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Coronavirus: Queen to address country over outbreak

The Queen will speak to the nation on Sunday about the coronavirus outbreak - only her fourth special address at a time of crisis during her 68-year reign.

HM The Queen
PA Media

Buckingham Palace said the message, recorded at Windsor Castle, will be broadcast on TV and radio at 20:00 BST.

The Queen records annual Christmas messages but other addresses are rare.

It comes as the number of people who died with coronavirus in the UK rose by 684 in 24 hours, latest figures show.

The Department of Health said that as of 17:00 BST on 2 April, the total number of deaths is now 3,605, up from 2,921. There are 38,168 confirmed cases.

West Yorkshire Police officers applauded NHS workers outside Calderdale Hospital.
Police and hospital workers applaud each other during the Clap for Carers weekly event.

MPs back newspaper editor's call for help

More than 20 of Yorkshire's MPs have signed a letter to the chancellor supporting calls for a business rate holiday for news publishers.

The Yorkshire Post file image

Earlier this week, Yorkshire Post editor James Mitchinson wrote to MPs across Yorkshire asking for their help in securing tax relief to help cover a drop in revenue linked to the coronavirus outbreak.

He says that advertising income has dropped by 80% with staff being asked to take a pay cut to keep the newspaper running because of the virus.

JPI Media, that runs newspapers such as the Yorkshire Post and the Sheffield Star, has furloughed a "significant number " of staff, he wrote in the letter.

Now, 23 MPs have responded by co-signing a letter to Rishi Sunak MP asking for business rate holidays for news publishers as well using the newspapers to run a public information campaign.

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Thursday's forecast for Yorkshire

We're in for a mix of cloud and sunny spells this morning but that cloud will tend to develop through the course of the day leading to a mainly cloudy afternoon with the chance of the odd shower in places.

Tonight it'll stay cloudy with a possibility of showers but things should clear as the night progresses.

We should see top temperatures of about 9C today:

weather graphic

Fire service share pics of moorland blaze damage

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service have shared images of the damage caused by a major moorland blaze last month.

Moorland fire
West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue

At it's height more than 100 firefighters were called to tackle a "mile-long fire-front" at Deer Hill Reservoir in Marsden, West Yorkshire, on 23 March.

Posting the images on Twitter WYFR urged people to stay at home saying "BBQs, picnics & meeting friends are NOT essential activities."

While it is believed the fire at Deer Hill Reservoir was caused by controlled burning that spread a number of recent incidents have been sparked by barbecues, including a major fire in February 2019.

Moorland fire
West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue

Newspaper editor asks MPs to help titles survive

The editor of the Yorkshire Post has written to MPs to ask the government to help them "survive" as the coronavirus outbreak has seen income drop.

The Yorkshire Post and the Star file picture

James Mitchinson wrote the letter to MPs across Yorkshire asking for a business rate holiday for news publishers.

He says that advertising income has dropped by 80% with staff being asked to take a pay cut to keep the newspaper running because of the virus.

JPI Media, that runs newspapers such as the Yorkshire Post and the Sheffield Star, has furloughed a "significant number " of staff, he wrote in the letter.

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Mr Mitchinson asked MPs to urge the government to commit to investing in a significant local media public information campaign, as well as a business rates break.

He said: "I believe local newspapers are so much more to communities than just a newspaper.

"I hope you can help us survive".

Wednesday's weather forecast for Yorkshire

It'll be mostly cloudy today with a scattering of showers, though we may see a few bright spells

Tonight will remain cloudy tonight with further showers pushing in at times on a moderate westerly breeze.


Tuesday's forecast for Yorkshire

It'll be mostly cloudy today with perhaps the occasional spot of rain and a few brighter interludes at times.

Tonight we will see plenty more cloud with patchy light rain in places.

Weather graphic

Air Ambulance staff to return to frontline NHS roles

Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA) is scaling back its service to allow its crew members to return to their jobs and help in the fight against coronavirus.

