Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 26 Dec 2020

The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am

1

New restrictions as deaths pass 70,000

Millions of people have entered harsher coronavirus restrictions as new tier changes come into force today. Another six million in England have been placed in Tier 4, while Scotland and Northern Ireland have also imposed harsher measures. The government said a further 570 died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus, taking the UK’s total deaths within 28 days of a positive test to 70,195.

2

UK expects ‘special relationship’ with EU

Britain and the EU will be able to enjoy a “special relationship” as a result of the post-Brexit trade deal, says Michael Gove. Writing in The Times after Boris Johnson reached agreement with the bloc, the Cabinet Secretary said: “We can now embark on a new, more hopeful, chapter in our history.” MPs will vote on the deal in Parliament on 30 December.

3

Storm Bella to bring new misery

More than 1,300 people have been encouraged to leave their homes as flood levels rise in Bedfordshire. Fire crews used boats to rescue people throughout Christmas Day as police warned of a “really serious situation”. Meanwhile, Storm Bella is expected to bring heavy rain and severe winds of up to 70mph to some parts of the UK on Boxing Day.

4

Drug could block Covid infections

Scientists in the UK are trialling a new drug that could prevent someone who has been exposed to coronavirus from going on to develop Covid-19. The Guardian says the antibody therapy would award instant immunity against the disease and could go on to save many lives. Experts say it could be used on hospital inpatients, care home residents and university students.

5

‘Bomb’ explodes in Nashville

Downtown Nashville has been sealed off after a large explosion destroyed several buildings on Christmas morning in what mayor John Cooper said appears to be a “deliberate bomb being set off in our community”. A parked camper van exploded early on Christmas morning, injuring three people and knocking out communications systems across the state. Local police said it was an “intentional act”.

6

Britain is ‘fifth largest economy’

Britain has come fifth in the rankings of the world’s biggest economies, says the Centre for Economic and Business Research. The leading British economics consultancy says the UK has leapfrogged India and will speed away from France in the decade after Brexit. It predicts that China will overtake America as the world’s biggest economy in 2028, five years earlier than expected.

7

France records first variant case

France says it has confirmed its first case of the more contagious Covid-19 variant recently identified in the UK. The French health ministry said the person was a French citizen in the central town of Tours who had arrived from London on 19 December. On Friday, Japan confirmed five infections in passengers who had all arrived from the UK. Cases have also been reported in Denmark, Australia and the Netherlands.

8

Queen says people want ‘simple hug’

The Queen said she feels the country’s pain at being separated from family because of coronavirus this Christmas, as many just want “a simple hug or a squeeze of the hand”. In her Christmas Day broadcast, Her Majesty heaped praise on individuals and communities across the UK and the Commonwealth who have “risen magnificently to the challenges of the year”. She said “even on the darkest nights there is hope in the new dawn”.

9

Customer service hard for OAPs

Shoppers have to “jump through hoops” because only a third of major retailers only allow them to get in touch with them via both phone and email. A study by the Daily Telegraph found that some retailers only provide web chat functions and many rely mainly on social media for managing complaints, making it difficult for older customers to be in touch.

10

Bizarre British Library incidents

Incident reports reveal that the British Library has seen librarians punched in the throat and visitors arguing over pornography and smelly feet. In one incident, more than a dozen police officers had to be called over a row over a water bottle. A spokesperson for the British Library said that the overwhelming majority of readers followed their rules.

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