LIVE BLOG: Coronavirus updates from around the North East

Coronavirus Live Blog – Friday March 20

Hello and welcome to today’s Coronavirus live blog for Friday March 20.

I’m Ewan Gleadow and I’ll be providing you with the latest updates on COVID-19.

All schools and colleges are to close today, and we’ll also be expecting updates on key worker plans.

If you would like to get in touch with us today, our contact details are below:

Twitter: @SRNewsNow  


That’s all from us today. Stay safe, take necessary precautions and be aware of what’s going on with SRNews.


The U.K. COVID-19 death toll has risen to 188. Boris Johnson is expected to announce a closure of all London pubs, restaurants and gyms.


How are self employed barbers coping with COVID-19? SRNews reporter Liam Hedgecock finds out in this news story.


Bus services are to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, SRNews reporter Jordan Dodds has more on the story.


How can communities come together to support those in need? Reporter Bethany Holland has more on the food shortages hitting local food banks due to COVID-19.


Sunderland Student’s Union announces a Netflix watch-along party.


A breakdown of key points from the COVID-19 bill in regard to mental health impact.


North East Digital Festival postponed to a later date.


With the cancellation of all GCSE and A-Level examinations, teachers are asked to submit judgement grades.


Former NHS nurses and doctors are returning to the frontline to aid those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central, Chi Onwurah, confirms independent retailers at Grainger Market will be taking orders from Monday.


British Airways pilots to take 50% pay cut in April and May.


Nissan are now considering making ventilators on their production lines, per government request.


Sunderland University engineers have designed a gadget to open doors without touching the handle.


How are fast food businesses dealing with the coronavirus pandemic? Our colleague Aaron Morris has more on how government guidelines are affecting the fast food industry.


Gareth Southgate releases statement amid cancellation of Euro 2020.


Wylam Brewery announces closure effective immediately until further notice.

Following criticism from businesses nationwide on government response to those dependant on public spending, Wylam Breweries released a statement criticising government procedure. ”

We are being told to stand behind our employees whilst not being given any idea of how we can do that given the advice to not visit us.”

Wylam Breweries said: “It’s like being told not to drink milk but failing to tell the milkman not to deliver, it’s like being told not to take a taxi but taxis are sitting idle on the street, it’s like being told not to get a haircut but the hairdresser/barber is still open and the lights are on.”

Under looming uncertainty for pubs, clubs and bars, they said: “The very next step will be to stand in front of our employees and do our best to protect them.”


Rusty’s and Blonde Barrel to close, owners say “it’s the responsible thing to do.”


A reminder of the symptoms of COVID-19. The government recommends seven days of self-isolation if you are suffering from either symptom. Do not got to a GP or Hospital. If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms.

  • a high temperature
  • a new continuous cough


Northumbria police warn of fraudsters, cold-callers and spam emails looking to take advantage of vulnerable individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Labour MP for Newcastle North, Catherine McKinnel, says government are “not doing enough.” A full statement can be found below.


The Independent report suggests self-isolation should continue for one year.


Sky News have issued advice for those struggling with their mental health under self-isolation.


Hayes Travel to cut 800 jobs to “reduce costs because of current trading conditions.”


How has university closure affected students? Our colleague Ryan Easby has more on the story.


Tesco has announced set times for elderly and pregnant women to shop.


The Stand Newcastle are offering a free live streamed performance tomorrow night at 8:30pm. Jo Caufield and Phil Jupitus are among many offering their time to the free stream.


Newcastle City Council provides a simple message to students still partying.


Wetherspoons boss, Tim Martin, announces that Wetherspoons will remain open amid government advice to the public that they should avoid going to pubs.


A reminder that if you or a member of your family has shown signs of COVID-19 then you must self-isolate for 14 days.


Newcastle City Council announce contingency plans to protect and ensure the safety of the most vulnerable.


Durham market remains busy and open amid government and NHS advice to avoid non-essential travel.


Nissan Sunderland announce suspension of production in its Sunderland factory. A £52 million investment was announced by Nissan a few weeks ago.


Newcastle City Council are preparing to put emergency measures into place to tackle the spread of COVID-19 in the Tyne and Wear area. Updates to follow.


Low risk prisoners in countries including the US have been released to delay the spread of COVID-19. Could the U.K. see a similar procedure?


Our SRNews reporters are working hard on stories about the coronavirus’ impact on schools, supermarkets, universities and major employers. Stay up to date with news on Tyne and Wear businesses throughout the day on SRNews.


Newcastle Quayside market has announced it will be closing until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


NHS offer isolation notice for those needing to self isolate or social distance.


Please remember to follow NHS guidelines on how to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19. Full advice can be found on the NHS website. Essential guidance can be found below.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • Always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • Avoid close contact with people who have symptoms of coronavirus
  • Only travel on public transport if you need to
  • Work from home, if you can
  • Avoid social activities, such as going to pubs, restaurants, theatres and cinemas


65,000 ex-doctors and nurses asked to return to work. The #HelpThemHelpUs campaign has started on Twitter to help NHS workers on the frontline.


The NHS is appealing to everyone to maintain social distancing, reduce social contact as much as possible and continue to follow COVID-19 medical advice.


Health Secretary Matt Hancock insists that the public should continue listening to government advice on COVID-19.


Rugby Football Union has confirmed the end of the seasons for all leagues below Premiership level. A full statement from the Union can be found on their website.


North East Sport say they are able to help deliver meals to children on free school meals or those that are socially isolated.


COVID-19 cases across the U.K. sits at 3,269. 144 deaths and 65 recoveries have also been reported.


The government has issued guidelines for those whose work is “critical to the COVID-19 response” on how to maintain educational provision. A full list of guidelines can be found on the GOV.UK website. Key guidelines for looking after children can be found below.

  1. If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.
  2. If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is a critical worker, then educational provision will be available for them.
  3. Parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions.
  4. Parents should also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.
  5. Residential special schools, boarding schools and special settings continue to care for children wherever possible.


Tyne and Wear Metro warn that additional Mon-Fri peak trains starting/ending at Pelaw have been cancelled.


Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire


Thank you to all who have joined us today on our live blog, this is Keiron Ringwood signing off for the day. Join us next week for more information and updates.


Berwick-upon-Tweed MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan has made the decision to self-isolate after Nadine Dorries, who Tevelyan hugged yesterday, tested positive for Coronavirus.


Even though all Premier League, EFL and WSL games have been postponed until April 4, the scheduled Vanarama National League games will go ahead this weekend. This includes the National League, National League North and National League South. Full statement here.


Sunderland Nightclub “Independent” will remain open after new steps were introduced to try and minimise the possibility of Coronavirus being spread, as reported by our colleague, Harvey Hinkler, here.


Newcastle Falcons have announced that tonight’s game against Bedford Blues will go ahead at Kingston Park Stadium. The game will kick off at 8pm.


As a result of the concerns around the Coronavirus, TeesWear Varsity has been cancelled. However, Team Sunderland activities will go ahead as scheduled.


As of 9am on March 13, 32,771 people have been tested for Coronavirus in the UK, with 10 victims succumbing to the virus.


The number of Coronavirus cases in the UK has jumped by 208. Currently there are 798 confirmed cases in total.



Newcastle United have issued a statement regarding the decision to suspend all competitions based on the outbreak of Coronavirus. Supporters with tickets to cancelled games have been advised to retain them, as they will be valid when play eventually resumes.


The University of Sunderland will remain open and teaching will continue as normal. Steve Knight, the university’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “Over the next few days, we will be exploring further proportionate measures and working on our contingency plans as we head to the end of the academic term on Friday 3 April. We will provide an update on Tuesday March 17 on the next steps being proposed.”

Students and members of staff are urged to follow the NHS’ guidelines.


Currently, there are ten known cases of Coronavirus in the North East:

  • Sunderland – 1
  • Gateshead – 0
  • North Tyneside – 2
  • South Tyneside – 0
  • Northumberland – 0
  • Newcastle – 6
  • County Durham – 1


Gateshead SFA have been informed that despite fears of a Coronavirus outbreak, tomorrow’s Under-13s National Cup Semi-final must go ahead. However, anybody with symptoms of the virus have been asked to stay at home.


Wellburn Care have decided to close the doors of all 14 of their homes to visitors in an attempt to prevent an outbreak of Coronavirus amongst patients.


The Electoral Commission has urged that the local elections taking place on May 7 should be postponed due to the Coronavirus. Polls are set to take place in order to decide councillors, metro mayors and police and crime commissioners.


Sir Patrick Vallence, the government’s chief scientific advisor, has said that around 60% of the UK’s population will need to contract Coronavirus if society is to achieve “herd immunity”.


Tyneside Theatre & Opera House have announced that as of yet there are no plans to restrict operation, but have echoed the government’s guidelines for those who intend to visit.


Regardless of a person’s age, having Asthma can increase the risk of severity should they have contracted the Coronavirus.


Due to the Metropolitan Opera’s decision to cancel all performances until March 31, Tyneside Cinema have informed customers they will be contacted today about their purchased tickets.


The Tyne and Wear Metro have provided updated info and some do’s and don’t’s for those who could be using the system today.


The Foreign Office has advised the public not to travel to certain parts of Spain unless it is completely necessary.


A reminder of the most common symptoms of Coronavirus, via the NHS.


Despite beginning a period of self isolation, Bishop Auckland MP Dehenna Davison has issued a statement explaining that it’s still “Business as usual”.  She has assured locals that this is nothing more than a precautionary measure.


Last night, Northumbria University made the decision to replace the usual classroom-based teaching with online-based delivery. The university has issued guidance on the student portal.


Now, after the relevant parties have met to discuss the current predicament, the FA, Premier League and WSL have agreed to postpone the current season with the intention of returning on April 4.

10:40 – Friday March 13

The EFL have announced that all Football League games will be suspended until April 4. This comes as a result of the increased number of cases in the UK.


16:05 – Thursday March 12

While waiting for our Prime Minister to make a statement regarding the virus click here to read about the coronavirus “testing” process, symptoms and risks to the test.

