Luton

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Police deal with 'big groups' in town centre

Police in Luton say they have had to deal with lots of people "not adhering to social distancing guidelines" in the town centre.

They said those "congregating in big groups" and "being close with members not from their household" had "been informed and dealt with accordingly".

"Please be mindful of social distancing rules," they tweeted.

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What the papers are saying in Beds, Herts and Bucks...

  • Weeks of of anxiety ended in a tearful reunion when businessman Roger Sharma welcomed his wife safely home from India, the Bucks Free Press reports
  • The Milton Keynes Citizen reports that a dad feels let down by the council who won’t tell him when day and respite care centres will open again for his autistic son
  • The Welwyn Hatfield Times asks what will happen to the homeless in Welwyn Hatfield when lockdown ends?
  • Fairies made by children are mysteriously going missing from woods in Royston – and families are appealing to the culprit to leave them be, the Royston Crow reports
  • Luton Today reports on The Mall's plans for social distancing when shops reopen

Coronavirus death rate increases in East

Matt Precey

BBC Look East

The latest statistics showing the daily rise in coronavirus deaths has been released by the government.

In the East of England, there was an increase of 18 deaths in the region's hospitals in the latest daily figures, taking the total number to 3,515.

The new deaths were at the following hospital trusts:

·Anglian Community Enterprise (Clacton and Harwich): 1

·Bedford Hospital: 3

·East Suffolk and North Essex (Ipswich and Colchester hospitals): 2

·James Paget, Gorleston: 2

·Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals: 1

·North West Anglia (Peterborough and Hinchingbrooke hospitals): 5

·Northampton General: 3

·West Suffolk Hospital: 1

The total number of Covid-19 associated UK deaths now stands at 37,048.

Welcome to Wednesday's coronavirus updates

Katy Lewis

BBC News Online

We will be bringing you all the latest coronavirus news from across the East of England - from the latest statistics to how key workers and our communities are coping.

If you have a story you wish to share - good or bad - please contact BBC News Online (East).

Reach us via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or email us.

You can catch up with yesterday's live page here.

Fire service appeal over mystery 'thank you' hamper

A fire service has appealed for the residents behind a mystery gift hamper to come forward so they can be thanked.

Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service has been delivering medication to vulnerable people during the coronavirus pandemic.

But firefighters received their own special delivery last week when a group of "grateful residents" left them and staff at Boots pharmacy a hamper of treats.

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A fire service spokesperson said: "It’s not every day you receive an anonymous hamper filled with treats to say 'thank you' for supporting your community.

"We would love to be able to thank the kind residents behind the hamper."

How to donate blood plasma in the East

Katy Lewis

BBC News Online

Health officials are calling on survivors of Covid-19 to donate their blood plasma as early research suggests it could contain antibodies to fight the condition in other people.

The research suggests there are three categories of coronavirus survivors who have plasma with the most potential to save lives - patients over the age of 35, male survivors of Covid-19 and patients who were ill enough to need hospital treatment.

The NHS Blood and Transplant Service is collecting plasma for the trial at 23 donor centres in England including Luton and Cambridge in the East.

Anyone in one of the three categories is asked to contact them.

Ryanair to increase summer schedule by 40%

Mariam Issimdar

BBC News

Ryanair, which has its UK base at Stansted, has confirmed plans to ramp up flights to 40% of its normal schedule from 1 July.

Ryanair plane at Stansted Airport
Thomas Nugent\Geograph

The airline said it will operate flights to "key holiday airports" in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece and Cyprus.

The firm said all passengers would have to wear facemasks in airports and on board as well as ask cabin crew for permission to use the toilet facilities to avoid queues.

Meanwhile, Luton-based EasyJet announced last week it will resume flights from 15 June, mainly within the UK and France, while British Airways is due to launch "a meaningful return to service in July".

The UK is to impose a 14-day quarantine requirement for anyone arriving in the country from 8 June, but the rules will be reviewed every three weeks.

What the papers are saying in Beds, Herts and Bucks...

  • High Wycombe man who has battled health conditions raises £5k for NHS with gruelling Everest challenge - in his garage, the Bucks Free Press reports
  • The Comet reports Hertfordshire charities receive £10k in National Lottery funding amid coronavirus pandemic
  • Essendon boy cycles to all Nightingale hospitals to raise thousands for NHS, the Welwyn Hatfield Times reports

Thameslink uses 30-day coronavirus killer

Katy Lewis

BBC News Online

One of the region's train companies has been explaining what it uses to try to keep surfaces clean.

