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Live Reporting

Kris Holland and Mariam Issimdar

All times stated are UK

  1. Wednesday's updates as they happened

    Thanks for joining us to find out how the East of England is reacting to the coronavirus pandemic and today's relaxation of the lockdown restrictions.

    Updates have now finished for the day.

    Join us again on Thursday when a live page will resume at 08:00.

    Find it via your BBC News county index.

  2. Firm creates beeping 'social distancing' device

    Engineers have invented a device that beeps when wearers break the two-metre social distancing rule.


    The portable "Safe Distancing Assistant" was developed in three weeks by the Norwich firm Pathfindr and uses "ultra-wideband" radio frequencies to operate.

    The size of a pack of cards, the machine works by "speaking to" another unit in close proximity - and is designed for the workplace.

    Some employees who cannot work from home are returning to their workplaces, after the government announced the easing of lockdown measures.

    Pathfindr device

    Managing director Matt Isherwood said. "Even being distracted by getting something off a supermarket shelf, we can forget you need to keep two metres apart and it's the same in the workplace where you're focused on a task in hand."

  3. How Hill opens gardens and car park to visitors

    A Broads nature haven has reopened its gardens and car park to provide the public with a place for exercise as coronavirus lockdown restrictions are eased.

    How Hill garden

    How Hill near Ludham in Norfolk will be asking for donations after its core work as a residential nature studies centre for schools has dried up for the summer.

    Director Simon Partridge said people were already starting to park in the narrow local lanes as they sought new locations for their daily walks – so it made sense to reopen the centre’s car park to ease congestion and help the public explore the gardens.

    It has been a study centre since 1968, and hosting some 3,000 children on residential and day trips each year.

  4. Queues outside McDonalds, but only delivery drivers (for now)

    Pete Cooper

    BBC News

    Today fast food chain McDonalds reopened 15 of its restaurants for delivery, with the majority in London and the East.

    Restaurants remain closed to customers, who have to order using a takeaway delivery app.

    The chain says service will be slower due to safety precautions, including limiting the number of people allowed inside store at a time.

    This was the queue of delivery drivers at the Chaul End Lane restaurant in Luton early today...


    While this delivery driver picked up an order from the branch near Boreham in Essex...

    Delivery driver

    The fast food chain plans to re-open 30 drive-throughs from next week.

    Burger King UK, meanwhile, has been reopening its outlets in phases since 16 April, and at the weekend thousands of people reacted angrily to a photograph of a discarded KFC takeaway box taken days after a Suffolk branch re-opened.

  5. Calls for free visa extension for Covid-19 frontline foreign workers

    All foreign key workers who have been on the front line during the pandemic should be part of the government's free visa extension scheme, say campaigners.

    care worker

    Some migrant workers must pay thousands of pounds for new visas to stay in the UK, despite supporters saying they are playing a vital role in keeping the country going.

    Raj Sehgal, who runs four care homes in Norfolk, has a number of front line staff from India and the Philippines, and said he had tried and failed to recruit locally.

    "If the people simply aren't available, what options do we have?" he asked.

    He was disappointed the visa extension scheme only runs until October.

    "It really is a question of 'we want to use you while this crisis is on and once we've finished with you, you can go back home,'" he said.

    Last month, Home Secretary Priti Patel said the extended visa scheme would cover more NHS staff, including radiographers, social workers, and said some social care staff would also benefit.

  6. Santa's float collects for foodbank

    Katy Lewis

    BBC News Online

    It’s clearly not Christmas yet, but the jolly red-dressed man is kindly letting St Albans Round Table use his normally seasonal transport to collect supplies for the local food bank.

    Every Christmas, the charitable organisation brings Santa to many areas and collects money for local charities.

    Santa's float

    It said that during this "challenging time", the St Albans District Foodbank has supported an increased amount of people and, as a result their "reserves are depleted".

    So, members have mobilised the festive float, and instead of Christmas lights it will be decked out with rainbows designed and built by volunteers at the Abbey Theatre.

    It will be used to tour the streets and collect donations of food from household doorsteps.

    Two visits are confirmed at the moment - Marshalswick on 23 May and Townsend on 24 May.

  7. Suffolk cancer referral rates plummet

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    Rates of cancer referrals in Suffolk have plummeted according to health bosses as people fail to see a GP due to coronavirus.

    Cancer cells

    Data from the clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) revealed that "two-week wait referrals", those requested by a GP for a hospital check on suspicious symptoms within a fortnight, were currently 50% of their normal levels.

    The CCGs said around 8% of referrals will turn out to be cancers, meaning an estimated 50 confirmed cancers per month were being missed per CCG district.

    Dr Peter Holloway, GP and cancer lead with the Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG, said they were worried people were getting diagnosed at a later stage than they should.

    "We know the earlier the diagnosis the better the outcome," he said.

    Health chiefs said the reasons for people not wanting symptoms checked included those not wanting to burden the NHS, while others did not wish to visit a GP or go into a hospital for fear of catching the virus.

  8. Video content

    Video caption: Drive-by Milton Keynes celebration after woman's cancer all-clear

    A Wizard of Oz fan's friends and family hold a drive-by celebration after she was cleared of cancer.

  9. Garden centre reports busy start to reopening

    Katy Lewis

    BBC News Online

    Burston Garden Centre in St Albans has reported a busy start since reopening at 11:00 on the day that centres were allowed to let the public in again.

