Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 4 Jan 2021

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

1

PM warns of tougher rules

Boris Johnson has told Britain to prepare for stricter new Covid curbs as he pledged to “do what it takes” to get Covid-19 case numbers under control. The Times says the new measures would “in effect be a third national lockdown”. Government data showed a further 54,990 Covid infections - the sixth day in a row that the number exceeded 50,000.

2

Trump told state to ‘find votes’

Donald Trump has been recorded asking Georgia’s election chief to help him “find enough votes” to overturn the result in the state. “I just want to find 11,780 votes,” the US president told Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in a recording released by the Washington Post. Raffensperger replies that Georgia’s results were correct. CNN says the “deranged call” reveals a “desperate man”.

3

Patients queue outside hospitals

The number of patients waiting outside hospitals in ambulances is soaring and emergency calls are going unanswered as Covid infections surge. Rising hospital admissions mean the number of patients waiting more than an hour to be handed to hospitals in England more than doubled in two weeks. Experts warn that ambulances could be waiting three or more hours for a space to become available inside emergency departments.

4

Oxford vaccine launches today

The rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus jab begins today with more than half a million doses of the vaccine ready for use. The health secretary described it as a “pivotal moment” in the UK’s fight against the virus. Boris Johnson admitted he could not yet say how fast the vaccination programme would be scaled up to the two million jabs a week he hoped for.

5

Arrests follow Reading stabbing

Four boys and a girl have been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder after a 13-year-old boy was stabbed to death in Reading yesterday afternoon. The boy was pronounced dead at the scene in Bugs Bottom fields, Emmer Green. A detective said the area was popular with dog walkers and he believed there would be witnesses. The five teenagers, all aged 13 or 14, remain in police custody.

6

New £5 coin for Queen’s birthday

The Royal Mint has announced that the Queen’s 95th birthday will be commemorated on one of five new coins released this year. The £5 coin features the words “my heart and my devotion” in reference to words during her 1957 Christmas broadcast - the first to be televised. The collection will also mark the 75th anniversary of the death of author HG Wells.

7

Struggling youth groups close

A wholesale closure of youth organisations will deprive a generation of vulnerable young people in England of vital support, according to the charity UK Youth. Its research found that almost two-thirds of youth organisations with incomes under £250,000 say they are at risk of closure, with 31% saying they might have to shut within months. Underfunding has already forced at least 763 youth centres to shut since 2012.

8

PM rejects new Scottish poll

Boris Johnson has rejected demands for another vote on Scottish independence and argued that a 40-year gap should be left between constitutional referendums. Pressure is building because polls show a sustained preference for independence and growing support for the Scottish National Party. But the PM said: “Referendums in my experience - direct experience - in this country are not particularly jolly events.” 

9

Fines for dominoes players

Twelve people have been fined for breaking Covid-19 restrictions after playing dominoes in a restaurant. Police officers found the group hiding in a dark room in east London. A video released shows the restaurant owner saying: “They're playing dominoes.” An officer said: “The fact that these people hid from officers clearly shows they knew they were breaching the rules and have now been fined for their actions.”

10

Gerry Marsden dies

Tributes have been paid to Gerry and the Pacemakers singer Gerry Marsden, who has died at the age of 78. He was famous for the songs You’ll Never Walk Alone and Ferry Cross The Mersey. Sir Paul McCartney said: “I'll always remember you with a smile.” Liverpool mayor Steve Rotherham said Marsden “transcended decades and generations”.

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