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'Stay at home' plea as Easter holiday starts

People are being warned to stay away from England's beauty spots amid the coronavirus lockdown, despite expected warm weather as Easter looms.

Group near Snake Pass enjoying a picnic
Derbyshire Police
Last week, Derbyshire Police found a group near Snake Pass enjoying a picnic

Pleas have been issued from the Yorkshire Dales and Peak District down to the south coast.

Despite a "dramatic reduction" in tourist visits already, the restrictions remain in place.

In the Peak District, the message is that even if the sun comes out people should not travel.

Mobile shop set up outside hospital to help NHS staff buy essential items

A coach hire company has set up a mobile pop-up shop outside Blackpool Victoria Hospital to help NHS staff

Sam Archer, from Fleetwood-based Archer Travel, said he came up with the idea after a friend who works for the NHS spent hours queuing for essential items in a supermarket after a long shift.

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Severe disruption: M6 Lancashire southbound

BBC News Travel

M6 Lancashire southbound severe disruption, from J28 for B5256 Leyland Way to J27 for A5209 Crow Orchard Road.

M6 Lancashire - One lane closed on M6 southbound from J28, B5256 (Leyland) to J27, A5209 (Standish), because of a lorry having a tyre changed. Traffic is coping well.

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

Severe disruption: M6 Lancashire southbound

BBC News Travel

M6 Lancashire southbound severe disruption, from J28 for B5256 Leyland Way to J27 for A5209 Crow Orchard Road.

M6 Lancashire - One lane closed on M6 southbound from J28, B5256 (Leyland) to J27, A5209 (Standish), because of a lorry having a tyre changed. Traffic is coping well.

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

Lancashire scout group play Wallace and Gromit theme

The 2nd Rossendale Scout Group Band have found a new way to rehearse during the coornavirus lockdown - and are entertaining people online at the same time!

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Police chief admits 'initial confusion' over coronavirus lockdown rules

Lancashire Police Chief Constable Andy Rhodes has admitted to "initial confusion" regarding how to enforce the government's new lockdown guidelines during the coronavirus shutdown.

Some forces around the country came under fire this week amid complaints they were being too heavy-handed in enforcing the rules on social distancing and staying at home.

Mr Rhodes said taking action against people would be a "very last option", and officers would prefer to only have to remind people of what is expected of them.

He thanked people for abiding by the new measures to reduce the spread of the virus.

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Virtual Grand National to benefit NHS

BBC Sport

The actual Grand National may be off but Saturday will still feature a televised Virtual Grand National.

Virtual Grand National animation
Inspired Entertainment

Forty runners who would have been most likely to line up will take part, using CGI technology and special algorithms.

Tiger Roll had been due to seek an unprecedented third consecutive win in the big race on Saturday before it was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Bookmakers have odds, and profits will go to NHS Charities Together.

Couple's virtual wedding ceremony in living room

A couple hosted a virtual wedding ceremony at home after their big day was postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Chris Marshall and Sue Barsby, from Clitheroe, Lancashire, held a ceremony via an electronic tablet.

Chris Marshall and Sue Barsby say 'I do' amid coronavirus pandemic

The couple's celebrant Ellie Brooks is offering the virtual service in return for a donation to the NHS.

After the service, the couple celebrated with their friends and family on a group chat video.

Clap for carers returns for a second week

Last week, people across the UK took part in a national applause of thanks to NHS workers in helping in the fight against coronavirus.

Tonight will see the people take to their doors and windows for a second time to again show their appreciation for the nation's health workers.

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Chris Marshall and Sue Barsby say 'I do' amid coronavirus pandemic
Chris Marshall and Sue Barsby held a handfasting ceremony via an electronic tablet.

Should we use drones to disinfect public spaces?

BBC News Health

A group of drone experts is calling on the government to relax regulations on chemical spraying from the air during the coronavirus pandemic.

Harper Adams University

It wants to train drone pilots from the emergency services to spray public areas with disinfectant.

It has been done in China and India - but aerial spraying is largely banned in Europe.

The drones can cover large areas - but there is debate around whether the method is effective.

The Department of Health and Social Care said there were no plans to disinfect outside on a large scale.

