Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 27 December 2021

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

1

Weddings ‘to be exempt from new rules’

Weddings and funerals are to be exempted from any new restrictions if the government decides that tougher measures are needed to tackle the Omicron strain, reported The Times. Ministers are said to be “increasingly optimistic but very cautiously optimistic” over the data and sources suggested that, rather than introducing legal restrictions ahead of the New Year’s Eve, the government may merely “beef up” existing guidelines for the public.

2

Video linked to Windsor arrest

Police are examining a video linked to a man who was arrested at Windsor Castle while in possession of a crossbow. The Sun reported that the Snapchat video appears to show a masked figure in a dark hoodie holding a crossbow and saying they wanted to “assassinate the Queen” in a “revenge” mission over the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre. The massacre took place in India in 1919, when British colonial troops shot and killed 379 protesters and wounded about 1,200.

3

Boss warns of ‘enormous energy crisis’

An energy chief has told the BBC that ministers are showing “nowhere near enough urgency” in finding a solution to steep increases in gas and electricity prices. Stephen Fitzpatrick, boss of Ovo, predicted the rise in wholesale gas prices and its impact on people will be “an enormous crisis” for 2022. “The cost to the consumer has already been more than £4bn. We haven't seen any action from the government or from the regulator,” he added.

4

Queen pays tribute to Tutu

Tributes have been paid to Desmond Tutu, who died yesterday at the age of 90. South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, said that “from the pavements of resistance in South Africa to the pulpits of the world’s great cathedrals and places of worship, and the prestigious setting of the Nobel peace prize ceremony,” the Archbishop “distinguished himself as a non-sectarian, inclusive champion of universal human rights”. The Queen said Tutu “tirelessly championed human rights in South Africa and across the world”.

5

Boxing Day shoppers stay at home

The number of shoppers at Boxing Day sales dropped by 45% compared with 2019 as consumers preferred to shop online. London, which usually sees bargain hunters travel from around the South East and abroad, saw a drop of two-thirds compared to 2019, while footfall in high streets on average fell by a third. A Barclaycard survey found that 40% of people were planning to avoid crowded areas and queues because of Covid-19.

6

Police apologise to Atkinson relatives

Police have apologised to the family of the former footballer Dalian Atkinson, six months after an officer who Tasered him and kicked him in the head was jailed for manslaughter. In a written apology, West Mercia’s Chief Constable Pippa Mills said she was “deeply sorry,” adding that “a police uniform does not grant officers immunity to behave unlawfully or to abuse their powers”. PC Benjamin Monk was jailed in June for eight years.

7

Prostate screening one step closer

Screening for prostate cancer could be possible in the next five years, according to Prof Ros Eeles of the Institute of Cancer Research. About 50,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with the disease each year, and nearly 12,000 die. However, despite it being one of the most common cancers, there is no equivalent of the regular mammograms that detect breast cancer. Prof Eeles said advances in genetics and medical imaging were making the prospect of prostate screening more likely.

8

Schools ‘will send home entire years’

Schools plan to send whole year groups home amid growing concern that the Omicron variant will lead to staff shortages spiralling out of control. The Telegraph reported that heads have warned Boris Johnson that they may be forced to prioritise key age groups for time in the classroom, while others are forced to learn remotely. It is thought that the biggest obstacle to keeping children in face-to-face education will be high numbers of teachers forced into self-isolation after testing positive for Covid.

9

Poll finds distrust of NHS ability

One in four Britons does not believe that the NHS can care for them properly, a new study has found. While only 15% thought the NHS was not coping well with treating Covid patients, 41% believed that it was not coping well with providing other services. Asked by Ipsos Mori who they blamed, 48% said the government, 18% blamed patients and 8% identified the general public as the culprits.

10

Spider-Man in ‘mind-boggling’ takings

Spider-Man: No Way Home has already taken $1bn at the global box office in a “mind-boggling” opening 12 days for the latest movie in the Marvel franchise, said an expert. Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore , told CNN Business that “these numbers would be very impressive in the pre-pandemic era,” but the film’s “sprint to a billion dollars in this marketplace is really hard to wrap your mind around”. It is the first film to reach $1bn since Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which was released in December 2019.

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