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Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

  1. Thanks for joining us

    That's the end of our live updates for today and for this week. We'll be back on Friday at 09:00 to bring you the latest on the coronavirus and its impact on our region.

    Thanks for joining us and if you want to get in touch with us, please email us atnorthwest.newsonline@bbc.co.uk.

    In the meantime, you can find further information and updates about the coronavirus crisis here.

    And you could also join Manchester's airport and Royal Exchange Theatre, Cheshire West and Chester Council and many others across the region in showing your appreciation for NHS and caring staff with a round of applause at 20:00.

    View more on twitter
    View more on twitter
    View more on twitter

    In case you have not heard about the idea, here's Annemarie Plas, who came up with it, to explain.

    Video content

    Video caption: Coronavirus: 'Clap for Carers' creator on her viral challenge
  2. Fire boss 'astonished' at moorland barbecues

    A fire service boss said he is "astonished" by large groups gathering for barbecues on the moors amid the coronavirus outbreak.

    Saddleworth fire

    Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said people were meeting to cook food despite a ban on moorland barbecues after huge fires in 2018.

    It also flouts the government's instructions on social distancing.

    Fire station manager Dave Swallow said their actions were "dangerous" and urged people to stick to the rules, adding:

    Quote Message: It's just amazing how many people don't seem to be getting the importance of the social distancing guidelines.
    Quote Message: It's astonishing when you to throw in the fact that people are taking disposable barbecues out there and cooking.
  3. Liverpool pub 'stayed open after lockdown order'

    A pub which "put lives at risk" by ignoring government orders to close its doors has been served with a prohibition order.

    The Orient

    Liverpool City Council said it had a tip off that the Orient in Speke, Merseyside, had opened at the weekend.

    The pub, in Eastern Avenue, was served with a notice on Wednesday warning it to cease trading or face losing its licence permanently.

    Premises opening illegally were "acting irresponsibly", the council said.

    City manager Kevin Johnson said the Orient was the first pub in the city to be given such an order since Prime Minister Boris Johnson told all pubs and restaurants to close last week.

  4. All football below National League to end

    BBC Sport

    All football in England below the three divisions that make up the National League will end immediately and all results will be expunged.

    Chester FC

    It means there will be no promotion or relegation in these leagues.

    The same will happen in the women's game below the Women's Super League and Championship level.

    However, the National League, National League North and South, WSL and Women's Championship will continue towards a conclusion "as quickly as possible".

    Asked about the decision on Twitter, Chester FC joint manager Anthony Johnson, whose team were seventh in the National League North, said it was a case of "investment and hard work down the drain".

    View more on twitter
  5. Theft of coffee 'disappointing in current climate'

    The theft of seven jars of coffee from a supermarket in St Helens "in the current climate... is disappointing", a police inspector has said.

    Bridge Street

    A 47-year-old man was stopped by officers on Bridge Street in the town earlier after trying to sell a jar to a passer-by.

    He was found to have seven jars in a carrier bag and was arrested on suspicion of theft.

    CCTV footage from a supermarket nearby showed a 40-year-old woman was also present when the jars were taken. As a result, she was then arrested at her home.

    Insp Neil Burkett said:

    Quote Message: In the current climate where people are struggling to get the necessities they need, it is disappointing that some people choose to steal food products.
    Quote Message: We want everyone to know that our officers are out on the street to deter this type of crime and support the shop staff and business community who are providing a vital service.

    Merseyside Police said the man was given a conditional caution, while the woman was charged and bailed.

  6. Domestic abuse services still available

    Domestic abuse support services are still available for people as we are all told to stay at home, Sefton Council said.

    A spokesman said people who are victims of domestic abuse - such as violence or coercive and controlling behaviour - may be particular worried, but support was still available by telephone, text message or online services.

    For more details and contact numbers, visit Sefton Council's Domestic Abuse Support webpage.

    The spokesman added:

    Quote Message: You are not alone and you don’t have to suffer in silence.
    Quote Message: We are always here to offer help and support to anyone who needs it.
  7. Student anger over unoccupied accommodation charges

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    A group of students at Liverpool John Moores University are angry after being told they will have to continue paying rent for flats they no longer live in, due to the coronavirus outbreak.

