- Here are the headlines on Tuesday, February 16
PM ‘hopeful’ restrictions can be cautiously eased
Boris Johnson has said he is ‘hopeful’ coronavirus restrictions can be cautiously eased in the coming weeks, with vaccines providing ‘grounds for confidence’.
The Prime Minister said he wanted the current national lockdown to be the last – and for the unlocking to be ‘irreversible’ – ahead of the publication of his road map next week.
Johnson will analyse data this week on coronavirus case numbers, hospital admissions, deaths and the impact of the vaccine rollout. Preliminary data comparing elderly people who have received the vaccine with those who have not is starting to show it is cutting hospital admissions and deaths, according to The Times.
Border staff given just a few hours notice of quarantine guidelines
Guidelines on the execution of England’s new ‘red list’ quarantine rules were reportedly only given to Border Force staff a few hours before they came into force.
As of yesterday, travellers arriving in England must quarantine in a hotel if they have been in one of the Government’s 33 ‘red list’ countries – which covers Portugal, the United Arab Emirates, South America and southern Africa – in the past 10 days.
Border Force sources said immigration control staff received a lengthy email with five attachments, detailing official guidance for executing the new border checks, at only 9.25pm on Sunday. Under the rules, staff must check each traveller’s completed passenger locator form and hotel quarantine booking.
Hotel quarantine guests complain about ‘crazy’ cost
Some of the first guests to check into quarantine hotels have expressed their frustration at tougher border rules.
UK and Irish nationals and UK residents returning to England from a country deemed at high risk for Covid-19 must now self-isolate in hotels. The rule applies to people returning to Scotland from any destination.
One traveller quarantining at the Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel near Heathrow Airport said he was ‘feeling sad’ at the prospect of isolating for 11 nights. Roger Goncalves, 23, who lives in London, described the £1,750 cost of staying in the hotels as ‘crazy’.
Chancellor should phase out furlough gradually
Lower-income households are facing a higher risk of unemployment this year, as ‘deferred’ company failures line up as the furlough scheme ends, experts warn..
Ahead of next month’s budget, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and Citi Research said that it was vital to ensure that the furlough scheme and other government support is unwound gently, rather than coming to an abrupt halt.
However, they also said that the economy will not be able to adjust properly as long as the furlough scheme is still in place.
Further lockdowns in Wales not ruled out by health minister
Lockdown measures in Wales could be reintroduced after current restrictions are lifted, health minister Vaughan Gething has said.
Gething told a press conference in Cardiff that ministers would have a responsibility to act if there was a ‘significant upswing’ in Covid-19 cases.
Coronavirus restrictions in Wales are formally reviewed every three weeks, with the cabinet due to decide on Thursday and First Minister Mark Drakeford expected to announce any changes this Friday.
Hospitality bosses call to expand VAT cuts in budget
The bosses of Burger King, Pizza Express and Fuller’s are among more than 160 hospitality chiefs who have called on the Chancellor to extend the VAT cut by another year.
Pub, restaurant and hotel bosses have urged Rishi Sunak to also reduce VAT for on-premise alcohol sales, leisure activities and weddings in next month’s spring budget.
The calls, in a letter coordinated by industry body UKHospitality, comes amid uncertainty over when hard-hit venues will be able to reopen.
Vaccine provides a shot in the arm to UK markets
Optimism over the potential for the economy to open up again, as it was revealed that 15m people had been vaccinated by the NHS, helped send shares soaring yesterday.
Glencore, Anglo American, Rio Tinto and BHP all closed more than six per cent higher on the day. They were joined by oil companies Shell and BP as well as some of the banks.
It helped push the index up by 2.5 per cent to 6,756.11, a rise of 166.32 points. The Dax, which is Germany’s main index, closed up by 0.5 per cent, while the Paris-based Cac rose 1.5 per cent.
Pub owner Mitchells & Butlers to raise £350m
All Bar One owner Mitchells & Butlers is to raise £350m from its largest investors to shore up its finances as pubs and bars remain shut across the UK.
It said it will issue about 167m new ordinary shares with a subscription price of 210p per share.
The group, which also owns Toby Carvery and Harvester, said a consortium of three of its largest investors has said it will be able to make the whole £350m available.
Hyundai showcases Ioniq 5’s interior ahead of full reveal
Hyundai has given a glimpse of its upcoming Ioniq 5’s interior ahead of the car’s full reveal on February 23.
The cabin reflects the car’s eco-focus, with seats clad in an eco-processed leather which is dyed and treated with plant oil extractions from flaxseed.
Other areas are coated in textiles made from sustainable fibres such as sugar cane, wool, poly yarns and recycled plastic bottles. Areas such as the dashboard and switches – among other areas – are coated in a polyurethane paint which is made from rape flowers and corn.
Temperatures set to soar as high as 15C
Parts of the UK could see above-average seasonal temperatures of up to 15C (59F), days after the country endured freezing conditions, snow and record lows.
The highest temperatures are expected in the South East but other parts of the UK could be much warmer than the average maximum for the UK in February, which is 6.64C (43.9F), according to the Met Office.
Mild but wetter
The full forecast from the BBC says there will be heavy showers and strong winds across western Scotland today. The rest of the UK will be drier with sunny spells for many, but heavy showers will track across Wales and into England this afternoon.
This evening will see showers in England and Wales, before turning largely dry across many areas. A band of rain will push into Northern Ireland overnight, and into western Britain later.
Rain will track across central and eastern Britain tomorrow morning, before clearing. Turning drier and brighter, but with outbreaks of rain in the south, along with showers in the west and northwest.