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COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus.
UPDATED: 02/7/20 – 09.00
- Latest news
- In other key updates
- In other news
- Local news
- The new police powers
- Which shops are still allowed to open during lockdown?
- The government list of key worker jobs
- Coronavirus Financial Support
- Furlough explained
- Stay at home if you have coronavirus symptoms
- How long to stay at home
- If you still have symptoms after 7 days
- Why staying at home is very important
- Tips for staying at home
- How do I protect myself?
- Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service
- How to avoid catching or spreading coronavirus
- Advice for people with health conditions:
- What is shielding?
- Current Coronavirus-related online scams you should know
- COVID 19 Advice for consumers
- Coronavirus and waste collections
- Will I get a refund on my ticket if events are cancelled?
- What if I’m having problems getting my refund?
- Five positive ways to work well from home and keep your spirits up?
- Cancelled/postponed local events and shut businesses
The government have announced a number of changes to COVID-19 restrictions. These include the reopening of the hospitality sector on July 4th, including pubs, cafes and restaurants. The government are also relaxing the social distancing guidance from 4th July, changing it to one metre where it is not possible to keep a two metre distance apart and where mitigation’s can be made. People are allowed to meet as two households indoors and places of worship can start to hold services from next month. Leisure Centres will remain closed. It has also announced that those in the ‘Shield’ category are able to go outside in groups of up to five people from 6th July. There are around 2000 people in our town who will be directly affected by this and the NHS will be writing them to provide them with specific advice.
UK Covid-19 alert level drops from four to three:
The UK Covid-19 Alert level has moved down from four to three, BBC home affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford reports. Level four represents a high or rising level of transmission, while level three means the virus is in general circulation.
In a statement, the chief medical officers for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland say they have reviewed the evidence and agree with the recommendation to lower the alert level. “There has been a steady decrease in cases we have seen in all four nations, and this continues,” the statement says. “It does not mean that the pandemic is over. The virus is still in general circulation, and localised outbreaks are likely to occur. “We have made progress against the virus thanks to the efforts of the public and we need the public to continue to follow the guidelines carefully to ensure this progress continues.”
People are being encouraged to celebrate the NHS’s 72nd birthday and thank key workers for their efforts during the pandemic with a UK-wide clap next month. NHS England boss Sir Simon Stevens and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby are among the influential figures supporting the initiative. Clap for carers founder Annemarie Plas is also backing the campaign to mark the anniversary on 5th July.
Mandatory masks: Face coverings (not clinical masks) are now mandatory on all public transport in England. Passengers who refuse to comply will be refused travel or fined, which will be enforced by staff and British Transport Police
Anyone who has any of the three core symptoms of coronavirus – a persistent cough, fever, or a loss or change of sense of smell or taste – should get a test by going to the NHS website or dialling 119
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has provided some more details of the changes planned in England – saying that the UK government’s thinking was based on the scientific belief that transmission is far less likely to happen outdoors. For that reason, he said people could hold gatherings of up to six people from different households in their gardens from Monday 1st June and could even host barbecues, providing they maintained social distancing and took extra care with regular hand-washing when preparing and sharing out food.
A team of 25,000 contact tracers will now text, email or call people who test positive with coronavirus and ask who they have had contact with. Any of those contacts deemed at risk of infection will be told to isolate for 14 days, even if they are not sick. The prime minister said the system will “change people’s lives”. The aim of the NHS Test and Trace system is to lift national lockdown restrictions and move towards more localised, targeted measures.
In future, there will be local lock-downs where there are local flair-ups of the virus
Boris Johnson has announced the reopening of the retail sector, but only for premises that are “Covid-secure”:Outdoor markets and car showrooms can reopen from 1 June. All other non-essential retailers can reopen from 15 June.
What are the UK’s new quarantine rules?
