- Here are the headlines on Tuesday, December 15
Fears over easing of coronavirus rules at Christmas
Scientists have warned that the easing of coronavirus restrictions over Christmas will cause a spike in infections, as London and some surrounding areas prepare to enter Tier 3.
The capital and parts of the commuter belt will be placed under the toughest measures – forcing the closure of hospitality – from Wednesday following a ‘very sharp’ rise in cases and the emergence of a new strain of the virus.
The discovery sparked fresh concerns over plans to allow up to three households to mix indoors from December 23 to 27 – with fears the country will ‘pay the price’ in the new year.
Millions moved into Tier 3
The decision to move London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire into Tier 3 affects almost 10.8 million people and means 61 per cent of England’s population will be under the toughest restrictions from Wednesday.
It will have a devastating impact on the capital’s nightlife, with theatres forced to shut and pubs and restaurants closed apart from takeaway and delivery services.
Health secretary Matt Hancock acknowledged the measures would be a ‘blow’ to people and businesses.
Christmas shoppers told to avoid London
Christmas shoppers should avoid travelling into London when the capital moves into the highest coronavirus restrictions, the Health Secretary has advised.
Matt Hancock said it is recommended that people minimise unnecessary travel into and within a Tier 3 area to stop the spread of Covid-19.
Hancock said: ‘It is recommended that people should minimise travel unless it is necessary in a Tier 3 area and should minimise travel where it is necessary to a Tier 3 area.’
UK-EU trade deal talks continue amid reports of progress
Post-Brexit trade deal negotiations are continuing in Brussels amid reports that progress in the talks could see a deal agreed this week.
The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier is said to have told diplomats the UK had moved towards the bloc’s demands on the level playing field, according to the Daily Telegraph.
It said Barnier told ambassadors the UK accepted a ‘rebalancing mechanism’, meaning it could face tariffs if it moves too far away from EU rules. The Guardian reported that European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said there had been ‘movement’ and talks were ‘on the very last mile’.
Investors welcome Brexit deadline extension
No sooner had traders breathed a sigh of relief as the ‘final’ deadline for negotiations over a Brexit trade deal was extended, they were hit with London being placed into Tier 3.
The pound spent most of yesterday rising on the extended deadline until the end of the year for a trade deal to be signed – rising more than one per cent at points.
As a result of the strong pound, the FTSE 100 index closed down 14.92 points, or 0.2 per cent, at 6,531.83. In Europe, the French CAC 40 closed up 0.4 per cent and the German DAX 30 up 0.8 per cent.
Electoral College certifies Joe Biden as president-elect
The Electoral College decisively confirmed Joe Biden as the next US president yesterday, ratifying his November victory.
The presidential electors gave Biden a solid majority of 306 electoral votes to Mr Trump’s 232, the same margin that Trump bragged was a landslide when he won the White House four years ago.
The results will now be sent to Washington and tallied in a January 6 joint session of Congress over which vice president Mike Pence will preside.
Wetherspoon to slash beer prices in new Tier 3 areas
Pub giant Wetherspoon is slashing beer prices in areas of southern England going into Tier 3 restrictions.
The company said that until final orders on Tuesday, all its pubs going into Tier 3 in London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire will be serving real ales at 99p a pint.
Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: ‘We would have to throw any unsold real ale away in those pubs moving to Tier 3, so it makes sense that our customers can enjoy it.’
UK economy posted largest annual slump of G20 nations
The UK’s economy has shown the largest annual slump of all the G20 nations, despite rebounding to growth in the third quarter, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
UK gross domestic product jumped by 15.5 per cent in the three months to the end of September, economists confirmed last month.
However, the Paris-based OECD said the UK economy was 9.6 per cent smaller at the end of the third quarter in 2020 than at the same point last year. This represented the largest fall over the period among the G20 nations.
Brighter, but winds on way
Today, a southerly breeze will bring showers to southern and western parts of Britain, while only the odd shower will make its way into central and eastern parts, where there will be sunny spells, says the BBC.
There will be a few showers around this evening. It will then turn wet and windy overnight as a weather front pushes in, with some heavy rain across Northern Ireland, Wales and southwest England by morning.
Tomorrow, that front will bring a period of persistent rain to all areas, with rain heavy for a time and accompanied by blustery winds. Showers will follow on behind across the north and west.