Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Monday 23 Mar 2020

1

Johnson asks most vulnerable to isolate for 12 weeks

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that 1.5 million people in England deemed most at risk from the coronavirus will receive letters or text messages this week asking them not to leave their homes for the next 12 weeks and to avoid face-to-face contact. Most of the people on the list are elderly, with serious health issues. 

2

UK citizens ‘must respect social distancing’

Boris Johnson has warned that Britain may face a total lockdown unless members of the public follow rules for social distancing, after a weekend that saw many ignoring pleas to stay two metres apart. The prime minister said at his daily coronavirus briefing yesterday that he would “think about this very actively in the next 24 hours”, as a number of local authorities closed parks after they filled with people. 

3

Hancock admits problems with NHS staff equipment

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has admitted there have been “challenges” to the supply of personal protective equipment for NHS staff during the coronavirus crisis - but insisted they can be overcome. The Army will now help distribute items to workers and a million face masks had been bought over the weekend, Hancock said.

4

McDonald’s and Nando’s to close all branches

Fast-food chains McDonald’s and Nando’s are to close all of their respective 1,270 and 400 outlets in the UK during the coronavirus outbreak, with bosses citing fears for the safety of staff and customers. McDonald’s, which shuts today, said it would give directly employed staff full pay until 5 April, when the government’s financial aid package kicks in.

5

Tokyo Olympics in doubt as Canada pulls out

Canada has announced that it will not be sending athletes to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games, putting the international sporting contest further into doubt. For the first time, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday admitted that the Games, scheduled to begin on 24 July, may have to be postponed.

6

Hungary’s Orban seeks indefinite power with virus bill

Hungary’s parliament is debating this week whether to allow right-wing leader Viktor Orban to rule by decree, with no clear end date, in response to the coronavirus crisis. Orban’s critics say the new laws are vulnerable to abuse and should include a scheduled end point.

7

Harvey Weinstein ‘tests positive for coronavirus’

Jailed former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has tested positive for coronavirus, according to US prison officials. The 68-year-old has been placed in isolation at Wende correctional facility in New York state, less than two weeks after being sentenced to 23 years for sexual offences including rape. A second inmate at the jail is also said to have the virus. 

8

Seven-year-old girl stabbed to death in park

A girl aged seven was stabbed to death in a park in Bolton yesterday in an unprovoked attack by a stranger. A 30-year-old woman was held at the scene by a passer-by and is now in custody. Greater Manchester Police described the attack as “a family’s worst nightmare” and said they believe the suspect may have a history of mental illness.

9

Butterflies enjoy best season in more than two decades

Last summer was the best for butterflies in the UK for 22 years, thanks to record temperatures accompanied by rain, according to data collected in the annual UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. Newly released figures show that more than half of the butterfly species known in the UK increased their numbers, after fears of a crash in the specie’s population after the 2018 drought.

10

Briefing: who is the new Isis leader Amir al-Mawli?

The US government has placed the new leader of Islamic State (Isis) on its official blacklist of terrorists and offered a $5m reward for information leading to his capture.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed the new leader “was previously active in al-Qa’eda in Iraq and is known for torturing innocent Yazidi religious minorities”. But what else do we know?

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