People arriving in the UK must self-isolate for 14 days from 8 June to help slow the spread of coronavirus, the government has said. Travellers will need to tell the government where they will quarantine, with enforcement through random spot checks and £1,000 fines in England. Home Secretary Priti Patel said the measure would “reduce the risk of cases crossing our border”. Lorry drivers, seasonal farm workers, and coronavirus medics will be exempt. The requirement will also not apply to those travelling from the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.
IN OTHER KEY UPDATES:
Travel companies have a duty to offer a refund for cancelled holidays if the customer does not want a voucher, he reiterated
The government has signed contracts to procure two billion pieces of personal protective equipment from within the UK, with a further 3.7 billion gloves coming from abroad.
NHS: The whole of the NHS has been put on an emergency footing. From mid-April all routine operations, such as knee and hip replacements, are being cancelled for three months.
IN OTHER NEWS
For new advice to support mental health during coronavirus outbreak: www.gov.uk/…/new-advice-to-support-mental-health-during-cor…
Pets at Home says it is seeing “exceptional levels of demand” Pets at Home said it had now shut non-essential parts of the business such as its Groom Room grooming salons.
Schools across the UK now closed : Schools are now closed but some schools, nurseries and childminders have been asked to provide care for some children. A child’s parent is a key worker if their job is considered critical to keeping the country running and/or fighting the spread of the virus. A child only needs one parent to be a key worker to be eligible to attend school. (You can see the list below)
EasyJet has now grounded its entire fleet of aircraft due to the coronavirus pandemic: Simon Calder the travel expert says “If BA or easyJet cancel your flight you are due a full refund within a week. However both airlines have removed the website refund option, to try to get passengers to accept a voucher instead”.”To get actual money back” Simon continues to say “you must phone the airline within a year from the date of the flight”.
MOTs extended for six months: There’s some good news for drivers in the UK. Drivers are to receive a six-month extension to annual tests of a car’s roadworthiness. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says MOTs due for renewal from 30 March will be extended for half a year due to the coronavirus outbreak. Mr Shapps MP says that drivers must still keep their cars safe and that garages would remain open for any repairs. Find out more http://ow.ly/bVwq50yV8V4 #MOT #Coronavirus
Train services to be cut: Trains operators across Britain are now reducing services. Operators will still run core services to ensure key workers can get to their jobs and the flow of goods continues.
The National Trust: From now the National Trust has closed all of its gated gardens and parks to help restrict the spread of the coronavirus.
Supermarkets limit sales of food items: Supermarkets have introduced strict limits on how many goods people can buy to try and curb stockpiling.
Assesments: Face-to-face assessments for sickness and disability welfare payments are now suspended.
Watford Council COVID – 19 Update:
Watford borough Council has made some changes from Wednesday 13th May in light of the government’s recent announcements on COVID-19 restriction: www.watford.gov.uk/coronavirus
The opening of closed public spaces car parks, including the car parks to Cassiobury Park, Cheslyn Gardens, King George V Playing Fields, Radlett Road Playing Fields and Whippendell Woods.
All public tennis courts and West Herts Golf Club, plus all outdoor gyms and playgrounds will remain shut.Reintroduction of parking enforcement on St Albans Road and Whippendell Road in relation to yellow lines to ensure public safety and allow social distancing to be observed.
Enforcement will remain relaxed in residential streets in a Controlled Parking Zone and free parking will still be available in all council car parks: www.watford.gov.uk/COVID-Parking
Normal opening times have resumed at North Watford and Vicarage Road Cemeteries (9am to 7pm). Visitors are asked to follow social distancing guidelines. Funeral services are still taking place with families present. For more information, visit watfordcemeteries.co.uk.
To prepare for a safe, phased re-opening of Watford town centre, Hertfordshire County Council is closing access to the High Street from Water Lane (by the blue pyramid) from Saturday 23rd May.
- This means there will be no access to the lower part of the High Street through to Kings Street for vehicles except for buses, delivery vehicles, taxis and blue badge holders.
