary:

  • Sharma noted that it would be unfair of banks to offer loans with stringent terms in relation to the government’s coronavirus business interruption scheme. This follows reports that many banks were offering loans with high interest rates or standard loans.
  • The Chancellor will make an announcement over the coming days to address this.
  • Doyle noted that there had been a slight uptick in motor traffic, which she said was worrying.
  • Doyle also noted that while London still has more cases than any other region, the Midlands also has a significant number of cases.
  • Today, businesses gain access to £22bn in business rates relief and grants of up to £25k per small business.

31st March 2020

Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, statement

  • “I want to reassure them that this government, their government is working around the clock to support, advise and help British travellers get home.”
  • I have spoken to more than 20 foreign ministers around the world in the last week or so to support this effort, to keep airports and ports open, and to facilitate access to them by British travellers.”
  • Over the weekend, I spoke to foreign ministers from Australia, New Zealand, India and Brazil and Pakistan, and I also spoke to the Ethiopian Prime Minister, and in all of those cases urged them to work with us and keep commercial routes flying.”
  • Given the scale and the complexity of this challenge, it inevitably requires a team effort. So the Foreign Office is working with other governments, and there is a particular focus on transit hubs, and we’re also working with the airlines to keep as many flights running as possible.”
  • As a result of those efforts, and the cooperation we received from the Spanish government, we’ve enabled an estimated 150,000 UK nationals to get back from Spain. That gives you a sense of the scale of the challenge and the numbers of British travellers abroad.”
  • I can today announce a new arrangement between the government and airlines to fly home tens of thousands of stranded British travellers, where commercial flights are no longer possible. Partner airlines include British Airways, Virgin, Easyjet, Jet2 and Titan, and this list can be expanded.”
  • Under the arrangements that we are putting in place, we will target flights from a range of priority countries, starting this week.”
  • Where commercial routes remain an option, airlines will be responsible for getting passengers home. That means offering alternative flights at little to no cost where routes have been cancelled. And it means allowing passengers to change tickets, including between carriers.”
  • Where commercial flights are no longer running, the government will provide the necessary financial support for special charter flights to bring UK nationals back home. Once special charter flights have been arranged, we will promote flights them through the government’s travel advice and by the British Embassy or High Commission in the relevant country.”
  • We designated £75 million to support those flights and airlines to keep costs down and affordable for those seeking to return to the UK.”
  • In arranging these flights, our priority will be the most vulnerable, including the elderly or those with particularly pressing medical needs, and also looking in particular at countries where large numbers of UK tourists struggling to get home.”

Government updates

  • Boris Johnson is coming under pressure from both sides over the possibility of requesting a further extension to Brexit in the face of the global coronavirus pandemic.
  • Dominic Cummings has become the latest government official to self-isolate after demonstrating symptoms of the coronavirus.
NHS updates
  • Around a quarter of NHS doctors are off work because they are sick or in isolation, the head of the Royal College of Physicians has said.
  • Boris Johnson is facing growing pressure to get more personal protective equipment (PPE) to health workers after it was claimed some nurses were treating coronavirus patients “without any protection at all”.

Business updates

  • The Italian restaurant chain Carluccio’s and rent-to-own retailer BrightHouse both collapsed into administration on Monday, putting about 4,400 jobs at risk.
  • Between 24 February and 21 March, UK shoppers spent an extra £2bn on food and drink
  • Google has issued a company-wide email saying that this year April Fool’s jokes will be banned “out of respect for all those fighting the Covid-19 pandemic”.
  • Rising demand for games consoles has seen many models becoming completely sold out across the UK and the UK. According to VGChartz, weekly sales of the Nintendo Switch quadrupled to 840,000 in the week of March 16th.
  • Hammerson, the owner of many of Britain’s biggest shopping centres including Birmingham’s Bullring and London’s Brent Cross, has scrapped its final dividend after only receiving 37% of quarterly rent from retailers.
  • A report by Be the Business and Opinium has suggested that one in five SMEs could be forced to close down permanently due to the pandemic.
  • Facebook is spending $100m to support news outlets around the world that have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Data from Kantar shows March was the busiest month on record for supermarkets in the UK as sales rose by 20.6% in the last four weeks.
  • British Airways will suspend all flights to and from London’s Gatwick airport amid a collapse in demand due to the coronavirus.

Major event updates

  • The Tokyo Olympics will now officially open on 23 July 2021, 364 days later than planned.

Other

  • TV licensing officers are not being sent to homes, letters chasing payments or to unlicensed adresses have stopped and prosecutions have been put on hold.
  • Electricity and gas supplier trade body Energy UK has approached the government to ask about a loan scheme worth up to £100 million a month so they can offer payment holidays to households and businesses struggling with energy bills as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • According to the Institute of Economic Affairs, fewer than one in six homeworkers will be able to work productively during the coronavirus outbreak. Despite evidence suggesting working from home can boost productivity, the Institute has warned that social isolation would take its toll on productivity.
  • Greater Manchester Police chief constable has issued an urgent appeal for coronavirus tests for front-line policing staff as it emerged that some forces are seeing one in five officers either off sick or self-isolating.
  • Live TV viewing has risen by 17% since the coronavirus lockdown.
  • Prince Charles is out of self-isolation, seven days after it was reported he had tested positive for coronavirus.
  • Prison bosses in Northern Ireland have been left with ‘no alternative’ but to release inmates in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.
  • UK police officers have been told to take a “consistent” approach when ensuring people comply with emergency measures aimed at curbing coronavirus.