    The Arch

    The students, who were housed in The Arch on Nelson Street, run by Downing Students, say they will have great difficulty paying the rent, having lost part-time jobs during the crisis, and have been further exasperated as others at the university will not have to pay.

    Those who lived in St Luke’s View or Horizon Heights, managed by Unite Students, will not have to pay if they let Unite know they won’t be living there by 10 April.

    Owen Thompson, a first-year law student who has moved out of The Arch due to the pandemic, said it was "so unfair".

    Quote Message: I do not live there anymore due to circumstances that I can’t change and it is not my fault. Other accommodations have the choice to not pay.

    A Downing Students spokesman said the company "and our joint venture partners are closely following government guidelines around accommodation provision during this unprecedented time", adding:

    Quote Message: For many students, our accommodation is their primary home and our buildings still have a very high level of occupation.
    Quote Message: We appreciate that this is an incredibly challenging time for everyone and will continue to work closely with our partners and residents to do everything possible to support them

    A Unite Students spokeswoman said the firm would not be "collecting any further payments from students who decide they don’t want to return for the summer term", adding:

    Quote Message: Students wishing to end their agreements early need to inform us of their intention by no later than 17:00 on 10 April
  8. Police want to close 'crime hot spot' Piccadilly Gardens

    Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said he is working with Manchester City Council to close Piccadilly Gardens which he says is a "hot spot" for crime.

    He said issues with drug dealing and other crime is continuing despite the government guidance to avoid congregating in public spaces.

    View more on twitter
  9. Wirral bin workers to delay strike until after coronavirus crisis

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    Bin workers in Wirral have overwhelmingly voted to go on strike, but will delay any walkout until the coronavirus crisis has passed.

    Green bins on a street

    About 180 workers delivered a 96% vote in favour of industrial action over pay on an 80% turnout.

    Their union Unite said the dispute is a result of Biffa, the firm contracted by the council to run Wirral’s bin collections, refusing to meet their pay claim.

    Last week, a spokesman for Biffa, said it was continuing to talk to "employees and their representatives and have offered a generous pay increase which is in excess of the current wage inflation indices".

    Wirral Council said at the time that "in the event of any disruption to services, we will endeavour to enact our business continuity plans and advise our residents and other stakeholders well in advance".

    The mandate for strike action would normally last for six months, however it can be extended with the agreement of the employer. Unite has requested this is done given the unprecedented nature of the coronavirus crisis.

  10. Police get new powers to enforce protection

    BBC News UK

    Anyone continuing to break coronavirus lockdown rules will be breaking the law and faces arrest.

    Handcuffs

    People ignoring tougher restrictions on movement could be hit with a £60 fine initially and another for £120 for a second offence.

    New powers given to police mean no-one will be allowed to leave their home "without reasonable excuse".

    The measures come into force on Thursday and will last six months, with a review every three weeks.

    To ensure people stay at home and avoid non-essential travel, police will be able to order people to go home, leave an area or disperse.

    The new powers mean officers can:

    • ensure parents are doing all they can to stop their children breaking the rules
    • issue a £60 fixed penalty, lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days
    • issue a £120 fixed penalty for second-time offenders, doubling on each further repeat offence
  11. Liverpool homeless relocated to help self-isolation

    Homeless people with health conditions and rough sleepers in shared facilities in Liverpool will be relocated to "appropriate housing" to help reduce the spread of coronavirus, the city council has said.

    Homeless people in Liverpool

    The council’s rough sleeper shelter Labre House will close and people currently sharing communal spaces and bathrooms will be transferred to places with separate facilities, so they can self-isolate if necessary.

    The council said it will arrange to house 110 individuals and 50 households to help keep them safe during the current pandemic, costing about £300k for the next three months.

    City Mayor Joe Anderson said:

    Quote Message: The homeless are one of our most vulnerable groups and many have underlying health issues, so it is absolutely vital we do all we can to keep them safe and reduce the spread of coronavirus.
  12. Coping with coronavirus anxiety

    BBC News Health

    Anxiety UK have experienced a big rise in callers since the Covid-19 outbreak.

    Here are some tips on how to cope.

    Video content

    Video caption: Coping with coronavirus anxiety
  13. Water firm calls on tenants to halt controlled burning

    Water company United Utilities has asked all its tenants and land managers to halt controlled burning on their land until further notice over concerns it could increase "the risk of unintentional wildfires" and create fumes which "may affect members of the public suffering from COVID-19", a spokeswoman has said.

