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Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

  1. Our live coverage across the day

    Our live updates have finished here for the day and indeed the week.

    You can also stay up to date online, on BBC Radio Newcastle, BBC Radio Tees and Look North.

    We'll be back with more live updates from 08:00 on Monday.

    If you want to get in touch with any news or send us photos you can tweet us, contact us via our Facebook page or email us.

  2. Council pays out £76m in coronavirus business grants

    More than 7,000 grants totalling more than £76m have been paid to County Durham businesses to help them deal with the effects of the coronavirus outbreak, Durham County Council has said.

    Last week, updated government guidance extended the support grants to charities, meaning an additional 427 organisations would benefit from the grants across the county.

    The council now expects to pay just under £95m once all 8,697 grants have been paid to those businesses that are eligible.

    The grants of either £10,000 or £25,000 are designed to help small businesses that have been affected by the Coronavirus outbreak.

    Metal discs

    Paul Ruscoe, the managing director of R&R Bearings Ltd in Consett, said: “The speed in which this support has been provided is mind blowing. This grant will help us massively over the coming weeks and make a big difference to our business.”

    Carl Marshall, cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “I am aware that there are many other businesses who do not meet the guidelines laid down by government and who are still struggling and I want them to know that we are doing all we can to help them too."

  3. A19 flyover northbound to close for four days

    The northbound A19 flyover between Middlesbrough and Stockton is closing for four days for "essential maintenance work".

    Highways England said the carriageway across the River Tees will be closed from 21:00 today until 06:00 on Tuesday.

    The crossing is 45 years old and the joints on the viaduct need to be replaced.

    Two full weekend closures took place in March, with another three to follow after this weekend on 15-18 May (southbound), 29 May-1 June (northbound) and 5-8 June (southbound).


    "The layout of the road and nature of the work means it can only be carried out safely if one of the A19 carriageways is closed," a spokesman said.

    "By shutting the road fully in one direction, Highways England’s team of engineers can work around the clock to complete the job as quickly as possible, weather permitting."

    The main northbound diversion is the A66 eastbound to A66/A1032 (Cannon Park), Newport Bridge and rejoining the A19 at A1046 (Haverton Hill/Portrack).

  4. Sunderland park community hub given green light

    Plans for a new community hub in a Sunderland park have taken a step forward.

    Earlier this month, Sunderland City Council gave the green light to a new structure in Elba Park, near Houghton-le-Spring, for use by visiting community groups and schools.

    Located by the existing visitor car park off the access road to Elba Park from Blind Lane, the building will provide meeting space, an education room, a kitchen, storage and toilet facilities.

    It will also act as a base for Groundwork North East staff involved in the development and management of the park.

    Charity bosses stressed that further fundraising will be needed to make the community hub a reality – with cost estimates for the project standing at £180,000.

    Assistant manager at Groundwork North East & Cumbria, Andrea Baxter, said the team was trying to secure more money for the project.

  5. Mayor reminder that hospital 'still open' for urgent cases

    Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston reminds the public that hospitals are still open for urgent patients during the coronavirus pandemic.

    View more on twitter
  6. A189 in Northumberland to close for works

    A series of overnight weekend road closures will be taking place on the A189 Spine Road to allow for essential maintenance works.

    The work will include sweeping, drain emptying and maintenance, minor road defect repairs, grass cutting, strimming and litter picking, Northumberland County Council said.

    The work will take place along the road over a number of Saturday nights, starting on 18 April, from 20:00 to 06:00 on the stretch between Moor Farm roundabout and the Three Horse Shoes roundabout.

    While this stretch of road is next to the hospital, emergency vehicles will be able to pass through the road closure if necessary.

    After this weekend there will be a further three Saturday overnight closures on 25 April and 2 and 16 May as the work moves north along the A189.

  7. Family spends four days turning house into rainbow

    A family in Consett, County Durham, has spent four days colouring more than 2,500 bricks on their house to support the NHS during the spread of coronavirus.

    Cory Rosemurgey said: "We finally have our rainbow houses in support of not only our amazing NHS staff, but also each and every worker, risking their lives on a daily basis in order for this country to run it's operations in this hard time. We salute you!"

  8. Should we all be wearing masks now?

    Two women walking wearing face masks

    Only two groups of people should wear protective masks, according to the World Health Organisation:

    • Those who are sick and showing symptoms
    • Those who are caring for people suspected to have the coronavirus

    Masks are not recommended for the general public because:

    • They can be contaminated by other people's coughs and sneezes or when putting them on or removing them
    • Frequent hand-washing and social distancing are more effective
    • They might offer a false sense of security

    You can find more information here.

  9. Messages of support left for binmen

    Binmen in South Tyneside got a lovely surprise during their shift this week - messages of support were left on the bins to thank them for their work during the spread of coronavirus.

    View more on facebook
  10. Coronavirus: What do all the terms mean?

    The coronavirus pandemic has introduced dozens of new words and phrases to daily life, from social distancing to herd immunity. But what do they all mean?

    Use our translator tool to look up and check the meaning of key terms.

    Coronavirus terms graphic
  11. Calls for tips to re-open amid fly-tipping 'spike'

    Council chiefs in Newcastle have been urged to reopen the city’s tips as soon as possible with the coronavirus lockdown leading to mounting piles of rubbish and an “unacceptable” spike in fly-tipping.