    Burston Garden Centre

    Just before 14:00, it reported that while they were operating a one-in; one-out system, people were having to wait about five minutes outside, but the till area was busy as there were limited tills open to maintain safety.

    It said it had introduced safety measures to comply with social distancing. Its toilets, restaurant, cafe and children's play area are still closed.

    A spokesman said: "People are being brilliant and keeping well apart from each other and being respectful.

    "We’d done a lot of preparation whilst shut, which we are happy it is all working well."

    Burstons Garden Centre
  10. Free beer for NHS staff

    St Albans City Football Club is to hold a take-home drinks service on Thursday, with free draught beers on offer to NHS staff.

    The National League South club is inviting patrons to "bring their own beer carrier".

    Non-NHS staff will be able to purchase beer at a reduced price from 10:00 until 16:00, but only contactless payments will be accepted.

    View more on twitter
  11. Council mulls plan to retain 'temporary' mortuary

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    Northamptonshire County Council is in talks to make the temporary mortuary at Wollaston a permanent feature.

    The Leys mortuary was opened at the former recycling centre, just outside the village near Wellingborough, as a response to an anticipated increase in Covid-19 deaths.

    It has been operating since 11 April and has a capacity of 1,100.

    But at Tuesday's virtual cabinet meeting, councillor Sandra Naden-Horley said discussions were taking place to make the mortuary permanent, adding that such a facility was "needed" in the county.

    More information on the cost of setting up and running the mortuary is expected to be considered at a future cabinet meeting when costs associated with the pandemic are examined.

  12. Buildings turned blue

    Several buildings across the region were bathed in blue light yesterday evening...

    The Royal Hospital School on the banks of the Stour estuary in Suffolk tweeted to say it was "in honour of all nurses and midwives, past and present in this their International Year".

    Royal Hospital School tower, Holbrook
  13. What the papers say in Cambridgeshire

    • Cambridge News writes that a former council leader has sparked outrage after he claimed the coronavirus lockdown "infringes our human rights"
    • Meanwhile, the Wisbech Standard reports concerns have been raised over how care homes are managing
    • And Peterborough Today has news of car parks which have re-opened at public spaces around the city
  14. Watford Council makes 'small' changes after government announcements

    Katy Lewis

    BBC News Online

    Watford Borough Council has said it is making some "small" changes from today in the light of the recent government announcements on Covid-19 restrictions.

    Cassiobury Park

    Public car parks will reopen including those at Cassiobury Park, Cheslyn Gardens, King George V Playing Fields and Radlett Road Playing Fields.

    Public tennis courts and West Herts Golf Club will open but outdoor gyms and playgrounds will remain shut and parking enforcement will be reintroduced on St Albans Road and Whippendell Road.

    Elected mayor of Watford, Peter Taylor, said: "We are making these changes in our town following the new advice but we still have a long way to go in tackling this virus.

    "It is important that people continue to stay at home as much as they can, that we keep two metres away from other people when we are out and wash our hands when we return home."

  15. Ipswich sees differing approaches to resumption of tennis

    Tennis is one of the sports the government says can resume as lockdown restrictions are relaxed, but it's led to varying approaches in Ipswich.

    Only singles is allowed, and the town's borough council is reopening the public courts in its parks.

    View more on twitter

    However, one of the town's larger clubs, Ipswich Sports Club, is still reviewing how it will re-open and it is expecting a delay until later this week.

    "There is a lot for the club to assess as we want to satisfy the Lawn Tennis Association's recommended approach to venues to 're-open safely rather than rushing'," said Vanessa Penn, club chairman.

    For the moment the club facilities, which also include squash courts and gym, remain closed.

    Ipswich Sports Club
    Image caption: Ipswich Sports Club with its dome deflated
  16. County archives service to make Covid-19 diary

    Northamptonshire's archives service is seeking material that reflects the impact the Covid-19 emergency has had on local life.

    It is hoped the information will form a diary for future generations to learn from, and feature experiences of people in lockdown, stories from local key workers and how companies tuned their skills to help.

    The county council's historical service is asking residents to create a record or diary of their thoughts, feelings and daily activities during the pandemic, and any changes they have noticed in their community.

    Full information can be found here.

  17. Shop owner hosts online coffee-making courses for mental health charity

    Phil Shepka

    BBC News

    Beth Cook

    The co-owner of a coffee shop business closed because of coronavirus has begun online coffee-making courses to raise money for charity.

    Beth Cook from Applaud Coffee, which has two shops in Ipswich, said she has a "passion for teaching people about coffee and improving people's skills".

    She said she wanted "to be creative in thinking of ways to help" the mental health charity Mind, and has asked those who take her courses to donate money to them instead of paying her.

    She said: "Mental health obviously is going to [be a] struggle massively for a lot of people during this time and after."

  18. What the papers say in Northamptonshire

    • The Northampton Chronicle and Echo report that a "greatly loved" Kingsthorpe resident turned 100 with special birthday party on Zoom
    • The Chron also writes that two police forces joined to help a 12-year-old boy get PPE to his grandmother
    • And the Northamptonshire Telegraph report that the Core at Corby Cube has invited members of the public, who are tired of Zoom and Facetime, to pick up the phone for a good, old-fashioned chit chat