30th March 2020

Total UK COVID-19 Cases Update

Communities Secretary, Robert Jenrick, statement

  • “I have put in place in all parts of the country procedures to ensure that everywhere can be ready to move forward together. All parts of the country are now on an emergency footing. This means that we’re establishing strategic co-ordination centres across the whole country.
  • “We are bringing together senior members of the emergency service, the police, the fire service, the ambulance service with local authorities and the NHS, to lead communities through this challenging period.
  • “And we have embedded within each of these groups members of the armed forces. These groups are planning the local response to the virus.
  • Using their expertise, their judgement and their leadership to ensure a comprehensive, a coordinated, and consistent response across the country.
  • One issue that they have been helping us to coordinate and about which I know there is a lot of concern is the provision of personal protect equipment.
  • “We have established the National Supply Distribution Response Team and they are supported now by the armed forces and other emergency services who are working round the clock to deliver the equipment to the people who need it most:
    • 170 million masks
    • 42.8 million gloves
    • 13.7 million aprons
    • 182,000 gowns
    • Almost 10 million items of cleaning equipment
    • And 2.3 million pairs of eye protectors
  • “All delivered to 58,000 NHS Trusts and healthcare settings including GP surgeries, pharmacies and community providers.
  • “Every single GP practice, dental practice and community pharmacy has had a PPE delivery. All care homes, hospices and home care providers have or will shortly receive a delivery.
  • “The Prime Minister and I explained why 1.5 million people who are extremely vulnerable to the virus, needed to stay at home for a period of 12 weeks.
  • “Since then, the NHS have written to almost a million of these people and outlined the steps that they need to take to protect themselves.
  • “We have also established a dedicated web page on gov.uk which those in receipt of a letter should go to, to let us know whether or not they need further assistance over the course of the next 12 weeks.
  • “If you don’t have family or friends or neighbours nearby who you can rely on then the NHS will deliver your medicines through the community pharmacy network.
  • “And if you register online or using the phone service that we have set up, letting us know you need support, then we will deliver food and supplies to your doorstep.
  • “The packages included cereal, fruit, tinned goods, teabags, biscuits, toiletries and other essentials.
  • “The first 50,000 will have been sent out by the end of this week and we are ramping up production to send out as many as are required for as long as it takes.
  • “We have all been moved by the number of people who have signed up to be one of the NHS Voluntary Responders – today we can announce an extraordinary, three quarters of a million people have signed up to do that.”

Government updates

  • Following constructive discussions with the Digital Secretary and Ofcom, the UK’s major telecommunications providers have today agreed a set of important commitments to support and protect vulnerable consumers and those who may become vulnerable due to circumstances arising from Covid-19. The UK’s major internet service and mobile providers, namely BT/EE, Openreach, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk, O2, Vodafone, Three, Hyperoptic, Gigaclear, and KCOM have all agreed the following commitments, effective immediately:
    • All providers have committed to working with customers who find it difficult to pay their bill as a result of Covid-19 to ensure that they are treated fairly and appropriately supported.
    • All providers will remove all data allowance caps on all current fixed broadband services.
    • All providers have agreed to offer some new, generous mobile and landline packages to ensure people are connected and the most vulnerable continue to be supported. For example, some of these packages include data boosts at low prices and free calls from their landline or mobile.
    • All providers will ensure that vulnerable customers or those self-isolating receive alternative methods of communication wherever possible if priority repairs to fixed broadband and landlines cannot be carried out.
  • The government has announced a six month extension to MoT tests to help combat the spread of the Coronavirus crisis. The extension applies to cars, motorcycles and light vans will be extended by six months with MoT test due dates from today onwards.
  • The Department for Work and Pensions has confirmed that people who claim benefits after being made redundant as a result of the virus will be expected to use their savings to support themselves before they qualify for benefits. Those with savings in excess of £16,000 will not be eligible for universal credit, while those with more than £6,000 will be entitled to reduced benefits.
  • Almost 40 MPs have written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak urging him to offer support to the airline sector.
  • The government is cracking down on misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic – a rapid response unit within the Cabinet Office is working with social media firms to remove fake news and harmful content.
  • It could be six months before life in the UK returns to “normal”, England’s deputy chief medical officer has said. Speaking at the government’s daily coronavirus briefing, Dr Jenny Harries added: “This is not to say we would be in complete lockdown for six months.” But, she continued, the UK had to be “responsible” in its actions and reduce social distancing measures “gradually”.

NHS updates

  • Some 20,000 former NHS staff have returned to work to help the fight against coronavirus, Boris Johnson has revealed.
  • The Royal College of Nursing has revealed that up to 20 per cent of front-line medical staff have had to withdraw from treating patients amid suspicions that they had contracted the virus.
  • Doctors have drawn up plans to infuse British coronavirus patients and their carers with blood plasma harvested from “hyperimmune” people who have recovered from the infection in an attempt to save lives. The experimental treatment will be directed at patients who are admitted to hospital with pneumonia caused by the virus in the hope that it reduces the number who end up on ventilators in intensive care units (ICUs).

Business updates

  • Unemployment in Britain is set to more than double in coming months, despite government efforts to incentivise employers to keep staff.
  • Virgin Atlantic and EasyJet are appealing to cabin crew to step in and help at the NHS Nightingale hospital, which is being set up at the ExCel Centre in east London. Many airline staff are already first-aid trained and have security clearance, says NHS England.
  • Uber has committed to providing 200,000 trips and 100,000 meals to NHS workers on the frontline of the coronavirus crisis.
  • Deliveroo pledges 500,000 free meals for NHS workers.
  • Supermarket chain Morrisons is to distribute £10m worth of food to the UK’s food banks during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • EasyJet has grounded its entire fleet of aircraft for at least two months.
  • H&M has told landlords that it would walk away from its 300-plus store leases if sales fail to match pre-coronavirus levels once the pandemic passes.
  • Manufacturers including General Motors, Airbus, McLaren and Dyson are racing against major logistical and technical challenges to convert their production lines to make ventilators.

Other

  • UK banks have asked the Financial Conduct Authority to permit them to allow customers to delay credit card repayments for up to three months during the coronavirus crisis.
  • The Bank of England is under pressure to halt £7.5 billion of UK bank dividends due to be paid out within weeks, after Agustín Carstens, head of the Bank for International Settlements, called for a global freeze on bank dividends during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Tenants of property giants go on strike over rent.
  • James McAvoy donates £275,000 to NHS medics’ PPE crowdfunding appeal.

29th March 2020

Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, statement

  • “Yesterday, we brought forward legislation to temporarily suspend some competition rules in the supermarket sector and in the operation of Isle of Wight ferries. From retailers sharing delivery vans to ferry operators coordinating staff, these measures will allow firms to work together to deliver vital services to the public, more effectively at this time.
  • “We’ve also introduced measures to ensure workers who have not taken all of their statutory annual leave due to COVID-19, will now be able to carry that entitlement over into the next two years. This will protect staff from losing out, whilst providing businesses with flexibility when then need it mosts.
  • “We will introduce measures to improve the insolvency system, which provides the legal options for companies running into major difficulties. Our overriding objective is to help UK companies, which need to undergo a financial rescue or restructuring process to keep trading. The changes to the insolvency regime will include new rules to make sure companies undergoing restructuring, can continue to get hold of supplies and raw materials. And there will be a temporary suspension of wrongful trading provisions from company directors to remove the threat of personal liability during the pandemic.
  • “We will also put in place measures to ensure that companies required to hold AGMs, can do so flexibly, in a manor that is compatible with the best public health guidance.
  • “We are also introducing a range of measures to boost the supply of personal protection equipment such as face masks, to protect the front line, NHS staff. And we’re removing administrative barriers to the production of hand sanitisers.”

