News / coronavirus

Coronavirus live updates: May 22 2020

By bristol247, Thursday May 21, 2020

The Office for National Statistics says the number of people with coronavirus in England remains stable.

Figures indicate 137,000 people had coronavirus at any given time during the two weeks from May 4 to 17, representing 0.25 per cent of the country’s population.

This comes as London mayor Sadiq Khan says he is considering making masks compulsory on tubes and buses, and Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon lays out the country’s lockdown easing plans, which includes schools reopening from August 11.

In Bristol, cabinet member for education and skills Anna Keen calls for schools to reopen only when it is safe to do so. She echoes mayor Marvin Rees, who stated he would support headteachers in making the decision for the city’s schools, following Government advice to reopen from June 1.

Scroll down for the latest updates:

That’s the end of today’s live blog. Thank you for reading.

Here’s a roundup of some of the latest news and updates from across Bristol:

  • New safety guidelines to taxi drivers and customers during the pandemic have been issued by Bristol City Council.
  • Researchers are recruiting participants from Bristol for a new phase of trials of a vaccine pioneered in the UK that could protect against Covid-19.
  • City to Sea has partnered with retailer and cafe Better Food to pilot #ContactlessCoffee, in a bid to keep reusables on the menu.
  • Train operator GWR is urging people to avoid travelling by train over the bank holiday weekend for anything but essential journeys.

A reminder not to forget about social distancing measures over the bank holiday weekend:

New safety guidelines to taxi drivers and customers during the pandemic have been issued by Bristol City Council.

Advice for licensed drivers includes cleaning vehicles between journeys, not carrying multiple passengers from different households and encouraging card payment methods.

Drivers should also ensure their vehicles are compliant and that their own health is not putting anyone at risk, and provide reasonable assistance to passengers who require it, including those using wheelchairs, following the additional hygiene precautions outlined in the new guidance.

Kye Dudd, the council’s cabinet member for transport, said: “We’re prioritising the health and safety of everyone in Bristol. We understand the concern that the pandemic has caused many people and businesses around the city about using the taxi and private hire trade.

“Many citizens, especially those that are elderly and disabled, are not able to walk or cycle to destinations and rely on taxis for safe and reliable transport. Drivers too are worried about the impact the pandemic is having on custom and want to be able to return to work safely.

“We want to build up confidence in them as one of the safest forms of our transport network.’’

Ruth Pickersgill, a Labour councillor and chair of the council’s public safety and protection committee, added: “We have been strongly urging the Government to provide national guidance to protect the taxi trade across the country as there have been a disproportionate number of deaths of drivers nationally and as the majority of our drivers are from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, they are particularly at risk from this virus.”

Volunteers from Muslims 4 Bristol have delivered 2,000 meals to key workers, people who are homeless, domestic violence survivors, care homes and more.

“Since  Covid-19 broke out, it has caused difficulties and uncertainty to our community,” says Rana Basharat Ali Khan, part of the volunteer group.

“However, people from various backgrounds, including those from Muslim and ethnic minority backgrounds, have shown kindness and caring to their neighbourhood and vulnerable groups in our community and city.

“This has been real community spirit to minimise the impact of the horrific virus.”

Delivering meals throughout Bristol. Photo: Rana Basharat Ali Khan

Here is a round up of some of the latest Bristol24/7 stories:

Researchers are set to begin a new phase of trials of a vaccine pioneered in the UK that could protect against Covid-19.

University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW), North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT) and the University of Bristol are collaborating on the study, which will involve healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 55.

Up to 500 participants will be recruited in Bristol, and this phase of the trial will assess how well the vaccine works to prevent people from becoming infected with coronavirus.

Work on the vaccine, developed by clinical research teams at the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group, began in January.

The first phase of the trial took place in April, and the latest phase will begin in Bristol on Saturday, May 23.

Dr Rajeka Lazarus, a consultant in infectious diseases and microbiology at UHBW and one of the principle investigators for the study in Bristol, said: “Currently there are no licensed vaccines or specific treatments for Covid-19. However, vaccines are the most effective way of controlling outbreaks and the international community has stepped up efforts towards developing one.

“This vaccine aims to turn the virus’ most potent weapon, its spikes, against it – raising antibodies that stick to them allowing the immune system to lock onto and destroy the virus.”

Dr Lazarus added: “Those taking part in the trial will play a crucial role in the global search for a vaccine that protects us all, not least frontline NHS workers, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.”

For more information about the study and how to sign-up, visit:

City to Sea has partnered with retailer and cafe Better Food to pilot #ContactlessCoffee, in a bid to keep reusables on the menu.

The aim is to highlight the best practice and give outlets guidance on how they can accept reusable cups as they look to reopen after lockdown. Environmental organisation City to Sea will provide support and advice as weeks go on, as well as seek to establish a national action group on reusables.

Read the full story here.

Train operator GWR is urging people to avoid travelling by train over the bank holiday weekend for anything but essential journeys.

Social distancing guidance means that seats have been blocked off and trains can only carry about a tenth of the usual number of passengers. This significantly reduces the number of people who can safely travel on a service.

To allow people who have to travel the best opportunity to do so safely, GWR is asking customers to consider if their journey is really necessary and to not use trains for leisure purposes or for their daily exercise.

GWR interim managing director Matthew Golton said: “With social distancing guidance in place, we are able to carry as little as a tenth of the usual number of passengers, and customers are not yet able to use trains as freely as they once did.

“We are doing everything we can to carry as many people, safely, as we can. This will make sure that those who absolutely need to travel by train can do so. But I must ask you, is your journey really necessary?”

The company says it is doing everything it can to enable social distancing to be adhered to at stations and onboard but warns that it may not be possible at all points throughout a journey.

Crews from Southmead Fire Station made sure Winnie had a 100th birthday she wouldn’t forget.

The centenarian was meant to celebrate the milestone with family on the SS Great Britain but the original plans had to be cancelled due to the pandemic.

There may be no Grand Iftar this year but Bristol’s communities are still finding ways to bring people together during Ramadan.

Humanitarian Bristol – Covid-19, a grassroots group that has been distributing supply boxes to people in need since lockdown began, featured on BBC’s The One Show last night.

The programme highlighted the group’s efforts, in conjunction with The Mint Room, to unite communities with special food deliveries to enable people to break the fast together while maintaining social distancing.

Read more about the work of Humanitarian Bristol here.

Good morning and welcome to today’s live blog. Here are some of the latest developments:

  • Bristol City Council has launched #WeAreBristol Kids, an online resource to better connect children within the city during the coronavirus pandemic and after.
  • Pre-lockdown, researchers at the University of Bristol were collecting people’s views on climate change and the city’s future. Now, the team of researchers want to find out if people’s views have changed in light of the pandemic, by filling out a short survey.
  • Tobacco Factory Theatres and The Cube have launched a hardship fund for creatives living in the Bristol area.

Main photo: Martin Booth

Read more: Reality of lockdown for family with autistic child living in Bristol high rise

Related articles