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Coronavirus: 'The beauty of the outside remains'

Strumpshaw Fen: The isolated beauty of nature
With the government's request for us to stay at home to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, many people are now missing the opportunity to spend time in the great outdoors.

On the morning before the government announced its new guidelines resulting in the closure of many nature reserves, BBC Look East cameraman Shaun Whitmore was at Strumpshaw Fen in Norfolk.

Here he shares his last trip to the reserve for a while.

Staff shortages could affect fruit and veg from the East

Pete Cooper

BBC News

The Country Land and Business Association has warned of staff shortages in the farming sector across the East of England due to coronavirus.

If farmers could not find the workers they needed, it could lead to a shortage of fruit and vegetables, it said.

PA Media

Cath Crowther from the association said: "There are staff shortages because of travel restrictions and illness which could impact on fruit and vegetable supply going forward."

She also said that those farms that had diversified into leisure and tourism were also suffering, and that those with cafes were trying to "redirect" their supplies.

What the papers are saying...

Here's how some of the newspapers in our region have been reporting the coronavirus pandemic...

  • The Northampton Chronicle reports that a Northampton banking campus has faced scrutiny from employees who believe they could work from home but are not being allowed to so.
  • Tenants and owners have remained defiant after being told to leave their caravans from holiday parks across Essex, reports the Essex Chronicle.
  • The Eastern Daily Press has a story on Amazona Zoo in Cromer calling on closed restaurants, café and hotel owners to donate fruit and vegetables to help feed its animals.

Ambulance trust 'could not be prouder' of staff and volunteers

East of England Ambulance NHS Trust has praised on Twitter the "incredible" work its staff and volunteers are doing across Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk.

The trust said it wanted to "dedicate #ThankYouThursday" to all those "working incredibly hard around the clock to make sure that our patients remain safe and get help when they need it the most. We couldn't be prouder to call you #TeamEEAST."

Ambulance staff
East of England Ambulance Service

Five more coronavirus deaths reported in the East

Orla Moore

BBC News

Five more deaths from coronavirus were recorded in the East of England on Wednesday evening.

Four people died in hospitals run by the North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, and a fifth was reported at the West Suffolk Hospital.

They were among 28 people nationally whose deaths after testing positive for coronavirus were announced on Wednesday.

Here are the latest numbers of positive cases recorded in our region:

  • Norfolk 45
  • Suffolk 35
  • Peterborough 9
  • Cambridgeshire 41
  • Northamptonshire 43
  • Bedford 7
  • Central Bedfordshire 24
  • Milton Keynes 29
  • Buckinghamshire 59
  • Luton 29
  • Hertfordshire 147
  • Essex 88
  • Southend 9
  • Thurrock 15

Further figures can be found at Public Health England.

Funeral directors prepare for coronavirus 'storm'

The director of a chain of Norfolk funeral directors says her company has ordered more coffins as it prepares in "the lull before the storm".

Anne Beckett-Allen of Rosedale Funeral Home said her staff and bereaved families were also having to cope with regulations changing almost by the day.

She told BBC Radio Norfolk funeral directors were having to restrict family members from travelling together in the same car, and "arranging funerals over Skype and conference call".

The company, which has bases in Attleborough, Diss and Wymondham, has also banded together with other firms in the region to set up a support group for employees.

Coffins lined up in Italian church
Getty Images

Hospital worker marks 21st with extra shifts

Eastern Daily Press

A hospital worker has marked her 21st birthday by taking on extra shifts at Norfolk's Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Jill Forbes said she did not need the “perfect” day, as she and her colleagues continue to deal with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Parking warning from 999 service

The increased number of cars parked in residential areas could pose a problem for emergency services, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service has warned.

With many more people staying at home, the service has asked people to make sure they've parked considerately - so that 999 responders can get to those in need.

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Coronavirus updates - the latest

Katy Lewis

BBC Local Live

Welcome to our live updates page where you can keep up with all the regional news on the coronavirus pandemic. Thank you for joining us.

We'll bring you all the latest developments and news from the East of England until 18:00 GMT.

Police offices shut because of coronavirus

Patrick Byrne

BBC News

Norfolk Police is among many forces that have closed public inquiry offices where people answer bail, report crimes and find information.

The step has been taken in response to government advice, a police spokesman said.

Chief Constable Simon Bailey
Norfolk Police

Those who need to contact police can use a yellow phone on the outside of office buildings but Norfolk Police warns that in the interests of hygiene these should only be used in an emergency.

Chief Constable Simon Bailey said: "Public engagement is extremely important to us, our focus is firmly on front-line policing and those crimes which cause most harm.

"By changing our approach we are aiming to ensure we protect the most vulnerable at this complex and continually changing time."

Inquests postponed or suspended due to crisis

Patrick Byrne

BBC News

Some coroner's courts are responding to the coronavirus crisis with inquests in Northamptonshire suspended until September.

Coroner Anne Pember said: "In view of the present COVID-19 situation it is with regret that I need to inform you that all inquests listed between now and 1 September have been suspended until further notice."I will review the situation on 31 July."