Government updates

  • The prime minister is writing to every UK household to urge them to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. The letter will land on the doorsteps of 30 million households across all four UK nations from next week.
  • The UK government has bought 3.5 million finger-prick antibody tests that could transform the rate of testing for COVID-19.

NHS updates

  • The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that the Military Assistance to Civil Authorities rules remain in place during the coronavirus outbreak, meaning the the NHS will be billed for the use of military personnel and equipment during the outbreak.

Business updates

  • Online supermarket, Ocado has spent £1½ million on some 100,000 coronavirus testing kits to allow it to test its drives and allow them to continue to carry out deliveries. Arcadia Group is to suspend pension scheme payments to conserve cash in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Lidl will distribute thousands of fresh fruit and vegetable bags to NHS staff at hospital sites UK-wide through the retailer’s partnership with the Royal Voluntary Service. Meanwhile, Aldi is to give NHS, police and fire service workers priority access to its stores around the clock.
  • Virgin Atlantic is expected to ask for a UK government bailout worth hundreds of millions of pounds in the coming days after announcing plans to ground 85% of its fleet due to the pandemic.

Other

  • Fruit and vegetable growers have warned the government that it will need to charter flights to bring seasonal workers into the UK from eastern Europe if this year’s crop is to be harvested.
  • Oxford University scientists will recruit up to 510 healthy adults to test a UK coronavirus vaccine.
  • Forecasters have warned that the near-shutdown of the UK economy could throw more than one million people out of work within weeks after a 477,000 spike in Universal Credit claims last week.
  • Care home managers are refusing to accept elderly people discharged from NHS hospitals owing to coronavirus fears.
  • The Premier League is considering lifting quotas and rest.

28th March 2020

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Michael Gove, statement

  • “The rate of infection has been doubling every three to four days. “Today I can announce the prime minister has brought together businesses, research institutes and universities in a new alliance to boost testing capacity for frontline workers…this will be testing whether people have the disease so that our health and social care workers can have security in the knowledge they can return to work if their test is negative.These tests will be trialed for people on the front line, starting immediately, with hundreds to take place by the weekend and dramatically scaling up next week.”

Government updates

  • Boris Johnson has been placed in isolation after being diagnosed with coronavirus. Johnson was tested for the virus after exhibiting symptoms on Thursday. The health secretary Matt Hancock has also tested positive while the chief medical officer Chris Witty has self-isolated after also developing symptoms. Dominic Raab has been named as Boris Johnson’s nominated stand-in, meaning he would take up the prime minister’s responsibilities if Johnson were unable to perform them himself.
  • Parliament has approved emergency legislation suspending the process of abatement, which reduces the pension incomes of NHS staff who return to work in the service after taking their pensions.

NHS updates

  • Two further NHS Nightingale hospitals will be built in Birmingham and Manchester. NHS England has also reconfigured hospital services so that 33,000 hospital beds are available to treat further patients.

Business updates

  • Barclaycard has announced that it is to allow the limit on payments made with contactless cards to increase to £45 from the beginning of April.
  • Vodafone is offering free unlimited mobile data to half a million pay monthly customers as part of its coronavirus support plan.
  • Fashion retailer, H&M is placing pressure on landlords to allow it to abandon leases in the event that sales do not recover.
  • Tesco says it will limit online shopping orders to 80 items in order to ensure it can get more deliveries to customers.
  • Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley has issued a public apology over attempts to keep the retail chain open despite a government order for all non-essential businesses to close.
  • Unilever has joined forces with the UK government for the launch of a public information campaign to raise awareness of the importance of regular handwashing to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. The campaign will aim to reach as many as one billion people in the developing world.

Major event updates

  • Parklife, All Points East and Henley Festival cancelled.

Other

  • The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) said it was working with the government to facilitate the return of recently retired officers, depending on “local needs”.
  • National print newspaper sales have fallen by as much as 30% since the start of the government-ordered coronavirus lockdown, according to industry sources.
  • A temporary mortuary is to be opened at Birmingham Airport in preparation for a predicted rise in the number of fatalities from coronavirus in the region. Work has begun on the site, which will initially be able to hold 1,500 bodies, although it will be expanded to hold more.
  • More than 260,000 students have signed a petition call for the reimbursement of tuition and accommodation fees after courses were curtailed as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
  • The BBC has announced that it is to cut the number of episodes of Radio 4’s The Archers from six a week to just five.
  • The National Lottery Community Fund has announced that it will donate £300 million to causes supporting people effected by coronavirus.
  • BBC Local Radio has joined forces with loneliness charity Wavelength to offer free DAB radios to vulnerable people aged over 70.
  • Fitness guru Joe Wicks is to donate advertising revenue from his YouTube channel to the NHSafter becoming a‘lockdown celebrity’ with his daily fitness videos.

27th March 2020

Chancellor Rishi Sunak statement

  • “Working closely with businesses and trade unions, we have put together a coherent, coordinated and comprehensive economic plan – a plan which is already starting to make a difference:
    • Big employers like Brewdog, Timpsons and Pret
      have already said that our Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme means they can furlough thousands of staff, rather than laying them off. And we are publishing this evening detailed guidance on how the scheme will operate so that other businesses can take advantage, too.
    • Small businesses are already benefiting from Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans of up to £5 million, which are interest free for 12 months – with 30,000 enquiries in just four days.
    • Local authorities are already informing more than 700,000 retail, hospitality and leisure businesses that they will pay no business rates this year.
    • And the new hardship grants scheme, providing cash grants of up to £25,000 for the smallest businesses, is now up and running.
  • “So if any business is struggling, and worrying they may need to lose staff, I would urge you to log on to businesssupport.gov.uk, and look very carefully at what support is available before deciding to lay people off.
  • “Today I am announcing a new Self-Employed Income Support Scheme: the government will pay self-employed people, who have been adversely affected by the Coronavirus, a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last three years, up to £2,500 a month. This scheme will be open for at least three months – and I will extend it for longer if necessary. You’ll be able to claim these grants and continue to do business.
  • “I’ve taken steps to make this scheme deliverable, and fair:
    • To make sure that the scheme provides targeted support for those most in need, it will be open to anyone with income up to £50,000.
    • To make sure only the genuinely self-employed benefit, it will be available to people who make the majority of their income from self-employment.
    • And to minimise fraud, only those who are already in self-employment, who have a tax return for 2019, will be able to apply.
  • “95% of people who are majority self-employed will benefit from this scheme.
  • “HMRC are working on this urgently and expect people to be able to access the scheme no later than the beginning of June. If you’re eligible, HMRC will contact you directly, ask you to fill out a simple online form, then pay the grant straight into your bank account.
  • “And to make sure no one who needs it misses out on support, we have decided to allow anyone who missed the filing deadline in January, four weeks from today to submit their tax return.
  • “But I know many self-employed people are struggling right now, so we’ve made sure that support is available. Self-employed people can access the business interruption loans. Self-assessment income tax payments, that were due in July, can be deferred to the end of January next year. And we’ve also changed the welfare system so that self-employed people can now access Universal Credit in full. A self-employed person with a non-working partner and two children, living in the social rented sector, can receive welfare support of up to £1,800 per month.
  • “I am confident that the measures we have put in place will support millions of people, businesses and self-employed people to get through this, get through it together, and emerge on the other side both stronger and more united.”
  • Professional Builder’s response to the Chancellor’s latest statement.
  • Further information on the Chancellors’ support packages.

