Coronavirus LIVE: Royal Mail to make 2,000 job losses in wake of Covid-19 crisis and Sheffield businesses prepare to reopen

We will be bringing you all of the coronavirus news from Sheffield and across England as test and trace figures are released and city businesses get ready to welcome customers once again.

Thursday, 25th June 2020, 2:20 pm

This blog will be updated until 4pm this afternoon.

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Do you have a Sheffield business that will be reopening next month? Email me at: [email protected] and we will share the details here.

Around 2,000 management jobs at being axed at Royal Mail as it looks to slash costs in the face of the coronavirus crisis. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Coronavirus LIVE: Royal Mail to make 2,000 job losses in wake of Covid-19 crisis and Sheffield businesses prepare to reopen

Last updated: Thursday, 25 June, 2020, 15:47

  • Sheffield businesses are continuing to detail their plans for reopening next month
  • South Yorkshire delivery office closed by Royal Mail following Covid-19 outbreak
  • Royal Mail to make 2,000 job losses in wake of coronavirus crisis 
  • Shielding nan with ME sent ’threatening’ letter by council 
  • Britons to be allowed to holiday abroad as air bridges plan takes shape 
  • A total of 20,968 people who tested positive for Covid-19 in England had their case transferred to the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing system during the first three weeks of its operation
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson continues to defend the system from growing criticism
  • Sheffield’s Covid-19 death toll figures remain unchanged for seven days in a row
  • 10,000 care home staff and residents to be repeatedly tested for Covid-19 for Government study 

Casa Hotel to reopen on July 4

The Casa Hotel in nearby Chesterfield, which describes itself as the town’s ’only independent four-star hotel,’ has announced it will be reopening in nine days’ time when lockdown restrictions are eased further in England. 

The Casa Hotel in Chesterfield. Picture: Google

The announcement to customers reads: " Well, what a year 2020 has turned out to be. And despite, lots of unknowns for us all we are over the moon to be able to start welcoming you back from 4th July.

"We are looking forward to sharing our lovely hotel with guests again and are busily preparing for your arrival. Whilst we always take pride in our cleanliness and customer service, the added dimension of Covid-19 means we are hard at work to ensure we meet all guidelines and requirements laid out for us. 

“Your safety, security and comfort are our priority.”

Sheffield's Covid-19 death toll has been static for a week now

In Sheffield 284 hospital patients have died, with the figure remaining static since last Thursday.

There have been 216 deaths in Doncaster, which is also the same as yesterday but increases have been reported in Rotherham and Barnsley.

Rotherham’s death toll went up by one today to 187 and Barnsley’s also went up by one to 141.

Sheffield's Royal Hallamshire Hospital

Lockdown measures are to be eased from Saturday, July 4, when pubs and restaurants can reopen.

Latest Test and Trace figures prompt 'major concerns' from Shadow health minister

Shadow health minister Justin Madders said the latest Test and Trace figures raise "major concerns".

He said: "To have a quarter of those who test positive not contacted three weeks into the 'world-beating' system is not good enough and urgently needs to be addressed.

Shadow Health Minister Justin Madders

"Expert opinion shows that to defeat this virus we need a fully functioning test and trace system, so these latest figures still raise major concerns the week before lockdown measures are eased further, especially without a working app.

"It is staggering that hundreds of people are not submitting their details into the system in the first place. Surely that should be one simple thing that can be fixed.

"Ministers need to level with the public about how they are going to tackle these real and serious issues as a matter of urgency."

This is how cinemas will work when they reopen next week

Cinemas in England will be able to welcome back customers from July 4, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the easing of the coronavirus lockdown.

Sheffield Cineworld

In preparation, the UK Cinema Association (UKCA) has released guidance for the safe re-opening of movie theatres, following consultation with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

All major cinema operators have assured customers that extra cleaning of all the auditoriums will take place, and hygeine measures such as hand sanitiser points, will be installed.

Guidance also includes measures to ensure social distancing throughout cinemas, with an emphasis on auditoriums. Seating will be socially distanced, and groups from different households will be asked to sit apart.

Customers will be asked to use contactless payment where possible, the guidance said, while online booking will also be encouraged.

Plastic screens will be installed at "key contact points" and film schedules will be adjusted, with staggered start and finish times for films to allow cleaning of auditoriums between screenings and to avoid crowding in corridors.

For more on this story, click here

Royal Mail close South Yorkshire delivery office following Covid-19 outbreak

The Barnsley delivery office on Pitt Street was shut yesterday and Royal Mail said it would remain closed until tomorrow, Friday, June 26, as a ‘precautionary measure’.

A Royal Mail spokesman said: “Royal Mail takes the health and safety of its colleagues, its customers and the local communities in which we operate very seriously.

“Following further positive tests for coronavirus at the Barnsley Delivery Office, we have taken the decision to close the office until Friday as a precautionary measure."

Royal Mail's Barnsley delivery office has been closed due to a coronavirus outbreak (pic: Google)

Over 20,000 people who tested positive for Covid-19 had case transferred to NHS Test and Trace in first three weeks

A total of 20,968 people who tested positive for Covid-19 in England had their case transferred to the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing system during the first three weeks of its operation, according to figures from the Department of Health & Social Care.

Of this total, 15,225 people (73 per cent) were reached and asked to provide details of recent contacts. 

The figures cover the period May 28 to June 17.

The Test and Trace figures also show that 24 per cent of people (5,062) who tested positive for Covid-19 during the three-week period and who had been transferred to the tracing system were not reached.

This number includes people who the service was unable to reach because there had been no response to text, email and call reminders. It also includes people who were reached but declined to give details of close contacts.

