Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 27 March 2021

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

1

Shops to stay open until 10pm

High street stores will be allowed to stay open until 10pm as Rishi Sunak urges the public to “go have fun” when lockdown restrictions are eased. The chancellor told people to “get out there” and spend their money when shops, pubs and restaurants reopened on April 12. He said that people could “do their bit” by splashing savings that they had built up during the lockdown on businesses in their local high streets.

2

Call centre staff watched at home

Call centre workers face being monitored by cameras to check whether they are eating, looking at their smartphones or leaving their desks while working from home. Teleperformance has told some staff that specialist webcams will be fitted to check for home-working “infractions”. The Guardian says this is “a sign of potential battles ahead over the surveillance of remote staff after the pandemic”.

3

Charles hires NHS spin doctor

Prince Charles has recruited an NHS spin doctor to lead his communications department. The Daily Telegraph says Simon Enright has been asked to help rehabilitate the heir to the throne’s image following damaging claims in the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Oprah Winfrey interview. Enright, 51, has been handling  the health service’s communications during the Covid pandemic.

4

Arrests at fresh Bristol protest

Ten arrests were made amid clashes between protesters and police in Bristol last night. More than a thousand demonstrators gathered for a third “kill the bill” demonstration within a week. Tensions rose as police wearing helmets and holding shields moved to disperse crowds after 10pm. Footage from the scene showed protesters, some sitting, others with their arms in the air, chanting “we are peaceful what are you”.

5

Booster jabs from September

People aged over 70 could receive booster jabs from September to protect them from new Covid variants. The vaccines minister told the Daily Telegraph the first booster doses will go to the over-70s, health and social care staff and the clinically vulnerable. Scientists have been developing booster jabs to combat new Covid variants. More than 29m people in the UK have now had a first dose of a vaccine.

6

Biden slams Georgia votes law

Joe Biden has compared a new voting law in the state of Georgia to racist policies of the 20th Century American South. The US President says the law adds restrictions to voting that disproportionately target black Americans. He called it “Jim Crow in the 21st century” and “a blatant attack on the Constitution”. Jim Crow refers to the 19th

7

Tories warn of Labour ‘bounce’

The Conservative Party will launch its campaign for May’s local elections in England with a warning that Labour could see a “post-Corbyn bounce” under Sir Keir Starmer and that the Lib Dems are looking to bounce “back from obscurity”. The elections will see plastic screens in place at polling stations, with voters having to bring their own pencils to prevent infections.

8

Nasa drops asteroid warnings

Nasa has says an asteroid called Apophis will not hit Earth any time in the next century. The 340-metre (1,100ft) chunk of space rock has worried space scientists since 2004, when its discovery led to worrying forecasts about its orbit. A Nasa expert says the asteroid became a “poster child for hazardous asteroids” and was predicted to come frighteningly close in 2029 and again in 2036.

9

Salmond launches new party

The former leader of the SNP, Alex Salmond, has announced the creation of a new pro-independence party. The former first minister said he would be among the candidates who will stand for the Alba Party on regional lists at the elections in May. Salmond says he wants “a supermajority for independence” at Holyrood but other parties described him as “discredited”. The Guardian says the elections to the Scottish parliament will be consumed by a personal rivalry.

10

UK fertility rate drops

Britain’s fertility rate fell to the lowest level on record in the pandemic, according a new study. Southampton University’s Centre for Population Change says that up to 66,000 fewer children could be born across the UK by 2023. The researchers believe the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic could worsen the existing pattern of falling fertility.

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