Air Ambulance
Yorkshire Air Ambulance

In a statement the YAA said it was re-deploying staff to ensure Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) and the NHS could provide as much frontline care as possible.

As a result it said one of its two helicopters would be temporarily grounded.

Peter Sunderland, YAA Chairman said: “In the midst of this unprecedented crisis, the YAA wants to do everything it can to support the NHS and YAS in their fight against COVID-19. It is important that everyone does their part, including us.

“As the cases of COVID-19 rise, it also increases the pressure on the NHS. We know that YAS anticipates a significant increase in 999 calls across the region and by redeploying our Doctors and a small number of our Critical Care Paramedics back to their respective hospitals or ambulance operations, we can do our bit to support the frontline effort.”

He said the outbreak had also resulted in a "huge downturn in fundraising incomes", saying that as a result of cancelled events the service would lose an estimated £400,000.

Simple message from police on non-essential travel

West Yorkshire Police officer Martin Willis has a simple message for drivers.

In the video below the officer, who is often seens patrolling the motorways of the county, explains what essential and non-essential journeys are - and the difference you can make to keeping the nation safe by sticking to the rules:

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Police raid 30-strong Bradford birthday party

It seems not everyone is getting the #StayHomeSaveLives message.

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A special constable working in West Yorkshire tweeted the message above over the weekend.

His tweet follows on from an incident in Derbyshire over the weekend where police broke-up a party.

Party food laid on a table

Police there say they were left "in absolute shock" after finding 25 adults and children having a "massive party".

Everyone was dispersed and the hosts "dealt with" after social-distancing rules.

Burberry making masks in trenchcoat factory

David McKenna

Reporter, BBC News Online

Person wearing mask and gloves
Getty Images

British fashion brand Burberry says it is using its global supply chain to deliver 100,000 surgical masks to the NHS, for use by medical staff.The firm says it is also re-purposing its trenchcoat factory in Castleford, West Yorkshire, to make non-surgical gowns and masks for hospital patients.

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'I can't hug my children for 12 weeks due to the coronavirus'
Sarah Moore, who works in the Kirklees area, decided to isolate her children to keep them safe.

Five more people die with coronavirus in Yorkshire

A further five people have died at hospitals in Yorkshire after testing positive for coronavirus, according to the latest NHS figures.

A NHS sign

In total 759 people diagnosed with the virus have now died across the UK, with 14,579 people testing positive for the disease.

The deaths happened in hospitals in Doncaster and Bassetlaw, Sheffield, York and at a Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust.

Kirsten Major, from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said since 17 March ten people have died at hospitals in the city.

"The families of these patients have been informed and our thoughts and condolences are with them at this very difficult time."

Yorkshire people stuck abroad call for government help

Corinne Wheatley

BBC Look North

Tourists from Yorkshire stranded abroad due to coronavirus have been telling Look North that they are desperate to get home - and are calling for extra help from the UK government.

The foreign secretary Dominic Raab said earlier this week that any Britons on holiday should consider travelling home now while they still can. But a number of travellers have told us they've unable to get any flights and some are running out of money

Network Rail asks former signallers to return to railways

Retired rail workers are being asked to consider coming back to work to help keep the railways running during the coronavirus crisis.

Getty Images

Network Rail is appealing to former signallers to help man signal boxes and control centres and it looks to provide crucial cover for members of the workforce who may need to self-isolate.

Chris Gee, Head of Operations (Eastern Region) for Network Rail, said: “We are working hard to keep vital services, which get key workers to their jobs and food and medical supplies across the country, moving.

“We are appealing for signallers who’ve retired, moved on to other careers at Network Rail or left the railway to come back and help us keep signal boxes and control centres open.

“Signallers are crucial to keep the railway open and we need more former workers to help us provide back-up if some of our staff can’t come to work. Full re-training will be given.”