- Parking on this section of the High Street is also suspended; blue badge holders should use Kings or Gade car park where they are guaranteed disabled parking spaces. The restrictions will be in place during usual shopping hours.
This will allow visitors, and those who work in the town centre, to move around safely, queue if needed and maintain social distancing, all really important in preventing the spread of Coronavirus.Find out more at www.watford.gov.uk/news/article/954/road_closure_marks_start_plans_for_re-opening_of_watford_town_centre
Watford support: Whilst many of the most vulnerable in our town will be part of the government’s national shielding programme and will have received a letter directly from the NHS to signpost them to where they can access help, residents who require additional support or don’t fall within the government’s scheme, whether it be with shopping or just someone to talk to, are encouraged to register online at www.watford.gov.uk/covid-support Those Watford residents who do not qualify for the government’s shielding programme can access support via our online form.
My Local News is a monthly magazine and you can keep up to date with all the local news in your area by clicking on the following link: https://www.mynewsmag.co.uk/
There is now no charge or enforcement at Watford Council’s car parks so that key workers and residents can use these. Car parks include: Avenue, Bushey Arches, Harebreaks, Longspring, Town Hall, Timberlake and Watford Business Park. Full details of all parking changes available at www.watford.gov.uk/covid-parking
Coronavirus – Tackling it together in Watford: Over the next few days every home in Watford will receive a leaflet from Watford Council with details of their response to the Coronavirus pandemic, how to get help and changes to the services they provide.The leaflet can be downloaded here: covid19_A5_FINAL_(web)
West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust has had to take drastic measures to minimise the spread of coronavirus and keep patients safe.The hospital trust has asked the public NOT to visit its hospitals in Watford, St Albans, or Hemel Hempstead – other than for two exceptions. The public can attend if they are the nominated birthing partner, or if they are the parent or guardian for paediatric patients (children). The trust is still seeing urgent and two-week-wait outpatient appointments but all non-urgent activity like planned surgery, other outpatient appointments, and telephone consultations have ceased with immediate effect.Visitors should only accompany patients to A&E, the minor injuries unit, or urgent treatment centre if absolutely necessary.
Watford stores: All shops selling non-essential goods are now closed.
Intu Watford: Following the Government’s update that all non-essential shops are to close, the centre will now be operating on a partially closed basis.
Watford revised bus timetable: Although the advice is don’t leave home unless essential and avoid public transport here is the revised bus schedule due to Covid-19. Arriva 320 and 321 are now running hourly. For the Uno 635 timetable: https://www.unobus.info/media/1914/635.pdf
The new police powers
To ensure people stay at home and avoid non-essential travel, police will be able to order people to go home, leave an area or disperse. The new powers mean officers can:
- ensure parents are doing all they can to stop their children breaking the rules
- issue a £60 fixed penalty, lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days
- issue a £120 fixed penalty for second-time offenders, doubling on each further repeat offence
Anyone who does not pay can be taken to court, with magistrates able to impose unlimited fines.
Which shops are still allowed to open during lockdown?
