- Here are the headlines on Wednesday, January 13
PM to face questions on vaccine rollout
Boris Johnson and health chiefs will be questioned on the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine after warnings to abide by lockdown restrictions were stepped up to ease pressure on the NHS.
The Prime Minister will be grilled by senior MPs on the liaison committee after facing Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer during PMQs today.
The health service is under extraordinary pressure with the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital in England at a record 32,202 as of 8am on Tuesday – up 22 per cent on a week ago, and 82 per cent since Christmas Day. Yesterday, a further 1,243 people in the UK had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, with a further 45,533 cases were confirmed.
London leaders demand urgent tougher Covid measures
London Councils and Mayor Sadiq Khan have implored Boris Johnson to immediately implement tougher coronavirus measures – including closing places of worship – or risk putting an ‘unsustainable strain’ on the NHS and public services.
After a major incident was declared in the capital last Friday due to rising Covid-19 cases, Khan and London Councils chair Georgia Gould have written to the PM calling for measures similar to those in place last March and April.
Aside from the closure of places of worship, they have called for temporary measures which include: an urgent review of what constitutes essential and non-essential retail, stricter guidance on how retailers can prevent unsafe queues and crowding, prohibiting click and collect services at non-essential retail chains, and stronger guidance on size restrictions for weddings, funerals and similar gatherings.
More supermarkets join crackdown on maskless shoppers
Tesco, Asda and Waitrose are the latest supermarkets to take a tougher stance on customers who refuse to wear a face covering without a medical exemption.
It came as a police chief said officers will be on stand-by to help with dissenters who become ‘aggressive’ in supermarkets.
Yesterday, Tesco said it will not let customers who are not wearing a face covering into its stores unless they are exempt in line with government guidance, as it asked shoppers to be ‘kind, patient and respectful’ towards staff.
Almost 45,000 fines handed out for Covid-19 breaches
Almost 45,000 fines have been issued to people across the UK for breaching Covid-19 laws, a senior police chief has said.
National Police Chiefs’ Council chairman Martin Hewitt said officers will not ‘waste time’ trying to reason with people who have ‘no regard’ for the safety of others.
He outlined a series of recent examples of ‘irresponsible behaviour’ that had been penalised – including a boat party in Hertfordshire with more than 40 people, and a minibus full of people from different households travelling from Cheltenham into Wales for a walk.
Morrisons to pay staff at least £10 an hour in new deal
Supermarket giant Morrisons has announced a new pay deal which it says will guarantee at least £10 an hour for all staff.
The retailer, which employs around 120,000 people across the UK, said it will be the first UK supermarket group to secure workers a £10 minimum rate when the pay deal starts in April.
The new payment policy will result in a ‘significant’ pay increase for nearly 96,000 staff members, Morrisons said.
UK roads see sharper fall in congestion
Urban traffic congestion has fallen more significantly in the UK than in many other countries during the coronavirus pandemic, according to new figures.
Location technology firm TomTom said only four of the world’s 100 most gridlocked cities of 2020 were in the UK, compared with 10 during 2019.
Congestion in UK cities fell by an average of 24 per cent, due to the virus crisis leading to many people working from home and schools being closed.
Edinburgh Woollen Mill saved in deal to protect 1,453 jobs
The owner of Edinburgh Woollen Mill has secured a deal to rescue the brand and its sister business Ponden Homes from disappearing for good after it crashed into administration last year.
Administrators at FRP confirmed 246 stores will be saved by Purepay Retail, which is controlled by former owner Philip Day. The deal secures the future for 1,453 workers.
The new owner will operate under licence across both brands, saving 1,347 shop workers, 72 employees at head office and a further 34 jobs at the company’s Carlisle distribution centre.
Moonpig announces plans for stock market float
Online greeting cards business Moonpig has unveiled plans for a stock market listing in a move expected to value the firm at more than £1bn.
The group, which also owns Geetz in the Netherlands, is aiming to join London’s main market in what will mark the first significant listing of the year.
The firm currently has 12.2m customers and sends 46m cards a year, but is trying to position itself as a technology business, using customer data and predictive technology.
The Hut Group and Very.co.uk enjoy strong sales
Online retailers continued to benefit from the Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions imposed in the run up to Christmas with The Hut Group and Very.co.uk both reporting strong trading.
The Hut Group had such an impressive quarter it beat revenues expectations – despite bosses already issuing an upgrade at the beginning of December.
Bosses said in the three months to December 31, sales jumped 51 per cent to £558.7m compared with a year earlier – beating expectations of a 40 per cent to 45 per per cent rise announced on December 7.
FTSE extends slide
The index tracking the biggest shares in London fell for the second day in a row after coming off one of the best-ever starts to a year.
The FTSE 100 dropped 44.37 points, a fall of 0.7 per cent, ending the day at 6,754.11.
Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey warned that ‘there are a lot of issues’ with introducing negative interest rates. The tool, which is one of the ways the Bank can influence the economy, has been on the cards for months.
Car interiors could be dirtier than a toilet seat
If you’re one of those people that rarely gives your car’s interior a wipe down, new research might just change your habits.
Testers have discovered that the inside of a car can become utterly filthy, and in some cases more than three times grubbier than a toilet seat.
Research by insurance comparison site ComparetheMarket.com found that the five dirtiest areas of a car were the stereo, gear stick, indicator, steering wheel and handbrake.
Land Securities reveals just 65 per cent of rents collected
One of the UK’s biggest commercial landlords has seen a slump in rent collections in the final three months of 2020 as tenants – particularly retailers – struggled to make payments.
Land Securities, also known as Landsec, said rent collection due on December 25 was just 65 per cent – compared with 94 per cent at the same point a year earlier.
Bosses had been due £112m in rents.
Detroit motor show cancelled
The 2021 North American International Auto Show in Detroit has been cancelled, instead replaced by a six-day outdoor show called Motor Bella.
Hosted at the 87-acre M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Michigan, it will allow exhibitors to display vehicles as well as giving the opportunity for ‘dynamic’ displays, such as a 1.5-mile ‘hot track’ and off-road courses.
Rod Alberts, the show’s executive director, said: ‘The pandemic has caused changes in our society and world in ways not previously imagined, and we all should be looking for new and highly creative ways of doing business.’
Hyundai teases Kona N performance SUV
Hyundai has given a glimpse of the latest vehicle to join its ‘N’ range of performance vehicles – the Kona N.
Marked as the first ‘N’ SUV, the Kona N uses a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine linked to an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox which will help to deliver seamless shifts. Launch Control will also allow the Kona N to sprint away from the line as efficiently as possible.
Though not yet confirmed, it’s likely that the Kona N’s engine will produce a similar amount of power to the 2.0-litre unit fitted to the smaller i30N. There, it pushes out 247bhp in standard form, though an N Performance version kicks out 276bhp and 392Nm of torque.
Cloudy and wet for many
The BBC says it’ll be a dry start for many in the east, however, rain and cloud will push in from the west through today, turning increasingly wintry on high ground in Scotland later.
Rain will continue for many tonight accompanied by cloudy skies, with some sleet and snow on high ground in northern areas. Northern Ireland will turn drier, however, with some clear spells in places.
Tomorrow the rain, sleet and snow will continue in most areas. For eastern areas of the UK the rain may become wintry even at lower levels as it turns colder. It will turn drier in the west later.