Boots staff feel 'unsafe' as shoppers still browse makeup


Boots staff have told the BBC they feel "unsafe" at work as customers continue to browse for hair dye and fake tan despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Boots in Manchester

Staff said they were frustrated some branches had reopened beauty aisles and lifted limits on the number of shoppers allowed inside at once.

Some stores were still waiting for visors, face masks and gloves for pharmacy workers, others said.

Boots said it was doing whatever it could to protect its staff.

Severe disruption: M6 Greater Manchester southbound

BBC News Travel

M6 Greater Manchester southbound severe disruption, between J27 for A5209 Crow Orchard Road and J26 for M58.

M6 Greater Manchester - One lane closed on M6 southbound between J27, A5209 (Standish) and J26, M58 (Orrell Interchange), because of a break down. Traffic is coping well.

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

Big Issue sellers struggle for cash in lockdown

BBC News Education

Big Issue sellers, forced off the streets by the coronavirus lockdown, are relying on emergency bailouts being provided by the magazine.

Big Issue seller

Lord Bird, founder of the magazine, which helps the homeless earn a living, says many have been left in a "parlous state" without an income.

He says sellers and the magazine are unable to get government support for lost earnings during the crisis.

The ban on street selling has threatened to take away the regular earnings of its vendors.

So the Big Issue is giving sellers cash from online sales and subscriptions.

Loan and credit card payments set to be frozen

BBC Business News

People struggling with loan repayments and overdraft fees amid the coronavirus pandemic will be granted temporary relief under new proposals.

Man with bill in hand
Getty Images

The Financial Conduct Authority is asking banks to freeze payments on loans and credit cards for up to three months for those facing difficulties.

The City watchdog also wants interest on the first £500 of existing overdrafts to be frozen for a period.

The FCA said the outbreak had caused an “unprecedented financial shock”

Testing will 'unlock puzzle', PM says


Testing is the solution to "unlock the puzzle" of coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said.

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Mr Johnson was speaking after it was revealed only 2,000 out of some half a million frontline NHS workers in England had been tested.

The PM said the government needed to "massively ramp up" testing so that NHS staff who are self-isolating unnecessarily could return to work.

Mr Johnson, who is self-isolating in Downing Street after contracting the virus himself, has faced widespread criticism over his government's testing strategy.

Outpatient dates go on phone or video at hospitals

The trust that runs hospitals around Morecambe Bay says some outpatients will be "seen" by video link or over the telephone because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Westmorland general outpatients dept

The trust’s outpatient departments at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, Westmorland General Hospital (pictured) in Kendal and Furness General Hospital, along with health centres at Queen Victoria Hospital in Morecambe and Ulverston Community Health Centre are cutting back on services to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.

Officials say that wherever possible, clinicians will decide whether outpatient appointments and conversations have to be face-to-face, and either cancel others or hold them by other means.

University staff and students join coronavirus fight

Student doctors and nurses from the University of Central Lancashire are swelling the ranks of NHS staff during the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 300 final year nursing students and about 20 final year medical students will soon be working on the frontline.

The trainee nurses will be undertaking tasks such as taking blood, dressing wounds and swabbing patients for virus tests, while the medical students will carry out a wide range of foundation doctor level clinical duties, including assessing and referring patients and prescribing medication.

Academic staff from the university - which has sites in Preston, Burnley, Cumbria and Cyprus - such as microbiologists, pharmacists, molecular biologists and doctors in emergency medicine are also being released to the NHS.

Blackpool Tower to help feed 'those in need' during crisis

Blackpool Tower is being converted into a "vital" hub for food donations to feed thousands of vulnerable people during the coronavirus outbreak.

Blackpool Tower
Blackpool Council

Merlin Entertainments said it had partnered up with Blackpool Food Bank to help "those in need" in the resort.

Using the town's famous landmark was "an amazing opportunity" after it closed in March for the first time in its 125-year history, the firm said.

Blackpool Food Bank said panic buying and shopping limits had hit donations.

Lancashire MP recovers from coronavirus

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has become the fourth member of the cabinet to have self-isolated after showing symptoms of coronavirus.

