Published: 06:00, 17 March 2020
| Updated: 08:22, 18 March 2020
Roads in Kent have been quieter than normal today after Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people to stay at home to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus epidemic.
He last night pleaded with the population to work from home and avoid pubs, clubs, and theatres, after the number of deaths in the UK rose to 71 today. There are 22 cases in Kent, four of which are in Medway.
It comes as Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and school leaders discuss the possibility of postponing GCSEs, AS, and A-levels exams due to be held this summer until September.
Theatres and cinemas across the county have closed their doors to protect the public.
Here's how today's events unfolded
All events at The Hazlitt Theatre in Maidstone have been suspended until further notice due to the coronavirus.
Bosses said in a statement: "With regards to tickets and refunds, we are dealing with each show on an individual basis inconsultation with the promoters and agents and for those of you with tickets, we will be in touchas soon as possible.
"Please be assured that we are working as quickly as possible to understand the implications of this closure and to put the appropriate steps in place.
"It is currently unclear how long the theatre will need to remain closed, however, we will be consulting with industry bodies and the government in the coming days and provide an update as soon as possible."
The Iceland store in the Mall Shopping Centre in Maidstone will opening between 8am and 10am tomorrow exclusively for older shoppers.
Two of the Medway's biggest tourist attractions have closed amid the spread of the coronavirus.
Wondering what events and venues still open despite the Coronavirus? Here's everything you need to know.
Celebrity chef Tom Kerridge has announced this year's Pub in the Park festival is being rescheduled amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Medway Council has announced the following events have been cancelled:
Big Splash, April 4
English Festival, April 18
Sweeps, May 2-3
Focus On Rainham, May 16
Cycling Festival, June 13-21
Dickens Festival, June 13-14
Armed Forces Day, June 27
Focus On Walderslade, June 28
Kent Cricket has moved to cancel and postpone events scheduled to take place later this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Turner Contemporary closes until further notice in response to COVID-19.
The government announces guaranteed loans of up to £330 billion to try and save UK businesses from going bust due to the coronavirus.
The Department of Health confirms 71 people have now died from the COVID-19 in the UK.
Sir Patrick Vallance - the government's chief scientific adviser - says 8,000 people usually die every year due to season flu so 20,000 deaths or under due to coronavirus outbreak would be a "good outcome in terms of where we would hope to get to with this outbreak."
NHS hospitals in England have been told to postpone all non-urgent operations for at least three months because of the coronavirus.
They have also been ordered to urgently discharge inpatients who are medically fit to leave to try to free up space in the system.
Mobile phone users across Kent suffer "connectivity problems" while trying to work from home - for more details click here.
Folkestone and Hythe District Council has cancelled its overview and scrutiny meeting due to take place tonight.
The authority has also cancelled a full council scheduled for next week.
A spokesman said: "In light of the current COVID-19 situation and advice from Government the full council meeting scheduled for Wednesday 25 March is not going ahead.
"We expect to receive legislative changes which will advise us how to proceed with formal meetings.
"Depending on this advice it is possible future meetings can be held in different ways using technology.
"Once a new method of working has been established, set up and tested we will seek to resume formal meetings."
Port Lympne and Howletts to remain open in midst of coronavirus outbreak - for more details click here.
Popular tourist attraction the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway will close from this weekend.
A statement said: "At the forefront of our minds is the safety and wellbeing of all of our passengers and staff.
"We have decided to make the very difficult decision to temporarily close to the public from Saturday, March 21.
"We’ll be using this time to make improvements to the stations and track when safe to do so and are currently donating food that is near to its end date to our local food bank.
"If you have pre-booked to travel with us before the 4th April we will contact you to postpone your visit or arrange for a refund.
"Further updates will be posted on our official social media pages and our website.
"The railway community is a close one and we wish for all of our friends and colleagues to be safe during this period.
"We’d like to thank all of our staff and passengers for their understanding and their help during this period."
2.39pm - 407 new cases
The latest statistics from NHS England has revealed 1,950 people in the UK have coronavirus.
As of 6am today 50,442 people have been tested and 48,492 did not have Covid-19.
2.10pm Euros 2021
UEFA has confirmed this year's European championships have been postponed until next year.
1.50pm - worship suspended
The Archbishop of Canterbury has announced all public worship is “suspended until further notice”.
Weddings and funerals could still go ahead.
1.44pm - Euros postponed
Euro 2020 has been postponed until next year, according to the Norwegian Football Federation. No official line has come from UEFA yet.
1.05pm - Folkestone town hall closed
Folkestone Town Hall is now closed until further notice.
The Guildhall Street building is the offices for Folkestone Town Council and the Folkestone museum.
A sign on the door reads: "We apologise for the inconvenience and hope you stay safe and well."
12.31pm - British nationals told not to travel
UK airports are expected to shut down within weeks as Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab advises to avoid all but essential travel outside of the UK for 30 days.
More support is also being offered to people stuck overseas because of coronavirus. Mr Raab said the UK is working with international partners to 'forge the most effective response'.
12.11pm - business as usual at The Hythe Imperial
The Hythe Imperial Hotel is remaining open and is 'business as usual' but has adapted its cancellation policy for guests.
Nick Gauntlett, Managing Director, said: "The health and safety of our guests and team here at Hythe Imperial Hotel has always been of utmost importance to us, and this has never been more true than it is now.