Electrostatic wands and special backpacks are delivering a viruscide which sticks to surfaces and kills coronavirus for up to 30 days, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has said.

Thameslink viruscide
Govia Thameslink Railway

The operator said its entire train fleet of 2,700 carriages on Southern, Thameslink, Great Northern and Gatwick Express trains, plus stations and staff areas have been treated.

It said the product further improves its already-enhanced cleaning regime, in which stations and staff areas are treated with more short-term viruscides, and all its train carriages are sanitised every night.

Engineering director, Steve Lammin, said they were using the 30-day product "across our network on a 21-day cycle".

Thameslink viruscide
Govia Thameslink Railway

Delay to Luton Airport expansion

Simon Oxley

BBC Three Counties Radio

Plans to expand London Luton Airport are being delayed.

It will now not be submitting an application to the government in June, asking permission to increase passenger numbers to 32 million a year by 2039 and build a second terminal.

Luton Airport
London Luton Airport

In a statement on its website, London Luton Airport Limited said it would be taking a fresh look at sustainability, after feedback during the public consultation - but also pointed to the effect of the pandemic on the aviation industry, and the need for what it called "prudent investment".

"Our focus during these unprecedented times is firmly on supporting staff and all our partners across London Luton Airport, and preparing for a period of recovery and renewed safe travel," it said.

Don't light bonfires, go to the tip says fire service

Remains for fire
Bedfordshire Fire & Rescue

A fire service issuing another reminder after it had been called to many bonfires which had got out of control after being left unattended in windy conditions over the long weekend.

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service is asking people to take their rubbish to tips, as they have now reopened.

Firefighters were called to a property in Wrestlingworth on Saturday evening where trees, fence panels and five sheds where destroyed.

"Don’t forget that dry ground and heat can be the perfect combo for the spread of outdoor fires," a spokeswoman said.

Remains of fire
Bedfordshire Fire & Rescue

Coronavirus death rate falls again in the East

Matt Precey

BBC Look East

The latest number of new daily coronavirus deaths has been released by the government.

In the East, in Monday's figures there was an increase of 11 deaths in the region's hospitals, taking the total number to 3,497.

·Basildon and Thurrock: 2

·East and North Hertfordshire: 1

·East Suffolk and North Essex (Ipswich and Colchester hospitals): 1

·James Paget, Gorleston: 1

·Northamptonshire Healthcare: 1

·Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn: 1

·West Hertfordshire Hospitals: 2

·West Suffolk Hospital: 2

Figures released on Sunday showed a rise of 33 deaths, and there was a rise of 24 in Saturday's figures.

The total number of UK deaths associated with Covid-19 stands at 36,914.

Welcome to Tuesday's coronavirus updates

Katy Lewis

BBC News Online

We will be bringing you all the latest coronavirus news from across the East of England - from the latest statistics to how key workers and our communities are coping.

If you have a story you wish to share - good or bad - please contact BBC News Online (East).

Reach us via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or email us.

Police plea not to 'stampede' to closed safari park

Alex Pope

BBC News Online

tiger
Woburn Safari Park

People have been urged not to walk around the outskirts of a safari park in the hope of seeing animals.

Bedfordshire Police said they've had to visit villages that back on to Woburn Safari Park, to deal with cars parked unnecessarily and people hoping to "get a free visit".

"Please refrain from visiting this area and if you do please use public car parks only", the force said.

"Woburn Safari Park have stated that all animals including elephants have been put away from the public footpaths so cannot be seen, this is to protect their welfare and to stop members of the public stampeding for a free visit", it said.

Police car on a road
Ampthill Community Policing Team & Surrounding Area

The safari park said: "We would also like to ask that you please do not travel to Woburn or the surrounding areas this weekend, stay home and keep yourselves and the local residents safe."

Severe accident: A505 Bedfordshire both ways

BBC News Travel

A505 Bedfordshire both ways severe accident, between Birch Link and Highfield Road.

A505 Bedfordshire - A505 Dunstable Road in Luton closed in both directions between the Birch Link junction and the Highfield Road junction, because of an accident and follow local detour.

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

Islam centre prepares for different Eid

BBC Look East

Muslims in the region are preparing for a very different Eid this weekend.

Eid ul-Fitr, the festival of the breaking of the fast, marks the end of Ramadan and is a time when mosques hold special services and worshipers spend time with friends and family.

This year, volunteers from Luton's Discover Islam Centre, will be out making food deliveries.