G20 Leaders’ Summit statement

  • “The G20 is committed to do whatever it takes to overcome the pandemic, along with the World Health Organization (WHO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank Group (WBG), United Nations (UN), and other international organisations, working within
    their existing mandates. We are determined to spare no effort, both individually and collectively, to:

    • Protect lives.
    • Safeguard people’s jobs and incomes.
    • Restore confidence, preserve financial stability, revive growth and recover stronger.
    • Minimise disruptions to trade and global supply chains.
    • Provide help to all countries in need of assistance.
    • Coordinate on public health and financial measures.
    • Fighting the Pandemic.
  • “We will share timely and transparent information, expand manufacturing capacity to meet the increasing needs for medical supplies and ensure these are made widely available, at an affordable price, on an equitable basis, where they are most needed and as quickly as possible.
  • “We stress the importance of responsible communication to the public during this global health crisis.
  • “We fully support and commit to further strengthen the WHO’s mandate in coordinating the international fight against the pandemic, including the protection of front-line health workers, delivery of medical supplies, especially diagnostic tools, treatments, medicines, and vaccines.
  • “To safeguard the future, we commit to strengthen national, regional, and global capacities to respond to potential infectious disease outbreaks by substantially increasing our epidemic preparedness spending.
  • “We commit to do whatever it takes and to use all available policy tools to minimise the economic and social damage from the pandemic, restore global growth, maintain market stability, and strengthen resilience.
  • “Consistent with the needs of our citizens, we will work to ensure the flow of vital medical supplies, critical agricultural products, and other goods and services across borders, and work to resolve disruptions
    to the global supply chains, to support the health and well-being of all people.
  • “We commit to continue working together to facilitate international trade and coordinate responses in ways that avoid unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade.
  • “We will work swiftly and decisively with the front-line international organisations, notably the WHO, IMF, WBG, and multilateral and regional development banks to deploy a robust, coherent, coordinated,
    and rapid financial package and to address any gaps in their toolkit.
  • “We stand ready to react promptly and take any further action that may be required. We express our readiness to convene again as the situation requires.
  • “We are confident that, working closely together, we will overcome this. We will protect human life, restore global economic stability, and lay out solid foundations for strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth.”

Further G20 updates

  • Following a virtual summit of G20 leaders, Boris Johnson announced the race to find a vaccine for coronavirus will be boosted by £210 million of new UK aid funding.
  • The Prime Minister called on governments to work together to create a vaccine as quickly as possible and make it available to anyone who needs it.
  • The UK, along with many other countries, is channelling funding to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) which is supporting the development of vaccines that will be available
    throughout the world. Future vaccines will be made available at the lowest possible price to the NHS and other countries’ healthcare systems.
  • CEPI has announced that it requires $2 billion additional funding from international governments to develop the crucial vaccine. If all G20 governments pledged $100 million funding this shortfall would be
    met instantly.

Government updates

  • The government has issued new guidance recommending that people do not sell their homes. The coronavirus outbreak has led to a number of
    lenders withdrawing new loan facilities, while estate agents have had difficulty in conducting valuations. Under the new guidance, no one will be allowed to enter properties, including estate agents, surveyors
    and potential buyers.
  • The government has written to all local authorities in England asking them to house all people sleeping rough, those in hostels and night shelters by the weekend in a bid to protect people.
  • The government has today (26 March 2020) made new public health regulations strengthening police enforcement powers in England, to reduce the spread of coronavirus, protect the NHS and save lives. To
    ensure people stay at home and avoid non-essential travel, from today, if members of the public do not comply the police may:

    • Instruct them to go home, leave an area or disperse
    • Ensure parents are taking necessary steps to stop their children breaking these rules
    • Issue a fixed penalty notice of £60, which will be lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days
    • Issue a fixed penalty notice of £120 for second time offenders, doubling on each further repeat offence
  • Individuals who do not pay a fixed penalty notice under the regulations could be taken to court, with magistrates able to impose unlimited fines. If an individual continues to refuse to comply, they will be acting unlawfully, and the police may arrest them where deemed proportionate and necessary.

Business updates

  • Food wholesalers are calling for help from the government as they struggle to deal with tens of thousands of tonnes of fruit and vegetables, fresh meat and dairy products no longer required by restaurants,
    hotels and schools. As much as £20m of food with a shelf life of less than three months is lying in warehouses, according to one trade group, after the government ordered the closure of millions of hospitality businesses
    around the country.
  • Following pressure from staff, the retail chain Next has suspended its online store.
  • Halifax, the UK’s biggest mortgage lender, has withdrawn the majority of the mortgages it sells through brokers, including all first-time buyer loans, citing a lack of “processing resource”.
  • Some of the country’s top restaurants have begun offering home delivery services as a result of the restrictions place on the hospitality sector in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The delivery service Supper, which specialises in deliveries from the top restaurants in London, has reported an increase in its customer base since the beginning of the outbreak.
  • Wetherspoons, Sports Direct and Topshop are among the chains customers have been urged to boycott for their conduct during coronavirus. Some firms are accused of refusing to pay staff, or seeking to classify employees as key workers to remain open.
  • The National Theatre is putting some of its biggest hits on YouTube over the next two months in a series of free shows to entertain Britons during the lockdown. Uploads will include One Man, Two Guvnors, starring
    James Corden.
  • Supermarkets will use a government database of 1.5 million vulnerable shoppers to help prioritise delivery slots during the coronavirus pandemic. Sainsbury’s and Waitrose say they will begin writing to people on the list next week.
  • Sky and BT will lose almost £1bn in revenue if topflight sport remains shut down until August, according to a report that recommends players take a pay cut to support their clubs.