Ben Wallace
Getty Images

Mr Wallace, the MP for Wyre and Preston North, said he had now recovered and had continued to work throughout.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock are both in self-isolation after testing positive for the virus.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack is also self-isolating after showing symptoms.

University waives final semester accommodation fees

The University of Central Lancashire has announced it will waive all final semester accommodation fees for students.

UCLan halls in Preston

The institution - which has sites in Preston, Burnley, Cumbria and Cyprus - will apply the decision to all students with a UCLan accommodation contract "regardless of whether they have already moved out of halls or continue to live there" and will begin with the April rent payment, a spokesman said.

The university currently has about 750 students in its accommodation, including a number of international students who cannot return home.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Baldwin said UCLan was "keen to support our students as much as possible and minimise any disruption to their academic studies", adding:

For many of our students, it is a time of financial concern, as many have been working part-time and are now unable to do so.

We hope our decision to waive accommodation payments helps ease the financial burden at this challenging time.

While we cannot make the same decision for private third-party providers, we are in discussion with them to see if they can agree to similar measures.

The decision has been welcomed by UCLan's Students' Union.

The body's president Suntosh Kaur said she was "thrilled".

I know the money saved will help students support themselves over the coming months.

Plant nursery among hundreds faces uncertain future

A pair of brothers from Clitheroe are among hundreds of garden centre and nursery owners facing an uncertain future.

Having worked hard to open their site near Clitheroe, Peter and Chris Bristol had to close four days later due to coronavirus restrictions.

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University streaming lunchtime concerts

The University of Liverpool’s free Lunchtime Concerts are continuing online while the country is in self-isolation.

"An hour of calm" will take place online every Wednesday at 13:00.

Tom Thorp
University of Liverpool/Facebook

Today's artist is saxophonist Tom Thorp, an international, award-winning jazz soloist, composer and bandleader.

Read more about the concerts and watch on the University of Liverpool Concert and Events page.

Blackpool Police thank people for 'looking after our town'

Police in Blackpool have shared pictures on Facebook of locations across the town looking very empty this week.

Officers thanked people for following the government guidelines and "not travelling unnecessarily", adding: "As you can see from our foot patrol today, we are all looking after our town."

Blackpool locations
Blackpool Police

Jos Buttler auctions World Cup shirt to raise money for coronavirus fight

BBC Sport

England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler has put the shirt he wore in last summer's World Cup final victory up for auction to raise money to fight coronavirus.

Jos Buttler
Getty Images

The Lancashire star broke the stumps to run out Martin Guptill and seal a super-over win over New Zealand as England won the men's World Cup for the first time.

He has put the shirt on eBay to support two specialist heart and lung centres dealing with the coronavirus response.

The highest bid was over £65,000 on Wednesday morning.

National League's three divisions suspended indefinitely

BBC Sport

The three divisions of England's National League have been suspended indefinitely because of coronavirus.

The competition had been originally postponed until 3 April but that has now been extended following a board meeting on Tuesday.

It comes after all non-league football in steps three to seven wasended immediately on Thursdaywith no promotion or relegation.

The National League said it was looking at "how best to conclude" the season.

But it is not yet known if the competition, which is made up of the National League, National League North and National League South, will also be cancelled with all results expunged.

Stockport County currently lie seventh in the National League, occupying the final play-off place, while AFC Fylde and Chorley sit in the bottom two places, facing relegation.

One league down, both Altrincham and Chester are in contention for promotion in the National League North, placed fifth and seventh respectively, while Southport sit mid-table in 12th and Curzon Ashton lie just above the relegation zone in 18th.

Lancashire trust offers help on 'how to challenge unhelpful thoughts'

Dealing with the coronavirus crisis can take a mental toll on anyone, so a Lancashire NHS trust is offering some "practical tips and advice" on dealing with low mood.

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NHS workers offered free travel on Blackport buses

Local Democracy Reporting Service

NHS workers will be able to travel free of charge on buses operated by Blackpool Transport from today.

Blackpool Transport bus

Bus services in the town have been reduced, but are still running for key workers.

Blackpool Council, which owns the company, said it wants "to recognise the fantastic job our NHS workers are doing in these testing times".

NHS staff should show their work pass to drivers when boarding.