Discover Islam Centre
BBC

"It's getting out there, being able to help others, it's the spirit of Ramadan, being able to share goodwill and hope," volunteer Sujel Miah said.

Working with partners including Age Concern and the Luton Food Bank, the centre has already distributed more than £100,000 worth of food and educational supplies to vulnerable people.

Sufian Sadiq, centre chairman, said: "One of the key things for us is ensuring nobody in this town goes hungry."

Discover Islam Centre
BBC

What the papers are saying in Beds, Herts and Bucks...

  • The Bucks Herald reports that hour long queues at waste sites prompts council to act
  • Muslim youngsters make donations to a food bank, the MK Citizen says.
  • Luton Today reports that a photographer has been documenting Lockdown life
  • St Albans residents fasted for a day in unison with their Muslim neighbours on Wednesday, the Herts Advertiser reports

Individual Luton schools to decide on pupils' return

Katy Lewis

BBC News Online

Individual schools in Luton will decide how and when to accept more pupils back, the local education authority said.

School children
Getty Images

Luton Borough Council said its schools had been working "exceptionally hard" to follow the government’s request to open for more children in nursery, reception, Year 1 and Year 6 from 1 June and, while it recognised parents concerns, it did not feel it could stop all of them from taking more pupils back.

"We do not believe that advising all local authority schools not to open for more children on the 1 June would be the best approach," a statement said.

"Keeping children and staff safe is the number one priority, therefore individual schools will decide how and when to accept increasing numbers of pupils."

It said it was working with head teachers and risk assessments were being conducted and reviewed.

Councillor Aslam Khan, who is responsible for education, said: "Based on current assessments it is extremely unlikely that any Luton primary school will be welcoming all pupils back before the summer holidays."

Homeless hostel to open in Luton

Alex Pope

BBC News Online

Room in a homeless shelter
Signposts

The coronavirus pandemic has put a stop on the official opening of a new 45-bedroom project to house rough sleepers.

But despite that, the newly refurbished in Guildford Hall in Luton opens today - run by the charity Signposts.

Guildford Hall
Singposts

Meals will be provided for some, and will house people mostly from the streets. There will also be laundry facilities, along with kitchens and 24-hour staff support.

Kevin Porter, the charity's chief executive, said: "We want all Lutonians to be very proud of what we have all achieved together – this offers real hope for people to get their lives back on track."

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Pandemic 'more grave' than administration

Just how challenging are the economic consequences of the pandemic on lower league football?

Well, Luton Town, a club that has faced some torrid times off the pitch in the past 20 years and who have played in all three of the EFL’s divisions in the past three years, can help put things into perspective.

Kenilworth Road
Getty Images

Manager Graeme Jones parted company with the Hatters - a club staring at an immediate return to League One - in April, becoming the first manager in the EFL to leave his job as a cost-cutting measure during the pandemic.

"It's more grave now than it was back then," said Luton chief executive Gary Sweet when comparing the impact of the pandemic to administration in 2002 and further financial issues in the 2007-08 season.

"Football can't survive going a year without supporters - this is a problem and a challenge for the game, not just for Luton Town.

"If you go back to those two periods - at the end of the day if we weren't there back then somebody would've bought the club.

"Right now there's not really a queue of people willing to buy football clubs."

Coronavirus deaths in the East falls again

Matt Precey

BBC Look East

Figures revealing the latest number of new daily coronavirus deaths have been released by the government and it shows a declining trend in the East of England again.

In Thursday's statistics, there was an increase of 29 deaths in the region's hospitals, compared to a rise of 44 new deaths in the previous day's figures.

It takes the region's total number of Covid-19-related deaths to 3,402. The latest daily figures show deaths by hospital trust:

·Anglian Community, Fryatt Hospital: 1

·East Suffolk and North Essex (Ipswich and Colchester hospitals): 5

·James Paget, Gorleston: 1

·Kettering General Hospital: 1

·Mid Essex Hospital: 3

·Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals: 2

·North West Anglia (Peterborough and Hinchingbrooke hospitals): 5

·Northampton General: 3

·Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow: 1

·Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn: 2

·Southend: 3

·West Hertfordshire Hospitals: 2

The total number of Covid-19 deaths across the whole UK now stands at 36,042.

Welcome to Friday's coronavirus updates

Katy Lewis

BBC News Online

We will be bringing you all the latest coronavirus news from across the East of England - from the latest statistics to how key workers and our communities are coping.

If you have a story you wish to share - good or bad - please contact BBC News Online (East).