All inquests due to be heard at Buckinghamshire Coroner's Court until Monday, 27 April have been postponed and will be rescheduled.

In Cambridgeshire, the coroner and inquests website warns that "during these unprecedented times, hearings may change at short notice".

People are asked to check the website the evening before a hearing is scheduled, for the most up to date information.

Suffolk County Council said: “Due to the fast-changing situation in respect of COVID-19 the Coroner’s Service is closely monitoring the government advice and considering any impact this might have.

But no announcements have been made by the coroners in Bedfordshire, Essex, Norfolk or Hertfordshire.

Shake It Off to lift our spirits

Alex Pope

BBC Local Live

Everyone needs their spirits lifting at the moment, so St John Ambulance cadets in the East of England have come up with a "banging" idea to make us feel a little bit better.

Luke Stevenson, and others, want fellow cadets and St John Ambulance members to make up dance moves.

They are putting together a video to Taylor Swift's Shake It Off - but need some help.

They want to show that everyone is "standing together" and that some "fun" can still be had.

So send your best moves via email - - or via Twitter using #SJADanceForEast.

Just make sure you never miss a beat especially if you are lightning on your feet!

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Coronavirus isolation 'could increase abuse'

Coronavirus isolation 'could increase abuse' - Norfolk police chief
Domestic and child sexual abuse could increase due to coronavirus forcing people to stay indoors, Norfolk's police chief has warned. 

He told BBC Radio Norfolk he feared the UK-wide lockdown could lead to the "exploitation of vulnerable people".

Mr Bailey said people in safeguarding jobs had a duty to be "professionally curious", but that society as a whole had a responsibility.

"If we all pull together... we'll come through it," he said.

People acting 'as if threat from coronavirus didn’t exist' says top cop

Patrick Byrne

BBC News

Two chief constables have issued strongly-worded statements calling on communities to comply with new government rules restricting people’s movements to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Steve Jupp (below), who heads Suffolk Police, said: "The moves so far to limit social distancing have not had the necessary effect, with some people still going about their business as if the threat from coronavirus didn’t exist.

"It has to stop.”

Steve Jupp
Suffolk Police

He said officers would negotiate with people seen to be flouting the new rules before resorting to the law.

Norfolk's chief constable Simon Bailey (below) said he was staggered to hear holiday resorts had been full of people over the weekend.

Simon Bailey

Public gatherings of more than two people who do not live together should stop, the government said, and shops selling non-essential items have been asked to close.

New legislation has been introduced giving police powers to enforce the new rules.

Mr Bailey said: "Officers will continue to be out in their communities, speaking to people as we always do and taking the opportunity to explain the new rules and ask what people are doing and why they are out."

Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd said: "If the public do not comply with this lockdown the police will use their powers to enforce it, and have my full support in that."

And what about self-isolation?

Self-isolating means staying at home and not leaving it, other than for exercise. Don't go to work, school or public areas during this time, is the government's advice.

If possible, you should not go out even to buy food or other essentials. If you are unable to get supplies delivered, you should do what you can to limit social contact when you do leave the house.

Who should self-isolate?

Everyone who shows coronavirus symptoms - a fever of above 37.8C, a persistent cough or breathing problem - and everyone who lives in the same house or flat as someone with symptoms.

  • If you live alone, you must stay at home for seven days from the day symptoms start
  • If someone you live with develop symptoms, they must isolate for seven days and the rest of the household needs to isolate for 14 days and monitor for signs of COVID-19
  • If someone else does become ill during that period, their seven-day isolation starts that day. For example, it might run from day three to day 10 - when that person's isolation would then end. It would not restart if another member of the household fell ill
  • But anyone who fell ill on day 13 would see their seven-day isolation begin then - for their illness rather than to monitor for symptoms - meaning they would spend a total of 20 days at home

Recycling centres close

Rubbish bins
Luton Council

To ensure the safety of staff and customers, household recycling centres across the region are now closed.

A Suffolk County Council spokesman said: "In accordance with current government Coronavirus guidelines of avoiding non-essential contact and preventing a risk of infection to others, the sites will close.

"It is essential that we do all we can to slow down the spread of the virus."

Here is a breakdown of each council so you can access their information directly:

University produces hand sanitiser amid shortage

The University of East Anglia has started to produce hand sanitiser after a request from Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and the county council.

Staff used empty teaching labs to make the alcohol-based sanitiser after they were informed of a shortage of supply.

Professor Mark Searcey, pro-vice chancellor for science and the university, said the team made their first batch in about an hour and appealed for anyone who could help with provisions of ethanol or isopropanol and bottling the sanitiser to get in touch.

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Norfolk film-makers explore "heartbreaking" experiences of sexual harassment
Two women have made a film based on "heartbreaking" real experiences of sexual harassment.

Severe disruption: A148 Norfolk eastbound

BBC News Travel

A148 Norfolk eastbound severe disruption, between B1157 Lodge Hill and Church Road.

A148 Norfolk - A148 Holt Road in Upper Sheringham blocked eastbound between the B1157 Lodge Hill junction and the Church Road junction, because of a fallen tree.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time