Ten Things You Need to Know Today: Friday 18 Sep 2020
More local lockdowns expected as Covid rises in England
As many as ten million people are expected to be subject to regional lockdown rules within days after large parts of north-east England imposed curfews. Liverpool and parts of the West Midlands are expected to follow shortly. Hospitals and local authorities have been told to find extra beds for Covid-19 patients within two weeks as the NHS braces for a second spike in cases.
Trump denies sexual assault claim from former model
A former model has accused Donald Trump of sexually assaulting her at the US Open tennis tournament in 1997, in an alleged incident that left her feeling “sick” and “violated”. Amy Dorris told The Guardian that Trump accosted her outside the bathroom in his VIP box at the tournament in New York. Through his lawyers, the US president has denied the allegations.
Bank of England considers negative interest rates
Negative interest rates could be introduced for the first time in the UK in an attempt to stimulate the economy, according to the Bank of England. It told the Monetary Policy Committee it is planning “to explore how a negative bank rate could be implemented effectively, should the outlook for inflation and output warrant it at some point”. The committee unanimously voted to hold interest rates at their record low of 0.1% and kept the scale of its money printing programme unchanged at £745bn.
Warning for Europe as global Covid cases pass 30m mark
The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 has surpassed 30 million, according to figures by America's Johns Hopkins University. Although the worst hit nations are the US, India and Brazil, there is a renewed spike in infections across Europe. The World Health Organization’s European director has warned that the continent is facing a “very serious” situation and advised against “even a slight reduction in the length of the quarantine”.
Uber hands information on passengers to police
Police forces have supported Uber’s licence-renewal application because it hands them thousands of pieces of intelligence on drivers, passengers and journeys every year, according to The Times. Senior officers say they want the ride-hailing company to continue operating because of the “vital” information it generates.
Home Office’s immigration approach ‘prejudiced’
The Home Office has devised immigration policies on “anecdote, assumption and prejudice,” according to a parliamentary committee. In a critical report, the public accounts committee said Priti Patel’s department was unaware of the damage caused by policy failures on “both the illegal and legitimate migrant populations”. The chair of the committee, said: “The Home Office has frighteningly little grasp of the impact of its activities.”
Tom Watson slammed for joining betting giant
Former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson has been accused of hypocrisy after joining the world’s largest online betting company as an adviser. The former MP, who was an outspoken supporter of gambling reform, will be paid a retainer by Flutter Entertainment, which owns Paddy Power, Betfair and SkyBet, to advise it on tackling problem gambling.
Energy giants could switch off heating remotely
Smart meters could allow energy networks to switch off central heating systems without visiting a property, it has emerged. Under plans submitted by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks, distributors would be able to contact consumers directly to ask for permission to temporarily turn off appliances with high usage, such as heat pumps and electric vehicle chargers. Experts have voiced concern over the impact this could have on “vulnerable households”.
Netflix series star arrest on child porn charge
Jerry Harris, one of the students featured in Netflix's documentary series Cheer, has been arrested on a production of child pornography charge. The 21-year-old is accused of “enticing an underage boy to produce sexually explicit videos and photos of himself,” according to a criminal complaint filed in US District Court in Chicago. The complaint states that the child was 13 at the time.
Production of coins halted by Royal Mint
The Royal Mint has announced that it has no plans to make any new 2p or £2 coins for the next ten years. The BBC says a “coin mountain lies in storage” because demand has dropped. The National Audit Office says the authorities are not keeping up with the pace of change in digital payments, which leaves those who need cash at risk.