Reach us via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or email us.

Mayors stay in post for another year

Katy Lewis

BBC News Online

While Milton Keynes Council has welcomed a new mayor of the town, in Luton and St Albans it's been decided their mayors will stay in post for a further 12 months due to the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In Luton, councillors Tahir Malik and Maria Lovell will continue as mayor and deputy mayor until 2021. Both have decided that "in these unprecedented times", it is in the best interests of the council and town to be able to provide continuity by carrying on their duties. .

Mr Malik (below) said he was "incredibly honoured" to serve for another year and hoped his colleagues and the community would "keep supporting me for what promises to be a challenging year ahead".

Councillor Tahir Malik
Luton Borough Council

In St Albans, Janet Smith (below) has had her term extended until May next year following the cancellation of this year’s council elections, and Sandra Wood will remain as deputy.

She said: "Hopefully, we will soon be entering the recovery phase and I will be doing all I can to support our charities, community groups and businesses as they begin the difficult challenge of trying to return to normal."

Councillor Janet Smith
St Albans District Council

What the papers are saying in Beds, Herts and Bucks...

  • Luton Today reports that a new appointment-only drive-through testing centre has opened at London Luton Airport as part of the government’s UK-wide programme to control the spread of coronavirus
  • Wilkestock organisers are "devastated" at cancelling charity music festival, The Comet says
  • Bedford Today has looked at what the pandemic has done to house prices in the town

Coronavirus deaths in the East up again

Matt Precey

BBC Look East

The latest number of new daily coronavirus deaths has been released by the government.

In the East there was an increase of 44 deaths in the region's hospitals, taking the total number so far to 3,373.

·Basildon and Thurrock: 1

·Buckinghamshire Healthcare Trust: 1

·East and North Hertfordshire: 1

·East Suffolk and North Essex (Ipswich and Colchester hospitals): 1

·Hertfordshire Partnership: 1

·Kettering General Hospital: 8

·Luton and Dunstable: 14

·Mid Essex Hospital: 1

·Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals: 1

·North West Anglia (Peterborough and Hinchingbrooke hospitals): 5

·Northampton General: 2

·Southend Hospital: 8

The total number of Covid-19 associated UK deaths now stands at 35,704.

Whitbread launches £1bn fundraising scheme

Katy Lewis

BBC News Online

Bedfordshire based Whitbread - which owns Premier Inn - has launched a £1bn fundraising scheme as it expects its hotels and restaurants in the UK to remain closed or operate at low occupancy levels until September.

Premier Inn
BBC

"Demand recovery is expected to be slow as social distancing restrictions are gradually relaxed," it said.

The company, which has furloughed about 27,000 staff, has revealed plans to raise £1bn through a rights issue, proposing to offer one new share for every two existing shares.

EasyJet to resume flights in June

BBC Business News

Luton-based EasyJet has announced that a small number of flights will restart on 15 June, with passengers and cabin crew required to wear masks.

Easyjet plane
Reuters

EasyJet's planes have been grounded since late March, but the low-cost airline said it would restart a "small number" of routes where there was enough customer demand, to include domestic flights in Britain and France, with other destinations to be added later.

Chief executive Johan Lundgren said these were "small and carefully-planned steps".

Mr Lundgren said further routes would be announced over coming weeks "as customer demand increases and lockdown measures across Europe are relaxed".

Welcome to Thursday's coronavirus updates

Katy Lewis

BBC News Online

Good morning. We will be bringing you all the latest coronavirus news from across the East of England - from the latest statistics to how key workers and our communities are coping.

If you have a story you wish to share - good or bad - please contact BBC News Online (East).

Reach us via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or email us.

Sky's the limit for Captain Tom tribute

Sarah Jenkins

BBC News

Messages of congratulations to Captain Tom over his knighthood have reached new heights, as officers from Bedfordshire Police spotted earlier.

The creative artwork was left in the sky above the war veteran's home in Marston Moretaine this morning.

Capt Tom is to be knighted for his efforts in raising more than £32m for the NHS by walking 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday in April.

The centenarian received the special nomination from the prime minister.

View more on twitter

What the papers are saying in Beds, Herts and Bucks...

  • The Bucks Free Press reports that Thames Valley Air Ambulance has launched its first ever "urgent" appeal in response to a predicted £1m shortfall in fundraising income
  • Bedford Today reports that a GP group has donated a care package to a nursing home
  • The Herts Mercury reveals a Cheshunt zoo owner has warned he may have to put some animals to sleep if it closes due to coronavirus
  • There is a call to protect Filipino health staff as workers from that country suffer "highest death rate", the Watford Observer reports

McDonald's says fast-food customers may find service is slower

Sarah Jenkins

BBC News

McDonald's has opened some of its drive-through restaurants in the East of England today.