Major event updates

  • Isle of Wight festival cancelled.
  • Download festival cancelled.
  • US Open postponed.
  • Indy 500 postponed.
  • Spanish GP postponed.

Other

  • North Yorkshire Police say it will use checkpoints to stop vehicles and ask drivers if their journey is essential.
  • Landlords have called on the government to introduce a waiver to their debt commitments following the decision to allow tenants a three month rent moratorium.
  • The BBC is to launch a new fitness programme hosted by Mr. Motivator as part of efforts to ensure that Britons receive enough exercise during the coronavirus lockdown.
  • The National Care Association, which represents more than 600 small and medium-sized care homes, said some members have been unable to stock up adequately.
  • Total UK COVID-19 Cases Update

26th March 2020

PM statement

  • “I want to offer a special thank you to everyone who has now volunteered to help the NHS.
  • “When we launched the appeal last night we hoped to get 250,000 over a few days. But I can tell you that in just 24 hours 405,000 people have responded to the call.
  • “They will be driving medicines from pharmacies to patients.
  • “They will be bringing patients home from hospital.
  • “Very importantly they’ll be making regular phone calls to check on and support people who are staying on their own at home.
  • “And they will be absolutely crucial in the fight against this virus.
  • “And so, to all of you, and to all the former NHS staff who are coming back now into the service. I say thank you on behalf of the entire country.”

Government updates

  • Parliament has gone into a four-week period of closure – although it is due to resume on the 21st of April, the leader of the Commons has stated that the closure may last longer if necessary.
  • The British chancellor of the exchequer is to announce a new package of support for self-employed people affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
  • The government has launched a COVID-19 information service on WhatsApp, which aims to provide “official, trustworthy and timely information and advice about coronavirus” and “reduce the  burden on NHS services”.

NHS updates

  • More than 500,000 people in just over 24 hours have signed up to help the NHS as volunteers.
  • The Secretary of State for Heath and Social Care is giving immediate financial backing for all NHS trusts to provide free parking to NHS staff for the duration of coronavirus.
  • The British Medical Association has called on the government to amend conditions of NHS pension schemes that mean that medical staff who die as a result of their work will receive unequal compensation.

Business updates

  • Off-licenses and brewery takeaways have bee added to the list of businesses considered essential, and so can remain open.
  • Supermarkets are being given access to a government database to help prioritise food deliveries for elderly and vulnerable shoppers who have been ordered to stay at home under the government’s coronavirus crackdown. Sainsbury’s has already used information from its Nectar loyalty scheme to try to prioritise elderly shoppers online, proactively contacting 270,000 people.
  • Morrisons has already delivered 10,000 boxes of essential groceries after beginning tests on a new scheme this week which operates using couriers rather than via its Morrisons.com network. The retailer expects to ramp up production of two £30 boxes of essentials in the coming week.
  • Tesco is bringing in 8,000 new drivers to help with deliveries and said it had already appointed 12,500 new staff out of a total of 20,000 required.
  • Marks & Spencer is launching a service with takeaway courier firm Deliveroo in which it will deliver bread, milk and other essentials from franchise outlets on BP forecourts.
  • The government is teaming up with food service providers Brakes and Bidfood to put together an emergency food parcel scheme that could provide essentials to 300,000 of the most vulnerable of 1.5 million people identified as needing assistance by the government.
  • Primark has refused to pay £33m in rent to its landlords as it tries to negotiate a deal that might offset the financial hit caused by the UK lockdown. Burger King, which has 500 restaurants, has also refused to pay its latest rent bill.
  • Next has offered a 20% bonus to staff willing to pick clothes and fill online orders from its own shuttered stores.
  • The chairman of JD Wetherspoons has insisted that the government clarifies the terms of its wage guarantee scheme before he commits to paying staff their wages beyond Friday.
  • The Centre for Retail Research has forecast that some 20,620 shops will close permanently before the end of the year, with the loss of some 253,714 jobs.
  • London City airport has closed all commercial and private flights.
  • The government has ordered 10,000 ventilators from Dyson to help deal with the coronavirus crisis.
  • Mastercard enables contactless limit raise across 29 countries.
  • Instagram launches new co-watching feature to help users connect.

Major event updates

  • Olivier awards replaces cancelled ceremony with greatest moments show.
  • UNICEF charity match Soccer Aid postponed.

Other

  • Millions of 15-minute home coronavirus tests are set to be available on the high street or for Amazon delivery to people self-isolating, according to Public Health England (PHE). Test to be validated this week, then made available to healthcare workers and general public.
  • More than 700 military personnel have been deployed as part of what is being called the COVID Support Force. More than 20,000 servicemen and women are on standby and “there are many more to come behind that if necessary”, General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, the head of the army, said in a social media message at the weekend.
  • Prince Charles tests positive for COVID-19.
  • Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says vehicle owners will be granted a 6-month exemption from MOT testing enabling them to continue to travel to work when “this absolutely cannot be done from home”.
  • The Department for Work and Pensions said on Wednesday 477,000 people had applied for the benefit in the past nine days and they were redeploying thousands of civil servants to help process the claims.
  • Total UK COVID-19 Cases Update.

25th March 2020

Matt Hancock, Health Secretary, statement:

  • “As the next step in that effort, today we launch NHS volunteers. We are seeking a quarter of million volunteers – people in good health – to help the NHS, for shopping, in delivery of medicines and to support those who are shielded to protect their own health.
  • “We will next week open a new hospital, a temporary hospital, the NHS Nightingale hospital, at the ExCel centre in London. The NHS Nightingale hospital will comprise two wards each of 2,000 people. With the help of the military and with NHS clinicians, we will make sure that we have the capacity that we need.
  • “It is stay at home unless you’ve got a good reason and we will also enforce those rules. If you are in a workplace that we have said will close then we are going to enforce against those closures as well.”
  • Members of the public can sign up to become NHS volunteers here: https://www.goodsamapp.org/NHS

Government updates

  • The government has been texting people across the UK to inform them of the new rules announced by the Prime Minister on 23 March 2020.
  • The Cabinet Office minister, Michael Gove, did not rule out lockdown rules getting even tighter after three weeks. He told Sky News this morning: “In three weeks’ time we will be able to say whether or not the path that we’ve followed needs any further intensification, or whether there are one or two of the existing restrictions that may be capable of being lifted.”
  • Parliament is expected to close on Wednesday evening after emergency laws to deal with the coronavirus have been passed. MPs will vote to plan for a managed return on Tuesday 21 April.

NHS updates

  • 170,000 people have already registered to be NHS volunteers.
  • The NHS has called on university scientists to volunteer to work in coronavirus testing facilities.
  • Doctors have warned that large numbers will resign from the NHS unless the government takes steps to ensure that they have proper protective clothing while treating patients suffering from coronavirus.

