- Here are the headlines on Thursday, February 25
Ministers launch new ‘stay at home’ drive
The Government has launched a new ‘stay at home’ drive despite falling coronavirus rates, the success of the vaccine rollout and the announcement of a road map out of lockdown.
Ministers said it was essential that people continued mask-wearing, social distancing and hand washing as restrictions in England began to ease to keep the disease under control.
A new advertising blitz has been launched and England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said ‘we must all continue to play our part’ in controlling the spread of the virus.
Gavin Williamson to lay out exam grade plan
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is to set out how the grades of students in England will be awarded this summer in a bid to avoid a repeat of last year’s exams fiasco.
Ahead of his announcement in the Commons today, Williamson said the government would be ‘putting trust in teachers’ after A-level and GCSE exams were cancelled for a second successive year due to the pandemic.
Schools will be given wide flexibility in deciding how teachers assess and grade their pupils, based on those parts of the curriculum they have been taught. Results will be published earlier than usual, with A-level grades published on August 10 and GCSEs on August 12.
Britons see Covid rule rows as threat to future
More than half of adults in Britain see disagreements over coronavirus rules as a threat to the country’s future, new polling suggests.
Some 56 per cent of people polled for Engage Britain expressed concern for the future due to people who disagree with them over restrictions and rules.
Almost a quarter said they are suspicious of people in their community who take a different approach to rules during the pandemic.
Drink-driving charge against Bruce Springsteen dropped
Prosecutors have dropped drunken driving and reckless driving charges against Bruce Springsteen stemming from an incident in November, admitting that the rocker’s blood-alcohol level was so low that it did not warrant the charges.
Jeep was forced to pull an advert that aired during the Superbowl because it featured the singer driving one of the firm’s cars.
Heathrow warns further jobs could go
The boss of Heathrow has warned that further jobs may be at risk if the government does not offer more Covid-19 support after the airport reported the biggest annual loss in its 75-year history.
Chief executive John Holland-Kaye told PA the group might need to slash costs further if Chancellor Rishi Sunak ignores its plea for 100 per cent business rates relief in next week’s Budget.
He said the group is ‘trying to avoid compulsory redundancies’ among its 4,000 frontline workers, after 1,200 already took voluntary severance last year. It came as Heathrow revealed that it plunged to a record £2bn loss in 2020 from profits of £546m in 2019.
Audi boosts electric range
Audi has upgraded its Q5, A6 and A7 plug-in hybrid models with improved battery capacity, which results in a greater electric range and improved fuel economy.
For each model, the 14.1 kWh battery has been replaced with a larger 17.9kWh pack.
This has increased the electric-only range to different amounts in each case, with the A6 saloon having the longest range of almost 57 miles.
First-time buyers return to housing market
First-time buyers are re-emerging in the housing market this year, after the impact of the coronavirus pandemic meant their plans were put on hold in 2020, property experts have said.
However, the increase could add to the upward pressure on property prices climbing higher as demand for homes outweighs supply.
Zoopla said the share of first-time buyers purchasing properties dipped to its lowest levels since 2016 last year.
London markets make gains
The London markets jumped higher as strong showings by airlines and hospitality stocks boosted the FTSE.
Early trading was cautious, initially ticking lower, before a confident start to trading in the US helped to spark a broad global rebound in sentiment.
The FTSE 100 closed 33.03 points, or 0.5 per cent, higher at 6,658.97 at the close of play yesterday. The German Dax was 0.86 per cent higher and the French Cac moved 0.31 per cent higher.
Phone scam reports tripled in January
The number of phone scam reports being made tripled between December and January, figures from HM Revenue and Customs show.
The number of reports surged from 10,997 in December 2020 to 33,053 in January 2021, as people worked from home.
Reports of dodgy texts and emails also spiked last month as criminals tried to cash in. Suspect text message reports climbed from 11,192 in December to 26,643 in January.
Elon Musk’s satellite broadband gives ‘amazing’ improvement
People in rural areas of the UK have reported huge jumps in speed after switching to Elon Musk’s satellite broadband service.
Early testers claim to have achieved download speeds of up to 215 megabits per second (Mbps).
Musk’s SpaceX company has already launched more than 1,000 satellites into orbit as part of its Starlink programme, which aims to beam high-speed internet to those left behind by traditional cable-based providers. However, it does not come cheap, at £439 for the hardware and a monthly cost of £89.
New Cupra Leon pricing and specifications announced
The Cupra Leon hot hatch has gone on sale in the UK with two generously equipped specifications available.
The popular performance car’s latest generation gets a 2.0-litre petrol engine that makes 296bhp and 400Nm of torque, with power sent through an automatic transmission – no manual gearbox is available.
The turbocharged unit makes the hot hatch capable of completing the 0-60mph sprint in 5.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 155mph. Prices start at £35,660.
Cooling down again
Today, much of England and Wales will be largely dry with sunny spells, but it will be cloudy with patchy rain in the southeast, says the BBC. Northern Ireland and Scotland will be breezy with scattered showers.
Cloud and rain will clear the southeast this evening leaving much of England and Wales dry overnight with clear skies. Northern Britain will see patchy cloud with showers in northwest Scotland.
England and Wales will see any mist and fog clear in the morning to leave a dry day with lengthy sunshine. The north will be largely cloudy but there will be sunny spells in any breaks in the cloud.
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