"We are currently facing the very difficult challenge of responding to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
"We want you to know that we have been adapting our cancellation policy to provide you, our valued customer, with extra peace of mind during these challenging times.
"If you have booked on a non-refundable Advance Purchase rate, we will allow changes for up to a year from when the booking was first made, up to 24 hours prior to arrival. Any price difference will be payable at the time of amendment. This will need to be done by 30th April, 2020.
"If you have booked on a fully refundable Book Now, Pay Later rate, our normal cancellation policy of 24 hours prior to arrival applies."
11.48am - shoppers in Gravesend
11.44am - restaurants stripped back
A Folkestone restaurant chain has removed half its tables to ensure guests are sitting further apart.
A statement from Market Square, in Rendezvous Street, reads: "Market Square and all other L&B restaurants are open and serving delicious food as per usual today.
"We are following the advice of the powers that be and are taking extra precautionary measures in our venues to ensure that you are able to visit us knowing that your health and safety is paramount and at the forefront of everything we are doing.
"In Market Square and Luben we have removed half of our tables so that we can space them apart by two metres.
"We have also taken cutlery and glassware away from tables, so that they have a little contact as is possible. Our staff are wearing rubber gloves when preparing food and drink to avoid any contamination.
"In these bizarre, uncertain times we'll be operating as we normally do until we are told otherwise, and as always we'll be making sure that customers, friends and family are safe, happy and healthy."
11.34am - Judge in self-isolation
Judge Mark Weekes, who works in Canterbury, is in self-isolation.
11.30am - Cineworld and Picturehouse to close
More as we have it.
11.06am - Laura Ashley in administration
Coronavirus has affected rescue talks for Laura Ashley and will now enter administration.Read more here.
10.50am - Macknade is defiant
Kent food and drink merchant Macknade has come out defiantly to announce it'll keep its two branches operational. In what Managing Director Stephano Cuomo calls a "watershed moment for all of us", the sixth-generation owner warned that "our range may reduce over time, but we will be able to help and advise on replacements and make sure you are all well served."
10.28am - charity event cancelled
A charity which supports disabled children and their families is suspended fundraising activities following the outbreak of COVID-19.
We Are Beams, which cares for people in Gravesend, Dartford and Swanley, is halting events from Tuesday, until after Monday, April 20.
10.10am - Marlowe closes for a month
9.52am - surgery closure in Folkestone
The New Surgery, in Canterbury Road, Folkestone has closed "to protect patients and the public".
The surgery will undergo a week of 'cleaning' and plans to re-open on Monday, March 23.
It is not known if someone with symptoms entered the building.
Patients are advised to call 111 for an appointment, or 999 if it's an emergency.
9.40am - 'We need to be good samritans'
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has teamed up with the Archbishop of York John Sentamu to issue a joint plea for everyone to be good Samaritans during the coronavirus crisis.
The pair say it was important to look after friends and neighbours. Read the full story here.
9.11am - Cats Protection
8.57am - MP for Folkestone and Hythe Damian Collins asked Matt Hancock about fake news yesterday
8.50am - cricket star helps the community
England cricket star Sam Billings has offered to go shopping for those stuck at home during the coronavirus outbreak.
The Kent captain tweeted to offer his services to those isolating as the virus spreads. Read more here.
8.09am - Aylesford school update
A statement from Miss Kelvie said: "I can confirm that, at this current time, we have no reported cases of Coronavirus (Covid 19) in School; however, we have a number of students and staff self-isolating and as such it is untenable to run the school at full capacity.
"We therefore have taken the difficult decision to close the school for Year 7, Year 8 and Year 9 Students for the rest of this week. Students in Years 10, 11, 12 and 13 are expected to attend as lessons will continue as normal.
"A step by step guide for parents and students, detailing methods of communication and how ALL students can access learning from home is being emailed to parents.We ask you to read this guidance really carefully.
"All face to face meetings, including Year 11 Parents Evening will be postponed. Regular updates will be available via our Facebook page, the school website and ParentMail.
"Thank you for your continued support."
7.53am - the 'Thomas Becket' lecture in Canterbury has been postponed
7.40am - message from Dover Atheltic chairman
Jim Parmenter hopes the government and professional football authorities will offer support now the National League has been suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Parmenter, who is on the National League board, was in favour of matches in the fifth-tier and sixth-tier of English football going ahead on Saturday.
7.37am - quiet Maidstone this morning
7.18am - University of Kent starts remote lectures
The university was due to begin online lectures on Monday, March 23.However, following the government's press release yesterday, all face-to-face teaching and supervision has now been suspended.
An email sent to students from vice chancellor and president, Prof Karen Cox, said: "I’m writing to you now to let you know that, following this evening’s Government briefing, we have brought forward our decision to move fully to remote teaching with immediate effect. This means that all face-to-face teaching and supervision is now suspended from tomorrow as we move to online teaching."
7.10am - Advice from the PM
The latest advice to people from the government is:
For more on what was said at the latest press briefing click here.
7.07am - Theatres
The Orchard Theatre and Leas Cliff Hall in Folkestone have suspended shows.
6.40am - Stewart Lee
The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury says its peformance by stand-up comedian Stewart Lee will be going ahead as planned tonight, but an announcemen would be made about future shows this morning. A statement on its website said: "Following the Prime Minister’s comments earlier this evening, we will be making a statement at 10am."
More by this authorAmy Nickalls
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