Business updates

  • Chemicals firm, Ineos, plans to build two hand sanitiser factories in 10 days, with the aim of making one million bottles of the product per month during the pandemic.
  • Transport for London confirmed that all works will be temporarily suspended unless they ‘need to continue for operational safety reasons’.
  • Builders merchant Buildbase has closed all branches and ceased online ordering, while Travis Perkins has closed all branches but will run deliveries from selected branches. Jewson temporarily closed, however after the government confirmed it was able to continue operating, it announced branches would stay closed for customers but that it would be running a delivery only service to existing trade customers.
  • Housebuilders Taylor Wimpey and Galliard announced they have closed down its building sites, show homes and sales centres. Redrow Homes’ sales centres are also closed.
  • Sports Direct has defended its decision to increase the price of sports equipment amid accusations that it was attempting to profit from the lockdown. The chain has also abandoned its efforts to claim to be an essential retailer in order to remain open during the lockdown, following criticism of the move.
  • Lloyds Banking Group is suspending 780 job cuts across its branches amid surging demand for loans and uncertainty over how many of its staff may need to self-isolate.

Major event updates

  • The International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government have announced that the Tokyo Games are to be postponed until next year.
  • Henley Regatta cancelled.
  • Firefly Music Festival 2020 cancelled.

Other

  • Special flights are being set up to bring home Britons stranded because of the lockdown, the foreign secretary has announced. Qantas has scheduled a direct flight from the Australian city of Darwin to London’s Heathrow airport.
  • Arts Council England has announced that it is to launch a £160 million package to assist cultural organisations struggling to survive as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
  • A new poll, commissioned by Leonne International, the global private equity provider, reveals that 33 per cent of UK businesses say they lack the technology infrastructure to manage long-term remote working.
  • Prison visits are temporarily cancelled.

24th March 2020

PM address to the nation

  • “From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction – you must stay at home. That is why people will only be allowed to leave their home for the following very limited purposes:
  • Shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible
  • One form of exercise a day – for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household
  • Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
  • Travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home.
  • “You should not be meeting friends. You should not be meeting family members who do not live in your home. You should not be going shopping except for essentials like food and medicine – and you should do this as little as you can.
  • “If you don’t follow the rules the police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.
  • “To ensure compliance with the Government’s instruction to stay at home, we will immediately: Close all shops selling non-essential goods, including clothing and electronic stores and other premises including libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, and places of worship, We will stop all gatherings of more than two people in public – excluding people you live with; and we’ll stop all social events , including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, but excluding funerals.
  • “Parks will remain open for exercise but gatherings will be dispersed.
  • “We will keep these restrictions under constant review. We will look again in three weeks, and relax them if the evidence shows we are able to.”

Further clarification from the government

  • Businesses and other venues now closed includes:
    • All non-essential retail stores – this will include clothing and electronics stores; hair, beauty and nail salons; and outdoor and indoor markets, excluding food markets.
    • Libraries, community centres, and youth centres.
    • Indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, arcades and soft play facilities.
    • Communal places within parks , such as playgrounds, sports courts and outdoor gyms.
    • Places of worship, except for funerals attended by immediate families.
    • Hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan parks, and boarding houses for commercial/leisure use (excluding permanent residents and key workers).
  • Takeaway and delivery facilities should remain open and operational. Those venues must not include alcoholic beverages in this list if their license does not already permit.
  • Information on businesses closing: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close
  • Guidance on staying at home: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/full-guidance-on-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others

Government updates

Planners from the government are preparing to ask some of the 2.5 million people who have signed up to community groups set up to help people in self-isolation to start delivering emergency food aid within days.

NHS updates

  • The NHS has more than doubled its number of ventilators available for coronavirus patients – It has 12,000, up from 5,000.
  • NHS plans to turn ExCeL centre into 4,000-bed ‘field hospital’.

Business updates

  • A number of food wholesalers are beginning to sell produce directly to customers. Bidfood, a supplier of food to the catering industry now accepts orders direct from consumers on its website, while sellers at London’s New Covent Garden fruit and vegetable market have also started taking orders from the public.
  • Deliveroo has announced that it has signed a deal with Marks & Spencer and BP to deliver the store’s products to customers who are unable to buy essentials as they are self-isolating. The company is also expanding its Essentials by Deliveroo service to cities in England, which will deliver products including tinned goods, pasta and household items to customers’ homes.

Major event updates

The Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has acknowledged that this year’s Tokyo Olympics may have to be delayed as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Uefa has announced that both the Champions League and Europa League finals have been postponed for an indefinite period.Grand Prix postponed.

Other

The Lord Chief Justice has announced that all new jury trials in England and Wales are to be suspended.

22nd March 2020

PM Mother’s Day words: 

  • “We are only a matter of weeks – two or three – behind Italy. Unless we act together, unless we make the heroic and collective national effort to slow the spread – then it is all too likely that our own NHS will be similarly overwhelmed.
  • Let’s stay at home, protect our NHS, and together we will save literally thousands of lives.”

PM statement: 

  • “I said the moment would come where we needed to shield those with serious conditions. There are probably about 1.5 million in all… this shielding will do more than any other single measure that we are setting out to save life.
  • “I want people to be able to go to the parks and open spaces and to enjoy themselves…but please follow the advice…you have to stay two metres apart; you have to follow the social distancing advice.
  • “Take this advice seriously, follow it, because it is absolutely crucial.
  • “And as I have said throughout this process we will keep the implementation of these measures under constant review and, we will bring forward further measures if we think that is necessary.”

Government updates:

  • Government urges up to 1.5 million people in England who face the highest risk to shield themselves and stay at home – people with specific underlying health conditions, including some being treated for cancer, will be contacted by the NHS this week and strongly advised to stay at home for a period of at least 12 weeks.
  • Plans also unveiled to deliver groceries and medicines for those most at risk from the virus where needed.
  • The Government has warned it could enforce a more restrictive lockdown on the UK after tens of thousands of people ignored social distancing advice.

NHS updates:

  • The health secretary has acknowledged there have been “challenges” with the supply of personal protective equipment to NHS staff in England. Matt Hancock said a million face masks had been bought over the weekend and he was taking the issue “very seriously”.
  • Senior staff at a London hospital have said they expect beds in its intensive care unit to be full by March 30th.
  • Paediatric intensive care units should prepare to take adults up to age 25.