According to the government’s, these types of trade will be able to continue operating:
- Restaurants – for delivery and takeaway ONLY
- Cafés or canteens at hospitals, care homes or schools
- Prison and military canteens
- Hotels, hostels and caravan sites – only for guests using them as a primary home, or guests who are key workers
- Food or drink providers to the homeless
- Supermarkets and other food shops
- Health shops
- Pharmacies – including non-dispensing pharmacies
- Petrol stations
- Bike shops
- Hardware shops
- Laundrettes and dry cleaners
- Car rentals
- Pet shops
- Newsagents and corner shop convenience stories
- Post Offices
- Market stalls which offer essential items, such as grocery and food
- Food banks
- Places of worship – but only for solitary prayer and for funerals
- Off-licences and licensed shops selling alcohol, including those within breweries
The government has published a list of key worker jobs:
- Health and social care: Doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, frontline health staff (including volunteers), and those producing and distributing medicines, supplies and protective equipment
- Education and childcare: Teaching staff, nursery workers, social workers and those in special education
- Key public services: Those in the justice system, religious staff, charities, workers delivering frontline services, those responsible for the deceased, journalists in public service broadcasting
- Local and national government: Those essential to the effective delivery of the response to the pandemic, and benefits services
- Public safety and national security: Police and support staff, MoD civilians, contractors and armed forces personnel critical to the virus response
- Transport: Those in air, water, road, rail passenger and freight services and anyone in transport systems through which supply chains pass
- Food and other necessary goods: Those in production, distribution, sale and delivery of food and other necessary goods
- Utilities, communications and financial: Staff in banks, building societies and financial markets, as well as those in gas, oil and electricity sectors, those in network operations and call centres, 999 and 111 staff, postal services, delivery and waste disposal sector
Coronavirus Financial Support
To find out more about Rishi Sunak’s (Chancellor of the Exchequer) measures for the self-employed and more, please visit www.businesssupport.gov.uk/coronavirus-business-support The website also helps businesses find out how to access the support that has been made available, who is eligible, when the schemes open and how to apply.
A host of employers have put their workers on furlough – but what does it mean and how can it protect you during the coronavirus crisis? Here’s what you need to know for anyone who is about to be or concerned about the furlough arrangements. https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/furlough-14-things-you-need-21834252?fbclid=IwAR2aXTFoN4-LOo9So_d15RaqZLaaqse-FP_ENpFIay19qFWB1h_aelhsk9U
Stay at home if you have the Coronavirus symptoms
If one person in any household starts to display symptoms, everyone living there must stay at home for 14 days. The symptoms are:
- a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
- a new, continuous cough – this means you’ve started coughing repeatedly.
The 14-day stay at home advice “means that if possible you should not go out, even to buy food or essentials, other than for exercise and in that case at a safe distance from others”.
How long to stay at home?
- if you live alone and have symptoms, stay at home for 7 days
- if you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms
If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.
If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.
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. Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you’re staying at home.
If you still have symptoms after 7 days
After 7 days, if you no longer have a high temperature you can return to your normal routine.
If you still have a high temperature, stay at home until your temperature returns to normal.
If you still have a cough after 7 days, but your temperature is normal, you do not need to continue staying at home. A cough can last for several weeks after the infection has gone.
Why staying at home is very important
Staying at home while you have coronavirus (COVID-19) helps to protect your friends, colleagues and the wider community. It will also help to control the spread of the virus.
Staying at home may be difficult or frustrating, but there are things that you can do to help make it easier. These include:
- Plan ahead and think about what you will need to be able to stay at home for the full 7 days
- Talk to your employer, friends and family to ask for their help to access the things you will need
- Think about and plan how you can get access to food and other supplies such as medications that you will need during this period
- Ask friends or family to drop off anything you need or order supplies online. Make sure any deliveries are left outside your home for you to collect
- Make sure that you keep in touch with friends and family over the phone or through social media
- Think about things you can do during your time at home. People who have successfully completed a period of staying at home have kept themselves busy with activities such as cooking, reading, online learning and watching films
- When you are feeling better, remember that physical exercise can be good for your wellbeing. Look for online classes or courses to help you take light exercise in your home.
Tips for staying at home:
It’s important to stay at home to stop coronavirus spreading.
- try to keep at least 2 metres (3 steps) from other people in your home, particularly older people or those with long-term health conditions
- ask friends and family and delivery services to deliver things like food shopping and medicines – but avoid contact with them
- sleep alone if possible
- regularly wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
- try to stay away from older people and those with long-term health conditions
- drink plenty of water and take everyday painkillers, such as paracetamol, to help with your symptoms.
- do not have visitors (ask people to leave deliveries outside)
- do not leave the house, for example to go for a walk, to school or public places.
How do I protect myself
The best thing is regular and thorough hand washing, preferably with soap and water.
