Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 15 March 2021

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

1

PM ‘concerned’ by vigil footage

Boris Johnson has said he is “deeply concerned” by events surrounding the vigil to remember Sarah Everard as outrage grows about the way in which officers manhandled women. Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan police commissioner, has defied pressure to resign and dismissed “armchair” critics. An independent inquiry by the policing inspectorate is due to report in a fortnight.

2

Autumn Covid surge ‘inevitable’

The head of the Office for National Statistics says a third wave of Covid-19 infections later in the year cannot be avoided. Sir Ian Diamond agreed with Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, that new outbreaks were “inevitable” and said: “I have no doubt that in the autumn there will be a further wave of infections.”

3

Pandemic wipes out stores

More than 17,500 chain store outlets disappeared from high streets, shopping centres and retail parks last year, according to the accountancy firm PwC. It found that an average of 48 shops, restaurants and other leisure and hospitality venues closed permanently every day across England, Wales and Scotland due to the Covid crisis.  The “stark figures come before the true impact of the pandemic on Great Britain’s high streets becomes apparent”, says The Guardian.

4

Johnson ‘accepts lockdown error’

Boris Johnson accepts he was mistaken to delay the start of the first national lockdown, close allies have said. The sources say the prime minister would act “harder, earlier and faster” if he had his time again. Johnson waited until March 23 to issue his “stay at home” order, a decision which scientists have claimed doubled the death toll in the first wave. The UK has suffered one of the highest death tolls in Europe.

5

Four-day week for Spain

Spain is set to become one of the first countries in the world to trial a four-day working week. The government in Madrid has agreed to launch a pilot project for firms interested in the idea. “With the four-day work week (32 hours), we’re launching into the real debate of our times,” said Inigo Errejon of Mas Pais, a supporter of the scheme. “It’s an idea whose time has come.”

6

Protests against Australian abuse

Tens of thousands of people have marched in Australia, protesting against the sexual abuse and harassment of women. There has been a wave of allegations of sexual assault, centred around the nation’s parliament. Attorney General Christian Porter has revealed he was the subject of a 1988 rape allegation - which he denies. In another case, an ex-political adviser has claimed that she was raped in a minister’s office in 2019.

7

Dutch pause AstraZeneca jab

The Netherlands has suspended use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine over concerns about possible side effects. The Dutch government’s precautionary move follows a similar decision by Ireland, following reports of blood clots in adults in Norway. The World Health Organization says there is no link between the jab and an increased risk of developing a clot.

8

Meghan demands bullying proof

The Duchess of Sussex has written to Buckingham Palace requesting evidence of the bullying allegations against her. Meghan has reportedly asked for “documents, emails or text messages” relating to the allegations. After a series of claims of bullying were made, a royal source told The Sunday Times that “the actual worst incidences haven’t come out”. A spokesman for the Sussexes declined to comment.

9

Trump ‘should encourage jab uptake’

The leading infectious disease expert in the US says it would be a “game-changer” if Donald Trump encouraged Republicans to get the Covid vaccine. “It will make all the difference in the world,” Dr Anthony Fauci told Fox News Sunday. “He’s a very widely popular person among Republicans.” Recent data showed that as many as 49% of Republican male supporters did not want to get the jab.

10

Record wins for Swift and Beyonce

Taylor Swift made history at the Grammys by becoming the first female artist ever to win album of the year three times. Beyonce also set a new record at the ceremony, with her 28th win. The singer is now the most-awarded woman in Grammys history, overtaking bluegrass singer Alison Krauss. “I am so honoured, I'm so excited,” she said.

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