Any former professional signallers interested in helping to keep trains moving should email:

'Give blood' plea as donations drop

People are being urged to give blood after a drop off in donations because of the coronavirus outbreak.

A person with bags of blood
Getty Images

The NHS says going to give blood is essential and people should, where possible, keep going to appointments.

"We need people to keep donating as normal", an appeal said.

"We have extra safety measures in place and travel to donate blood is essential for the NHS.

"Our blood donor sessions and donor centres are open and our staff are taking special measures to provide a clean and safe space for you to donate."

Yorkshire joins 'Clap for Carers' NHS tribute

People around Yorkshire have taken part in a "Clap for Carers" tribute, saluting NHS and care workers dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

The Clap for Carers campaign, which started online, was staged because "during these unprecedented times they need to know we are grateful", according to the organisers.

A message from the NHS on social media described the countrywide tribute as "emotional":

Nurse who appealed over bare shelves may have coronavirus

A critical care nurse from North Yorkshire who urged panic-buyers to think about other people after finding supermarket shelves empty has revealed she might have contracted COVID-19.

In a tearful appeal (shown above), Dawn Bilbrough, from York, who had been working in West Yorkshire, urged people to stop and leave goods for everyone.

Speaking on ITV's Good Morning Britain today, she said doing things around the house is making her breathless and she has persistent nausea and headaches.

Asked if she was showing signs of coronavirus, she replied: "I believe I am."

She added she had "ongoing nausea and persistent headaches", adding: "I do believe I have Covid but I haven't been tested."

On Monday, Ms Bilbrough posted a video to say she had woken up with coronavirus symptoms so was staying off work and self-isolating.

Plea to only use public transport for 'essential' journeys

People in West Yorkshire are being urged not to use public transport unless their journey is "essential" during the coronavirus shutdown.

Leeds railway station and bus stop

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority says it wants people to follow the government’s guidelines to stay at home.

Councillor Kim Groves said: “We are urging everyone to stay at home and avoid non-essential use of the public transport network to help slow the spread of coronavirus, protect the NHS and save lives.

“This is vital to protect key workers who depend on these vital bus and rail services."

Supermarket's measures to keep staff and customers 'safe'

West Yorkshire-based supermarket chain Asda says it's put special measures in place in its stores to help reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus and keep people "safe".

Asda with 2m floor markings

The company, which has its HQ in Leeds, says it's introduced 2m apart floor markings in stores and says where necessary, the number of customers will be limited so social distancing can be observed.

Asda says: "All of our colleagues will be supplied with hand sanitiser and gloves and pharmacy and optical colleagues will also be provided with face masks."

A spokesperson said there were also plans to introduce perspex screens at checkouts and kiosks to protect customers and staff.

Warning over 'tax refund' text message scam

People are being warned not to click on links in text messages which have been sent from what claims to be Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

The fake text

Text messages telling people about government refunds have been circulating - something the government has said is a scam.

During the coronavirus outbreak, scammers have looked to take advantage of people who might be unemployed or on a reduced income.

But the government says texts and emails saying people can apply for tax breaks or relief are fake.

It said: "Do not reply if you get a text message claiming to be from HMRC offering you a tax refund in exchange for personal or financial details. Do not open any links in the message."

Gang jailed after sledgehammer attack on police car

A "brazen group of criminals" has been jailed after gang members armed with machetes, axes and crowbars, raided homes and businesses across the north, including some in West and South Yorkshire.

CCTV of gang members

The group stole £1.5m worth of items and caused £230,000 worth of damage.

Eleven gang members were jailed for up to 16 years at Minshull Street Crown Court.

Using stolen cars, the gang would ram-raid buildings and use weapons to threaten members of the public and police officers when challenged, police said.

On one occasion, officers stopped a vehicle for displaying false number plates, unaware the occupants had just burgled a business.

Two men emerged from the car wearing "Scream" masks and attacked the police vehicle with sledgehammers.

Four of the men were arrested after a burglary at a business in West Yorkshire, while a further nine were arrested during police raids in Oldham.