Coronavirus spreads when an infected person coughs small droplets – packed with the virus – into the air. These can be breathed in, or cause an infection if you touch a surface they have landed on then your eyes, nose or mouth.
So, coughing and sneezing into tissues, not touching your face with unwashed hands, and avoiding close contact with infected people are important for limiting the spread.
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
They will ask you a few questions and tell you what to do next. The 111 online assessment is being updated with new information from the Chief Medical Officer. Use the 111 coronavirus service
How to avoid catching or spreading Coronavirus:
- 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
- try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
- do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
Advice for people with health conditions:
If you have a long-term health condition you may be feeling anxious. So here’s what experts are advising. Having a health condition does not make you more likely than anyone else to contract coronavirus, which is a respiratory disease. People at higher risk include those who are over 70, regardless of whether they have a medical condition or not, and people under 70 with any of the following underlying health conditions:
- chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
- chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy
- problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed
- a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
- being seriously overweight (a BMI of 40 or above)
- those who are pregnant
What is shielding
Shielding is a measure to protect extremely vulnerable people by minimising interaction between those who are extremely vulnerable and others. This means that those who are extremely vulnerable should not leave their homes, and within their homes should minimise all non-essential contact with other members of their household. This is to protect those who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) from coming into contact with the virus.
If you think you have a condition which makes you extremely vulnerable or have received a letter from NHS England you are strongly advised to shield yourself, to reduce the chance of getting coronavirus (COVID-19) and follow the face-to-face distancing measures below.
The measures are:
- Strictly avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough.
- Do not leave your house.
- Do not attend any gatherings. This includes gatherings of friends and families in private spaces for example family homes, weddings and religious services.
- Do not go out for shopping, leisure or travel and, when arranging food or medication deliveries, these should be left at the door to minimise contact.
- Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media.
- Do use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services.
Current Coronavirus-related online scams you should be aware of:
If you see an email, ad, post, text or phone call advertising anything to do with Coronavirus from face masks to vaccines, travel compensation to Euro2020 refunds, it could be a scam. Fraudsters are massively exploiting the situation. Here is a list of some of the Coronavirus related online scams. Check it out so you can be aware: https://www.getsafeonline.org/blog/current-coronavirus-related-online-scams-you-should-be-aware-of/
COVID 19 Advice for consumers
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) have launched an investigation into businesses failing to respect cancellation rights during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Currently 4 out of 5 complaints being received into the CMA Taskforce relate to cancellations and refunds.
So far these include concerns about businesses refusing refunds or firms pressuring people to accept vouchers for holiday accommodation, which can only be used during a more expensive period.
Most businesses are acting reasonably in what are unprecedented circumstances, and the current crisis is placing everyone under pressure, but consumer rights cannot be ignored.
You should expect a full refund to be issued where:a business has cancelled a contract without providing any of the promised goods or servicesno service is provided by a business, for example because this is prevented by the restrictions that apply during the current lockdowna consumer cancels or is prevented from receiving the service, for example due to the restrictions that apply during the current lockdown.Businesses should not be profiting by ‘double recovering’ their money from the Government and customers.
The CMA has identified 3 sectors of particular concern: weddings and private events holiday accommodation, nurseries and childcare providers
If you have been affected by unfair cancellation terms in wake of Covid-19, you can report them to the CMA using the online form ( https://email.hertfordshire.gov.uk/5ESZ-74KQ-1M8K82-4LRVJ-0/c.aspx ).
Coronavirus and waste collections
Any individuals asked to self-isolate, either as a precaution or because they are confirmed to have coronavirus, should follow this advice:
Double bag all waste that contains tissues, face cloths etc and store this securely. Store it for at least 72 hours and put in with the normal waste.
You should NOT put your waste in communal waste areas until the waste has been stored for at least 72 hours. http://ow.ly/zsqI50yPLKu
Will I get a refund on my ticket if events are cancelled?
