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Foodbank uses limousine for deliveries

Local Democracy Reporting Service

A foodbank used a limousine to help deliver 800kg of supplies to people whose resources have been stretched thin during the coronavirus.

Councillor Paul Turpin and John Beaumont from American Pie Limousines

Gleadless Valley teamed up with rental company American Pie Limousines on Friday, using a white Rolls Royce to deliver essential packages to those in need in Sheffield.

Special South Yorkshire buses for NHS staff

Free buses are being put on in South Yorkshire solely for NHS staff to help get them home after working in hospitals across the county.

A First bus

The buses, operated by First, will ferry staff to and from Doncaster Royal Infirmary, Rotherham General Hospital, Sheffield Northern General Hospital and Sheffield Royal Hallamshire Hospital.

People can only board these buses at the stops within the hospital grounds, and the route is alighting only, the firm said.

A full list of times and routes can be found here.

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.

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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Call to protect South Yorkshire's 'vital' warehouse staff

Warehouse workers keeping "essential supplies moving" should be given greater protection, a South Yorkshire MP has said.

Warehouse worker
Getty Images

Dan Jarvis called for stronger social distancing measures for South Yorkshire's 21,000 warehouse workers.

Concerns have been raised over conditions at sites in the region used by clothing retailers ASOS and Pretty Little Thing.

The Labour MP for Barnsley Central, who is also mayor of the Sheffield City Region, said a "number of businesses" in the region "continue to operate unsafe working practices".

He said: "Coronavirus is going to dominate our way of life for the weeks and months ahead, so for everyone's safety, it's vital we look after workers making sure communities have the supplies they need.

"The government must provide clear guidance about the required social distancing practices. They must ensure they are implemented and take tough action where rules are broken."

Mr Jarvis said he had been working with trade unions and local authorities to protect workers' safety.

He has written to the Secretary of State for Business, Alok Sharma, asking for clearer guidance and enforcement of social distancing rules where businesses continue to operate.

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

Call for recently retired police officers to return

South Yorkshire Police is asking retired officers and staff to return to work to bolster numbers and add extra resilience during the coronavirus pandemic.

Police officers
PA Media

The force is opening up a broad range of opportunities to former employees during the outbreak.

Retired officers and staff, and those on a career break, are being invited to consider returning for a temporary period so the force and the public can benefit from their knowledge and experience.

Chief Constable Stephen Watson said: "We are well prepared and equipped to deal with this pandemic. Our officers will remain on the front line and we will be here for the people in South Yorkshire who need us.

"In these unprecedented times, however, we are also calling upon those who have left us to consider returning to duties to provide a tremendous public service.

"The skillsets of these former colleagues will be invaluable as we get on with the job in front of us."

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.


Fire service pledges to help other emergency services

A Yorkshire fire service says it's ready to step up and help drive ambulances or deliver food and medicine to hospitals to ease the pressure on other emergency services.

A fire engine
South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue

As part of a national agreement, fire services across the country will offer their assistance as the UK braces for the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue said its crew members will be among those volunteering their time and expertise to help the NHS,

The work will be alongside their usual duty of responding to emergency incidents such as fire and road traffic collisions.

Alex Johnson, from South Yorkshire Police, said: "Our firefighters are trained to an extremely high standard. They have a huge amount of experience in driving blue light vehicles.

"Now, more than ever, is the time to come together."

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.

People in lockdown flock to watch peregrines webcam

Hundreds of people have been tuning in to a webcam set up to film nesting peregrine falcons in Sheffield as they look to counter the stress and boredom of coronavirus lockdown.

Peregrine falcon webcam at the University of Sheffield's St George's church lecture theatre
University of Sheffield

The webcam was installed by the University of Sheffield on St George's Church lecture theatre in 2012, and live streams the activities of the birds.

Ian Knowles, from the university's technical team, said normally around 25 people a day log on to the webcam, with up to 100 a day in breeding season but, since last week, this has risen to 350 unique views per day.

Martin Abrams, who lived in Sheffield for six years but now lives in a flat in South London, said he has watched the peregrine webcam for five years but now is more important and "soothing" than ever.