A total of 20,968 people who tested positive for Covid-19 in England had their case transferred to the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing system during the first three weeks of its operation

A further 3 per cent of people (681) could not be reached because their communication details had not been provided.

During the first three weeks of Test and Trace, 113,925 people who had been identified as recent close contacts of people who had tested positive for Covid-19 were reached through the tracing system.

This was 89 per cent out of a total of 128,566 identified contacts. 

The remaining 14,641 (11 per cent) were identified as close contacts, but were not reached.

Some of these people could not be reached because no communication details had been provided for them.

New walk-in centres for Covid-19 to be set up across the country

Walk-in centres for Covid-19 testing are to be set up to make it easier for people without cars to get tested for the virus.

Six centres are being trialled in Newcastle, Rochdale, Leeds, Brent, Newham and Slough, with the latter described as a hybrid drive and walk through.

The exact location of the centres has not been confirmed by officials but one is understood to be on a basketball court, and there have been reports they will spring up in empty shops and car parks.

A source at the Department of Health and Social Care said officials were working on "walk through testing sites in England for people without cars".

The source said that previously the push was to have testing sites out of the way so there were not "huge" numbers of potentially infected people travelling into the centre of towns.

But they added that now incidence is lower, they can look at ways to safely provide testing "in the heart of communities", in a way that is more easy and accessible to people.

Downing Street said "the right guidance and advice" would ensure the safety of walk-in coronavirus testing centres.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "We have already been setting up mobile testing units to serve communities where needed.

"We want to ensure testing is available in places that are accessible and work for the public across the country."

He added that "walk-in sites is clearly something that we are looking at".

Plans for 'al-fresco' revolution revealed as pubs, restaurants and cafés prepare to reopen

Ministers have revealed their plans for an al fresco revolution to encourage open air shopping and drinking throughout the summer to control coronavirus.

Outside seating and takeaway pints will become the norm under proposals laid out in the Business and Planning Bill, which has been dubbed the Covid Bill by officials.

Publicans and restaurant owners will be allowed to turn car parks into seating areas, with the "immediate" changes allowing the hospitality industry to exploit the hot weather being enjoyed across England and Wales in a bid to bounce back from the coronavirus downturn.

Britain could be set for an al-fresco revolution

As part of the plans unveiled on Thursday, licensed premises will be able to serve booze for punters to take away and consume elsewhere in efforts to stop drinkers crowding indoors.

Meanwhile, outdoor markets, summer fairs and car boot sales will no longer need planning permission, meaning their hours can be extended without prior approval.

Scientists have found that Covid-19 does not spread as easily in an outside environment compared to when indoors, meaning an outdoor lifestyle could help keep the infection rate under control when lockdown measures are significantly eased on July 4.

The Prime Minister has given the go-ahead for pubs, restaurants and hotels to reopen as of next month - albeit with social distancing restrictions in place - while non-essential retail is already free to resume selling.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: "Our pubs, restaurants and cafes are the lifeblood of high streets and town centres across the country and we are doing all we can to ensure they can bounce back as quickly and safely as possible.

"This week we gave our vital hospitality sector the green light to reopen from July 4, and today we are introducing new legislation to enable businesses to make the most of the crucial summer months ahead."

Changes for the hospitality industry in the Covid Bill include reducing the consultation period for applications for pavement licences from 28 calendar days to five working days, with automatic consent granted if there is no council decision after 10 working days.

Royal Mail to axe 2,000 jobs as it looks to cut costs in wake of coronavirus crisis

Around 2,000 management jobs at being axed at Royal Mail as it looks to slash costs in the face of the coronavirus crisis.

The group said the job cuts come as part of a management overhaul under plans to save £330 million over the next two years.

The cull will affect some of its 9,700 managers, with senior executive and non-operational roles hardest hit.

Royal Mail is one of a raft of companies in the UK to announce hefty job losses due to the pandemic, including British Gas owner Centrica and airlines easyJet and British Airways.

Trade union Unite said the job losses are a ’devastating blow’ for Royal Mail staff.

Around 2,000 management jobs at being axed at Royal Mail as it looks to slash costs in the face of the coronavirus crisis. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Keith Williams, interim executive chairman at Royal Mail Group, said the company is taking "immediate action" on costs to offset the Covid-19 impact.

"In recent years, our UK business has not adapted quickly enough to the changes in our marketplace of more parcels and fewer letters," he said.

"Covid-19 has accelerated those trends, presenting additional challenges."

On the job cuts, he said: "We are committed to conducting the upcoming consultation process carefully and sensitively.

"We will work closely with our managers and their representatives during this difficult period."

Sheffield nightclub warns popular pub will not be the last to permanently close following lockdown

Sheffield Council has insisted it is doing “all it can” to support local businesses after it was warned the closure of a popular pub ‘won’t be the last’ unless they provide more help.

The Devonshire Cat on Wellington Street ‘will not be re-opening as an Abbeydale Brewery pub’, management said in a statement on Tuesday, describing the impact of Covid-19 as “devastating”. The brewery has run the pub since 2014.

The city centre venue said its rateable value was too high to receive a business support grant from Sheffield City Council.

Following the statement a spokesperson for nearby live music venue and nightclub Corporation, based on Milton Street, warned more closures could be imminent unless the Council take further action.

They said: “We are all saddened to hear the news that The Devonshire Cat will be unable to reopen following this period of forced closure due in whole or in part to not receiving any grant funding from Sheffield City Council.

“We urge the Council to not let this happen and to approve The Devonshire Cat a discretionary grant. The Council’s decision to peg the qualification criteria to those of the previous grant is fundamentally flawed and this should be urgently rectified.”

They added: “The Devonshire Cat might be the first, but unless the Council act, they won't be the last.”

Click here for more on this story. 

Page 1 of 2