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Feb 9 round-up: Tesla to accept Bitcoin; Travellers’ face twin tests; Jabs likely to protect from SA variant

3 months ago

  • Here are the headlines on Tuesday, February 9

Tesla to start accepting Bitcoin as payment 

Tesla has acquired around 1.5 billion dollars (£1.09bn) in Bitcoin under an investment policy at the electric car maker headed by Elon Musk.

It said it plans to begin accepting the digital currency as payment for vehicles soon. The California company revealed the new strategy in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, saying its investment in digital currency and other ‘alternative reserve assets’ may grow.

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Bitcoin spiked 14 per cent and appeared to briefly hit a new all-time high. Shares of Tesla moved higher as well.

Travellers to take two Covid tests while they quarantine

All travellers arriving in the UK will have to take two coronavirus tests in a fresh attempt to prevent mutant strains entering the country under new rules to be announced this week.

The Department for Health and Social Care said the move was designed to provide a ‘further level of protection’ enabling the authorities to track new cases more effectively.

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It is expected that people isolating at home will be told they must get a test two and eight days into their 10-day quarantine period.

Jabs ‘likely’ to protect against SA variant

Officials have sought to reassure the public that vaccines should provide effective protection against people falling seriously ill from the new South African variant.

South Africa has suspended use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine after a preliminary trial suggested it offered a reduced level of protection against infection and mild illness from the variant.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said he believed it was ‘likely’ the AstraZeneca jab – like the other vaccines – would give ‘substantial’ protection against serious illness from the South Africa variant. And he added it was possible people would need annual or biennial boosters as vaccines are ‘updated’.

Thousands to be tested in Manchester for mutant variant

Thousands of people in Manchester will be tested for coronavirus after a mutation of the more transmissible Kent variant was detected there.

Some 10,000 extra tests will be rolled out in the region after four people from two unconnected households were found to be infected with the E484K mutation, which is linked to the Kent strain, Manchester City Council said.

This follows similar surges in testing in Worcestershire, Sefton, Merseyside, and areas in Bristol and south Gloucestershire, after variants were found.

Business cash deposits down by over 40 per cent

The amount of cash deposited by businesses using Post Office branches plunged by 40 per cent in January compared with a year earlier.

Business cash deposits were down by 40.7 per cent to total £582m in January, the Post Office said.

This compared with £981m in January 2020, before any UK coronavirus lockdowns.

Billy Monger to take on 140-mile triathlon

Racing driver and double amputee Billy Monger will take on a 140-mile triathlon-inspired challenge to raise money for Red Nose Day.

Later this month, Monger, who lost both of his legs in a racing accident three years ago, will tackle the huge distances on foot, take to freezing open waters by kayak and endure day-long stretches on a bike.

He will cover 140 miles in four days, finishing at the world-famous race circuit Brands Hatch in Kent to raise money for the charity.

People ‘unable’ to access financial support to self-isolate

Four in 10 people who needed financial support to self-isolate at the end of 2020 said they had not been able to access it, research suggests.

Issues included schemes or funding not always being available locally, eligibility criteria being too strict, a lack of awareness about discretionary support and stigma associated with accessing help, the Red Cross said.

Low earners told to self-isolate by test and trace services across the UK are able to apply for a grant to support them while they stay at home.

Retail sales slide in January 

Retail sales slid in January as the latest national lockdown hammered shops across the UK, according to new figures.

The BRC-KPMG retail sales monitor for the month showed a slump in total sales, while a separate report from Barclaycard has revealed the sharpest fall in consumer spending since May.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) revealed that total retail sales fell by 1.3 per cent in January as rapid online growth failed to entirely offset the plunge in store sales.

FTSE rises as US stimulus hopes offset poor economic growth projections

The London markets made gains as positivity surrounding financial stimulus in the US helped the FTSE to shake off gloomy economic forecasts.

Think tank the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) slashed its economic growth projections due to the second wave of Covid-19 in the UK. It warned the economy is set to grow 3.4 per cent in 2021, having previously predicted a 5.9 per cent rebound.

The FTSE 100 closed 34.2 points, or 0.53 per cent, higher at 6,523.53 at the close of play yesterday. The German Dax was 0.21 per cent higher and the French Cac moved 0.47 per cent higher.

Signs of stability returning to mortgage market

The choice of mortgages increased for the fourth month in a row in February, in signs that the market is settling down following the shock of the coronavirus crisis.

The number of mortgage deals on the market is at an 11-month high, Moneyfacts.co.uk said.

Many deals were pulled early on in the crisis, particularly low-deposit products, as concerns grew around rising unemployment. In recent months, many lenders have been returning to low deposit mortgage lending with tougher criteria in place.

Boohoo snaps up Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton

Around 2,450 staff have lost their jobs after clothes website Boohoo bought Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton for £25.2m.

The deal is for the inventory, e-commerce and digital assets of the businesses, which were owned by Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia retail empire when it entered administration in December.

But it does not include the brands’ 214 remaining shops, which will close, according to administrators from Deloitte.

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More snow flurries

It will be another cold day with the moderate easterly wind persisting, says the BBC. Eastern areas will see snow showers move in from the North Sea, which will be heavy in places. Further west will be drier with sunshine.

It will be another cold night with a widespread frost developing. Snow showers will continue to push into eastern areas. Southwest England and the Channel Isles may see some sleet and snow this evening. Tomorrow will be cold again with the easterly wind persisting.

James Baggott

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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