"This dangerous group of offenders showed blatant disregard for the safety of others as they savagely attacked members of the public as well as police officers and security staff," said Det Insp Rachel Smith.

Eleven men have been jailed for their involvement with the gang, who committed more than 50 burglaries and robberies between July 2018 and May 2019.

'Don't call 999 for coronavirus guidance' - Police

Police across Yorkshire are urging people not to call 999 for advice about coronavirus and the new restrictions brought in by the government.

West Yorkshire Police

Following Boris Johnson's televised statement yesterday evening, in which he ordered people not to leave their homes except for a few "very limited purposes", the region's police forces say they have seen a rise in calls.

West Yorkshire Police say since the announcement it's experienced an extremely high volume of calls from people asking for further guidance.

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Meanwhile, Chief Constable of Humberside Police Lee Freeman said the force had taken "a number of calls on our 101 line from people seeking answers, but at this early stage are not able to answer all of your enquiries".

He said the force would share more information as soon as it became available but in the meantime urged people to follow the government guidance.

Coronavirus: UK wakes to strict new curbs on life

The UK's woken to strict new curbs on life following an announcement by the prime minister last night of new rules imposed to help fight the coronavirus outbreak.

In a televised statement the prime minister ordered people only to leave their homes under a list of "very limited purposes".

Police will be given powers to enforce measures forcing people to stay at home unless shopping for food, exercising or going out for any medical need.

Under the new rules people can also leave home to provide care for someone, or to attend essential work which can't be done anywhere else.

The restrictions are in place for at least three weeks and will be kept under constant review, the prime minister said:

More about coronavirus:

Bettys tearooms sends cakes to hospital staff

Julia Bryson

Journalist, BBC Yorkshire

Yorkshire's famous tearooms, Bettys, made sure unsold bread and cakes did not go to waste by sending them to local NHS staff at the weekend.

The group decided to close its cafes - based in York, Harrogate, Ilkley and Northallerton - on Saturday, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bettys delivery to Airedale hospital
Lesley Smith

Zoe Beedham, deputy branch manager at Bettys in Ilkley, decided to send supplies to the staff at Airedale Hospital in Steeton.

She said: "We wanted to help support the amazing key workers, like those in the NHS, who are working so hard to look after us all.

"So, we put together a care package of Fat Rascals [a type of scone], bread and treats in an effort to deliver a bit of cheer to the hospital staff."

Bettys delivery to Airedale Hospital
Lesley Smith

Laura Ashley to close 70 stores with loss of 721 jobs

Fashion and furniture chain Laura Ashley has announced it plans to close 70 stores with 721 employees set to lose their jobs.

Laura Ashley
Getty Images

Last week the retailer, which has 13 branches in Yorkshire, said it would have to call in administrators after it was hit by a drop in trade linked to the coronavirus outbreak.

A host of retailers, including John Lewis and Ikea, have announced temporary store closures in the face of the pandemic over the weekend.

However, Laura Ashley is one of the first to announce permanent closures.

It said it will continue to trade from its remaining 77 UK stores, which will remain open while online operations also continue to trade.

Details of which stores are due to be closed have not been published.

Yorkshire supermarket plan to take on charity workers

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Bradford-based supermarket Morrisons says it's taking on staff from charity shops to help elderly and vulnerable shoppers.

Morrisons store
Getty Images

The supermarket plans to take on 500 volunteers from Marie Curie and CLIC Sargent charity shops, whose doors may need to close due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Their roles are expected to focus on helping the elderly and vulnerable with their shopping trips and at checkouts, as well as taking items to food banks and other charities in need of supplies.

A statement said: “Morrisons welcomes other charity shops workers who might be looking for temporary employment.

“These highly valued colleagues would continue to work the same hours and receive the same pay and conditions."

Matthew Reed of Marie Curie said: “To see such swift, compassionate, action from Morrisons to support our staff and pool resources to support the wider community, is truly overwhelming."

