Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Wednesday 9 Sep 2020
Social gatherings of more than six banned as cases soar
The steep rise in coronavirus cases means people in England will no longer be allowed to gather in groups of more than six people. Downing Street said the new law, which comes into force on Monday, will stop larger groups meeting indoors or outdoors but will not apply to schools, workplaces or Covid-secure weddings and funerals. “We need to act now to stop the virus spreading,” said Boris Johnson.
Government under pressure over Brexit agreement change
Senior Conservative MPs and a number of legal experts have urged the government to scrap plans for a change to the Brexit agreement’s rules on Northern Ireland after a minister admitted it would break international law. The Guardian says the episode raises questions over the future of justice secretary, Robert Buckland, and attorney general, Suella Braverman, both of whom have taken oaths to uphold the rule of law.
Amazon paid just 3% more tax despite surge in profits
Amazon’s key UK business paid just 3% more tax last year despite a 35% surge in profits. The group’s warehouse and logistics operation, Amazon UK Services, said its corporation tax contribution was £14.5m in 2019, up from £14.0m the year before. However, pre-tax profits had soared by 35% to nearly £102m as revenues rose by 29% to nearly £3bn. “We pay all taxes required in the UK,” the company said.
Churchill discussed nuclear attack on Russian cities
A memo has revealed that Winston Churchill discussed dropping nuclear bombs on Russia in 1951. The strategy of threatening 20 to 30 cities is outlined in a document from Julius Ochs Adler, the general manager of The New York Times, describing a conversation at Churchill’s home in Kent. During lunch, the 76-year-old, at that time leader of the opposition, complained that UK-US joint policy on Russia was “weak, rather than aggressive”.
Oxford vaccine trials paused as participant falls ill
The final phase of clinical trials for the coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca has been paused after a participant suffered what may have been an adverse reaction in the UK. AstraZeneca described it as a “routine” step in the case of “an unexplained illness”. The BBC says there had been high hopes that the vaccine might be one of the first to come on the market, following successful phase one and two testing.
Queen will resume engagements at Buckingham Palace
The Queen is set to restart royal engagements at Buckingham Palace after spending the coronavirus lockdown in Windsor and then a summer break at Balmoral. The 94-year-old monarch intends to “resume the use of Buckingham Palace for selected audiences and engagements”, a statement said.
Police approve cannabis decriminalisation for millions
A new “cannabis card” that will provide de-facto decriminalisation of the drug for millions of people with health conditions has received the backing of the Police Federation of England and Wales and the National Police Chiefs Council. Up to three and a half million people with cancer, multiple sclerosis, depression, arthritis and several other illnesses could be eligible to use the card.
Man with breathing problems ‘ambushed’ for not wearing mask
A man with serious breathing difficulties says he was forced into wearing a face covering on a plane. Although the man was carrying an exemption card, it was rejected by the crew on his journey from Jersey to Gatwick. The man says he says he felt “ambushed”. EasyJet has apologised after one of its pilots was filmed threatening to remove the passenger from the flight.
Fire destroys crowded refugee camp on Greek island
Thousands of people have fled a refugee camp after fires gutted much of the site on the Greek island of Lesbos. There were no reports of injuries at the Moria camp, which hosts about 12,000 people – more than four times its stated capacity. The site has been frequently criticised by aid groups for poor living conditions. The cause of the blaze is not yet known.
‘Heavy hearts’ as Keeping Up With The Kardashians ends
The reality TV show Keeping Up With The Kardashians is to come to an end after 20 seasons. Kim Kardashian wrote on Twitter: “It is with heavy hearts that we’ve made the difficult decision as a family to say goodbye.” Having first aired in 2007, the programme zoomed in on the lives of sisters Kim, Kourtney and Khloe, as well as Kris, Kendall and Kylie Jenner.