Generally, if you bought your ticket for a cancelled event from an official seller, you should be entitled to a refund, often automatically. However, additional costs, such as postage and booking fees, are unlikely to be reimbursed. For anyone who purchased a ticket through a ticket-reselling website, refunds will depend on the site’s terms and conditions. Some sites, like Viagogo, have already said customers will get a full refund in the event of a cancellation. If an event is moved and you cannot make the rearranged date, you should be entitled to your money back. For example, European football’s governing body, Uefa, says it will refund all Euro 2020 ticket holders who can’t make any rearranged dates in 2021.
What if I’m having problems getting my refund?
If you have heard nothing about a refund after a couple of weeks, you can follow it up. Where possible, do everything in writing so you have a record. If you’re not getting anywhere you can approach your credit card company. Using a credit card to buy something costing between £100 and £30,000 means you are legally entitled to a refund if you do not get what you were promised. Even if the ticket is worth less than £100, or a debit card was used instead, there is still the chance of getting a refund under the chargeback scheme. This is used to reverse the transaction.
Five positive ways to work well from home and keeping your spirits up?
1. Get dressed:
- For some people, the prospect of staying in their pyjamas all day is the most tantalising aspect of working from home. But washing and getting dressed will not only improve your state of mind, it will psychologically prepare you to start work.
2. Establish boundaries:
- If you’re employed by a company, you’ll probably have set hours of work, and it’s important to stick to these when you’re working from home. Be ready to start your day at the same time as you would normally arrive in your office or workplace, and finish your day at the same time.
3. Get out and about (if you’re not self-isolating):
- Working from home shouldn’t mean you stay cooped up indoors all day. While you might not miss your daily commute, it does guarantee that you leave the house at least once during the day. So get your shoes on, get outside and enjoy that fresh air. A different perspective will also help undo mental blocks and give you a fresh pair of eyes for any tasks you’re struggling with.
4. Pick up the phone:
- If you’re working from home, the chances are you’ll be alone, so you won’t get distracted by colleagues’ conversations and other office noise. Make some time to pick up the phone and have a real conversation, rather than relying on email and instant messaging.
5. Take regular breaks :
- It’s good to have a routine when you’re working from home, but work shouldn’t become monotonous. You shouldn’t stay glued to your screen all day. It’s important to take regular screen breaks and get up from your desk and move around just as you would in an office.
Cancelled/postponed local events and shut businesses
- All shops – selling non-essential goods are now closed.
- Meriden Residents Association coffee mornings – All cancelled until further notice.
- New hope charity shops – Closed until further notice
- Watford Winter Shelter – Closed
- Great British Spring Clean – All litter picks are postponed until later in the year.
- Meriden Community Choir – This is cancelled until further notice.
- Watford Libraries – All events and activities cancelled until further notice.
- Meriden Community Centre – Closed with all events and activities cancelled until further notice
- Watford Museum – Closed. All events and activities are postponed or cancelled.
- Watford Colosseum/Vue Cinema – All events and shows in their venue are suspended.
- Watford Leisure Centre – Central/Woodside – Closed
- The Cha Cafe in Cassiobury Park – Closed
- Nordic Walking Watford Club – Suspended all their usual activity walks.
- Hertfordshire Health Walks are temporarily suspended.
- New Hope’s 30th Birthday Celebration – This will be postponed until the summer.
- Watford and Bushey Arts and Craft Festival – This is cancelled until further notice.
- Astrophotography Workshop – Postponed
- Cassiobury Park – All events at Cassiobury Park have been cancelled until further notice.
- Watford Citizens Advice Centre – Face to face appointments suspended
- Watford’s play areas and playgrounds – All closed
- All household waste recycling centres are now closed until further notice.
- Watford Town Hall – Closed until further notice
- Watford National Animal Welfare Trust
- Intu Watford shopping Centre – Partially closed, all non-essential shops are closed.