Monday's weather forecast for Yorkshire

Lisa Gallagher

Weather presenter, BBC Look North

After a cold start, today will be dry with plenty of sunshine with temperatures up to 12C.

Tonight will be dry with long clear spells and just some patches of cloud.

weather graphic

Councils shut crematoria and limit funeral party numbers

Councils in West Yorkshire have introduced changes to the way they conduct funerals as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Huddersfield Crematorium
Humphrey Bolton/Geograph

Leeds City Council says it will not take any new bookings for chapel funeral services and has advised people to consider restricting attendance at existing bookings to "close family and friends".

It said any new bookings will be cremation-only services with no attendees, but that where possible webcasting will be provided free of charge.

Burials will "go ahead as planned" it said, but families have again been asked to limit the number of people gathering at the graveside.

Meanwhile, Kirklees Council said Huddersfield and Dewsbury crematoria will close to the public with immediate effect.

It said burials and cremations will go ahead as normal, but has also asked families to limit the number of mourners.

Rachel Spencer-Henshall, Director for Public Health for Kirklees, said: “These are unprecedented times, and we are having to look at how we can continue to provide essential services, in a way which minimises the risk to the general public and also our staff."

Coronavirus: How close are we to getting a vaccine?

James Gallagher

Health and science correspondent, BBC News

Research into coronavirus is happening at breakneck speed.

There are more than 20 vaccines in development.

One has begun human trials after unusually skipping any animal research to test either the safety or the effectiveness of the vaccine.

Other scientists are at the animal research stage and hope to get the results of human trials later in the year.

But even if scientists can celebrate having developed a vaccine this year, there is still the massive job of being able to mass-produce it.

It means, realistically, one would not be ready until at least the middle of next year.

All of this is happening on an unprecedented timescale and using new approaches to vaccines, so there are no guarantees everything will go smoothly.

Remember there are four coronaviruses that already circulate in human beings. They cause the common cold, and we don't have vaccines for any of them.

TransPennine to run reduced service from Monday

Train operator TransPennine Express (TPE) is to begin running a reduced timetable from Monday "due to the implications of coronavirus", it's been confirmed.

TransPennine Express train

The "emergency timetable" will see services reduced in a bid to "provide a reliable and consistent service for thos customers who need to still use our trains", the firm says.

During the period the timetable is in operation, TPE says it will run the following services, with additional extra services at peak times.

  • Two-hourly service between Liverpool and Scarborough
  • Two-hourly service between Liverpool and Newcastle
  • Two-hourly service between Hull and Manchester Piccadilly
  • Hourly stopping service between Leeds and Manchester Piccadilly
  • Two-hourly service between Cleethorpes and Manchester Piccadilly
  • Two-hourly service between Preston and Edinburgh

Additionally, there will be limited TPE services between Newcastle and Edinburgh, Redcar Central and York, Preston and Manchester, along with Glasgow and Carlisle, the firm says.

Liz Collins, interim managing director for TPE, said: "These are truly extraordinary times and I’d like to thank our customers who are still travelling with us."

Coronavirus: Train cancellations due to outbreak

Train operators are continuing to run reduced timetables across several routes in Yorkshire and the north of England amid a collapse in demand due to coronavirus.

TransPennine train

Northern and TransPennine Express services are among those affected by cancellations.

The cuts are down to a decrease in travel and an increase in staffing absence caused by the virus.

Northern apologised for any inconvenience caused but said the cancellations were due to increased staff absence.

TransPennine Express said: "It is anticipated that an increasing number of our services may be altered, delayed or cancelled for all or part of their journey as more of our colleagues are affected".

More about coronavirus:

Yorkshire's Friday weather forecast

BBC Weather

This morning will be largely dry but with some areas of cloud.

Remaining fine in the afternoon with more in the way of sunny spells.

Moderate to fresh north-easterly wind:

Weather graphic