Live: Coronavirus measures in place at Bedford's major facilities and services

How the town's venues are preparing

By Clare Turner
Monday, 16th March 2020, 1:53 pm

As Britain comes to terms with the coronavirus, Bedford Today looks out how venues, hospices, hospitals and other venues are taking precautions in the town.


Coronavirus in Bedford

Last updated: Wednesday, 25 March, 2020, 10:42

  • Bedford Hospital

The NHS in Bedfordshire and Public Health England (PHE) is well prepared for outbreaks of new infectious diseases. The NHS has put in place measures to ensure the safety of all patients and NHS staff while also ensuring services are available to the public as normal.

The Chief Medical Officer has announced that the country is moving into the ‘delay’ stage of the response to coronavirus.

The new advice issued by the Chief Medical Officer is:

Stay at home for seven days if you have either:

a high temperature

a new continuous cough

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home.

Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:

you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home

your condition gets worse

your symptoms do not get better after 7 days

Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.

Stay At Home advice can be found here

Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel.

Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using public transport. Use a sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.

We are closing the blog for now but please continue to see our website and social channels for the latest coronavirus updates from the Bedford area.

Waitrose in Bedford has today backed the Government’s plea for social distancing by announcing a set of strong, new measures to help its customers shop safely.

The measures include limiting customer numbers, introducing ‘safe distance’ floor signage, ‘two-metre marshalls’ to help manage queues, protective screens at checkouts, additional security and encouraging contactless shopping.

Limiting customer numbers in shops - Waitrose will begin to limit the number of customers allowed in at any one time, Shop managers will use their judgment on customer numbers and when the shop is at capacity to manage social distancing will operate a one in, one out policy.

The first hour opening will be dedicated to elderly and vulnerable customers and those caring for them and NHS staff will continue to be given priority checkout service.

Two-metre marshals - Marshals will manage queues outside shops and if necessary remind customers to respect the two-metre social distancing rule.

Social distancing management in all shops: Floor signs will be introduced in all shops to ensure customers keep two metres apart when queueing at checkouts.

Checkout screens have been ordered to protect staff and customers from infected moisture droplets.

Special protective visors are also being ordered and will be available to staff.

There'll also be a drive to encourage more customers to shop in a cashless and contactless way to prevent unnecessary contact.

McDonald's is to close all its restaurants from 7pm tonight.

In a statement, it said it had become clear that maintaining safe social distancing whilst operating busy takeaway and drive through restaurants was becoming increasingly difficult

However, it said would be working closely with community groups across the UK and Ireland to distribute food from its restaurants to those most in need.

Steph's Dog Walking is providing a  dog walking service for anyone who is self isolating. 

The service is £10 per walk: with a minimum of 30 minutes, maximum of 40 minutes. 

For more details, visit

The Bedford Guild House has closing its doors from today due to coronavirus safety measures until further notice.

The Pamper Evening has also been cancelled.

The Guild House, in Harpur Street, has a temporary rota in place to have a member of staff active to reply to any phone messages.

Any queries, call 01234 352038 and leave a message.

Bedford Borough Council is postponing Bedford River Festival for one year.

In a statement, the council said the decision is in line with government guidance encouraging people to avoid large gatherings.

The Bedford Kite and Motoring Festival is also being postponed - and the council is hoping to arrange it for a later date this year, depending on ongoing Government guidance around coronavirus.

Mayor Dave Hodgson said: “This will be disappointing news to many people, including the public who were looking forward to attending, the entertainers and performers, the boating community who have already planned their visit to the River Festival, our sponsors, our traders and suppliers, along with many others.  

“We sincerely hope that by July, the nation has reached the recovery stage of this pandemic."

Bedfringe has decided to cancel this year's Bedford Festival Fringe due to the virus.

Esquires, in Bedford, has closed due to the coronavirus. In a statement on its website, the Greyfriars club said  it will do everything it can to reopen at some stage

It confirmed most events have already been rescheduled for later in the year and tickets will remain valid for those shows.

The council has decided to close Bedford Corn Exchange for the time being, from today. Where performances are rescheduled for a later date, tickets already purchased will be valid for the new date, or refunds will be issued for customers unable to attend the rescheduled date. For any cancelled performances, customers will be issued with a refund.

A spokesman for Bedford Borough Council said: "To ensure the ongoing safety of our participants, volunteers, and staff, sports sessions run by Sports Development have been suspended, and litter picks including RiverCare and the Great British Spring Clean organised by Keep Britain Tidy have been postponed. "

McDonald's has closed the seating areas in all of its restaurants across the UK.

The fast food company will offer takeaway, drive-thru and delivery only during the coronavirus outbreak.

A statement from the company said: "Following continued developments and updated guidance from the governments and health authorities, I wanted to share an update from McDonald’s UK and Ireland.

"Our restaurants will remain open for as long as it is safe to do so. In the last 24 hours it has become clear that we need to temporarily change our operations to ensure the wellbeing of our employees and customers consistent with the governments’ guidance on social distancing.

"Therefore from 5am tomorrow morning (Wednesday, March 18) all restaurants will close seating areas and temporarily move to being takeaway, Drive Thru and McDelivery® only.

"No restaurants will offer dine-in or table service, but the My McDonald’s App will continue to offer the opportunity to order and pay ahead for collection and Drive Thru, toilets and handwashing facilities will remain open wherever possible but seating areas and children's play areas will close.

"Whilst it is safe to remain open, we want to do what we can to support those services working tirelessly to keep us all safe and well.

"From this week, in all UK restaurants we are offering all emergency services personnel, health and social care workers free drinks, on sight of their work pass.

"It is a small token of our appreciation for everything that these services are doing and we will continue to keep this under review as government and health authority guidance develops.

"As this situation evolves, we will continue to keep you updated through email, our social media channels and website."

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