    Stocks Reservoir

    The firm owns large swathes of land across north west England, which includes moorland used to gather water for drinking water supplies and help reduce the risk of flooding.

    The firm's director of estate management Paula Steer said:

    Quote Message: At this time of uncertainty, all areas of society have a responsibility to ensure that our emergency services can focus on the key national priority, which is helping people affected by COVID-19 and halting its spread.
    Quote Message: We have therefore taken the decision to instruct our tenants to cease burning until further notice.

    The firm said neighbouring company Yorkshire Water had asked its tenants to do the same.

  14. 'I don't want you to meet Rebecca or any of her colleagues'

    Former Preston North End goalkeeper Alan Kelly has tweeted a video saying he doesn't want anyone to meet his niece Rebecca who works on the front line at the Royal Preston hospital.

    He has asked people to "please, please, please stay at home, to protect the NHS and save lives".

    View more on twitter
  15. Buildings light up blue as nation prepares to thank NHS

    A nationwide round of applause is planned to take place tonight to say thank you to the NHS staff working tirelessly during the coronavirus pandemic.

    Organisers of Clap for our Carers are asking everyone that can to clap at 20:00, whether it's in a garden or local park - at a safe distance from others, of course.

    Blackpool Tower lit up with blue heart

    Meanwhile, landmarks across the region including Blackpool Tower and Manchester Central are lighting up in blue each evening to show their appreciation.

    View more on twitter

    Buildings including the Liverpool's World Museum, the Radio City tower and the Chester Eastgate clock face, Town Hall and the New Gate Bridge will also be taking part.

  16. Blackpool doctor urges smokers to give up to reduce coronavirus risk

    Local Democracy Reporting Service

    Blackpool smokers are being urged to kick the habit and help reduce their risk of suffering from coronavirus by the town's director of public health.

    Dr Arif Rajpura

    About one in five adults in the resort are smokers and Dr Arif Rajpura says now is the time to give up.

    He said:

    Quote Message: At this moment in time, people who smoke is something we are worrying about.
    Quote Message: There is no better time to do it. People think about the long-term effects of smoking but there is an immediate benefit from giving up because Covid-19 is a lung infection.

    Dr Rajpura added that smokers were twice as likely as non-smokers to suffer from pneumonia, and five times as likely to catch any type of flu.

    For more information about how coronavirus affects the body, go here.

  17. Northern closes waiting rooms and opens station barriers

    Rail operator Northern has closed all waiting rooms at its stations, opened all gates and barriers and suspended issuing penalty fares until further notice.

    Manchester Victoria

    The firm, which manages dozens of stations across the north of England, said the closure of waiting rooms was in line with government advice, adding that in the event of bad weather, it would "review the situation and may look to re-open areas if appropriate".

    A spokesman added that the opening of gates would mean "passengers do not have to pass paper or season tickets through the barriers or present them to staff", though customers still required a ticket to travel.

    Commercial and customer director Mark Powles said:

    Quote Message: Our trains and stations remain open for business to help key workers get where they need to be across the north of England.
    Quote Message: For those who have to make essential journeys – and for our staff who continue to work across the network – we want to make the railway as safe as possible [and] the measure we have introduced today further limit person-to-person contact.
    Quote Message: Our ticket offices remain open to provide help and advice to passengers [but] we will only accept payment via card. Customers who want to pay by cash will be asked to use ticket machines if they are available.

    The firm is currently running an amended timetable for key workers and essential travel across all its services.

  18. Mersey Tunnel tolls suspended

    Mersey Tunnel toll charges will be suspended from 20:00 to support key workers during the coronavirus crisis.

    Queensway tunnel entrance

    Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said:

    Quote Message: This is absolutely the right thing to do for our key workers who have to travel and are working tirelessly in our communities day in and day out to provide crucial services to keep us all safe.

    The suspension will remain as long as the current UK restrictions continue, which will be a minimum of three weeks but could be extended.

    Halton Council is also taking steps to remove tolls on the Mersey Gateway, but to do so needs government approval.

    Council leader Rob Polhill said he was waiting for a response.

    He said he did not want key workers to worry about the payments “so they can concentrate on helping us keep people safe”.