    Waste centres across the country were forced to shut down to limit the spread of Covid-19 last month to stop people making unnecessary journeys.

    But with the lockdown now set to continue for at least a few more weeks, there are increasing concerns over how people can dispose of all kinds of waste building up at home, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

    All regular bin collections in Newcastle are continuing as normal, but the three household waste and recycling centres at Brunswick, Byker, and Walbottle are shut indefinitely.

    Anita Lower, the city’s Lib Dem opposition leader, added: “We are raising the issue with the chief executive but until the Government lifts restrictions and we find a safe way to do it, we need to be aware of staff and public health and safety implications."

    There have been reports of fly-tippers dumping their rubbish around the Brunswick Industrial Estate upon finding the tip is closed, while complaints have also been lodged about piles of discarded waste in areas including Scotswood and Kingston Park.

    Newcastle City Council says that it cannot ensure 2m physical distancing measures are obeyed at tips and, even if it could, the “vast majority” of trips would be deemed non-essential.

  12. Sunderland university face shields being used on frontline

    Protective face shields rapidly designed and developed by the University of Sunderland are being used by frontline healthcare workers in North East hospitals during the coronavirus outbreak.

    Experts from the University’s Institute for Automotive and Manufacturing Advanced Practice (AMAP) designed their own visor from scratch with input from regional intensive care unit clinicians.

    The protective shields were evaluated and trialled by medical experts, before the go-ahead was given to produce and supply visors for frontline workers at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI).

    Over the Easter holiday weekend the team supplied more than 200 visors, and continues to 3D-print and assemble the safety equipment, following strict sterilisation procedures for intensive care unit requirements.

    Face shield on mannequin head

    Roger O’Brien, director at AMAP, said: “In addition to our own efforts, where we have 12 printers running around the clock, there are various manufacturing partners of all sizes of organisation, from small companies to large, who are helping us by 3D-printing our frame design, which we then collect from them to process.

    “We are currently working with a local manufacturing company to invest in an injection mould tool which would scale up the operation from producing around 100 face shields per day to many thousands, and hopefully this can be in production very soon."

    The production of the equipment has also been supported by companies attached to the university’s project, including Pilgrim Gin which supplied a large quantity of denaturalised alcohol used for part of the sterilisation process.

  13. Prosecution warning for speeders during lockdown

    Drivers are being warned they face prosecution after police released statistics of extreme speeding on the region’s most-used roads.

    Northumbria Police said they are concerned after quieter roads during lockdown have seen an increase in the average speed of motorists.

    The force has released figures including:

    A motorbike captured travelling at 92.6mph on the Tyne Bridge which is a 40mph zone; a car travelling at 83.9mph on the Wearmouth Bridge in Sunderland which is a 30mph zone; and a car caught at 82mph on the 50mph stretch of the A189 Spine Road in Northumberland.

    Police say those caught face prosecution.

    A police spokeswoman said: "The vast majority of people are respecting the stay-at-home measures in place to help stop the spread of Coronavirus and ultimately save lives."

  14. Mouth of Tyne festival re-booked for 2021 with same acts

    This year's Mouth of the Tyne Festival in Tynemouth has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, it has been announced.

    It was due to take place in July, with Keane and the Lighthouse Family the headline music acts.

    Both acts have been re-booked for 2021 - Keane on 8 July and the Lighthouse Family the following Saturday.

    Meanwhile, Newton Faulkner's show at the Playhouse in Whitley Bay will now take place on 16 November this year.

    Organisers say all tickets will be valid for the new dates, but refunds can be requested from ticket sellers.

    Mouth of Tyne festival
  15. Food parcels stolen from shielding people's doorsteps

    BBC Radio Tees

    Food parcels meant for vulnerable people shielding from the coronavirus have been stolen from their doorsteps, police have said.

    Cleveland Police said it has received reports from councils and on social media about "heartless opportunist thieves" stealing the deliveries from those who have been asked by the government to "endure an extreme form of isolation".

    "These extremely vulnerable groups include organ transplant recipients, some cancer patients, people with severe lung conditions, people with weakened immune systems and pregnant women with heart conditions," a police spokesman said.

    Ch Supt Thom McLoughlin from Cleveland Police said: “In itself this is appalling but the concern is that ultimately this may force those shielding to venture out to source food supplies putting themselves or family members at additional risk."

  16. Fancy dress video meetings aim to lift lockdown spirits

    Home workers around England have been livening up online team meetings by holding them in fancy dress.

    Every Friday, health professionals, IT managers and environmental campaigners have been dressing up as penguins and pirates in an attempt to raise spirits.

    In Newcastle, consulting start-up Wayaye has begun holding weekly team meetings in fancy dress.

    At Wayaye, the best effort receives a prize

    CEO Maureen Robson said: "I recognise that the team are all at home, and thankfully still very busy working with clients, but it can lead to long days without the usual coffee or water cooler moment with colleagues.

    "We are all missing the in-person social interaction we've become used to.

    "It's been a brilliant way for us to get to know each other more, have a laugh and even give prizes away for the best efforts."