Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 26 Jan 2021

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

1

Schools may reopen in weeks

Government advisers have said primary schools in England may be able to safely reopen after half-term if Covid infections continue to fall. Public Health England said that there was now a “strong case” for a return to class as pupils in primary school age groups are believed to be “resistant” to wider coronavirus trends and play only a small role in spreading infection. Outbreaks were recorded in just 3% of primary schools during the autumn term, with most cases occurring among teachers rather than pupils.

2

Second impeachment underway

The US House of Representatives last night delivered its article of impeachment against Donald Trump to the Senate. “Donald John Trump engaged in high crimes and misdemeanours by inciting violence against the government of the United States”, said Democratic representative Jamie Raskin, the lead impeachment manager. Despite influential Republican Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell privately backing the proceedings, pundits have said the chances that GOP senators will convict the former president are slim.

3

Italian PM to resign

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said he will resign in a tactical move aimed at maximising his chances of leading a new government. Conte hopes to be given a mandate by the president to form a stronger government after losing his majority in the Senate following Matteo Renzi’s decision to withdraw two of his ministers from the governing coalition. Conte has faced criticism of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 85,000 Italians dying with Covid-19 so far.

4

UK says no to child refugees

The government has been accused of turning its back on vulnerable children after a minister said that unaccompanied child refugees will no longer be given sanctuary in the UK. Conservative MP Chris Philp, the immigration minister, said that although the Home Office took the “responsibility for the welfare of children very seriously”, he will no longer allow a legal route to Britain for minors. Lord Alf Dubs, who was saved from the Nazis on the Kindertransport and now campaigns on refugee issues, said: “I am surprised at the bluntness with which they’ve said it. It’s all part of a chain of events that’s making things harder for refugees.”

5

Third night of riots in Netherlands

Riot police in the Netherlands have clashed with protesters for a third night in a row. Unrest broke out over the weekend amid protests against newly imposed coronavirus restrictions. Last night, riot police clashed with protesters in Amsterdam as well as Rotterdam, Amersfoort and Geleen. More than 150 people were arrested, with Prime Minister Mark Rutte condemning what he called “criminal violence”. The Dutch government has introduced its toughest measures since the start of the pandemic, including a night-time curfew running from 9pm to 4:30am. It is the first curfew the Netherlands since WWII.

6

UK to announce quarantine hotels

The government is expected to announce today that some travellers coming to England will have to quarantine in hotels on arrival. The new measures are likely to apply to UK citizens and those with permanent residency rights arriving from high-risk countries, including South Africa. Whitehall sources told BBC Newsnight that those quarantining in hotels would have to pay for the costs of their own accommodation. The measure will be an “effective closure of our borders”, the airline industry said.

7

EU tightens jab rules amid delay

The EU has said that it will tighten rules on exports of Covid-19 vaccines, amid tensions with AstraZeneca over a cut in planned supplies to the bloc. Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said the EU “will take any action required to protect its citizens” after a delay in further deliveries was announced by the drugmaker. The Telegraph says the enhanced rules around EU exports could put Britain’s Covid vaccine supply “in jeopardy”.

8

Judge agrees Weinstein payout

A US judge has agreed a $17m (£12.4m) payout to women who accused disgraced film director Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct. The payout for his victims will come from the liquidation of the Weinstein Co., which filed for bankruptcy in 2018. Weinsten, 68, was convicted last year and jailed for 23 years for rape and sexual assault. The settlement was put to a vote of Weinstein’s accusers, with 39 voting in favour of the payout and eight opposing.

9

Yellen appointed treasury secretary

Janet Yellen has been confirmed as the first ever female US treasury secretary. Yellen, who headed the US Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018, will be responsible for guiding Joe Biden’s economic response to the Covid-19 pandemic. She has urged Congress to approve trillions more in pandemic relief funding and economic stimulus, saying that lawmakers should “act big” without worrying about national debt at a time of crisis.

10

Apple warning on pacemakers

Apple is warning customers that its smartphones could interfere with medical devices, including pacemakers. In a new notice published on the tech giant’s support page, the company warned users that iPhones contain magnets and radios that emit electromagnetic fields, both of which “may interfere” with medical devices. Health experts have long warned against holding mobile phones too close to implanted medical devices, however, this is the first time that the tech giant has acknowledged any danger.

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