Some 22 sites across Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire opened at 11:00. The branches are offering limited menus and spending has been capped at £25 per vehicle.

The chain said employees will have their temperatures checked and the number of workers on site will be reduced to ensure social distancing.

McDonald's previously warned fast-food customers that service "will not be as quick as you might be used to" and asked visitors to be "patient and supportive" of staff.

View more on twitter

Here's a list of restaurants in the east which are open for drive-through only:

  • Ipswich - Ranelagh Road
  • Ipswich - Ravenswood
  • Ipswich - Whitehouse
  • Chelmsford - Regiment Business Park
  • Bushey
  • Watford - Garston
  • Peterborough - Bourges Boulevard
  • Peterborough - Boongate
  • Peterborough - Hampton
  • Peterborough - Morrisons, Lincoln Road
  • Peterborough - Eye Green
  • Peterborough - Glinton
  • Dunstable - Luton Road
  • Luton Retail Park, Gipsy Lane

While the following restaurants are open for delivery and drive-through:

  • Chelmsford - Riverside
  • Chelmsford - Westway
  • Ipswich - Cardinal Park
  • Essex - Boreham Interchange
  • Luton - Leagrave
  • Luton - Chaul End Lane
  • Luton - George Street
  • Watford - Hertfordshire Arms

Covid-19 deaths rising more steeply again

As we reported yesterday afternoon on our live page, the number of Covid-19 deaths in the region's hospitals rose more than in the previous two days' figures, according to the government.

There were 27 deaths in Tuesday's statistics, compared to 19 in Monday's and 12 the day before that.

The hospital with the largest number of new deaths in yesterday's figures was Bedford with six.

The total number of people who have died from Covid-19-related illnesses in the BBC East region is now 3,336.

Tuesday's updates as they happened

Thanks for joining us to find out how the East of England is reacting to the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown.

Live updates have now finished for the day.

Join us again on Wednesday when a live page will resume at 08:00.

Find it via your BBC News county index.

The back to school quandary: Your questions answered

The big post-lockdown coronavirus discussion in many homes is whether to send children back to school if, as the government plans, they re-open at the start of June.

It's an issue that's become really divisive and tonight we're talking about it here in our latest BBC East digital live event on Facebook.

Your Questions Answered graphic
BBC

Teaching unions, backed by the British Medical Association, have raised concerns about safety. Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has insisted England's schools are safe to reopen, but acknowledged that "you can never eliminate risk".

On the panel will be experts from the world of science and education including Cambridge-based virologist Dr Chris Smith from The Naked Scientists, along with your host BBC Look East's health correspondent Nikki Fox.

We'd love your questions and view points - add them now as a comment here and during the broadcast starting on this page from 19:00.

Coronavirus death rate increases in East again

Julian Sturdy

BBC Look East

The latest number of new daily coronavirus deaths has just been released by the government, and the rate of increase is higher than the previous two days.

In the East, there was an increase of 27 deaths in the region's hospitals, taking the total number to 3,336.

  • Bedford Hospital: 6
  • Cambridge University Hospitals: 3
  • East and North Hertfordshire: 3
  • East Suffolk and North Essex (Ipswich and Colchester hospitals): 1
  • James Paget, Gorleston: 1
  • Kettering General Hospital: 1
  • Mid Essex Hospital: 3
  • Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals: 1
  • Norfolk Community Health and Care: 1
  • North West Anglia (Peterborough and Hinchingbrooke hospitals): 4
  • West Hertfordshire Hospitals: 2
  • West Suffolk Hospital: 1

Figures released yesterday showed a rise of 19 deaths, and there was a rise of 12 in Sunday's figures.

The total number of Covid-19 associated UK deaths now stands at 34,796.

Drive-through testing centre opens at airport car park

An appointment-only, drive-through Covid-19 testing centre has opened at a car park at London Luton Airport.

London Luton Airport
London Luton Airport

Run by military personnel, it is for NHS staff or other essential workers (and members of their households), and people over the age of five with symptoms.

Testing is not available for air passengers arriving or embarking.

Dr Nicola Smith, chairwoman of Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Groups, said: "The setting up of pop-up testing centres has contributed to controlling the spread of Covid-19 locally."