Coronavirus LIVE latest: Boris Johnson warns public to stay two metres apart in open spaces as death toll rises to 281

Good morning on Sunday, March 22, as we bring you the latest coronavirus updates from across the city and nation.

We are particularly interested in any positive stories out there – perhaps of people helping others less fortunate than themselves – during the ongoing crisis. Contact Gavin Ledwith between 9am-5pm on (0191) 5017435 or via email at [email protected]

A recent picture of a deserted Sunderland city centre during the day time.

Coronavirus LIVE latest: Sunderland Echo updates throughout Sunday

Last updated: Sunday, 22 March, 2020, 19:11

Key Events

  • City streets remain eerily silent
  • Sunderland shows its determination and humour in the midst of crisis
  • Vital charity fundraising walk is postponed
  • Two more High Street giants announce temporary closures
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7.10pm: All Parkdean Resorts to close

The UK’s largest holiday park operator and Best UK Family Holiday Company 2019, Parkdean Resorts, has announced the closure of its parks to holiday makers from Sunday 22 March until 1 May.

This means that:

Parkdean Resorts will be offering all holiday makers who had booked to stay at its parks during this time a full refund, or they have the option to roll their booking, with a credit voucher worth 120% of the original booking.

All facilities and all touring and camping provision is cancelled until 1 May.

Access to parks will be denied to third parties and controlled as normal by our security teams.

Steve Richards, CEO, said: “Parkdean Resorts has 67 parks across the UK and our company plays a big role in local communities, whether it be through investment, tourism or employment. 

"As such, we have been in conversation with community leaders, customers and our people, and have decided to delay the launch of the season. We are very sorry to the many holiday makers who were hoping to spend their Easter break with us, but I hope they understand why.

“We will continually and closely review the Government’s guidance and hope to welcome people on park from 1 May.

“As our parks are based in areas that rely on tourism, I would therefore like to reassure anyone working for Parkdean Resorts, and the communities they live in, that no one will be made redundant as a result of coronavirus, and we will be paying 100% salary.

“As Parkdean Resorts was gearing up for the Easter holidays, we have a significant amount of perishable food on park which will now be donated to local community food banks.”

6.21pm: 37 more people have died in England after testing positive for coronavirus

All the 37 people aged between 18 and 102 who died in England after testing positive for coronvirus were in vulnerable groups including with underlying conditions, the NHS said.

They included five deaths at Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust, four at St. Georges University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and four at Croydon Health NHS Trust.

The total number of deaths in the UK has risen to 281. 

5.53pm: "Stay at home if you possibly can"

Mr Johnson reiterated his advice to the population to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

He said: "What people need to understand today is that their best bet to stop the spread of the disease, protect our NHS, save lives, is to stay at home if you possibly can.

"Stay at home if you possibly can."

5.52pm: "We need to think about the kind of measures we've seen elsewhere"

On any "further measures" that may have to be taken on social distancing, Mr Johnson said: "I don't think you need to use your imagination very much to see where we might have to go, and we will think about this very very actively in the next 24 hours.

"We need to think about the kind of measures we've seen elsewhere - other countries that have been forced to bring in restrictions on people's movements altogether, now as I say I don't want to do that.

"It's so important that that pleasure and that ability is preserved but it can only really be preserved if everybody acts responsibly and conforms with those principles of staying apart from one another and social distancing.

"If we can't do that then, yup, I'm afraid we're going to have to bring forward tougher measures."

5.50pm: Hospital training with ventilators

Dr Harries said hospitals had been asked to step up their training to help deal with increasing patient numbers with respiratory problems.

She said: "We knew this would happen- it's not what we want to happen.

"The flexing of the system is designed to manage some of these bumps."

5.46pm: "We will look back in due course, sadly, and see the true number of people who have died from coronavirus."

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries cautioned against comparing the UK's figures with other countries'.

She said: "As you go through a sharp rise in numbers, which we will see going forward, you have to be careful to be comparing too precisely.

"We will look back in due course, sadly, and see the true number of people who have died from coronavirus.

"But a direct comparison with another country and against individual numbers is something we should be very cautious of."

5.44pm: Stay at home to save lives

Mr Johnson said: "The general principle should be we should all, as far as we possibly can, stay at home, protect our NHS and therefore save lives."

5.43pm: "A huge quantity of our normal daily life has been totally transformed"

Mr Johnson said the Government had taken "very draconian steps" in closing schools, pubs and shops.

He said: "A huge quantity of our normal daily life has been totally transformed.

"It is very important for people's mental and physical well-being and they should be able to get out and exercise if they possibly can.

"But when we do that we have to do it responsibly. We have all seen how people have been enjoying themselves over a beautiful weekend.

"If you don't do it responsibly... there is going to be no doubt that we will have to bring forward further measures."

Mr Johnson also said the Government was "keeping under review" whether courts would remain open.

5.39pm: Exercise responsibly

Mr Johnson said that the ability to go outdoors for exercise was extremely important for physical and mental wellbeing but that people needed to do it "responsibly".

"Many many people do not have access, let's face it, to private green spaces where they can do that and that's why parks, open spaces are so absolutely crucial for our country and for our society," he said.

"But when we do that we have to do that responsibly... my message is you've got to do this in line with the advice, you've got to follow the social distancing rule - keep two metres apart.

"Otherwise if you don't do it responsibly... as you suggest there is going to be no doubt that we will have to bring forward further measures and we are certainly keeping that under constant review."

5.37pm: Parcels to be left on the doorstep

Mr Jenrick said: "I don't underestimate what we're asking of people. It will be tough.

"But if you are one of these people I want to assure these people on behalf of the Government that you are not alone."

Mr Jenrick said the Government was creating a network of local hubs to deliver medicines by pharmacists to the most vulnerable and lonely people.

Groceries would be delivered by councils working with supermarkets, with "parcels left on the doorstep".

"Nobody needs to worry about getting the food and essential items that they will need."

He said there would be opportunities for members of the public to volunteer.

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