“It's a real tonic," he said.

"Looking after your mental health at this time and having an outlet in this crisis is proving to be really helpful.

"Lots of people are facing a lot more time indoors and many are not lucky enough to have a garden.

"The peregrines webcam is a unique insight into a really, really special pair of animals and I'm hoping to get my three-year-old son interested too."

People have been logging on to the stream from around the world including the US, Germany, Sweden, Russia, Canada, Romania and Poland.

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

Appeal after police van has tyre slashed

Frontline police officers had their tyre slashed as they attended an incident in a Sheffield suburb last night, South Yorkshire Police has said.

The police van
South Yorkshire Police

The van was parked on Hazlebarrow Road in Jordanthorpe just after 18:00 when the damage was done, police say.

Two men on an electric-powered bike are wanted by police in connection with the incident.

Supt Cherie Buttle said: "Our officers are working harder than ever to carry out their duties and keep the public safe and this is completely unacceptable behaviour.

"Frontline officers were attending an incident when their vehicle was targeted by vandals, it meant we had to deploy extra resources which is unnecessary and a waste of officer time."

The damaged tyre
South Yorkshire Police

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":

Fire service may look to recently-retired firefighters

Firefighters who have recently retired might be asked to come back to help if staffing levels become "critical", South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue (SYFR) has said.

A fire engine
South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue

SYFR said it's been contacted by some retired firefighters asking if they'll be needed should staffing levels drop.

The coronavirus pandemic has seen some SYFR firefighters forced to self-isolate - meaning they won't be able to help on the frontline.

However, the fire service says it has a list of recently retired firefighers and "will be contacting them in the event of our staffing levels reaching critical levels".

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."

'Keep kids home' appeal as groups on Sheffield streets

Police in Shefffield say they've had to take groups of youths home after finding them together in the city.

They're appealing to parents to keep their children at home during the coronavirus outbreak.

Writing on social media, police said: "Whilst on patrols we are witnessing groups of children out together without any parent in sight - this is not school holidays":

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.

Police chief's message to 'protect the vulnerable'

The Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police has issued a statement following the prime minister's announcement telling people not to leave their homes except for a few "very limited purposes."

Stephen Watson
South Yorkshire Police

Stephen Watson says: “We are all now being enlisted, not to fight in a war, but to play a very small but crucial role in the fight against Covid-19.

"All that is required of you is to stay at home and to cherish some time with those closest to you.

"In doing so, we are protecting the vulnerable and the elderly, many of whom have given more than this to protect us," he added.

The Chief Constable says his force will "inform, encourage and support," but says if it finds people "not willing to comply with the new rules" it will move to enforcement once it understands the detail of the legislation.

'A test we can't afford to fail' - Dan Jarvis MP

The Mayor of the Sheffield City Region has described tough new measures introduced to tackle the spread of coronavirus as a "test for our country that we can't afford to fail".

Dan Jarvis
Sheffield City Region

“These are unprecedented times and we all have a responsibility to work together and do everything we can to slow this virus down," said Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis in the wake of Boris Johnson's address to the nation last night.

"The situation is grave and each day more people are dying from this disease.

“I welcome the new measures introduced by the Prime Minister [and] I urge everyone to follow this advice and in particular to stay at home unless there is a compelling reason to leave.

“My heartfelt thanks goes to our NHS workers and all those on the frontline who are each day risking their lives to save others. We will forever be in their debt.

“It’s now time for everyone to follow the advice and take every measure to contain this disease. Lives depend upon it.”

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:

Firefighters 'appalled' after increase in deliberate fires

Firefighters in South Yorkshire say they're "appalled, baffled, angry and upset" after being called to a growing number of deliberate fires.

Fire engine
South Yorkshire Fire Service

On social media the service said: "Our firefighters were called to repeat fires overnight, all started deliberately - you name it, they extinguished it, rubbish, cars, bins and even some scrubland.

"It's really frustrating when we're meant to be pulling together that a small minority of people do things like this."

The service says it had far more calls last night than is usual and is asking people to be vigilant and to report any suspicious behaviour to the police.

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.

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

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: