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Coronavirus Kent: Live updates on the impact of Covid-19 pandemic across the county

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Residents across Kent will be pondering what they are going to do this weekend after Prime Minister Boris Johnson told pubs and restaurants, gyms, leisure centres, and cinemas to close indefinitely.

He said the drastic measures were necessary to ensure the country recovers as quickly as possible from the coronavirus outbreak, which has already claimed the lives of 233 people in the UK, including the first case in Kent on Friday.

KMTV report on a shutdown branded "disastrous"

Education secretary Gavin Williamson earlier announced all schools will close until further notice - other than for the children of key workers or vulnerable pupils.

Follow our live blog for today's coronavirus updates:

9pm

McDonald's is to close its branches across the UK from 7pm tomorrow.

8.45pm

A councillor has called for council tax bill payments to be suspended to help residents struggling financially due to the coronavirus outbreak.

6.45pm

Gravesham Civic Centre has closed to visitors until further notice in line with latest government advice amid COVID-19.

If you need to speak to one of the team, call customer services on 01474 337000.

6.30pm

A Kent pub is offering free beer to NHS staff to thank them for the work they are doing during the coronavirus outbreak.

6pm

There's mounting fury after visitors flocked to Whitstable for a second day in defiance of social distancing advice.

5.30pm

Further restrictions could be put on people's movements unless they obey the safety advice issued amid the coronavirus outbreak, the Prime Minister has warned.

4.30pm

Latest figures show COVID-19 which has now claimed the lives of 281 people in the UK, including two in Kent.

3.15pm

Gran becomes the second person in Kent to die of the coronavirus.

3pm

Outrage as holes drilled in the tyres of ambulances.

2.30pm

Primark announces it is closing all its stores due to the coronavirus outbreak.

12.30pm NHS workers get own shopping slots

In revised plans health workers will be kept away from elderly customers.

12.15pm - Pub apologies over large gathering

Bosses of a Whitstable pub have apologised after a large gathering yesterday.

11.05am - Welsh deaths reported

Seven more people in Wales have died of the virus, bringing the UK total to 240.

11am - Abbey broadcasts Sunday service

A Kent church is using Facebook to get its message out there today.

8.40am - Criticism continues to build over beach party

Scenes from Whitstable yesterday of people buying alcohol and drinking on the beach, continue to draw criticism on social media.

Sunday: 8am - Johnson urges people not to visit mums

The Prime Minister says people should not mark Mother's Day by visiting parents because of the risk of passing on the illness.

7.33pm - 56 cases of coronavirus in Kent

The latest number of people with coronavirus in the county has been revealed. 45 people in Kent and 11 in Medway have tested positive for Covid-19.

On Friday, Medway NHS Trust confirmed a patient at the hospital had become the first in the county to die after contracting it.

6.09pm - latest number of deaths revealed

The number of fatalities has risen to 233 - 53 more since yesterday. 72,818 people have been tested and 5,018 have Covid-19. 67,800 do not.

5.03pm - West Malling farmer's market still open

Despite the tightening of measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus, one farmer's market in Kent is still going ahead.

The West Falling Farmer's Market is still taking place tomorrow, although organisers are asking customers to not get too close.

The market is held on the fourth Sunday of every month, from 9.30am to 1.30pm in High Street.

According to a post on the market's Facebook page earlier today, nearly 30 stalls will be attending.

The post reads: "There may be some changes to your regular shopping routine at tomorrow's market. The market opens 9.30 to 1.30

"We ask that you follow the government guidance around social distancing, keep a gap between yourself and other customers please.

4.20pm - Watts Farm deliveries

A food production company has set up a delivery service for those in isolation and to take the pressure off supermarkets.

Watts Farm, which has 10 sites in Kent, Essex and Bedfordshire, farms over 600 acres hectares of land and grows 60 different types of crops.

As well growing produce, the family-run business also buys products from the UK and overseas, to sell.

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, the firm, which employs more than 200 people, is now offering a home delivery and collection service.

A statement on the company's website reads: " We have experienced first-hand the pressure on our supermarkets and the demand for home deliveries and store collections.

"We hope this new service will help members of the public by providing another online food delivery service option.

"It is also important for our business to diversify in these difficult times to keep our family business alive."

Food orders must be £50 or more. Deliveries can be made to properties within 30 miles of the postcode ME20 7NA.

4.14pm - New Look closes

After asking workers if they would volunteer for unpaid work, New Look will close it's doors at 5pm today.

3.51pm - wage promise explained

Our reporter Alex Jee has answered your questions around Rishi Sunak announcement yesterday. Read more here.

3.47pm - cakes for key workers

A betrothed couple, who had their big day cancelled with less than 12 hours notice, donated a haul of cupcakes meant for wedding guests to busy hospital staff.

At 2pm today, Lauren Peters and Sam Topliffe were due to tie the knot in front of close friends and family before flying over Sheppey in a once-in-a-lifetime helicopter ride and spending a week at Butlin's.

Read more here.

2.57pm - good community spirit in Hoo

Amelia and Denver from Hoo (32104773)
Amelia and Denver from Hoo (32104773)

Amelia and Denver have left fruit outside their home in Hoo for the local community.

2.29pm

"We have designated those working in the food supply chain as key workers and will be recruiting other staff who have been laid off," says Mr Eustice.

Helen Dickinson of the British Retail Consortium has praised those shop workers for their hard work over the last few weeks and says supermarkets are only putting restrictions in when they havea to.

2.23pm

The food supply chain is used to spikes in demand and secretary George Eustice said there are no concerns of food running out.

People have spent £1billion on food and they have now been asked to "as you shop think of those who are finishing their late shift and need to pop to a local shop."

2.04pm-'be responsible when you shop'

The plastic bag charge couldbe lifted, curfew hours have been scrapped and competition laws have been removed so supermarkets can help each other fill their shelves.

The environment, food and rural affairs secretary has spoken at today's daily press briefing on the virus asking people to "be responsbile when you shop".

More to follow.

12.54pm

George Spencer and Sandra Lemke of Matesones Coffee Bar with their hand-made furniture
George Spencer and Sandra Lemke of Matesones Coffee Bar with their hand-made furniture

A new cafe in Maidsone has been forced to shut just 11 days after opening.

George Spencer and Sandra Lemke have been left devastated by the closure of Matestone, which was forced by the coronavirus restriction measures.

The Catching Lives day centre in Station Road East
The Catching Lives day centre in Station Road East

12.21pm

A homelessness charity in Canterbury is asking for donations of toilet rolls amid a shortage caused by panic buying.

Catching Lives has posted on its Facebook page: "It will probably be no surprise to hear we are running short on loo roll at the centre.

"If anyone has managed to secure a few spares ones that they can donate please do as they will be gratefully accepted.

"We are hoping some will be coming next week but not sure when- but in the likely event we end up with an amount that is surplus to requirement we will of course then ensure we share with other agencies supporting vulnerable people."

11.28am

A gym with two branches in Kent has announced it will not charge customers while the sites are closed.

DW Fitness operates in Maybrook Retail Park, Canterbury, and at Westwood Cross in Broadstairs.

In an email to members yesterday evening, after the Government ordered gyms to close, the management team announced that no direct debits will be taken during the closure period.

DW Fitness runs more than 20 gyms across The UK.

10.57am

Volunteers are being sought to work at Maidstone Hospital and Tunbridge Wells Hospital in response to the outbreak.

People from various walks of life are being invited to apply.

An advert on the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust says: "We anticipate that the need and support required will vary daily so would encourage applications from anyone who can help regardless of current line of work and role."

The advert describes the positions as part-time, specifying that people would work three hours a week.

To apply, click here.

Simon O'Keefe, chief executive officer of The Stour Academy Trust, insists both parents must be key workers
Simon O'Keefe, chief executive officer of The Stour Academy Trust, insists both parents must be key workers

10.21am

The Stour Academy Trust, which runs eight primary schools across Kent, is defying government advice by insisting both parents must be key workers to send their children to school next week.

Boris Johnson has said just one parent must be a critical worker, but the Trust's chief executive, Simon O'Keefe, says following the guidance would leave its schools unsafe.

Kent's Harry Podmore will not be in action until the end of May. Picture: Keith Gillard
Kent's Harry Podmore will not be in action until the end of May. Picture: Keith Gillard

9.30am

Kent’s cricketers will not start their season until the end of May at the earliest.

The ECB has announced the 2020 season is being postponed until May 28.

Kent chief executive Simon Storey said: “Whilst the delay to the start of the season will no doubt be disappointing to many cricket fans, we fully support the ECB’s decision.

Kent Olympic hopeful Tom Bosworth Picture: Tom Shaw - British Athletics/British Athletics via Getty Images
Kent Olympic hopeful Tom Bosworth Picture: Tom Shaw - British Athletics/British Athletics via Getty Images

8.59am

Kent race-walker Tom Bosworth says it is too late to write off this summer's Olympics.

But the 30-year-old admits he will fill the pinch from lost earnings as a number of events are cancelled.

“These road races in March, April, May, are where prize money is," he said,

“I’m very fortunate to be on world-class performance but I try not to rely on government funding because that can disappear very quickly.

“It’s an unprecedented time because we don’t know how long this is going to last for."

8.13am

The Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne has now closed.

A spokesman said: "The Trust regrets that in the light of Friday’s announcement regarding the closure of pubs, clubs, theatres, leisure centres and other public spaces, it has no option but to close The Wing and the car park at the site with immediate effect.

"Although the Trust did its best to keep the site open for as long as it could, this is no longer possible under current guidance. As always, the clifftop site will remain open all day every day to visitors on foot via the pedestrian gate, but the visitor facilities, including the car park, will be closed."

7.43am

Sainsbury's has revealed its to offer dedicated shopping hours to all NHS staff, social care workers, the elderly and vulnerable during the coronavirus outbreak.

It is also consolidating the opening times of all stores to 8am to 8pm so staff can stock shelves.

Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame
Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame

6.53am

In another example of businesses going the extra mile, Kent brewer Shepherd Neame says it will be offering its hotel space to the NHS to be repurposed as hospital accommodation.

The Faversham firm was forced to shut its 320 pubs and hotels following Boris Johnson's announcement yesterday, but chief executive Jonathan Neame says it will do all it can to protect as many jobs as possible.

His gesture to the NHS comes after two big supermarkets this week introduced dedicated shopping hours for tireless healthcare staff.

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here

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