This is Brittany Heeley signing off the liveblog for today. Please keep your eye on SR News for further updates throughout the week.


Still no sign of Boris Johnson?


There is a risk that the European Football Championship may be postponed to take place next year in 2021 due to the coronavirus outbreak, but we are still waiting for official confirmation from the UEFA.


It looks like schools in the North-East are staying open. Nicola Sturgeon has said schools are said to remain open in Scotland but people’s normal day-to-are lives need to change. Although this has come from the Scottish Government, Sturgeon has said this is a UK-wide decision.


The Newcastle Chamber  has rescheduled their Chamber Business Awards and Inspiring Females Awards due to instructions from their own organisation in preventing any disruption during the current Covid-19 pandemic.


The coronavirus is making it difficult to purchase hand sanitiser. Stores in The Bridges Shopping Centre, Sunderland have put up notices in the window informing shoppers of the lack of availability of the sanitary product and started placing restrictions on purchasing the item. Notices were spotted in the windows of popular chains Superdrug and Holland and Barrett.


Newcastle United are still waiting for official guidance from both the government and the Premier League ahead of this week’s fixtures against Sheffield United. The team will no longer be providing autographs and signatures from players to fans in order to counter the spread of the virus. Read our full article here.


A student from Durham University has said:

“Covid-19 has me stressed out of my mind for me being able to finish my final year. I don’t know if my exams are going ahead or if I’m going to be able to graduate. Most importantly all the fun social activities that make the stress worth it are going to be cancelled, and I might never get to wear my gown in the cathedral.”


Sky News release a short video showing what happens to coronavirus patients’ lungs when infected with the virus. Watch the video here.


The total number of UK deaths has now risen to 10.


76,244 members of the public have signed a petition to close all universities down for an appropriate amount of time amidst COVID-19. The petition is rising by almost 100 signatures a minute. Link to petition here.


Durham University has cancelled classroom based lessons for the last week of term as a precaution against coronavirus. This has been confirmed in a tweet from Assistant Professor David Chivers:


The Newcastle HR Department are holding a webinar (a seminar conducted over the Internet) tomorrow for everything you need to know about coronavirus as an employer.


The North East Ambulance Service released a short video advising the public on how to wash their hands effectively and the best times to do so.


Will the government address concerns about work and working conditions in today’s meeting? Amazon announce it will not pay sick staff unless they test positive for coronavirus, which creates risk of greater spread from warehouses says Labour MP Allin Khan:


Holmeside coffee shop in Sunderland have released a disclaimer on Instagram and an update on their measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus.


North-East England’s leading non-professional theatre, Peoples Theatre, have released a statement advising all members and visitors to follow the latest NHS guidelines on how to look after themselves and requested that anyone who has booked a show and experiencing symptoms of the virus to contact the box office. See guidelines here.


If the government decide to move the UK’s coronavirus response to delay this means social distancing measures may be put in place.


We are waiting to find out if football will be disrupted. There are rumours that the Premier League may take place behind closed doors.


According to ITV the strategy of the British government is “herd immunity” which happens when a group of people or animals when they develop antibodies to become resistant to a disease. The British government aim to minimise the virus by allowing it to pass through the entire population so we each acquire immunity. Read full report here.


Scotland will not close colleges and schools in attempt to contain the outbreak. First minister Nicola Surgeon says she is minded to cancel mass gatherings of 500 or more that require policing and ambulance cover to reduce burden on front-line services.


According to the Daily Mail, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is not expected to ban mass gatherings or close schools in the fight against coronavirus. Read full story here.

Credit: Frank Augstein, Pool


The Malmasion hotel in Newcastle have released a statement regarding the wellbeing of their guests. They assure that they are ‘actively taking measures to ensure they are prioritising health and safety.’


Durham’s ‘Holi’ festival of colour which had been due to take place on Saturday March 14 at Durham University have been cancelled due to the ongoing spread of coronavirus, organisers have confirmed.

Credit: PA Wire


The COBRA (Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms) committee assists the government body in co-ordinating actions for national or regional crisis’. We are still awaiting on announcements regarding coronavirus and the meeting due to take place this afternoon around 1:15pm.


Food bank based in Gateshead forecast the possibility of an increased demand caused by the spread of coronavirus and ‘encourage’ the public to ‘keep donating’ after checking with their local food bank what is needed.


Ireland into effective lockdown to limit the spread of Coronavirus. Schools, colleges and childcare facilities to close.


The University of Sunderland remains open until further notice from the Government and Public Health England.


Tyne and Wear Metro have tweeted advising passengers to ‘travel as usual.’

Credit: PA Wire


It is anticipated that the UK will switch tactics aiming to delay the spread rather than containing it when the emergency committee meets.


Public Health England have confirmed 456 cases of Coronavirus in the UK with a total of six deaths. Six confirmed cases in Newcastle, one in Sunderland and two in North Tyneside.

One Comment

  1. Kath Butterworth

    Does the information for corona virus for Northumberland come under North Tyneside or are they separate?

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.