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Sunderland LIVE news: Updates on coronavirus as schools set to close and Nissan suspends production until weekend

Hello and welcome to our live blog where we will be bringing you the latest updates on coronavirus throughout the day.

By Poppy Kennedy and Candice Farrow
Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 5:46 pm

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We will keep you up to date with developments on the situation in the North East and across the country.

Follow our coverage for breaking incidents across the region. Scroll down for updates.

Live updates

Sunderland LIVE news: Coronavirus updates on Wednesday, March 18

Last updated: Wednesday, 18 March, 2020, 15:42

  • Live updates on Wednesday, March 18, as the coronavirus outbreak continues to take hold.
  • Everything you need to know as the situation progresses throughout the day.
  • Any developments from Public Health England on coronavirus.
  • Breaking news from across Sunderland and the wider North East region.

5pm: Sunderland Restaurant Week dishes can be delivered to your door during coronavirus crisis

In light of coronavirus, some city businesses will be bringing Sunderland Restaurant Week to your door.

Months of preparation have gone into the voucher scheme, returning from Saturday, March 21 to Sunday, March 29, which aimed to drive footfall to Wearside restaurants and cafes.

Following the Government’s advice for people to avoid restaurants as part of stricter guidelines around tackling the coronavirus pandemic, however, many people are self-isolating and won’t be visiting the venues for the coming weeks.

As a result, 12 of the participating restaurants, bars and coffee shops will be offering a pick-up or delivery service during restaurant week so that people practising social distancing needn’t miss out.

4.45pm: Here's why Britain could face the same lockdown situation as Italy as coronavirus spreads

Italy began its week under the grip of a government imposed lock down, designed to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The lock down limits the movement of the country's population, with workers being told to stay at home, and residents having to apply to make trips.

4.30pm: A further 32 deaths because of the coronavirus

The coronavirus death toll in the UK has reached 104 after NHS England said a further 32 people had died in England after testing positive.

4.15pm: Here's how the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme works, and how to apply for it

The week started with a rallying cry for all Britons to avoid unnecessary social contact and travel, amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Boris Johnson's second daily press conference of the week perhaps didn't create as many attention grabbing headlines for much of the general public, but for those with businesses, it made for compelling viewing.

Focused around chancellor Rishi Sunak's announcement of a stimulus package designed to protect businesses impacted by Covid-19, the financial implications of the conference will be far reaching.

4pm: Tesco makes new announcement

Tesco, the UK's biggest supermarket, will impose restrictions on all customers to buying a maximum of three products per line from Thursday, as it copes with the high demand from the coronavirus pandemic, the company has announced.

3.35pm: Closure of Churches throughout the Bede Methodist Circuit

As a result of the coronavirus and in line with Government guidance and the recommendations of the Methodist Church nationally, Bede Methodist Circuit has decided to close all its premises until further notice.  

The Bede Circuit consists of 17 churches in parts of Gateshead, South Tyneside and Washington.  The decision means that Church worship services and all other meetings and groups who currently use the Church’s premises are suspended.

Under advisement it is not be appropriate to hold large public celebrations of Baptism, however, the situation might lead parents or others not to want to delay a Baptism and the Church may to be willing to offer a Baptism with a smaller gathering.  

It is assumed all weddings will be postponed but that there might be exceptional circumstances in which a marriage can be solemnized with a small number of witnesses.  If you have a baptism or wedding planned in the next few weeks please contact the appropriate Minister.  

Funeral arrangements will depend on what is permitted by the local authorities at their crematoria and cemeteries, however memorial services will have to be postponed until after the emergency.

The Circuit Superintendent, Rev’d Jane Carter said: “This was a very difficult decision as we are aware that for many people, especially the elderly, our weekly meetings, events and the groups that use our buildings are a major part of their life.  

"However we have a duty of care to others and are left with no alternative.  And remember that the Church consists of people not of buildings, so our members will still be exerting pastoral care for others in whatever ways are possible.  

"We pray that this present epidemic passes and the church can return to its regular witness before too long.”

3.15pm: Latest figures of people in the UK tested positive for coronavirus

The number of people to test positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 9am on Wednesday is 2,626, up from 1,950 at the same time on Monday, according to the Gov.uk website.

A total of 56,221 people have been tested in the UK, with 53,595 negative results.

Source: PA

3pm: Washington Village Store offering delivery of essential supplies for elderly, vulnerable and self-isolated amid Covid-19 outbreak

A store is looking out for the community by offering to help those in need due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Washington Village Shop, in Village Lane, is offering to help the vulnerable, elderly and those who are self-isolating by delivering essential supplies straight to their doors.

Store owner Shakilah Ahmed said the idea came about due to area having an high population of over-70s, who are being encouraged to stay indoors and self-isolate to avoid the coronavirus disease.

2.50pm: Statement from Sunderland City Council

The health and wellbeing of our residents and staff is our top priority. We are continuing to take our lead from Public Heath England and to work closely with them and with other partners to monitor developments and communicate the latest guidance and advice to help delay the spread of the virus.

That is why, in line with the latest Government measures to help delay the spread of Coronavirus, we have taken the difficult decision to close Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, Arts Centre Washington, Local History Library @ETR, Houghton Library, Washington Library and the City Library at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens from this Thursday 19 March for the foreseeable future.

We are also closing Derwent Hill outdoor education centre from Monday 23 March until further notice. Anyone booked to go to Derwent Hill, who is affected by the closure will receive a refund or an offer of an alternative date in the future where possible. We will be reviewing the situation on a weekly basis and will contact clients as and when the situation improves.

We understand that this is disappointing news and we would like to sincerely apologise for any inconvenience and to thank our residents/communities for their ongoing support and understanding.

The City Council is also cancelling all non-essential council meetings while it awaits further guidance from central Government on local authority decision making and compliance with statutory requirements.

While Cabinet and full Council will still go ahead next week,  the council meeting’s business agenda will be limited to business critical decisions.

We will be keeping this approach under review in light of emerging guidance and will be providing updates.

The council is continuing to do everything it can to protect and support our communities. This includes measures to ensure business critical frontline services are prioritised in the event that resources become stretched as a result of Coronavirus.

2.20pm: Latest list of Sunderland school closures as staffing levels drop due to self-isolation

Some schools across are having to implement partial closures due to a fall in staffing levels as teachers self-isolate in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.

There have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus linked to any school in Sunderland.

However, members of staff have been self-isolating in a bid to stop the spread of the virus, in line with government guidelines.

On Monday, March 16, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the public that anyone who is showing symptoms of persistent coughing or a high temperature should self-isolate.

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