Business updates:

  • McDonald’s closes from 7pm Monday (23rd).
  • Nando’s has closed ‘until further notice’.
  • Waterstones closes all 280 stores.
  • Richard Branson has committed to investing $250m into Virgin to protect jobs.
  • All National Trust parks and gardens closed on Sunday.
  • RHS gardens now closed.

Major event updates:

  • The International Olympic Committee is set to confirm it is considering a postponement of Tokyo 2020.

Other:

  • Police in Cumbria warned tourists not to travel to the Lake District after the region saw an influx of visitors this weekend.
  • West Withering beach in Chichester closed to the public on Saturday after visitors “far exceeded” expectations, while Visit Cornwall urged people to postpone visits.
  • Asked whether such scenes could require police to enforce social distancing and lock down the city, as has taken place in Italy, Sadiq Khan said an emergency coronavirus bill due to be considered by MPs on Monday (23rd) would include such powers.
  • In Northern Ireland, First Minister Arlene Foster said social distancing may have to be enforced after police received reports young people are continuing to congregate despite being advised against it.

21st March 2020

NHS updates:

  • 4,000 nurses and 500 doctors have signed up to return to the NHS in the first 48 hours of call out.
  • NHS has a deal with the private sector to provide 20,000 more staff and 8,000 hospital beds.

Business updates:

  • Primark has cancelled all orders – stores expected to close Sunday and not reopen Monday.
  • New Look and TK Maxx temporarily closed.
  • John Lewis is temporarily closing all 50 John Lewis shops from close of business on Monday (23rd).
  • Pret a Manger and Starbucks close all stores. Costa Coffee and Caffe Nero stated they will become takeaway only for now.
  • Tesco’s prioritising a ‘browsing hour’ for NHS works before checkouts open on Sundays.
  • Ministers are planning a part-nationalisation of airlines including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and easyJet.
  • HMV closing all stores by end of day (Sunday 22nd).

Major event updates:

  • The FA has put a halt to all professional football in England until April.
  • Euro 2020 has been postponed for a year.

Other:

  • One hundred and fifty cross-party MPs and peers have written to the government asking for it to “show the direction and leadership necessary” to make sure food supplies are available for all NHS, emergency and essential workers.
  • According to analysts from Jefferies, a worst case scenario for the economy could see house prices falling by 20% this year.

20th March 2020

PM statement: 

  • “We are collectively telling cafes, pubs, bars, restaurants to close tonight as soon as they reasonably can, and not to open tomorrow. Though to be clear, they can continue to provide take-out services.
  • “We’re also telling nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres to close on the same timescale.
  • “We will review the situation each month, to see if we can relax any of these measures.”
  • “How I see the timescale of this campaign… I do think, looking at it all, that we can turn the tide within the next 12 weeks.
  • “Today we have put the first British corona patient into a randomised trial for drugs that may treat the disease.
  • “UK experts and scientists expect to start trials for the first vaccine within a month.
  • “We are in negotiations today to buy a so called antibody test…that could tell whether you have had the disease. If it works as its proponents claim then we will buy literally hundreds of thousands of these kits as soon as practicable.
  • “I say to business, stand by your employees, stand by your workers because we will stand by you.”

Rishi Sunak, Chancellor statement: 

  • “We’re setting up a new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Any employer in the country will be eligible for the scheme.
  • “Employers will be able to contact HMRC for a grant to cover most of the wages of people who are not working but are furloughed and kept on payroll, rather than being laid off.
  • “Government grants will cover 80% of the salary of retained workers up to a total of £2,500 a month. Employers can top up salaries further if they choose to.
  • “The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to March 1st and will be open initially for at least three months.
  • “I am placing no limit on the amount of funding available for the scheme.
  • “We expect the first grants to be paid within weeks – and we’re aiming to get it done before the end of April.
  • “The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will not be interest free, as previously planned, for 6 months – it will now be interest free for twelve months…those loans will now be available starting on Monday.
  • “To help businesses pay people and keep them in work, I am deferring the next quarter of VAT payments. That means no business will pay any from now until the end of June; and you will have until the end of the financial year to repay those bills.
  • “I’m increasing today the Universal Credit standard allowance, for the next 12 months, by £1,000 a year.
  • “For the next twelve months, I’m increasing the Working Tax Credit basic element by the same amount as well.
  • “Every self-employed person can now access, in full, Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees.
  • “The next self-assessment payments will be deferred until January 2021.
  • I’m announcing today nearly £1bn of support for renters, by increasing the generosity of housing benefit and Universal Credit, so that the Local Housing Allowance will cover at least 30% of market rents in your area.”

Government updates:

  • Boris Johnson published the 329-page Coronavirus Bill, emergency legislation to give the government powers over vast areas of British national life. The government wants the measures, which give police new powers to shut down events and order people to go home, to remain in place until September 2022 at the latest.
  • The government is relaxing competition regulations so supermarkets can work together. Under the temporary waiver approved last night, they will be allowed to co-operate to keep shops open, share distribution depots and delivery vans, and share data on stock levels. They will also be allowed to share staff with each other.
  • The list of key workers (for children who will be prioritised for eduction provision) has been published: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision
  • The government is still considering further measures in London, but has vowed that the city will remain open.
  • In an address to the Commons’ Foreign Affairs Committee, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has reiterated his confidence in a post-Brexit UK-EU trade deal being reached by December 2020.
  • Strict social distancing measures may need to remain in place until the autumn, according to government documents that reveal the thinking behind its approach to the crisis: https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/scientific-advisory-group-for-emergencies-sage-coronavirus-covid-19-response
  • Further details on arrangements for exams which have been cancelled have been announced: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/further-details-on-exams-and-grades-announced

NHS updates:

  • As part of a drive to free up hospital beds, almost £3bn in funding is being made available to support services in the community.
  • All non-essential visits to patients are being stopped at Birmingham hospitals.
  • Letters are being sent to more than 65,000 retired doctors and nurses in England and Wales asking them to return to the NHS.
  • Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow has declared a “critical incident” due to a surge in patients with Covid-19.

Business updates:

  • BT, owner of UK mobile operator EE, is in talks with the government about using its phone location and usage data to monitor whether coronavirus limitation measures such as asking the public to stay at home are working.
  • Ocado is to extend product rationing and prevent customer from booking multiple delivery slots when it reopens tomorrow.
  • Netflix will reduce the video quality on its service in Europe for the next 30 days.
  • Trains operators across Britain will gradually reduce services from Monday. Buses in the West Midlands and Greater Manchester are also cutting services.

Major event updates:

  • Moncao Grand Prix cancelled.
  • Cannes Film Festival postponed.
  • World Snooker Championship postponed.