Two of latest virus deaths were at Barrow hospital

More details have been made public of deaths of patients who had given positive tests for coronavirus at hospitals run by the Morecambe Bay hospitals trust.

The trust says that two were a man aged 79, and a woman, 81, at the Furness General in Barrow, while the third was a woman aged 76 at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, which serves parts of South Cumbria.

All of them officials said, had other underlying health conditions.

Circus clowns find a way to work from home

Brothers and neighbours Mooky and Mr Boo haven't let coronavirus social distancing stop them from practising their routine.

They've found a way to rehearse at a safe distance - and entertain the neighbours while they're at it!

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'How do I get a food parcel?'

BBC Business News

Free food boxes containing essential supplies have been delivered in England to people considered to be at the highest risk from coronavirus.

One-and-a-half million people in England have been identified as being extremely medically vulnerable and the government will distribute free food parcels every week to more than 50,000 who have no family or friends to help them.

Government food parcel
PA Media

The identical parcels contain essential non-perishable supplies like pasta, cereal, fruit, tea bags, potatoes and tinned goods, as well as toilet paper.

A food distribution company will deliver the packs to people's doorsteps, although in some cases local authorities, charities or emergency services may help out.

You can register for support on the government website.

Supermarket sales in March 'busier than Christmas'

BBC Business News

Sales of groceries in the UK in March beat all previous records as shoppers stocked up for a long period at home, according to consumer analysts Kantar.

Supermarket queues

The busiest spell was 16-19 March, when 88% of households visited a food store, adding up to 42 million extra trips across four days.

In the last four weeks, year-on-year supermarket sales grew by 20.6%.

Kantar's Fraser McKevitt said £10.8bn sales in the past four weeks were "even higher than levels seen at Christmas".

Free school meals children to get food vouchers


Families with children eligible for free school meals in England will be able to claim weekly shopping vouchers while schools are closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, say ministers.

Children in school dinner queue

The scheme will allow schools to issue vouchers worth £15 a week per child.

Headteachers have warned that even with the vouchers, some parents will struggle to feed their children.

But the Department for Education says the rate exceeds that normally paid to schools for free school meals.

Police told to be 'consistent' on lockdown powers


Police officers have been told to take a "consistent" approach when ensuring people comply with emergency measures aimed at curbing coronavirus.


Guidance to officers calls on forces to "coordinate" efforts and emphasises the importance of professionalism.

It comes amid criticism of the way some forces have handled the new measures.

A former Justice of the Supreme Court told the BBC one force's use of drones to film walkers in the Peak District had been "disgraceful".

But Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said police forces were doing a difficult job and being sensible about enforcing social distancing measures.

Severe disruption: M6 Lancashire southbound

BBC News Travel

M6 Lancashire southbound severe disruption, from J34 for A683 Bay Gateway to J33 for A6 Preston Lancaster Road Lancaster South.

M6 Lancashire - One lane closed on M6 southbound from J34, A683 (Lancaster) to J33, A6 (Lancaster South), because of a lorry having a tyre changed. Traffic is coping well.

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

Sixty-six non-league clubs send open letter to FA over expunging season

BBC Sport

Sixty-six non-league clubs - including North West sides 1874 Northwich, AFC Liverpool and Bootle - have sent an open letter to the Football Association, calling for it to "urgently" reconsider the decision to expunge their seasons.

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It was announced last week that football in England below the National League's three divisions would end immediately with results expunged.

It means there will be no promotion or relegation in these 91 leagues. The same applies in the women's game below the Women's Super League and Championship level.

The decision is yet to be ratified by the FA Council.

Volunteer group offers 'countywide telephone befriending service'

Lancashire CCC chairman dies after contracting coronavirus

BBC Sport

Lancashire chairman David Hodgkiss has died at the age of 71 after contracting coronavirus.

James Anderson and David Hodgkiss
Getty Images

Hodgkiss, who had underlying health issues, took on the role in 2017 after almost two decades on the club's board.

He also had spells as treasurer and vice-chairman during his time working with the county.

"He was much loved by everyone at Lancashire and respected throughout the cricketing world," a statement on the club website said.

"Our sincere condolences and thoughts and prayers are with his family."