Other:

  • The Queen’s speech: “At times such as these, I am reminded that our nation’s history has been forged by people and communities coming together to work as one, concentrating our combined efforts with a focus on the common goal….Many of us will need to find new ways of staying in touch with each other and making sure that loved ones are safe…I am certain we are up to that challenge. You can be assured that my family and I stand ready to play our part.”
  • The Bank of England has cut interest rates from 0.25% to 0.1% – it’s lowest rate in history.
  • Church of England restricts weddings to five people.
  • UK firms scrap dividend payouts to protect against disruption.
  • The UK’s public service broadcasters have reported a huge surge in viewer numbers – ten million Britons tuned in to watch Boris Johnson’s address to the nation on Wednesday afternoon.
  • Oxbridge to replace summer exams with online assessments.
  • Final-year medical students across the UK are being graduated early by their universities to help treat patients.

Coronavirus kindness – Children from a school in Worcester have been writing letters to care homes to help combat loneliness

https://bbc.in/3bdUVNK

Red Cross – Has released a blog to show how we can help neighbours in our local communities

https://www.redcross.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/uk-emergency-response/coronavirus-and-the-power-of-kindness

Food packages – A retired carer is delivering food packages to the elderly in Lancashire

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-51966158

19th March 2020

PM statement: 

  • “We will massively scale up our testing capacity in the weeks ahead…we [have] hit 25,000 tests a day.
  • “After schools shut their gates from Friday afternoon, they will remain closed – for the vast majority of pupils – until further notice.
  • “We need schools to make provisions for the children of these key workers (official list to be confirmed later today). And they will also need to look after the most vulnerable children.
  • “We are simultaneously asking nurseries and private schools to do the same, and we are providing financial support where it is needed.
  • “We are making provisions to supply meals and vouchers for children eligible for free school meals.
  • “Exams will not take place as planned in May and June.
  • “As we have already advised, children should not be left with older grandparents, or older relatives.”

Further clarification from the government: 

  • Nurseries, private schools and sixth forms should also follow this guidance.
  • Primary school assessments or secondary exams this summer will not go ahead, and performance tables will not be published.
  • To support nurseries at this time, the Chancellor has also decided that they will also now be eligible for a business rates holiday for one year.

TfL update:

  • Up to 40 London underground stations are set to close.
  • Stations already closed this morning: Arsenal, Barbican, Borough, Bounds Green, Bow Road, Covent Garden, Goodge Street, Hampstead, Manor House.
  • There will be no night Tube and bus services will also be reduced.

Business updates:

  • Ocado closes its website until Saturday as online supermarket struggles to keep up with demand.
  • Ryanair warns almost entire fleet will be grounded.
  • BBC has suspended filming of EastEnders.
  • Vodafone and TalkTalk report surge in internet use.
  • Former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville is to open his hotels free of charge to health workers.
  • Drayton Manor closed.

Major event updates:

  • Glastonbury cancelled.
  • Olivier Awards cancelled.
  • ATP and WTA Tours extend suspension until 7 June.

Other:

  • UK national disaster relief fund launched to help raise money for voluntary groups providing care and support for elderly and vulnerable people.
  • The Ministry of Defence is to double the size of the military’s civil contingency unit to create a 20,000-strong Covid support force.
  • Under new legislation, landlords will be banned from evicting tenants in both social and private rented accommodation for the duration of the national emergency.
  • Oil prices hit lowest level in 17 years.

Covid Mutual Aid – Volunteer groups set up to support local communities, in particular those who are most vulnerable through the outbreak https://covidmutualaid.org/

Age UK –  will be opening a ‘befriending’ service in its shops across London so that phone calls can be arranged for the most vulnerable and isolated people. It is also pushing its ‘digital inclusion training’ so older people can access news easily https://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/coronavirus-elderly-charities-self-isolation-loneliness-age-uk-a4390086.html

18th March 2020

PM statement: 

  • “We are doing all we can and as quickly as we can to increase the capacity of the NHS. That means more testing, more beds, more ventilators and more trained staff.
  • “We must do all we can to boost science and research.
  • “We must support millions of businesses and tens of millions of families and individuals through the coming month.
  • “We will need to strengthen other public services that will be under great pressure.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak statement:

  • “I am making available an initial £330 billion of guarantees – equivalent to 15% of our GDP. That means any business who needs access to cash to pay their rent, the salaries, suppliers, or purchase stock, will be able to access a government-backed loan, on attractive terms. And if demand is greater than the initial £330 billion I’m making available today, I will go further and provide as much capacity as required.
  • “That support will be delivered through two main schemes – both of these schemes will be up and running by the start of next week.
  • “I am also taking a new legal power in the Covid Bill to offer whatever further financial support I decide is necessary.
  • “I announced last week that for businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors, with a rateable value of less than £51,000, they will pay no business rates this year. Today, I can go further and provide those businesses with an additional cash grant of up to £25,000 per business – to help bridge through this period.
  • “I also am today extending the business rates holiday to all businesses in those sectors, irrespective of their rateable value. Every single shop, pub, theatre, music venue, restaurant – and any other business in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector – will pay no business rates whatsoever for 12 months, and if they have a rateable value of less than £51,000, they can now get a cash grant as well.
  • “I also announced last week that we would be providing £3,000 cash grants to the 700,000 of our smallest businesses. In light of the new circumstances, and to support their cash flow, today I can increase those grants to £10,000.
  • “Mortgage lenders will offer at least a three month mortgage holiday – so that people will not have to pay a penny towards their mortgage while they get back on their feet.”

EU update: 

  • EU leaders have agreed to shut down the bloc’s external borders for 30 days.

NHS updates:

  • In an attempt to find 40,000 more beds for coronavirus patients, the NHS is to cancel all non-urgent surgery, send home any patient fit enough to leave and turn to the private health sector for support.

Business updates:

  • Owner of the high-end eateries Le Pont de La Tour, Quaglino’s and Coq d’Argent is closing all 38 of its UK restaurants with immediate effect.
  • Nissan shuts Sunderland factory.
  • Sainsbury’s introduces elderly-only shopping hour and limits people to only buying three of any single item.
  • Morrisons to recruit 3,500 new employees to expand home delivery.
  • Tesco has confirmed its 24-hour stores will be shut between 10pm and 6am.
  • McDonalds has confirmed from 5am on Wednesday morning all restaurants in the UK and Ireland will close seating areas and temporarily move to being takeaway, drive-through and delivery operations.

Major event updates:

  • BAFTA TV Awards postponed
  • Met Gala postponed

Other:

  • Church of England suspends all services over coronavirus
  • No new Crown Court trials will take place in England and Wales if they are expected to last longer than three days