- Here are the headlines on Tuesday, January 26:
Johnson to rule on plans for quarantine hotels to protect against new strains
Boris Johnson is expected to approve plans to force some travellers arriving to the UK to quarantine in hotels to limit the spread of new coronavirus variants.
Various options are said to be on the table, but Whitehall sources suggested that ministers may opt for a more limited system after aviation leaders warned that introducing tougher border rules would be ‘catastrophic’ for the industry.
The officials said a less sweeping option would apply only to British residents returning from countries with more contagious strains – such as Brazil, South Africa and Portugal. But the final decision is set to be made at a meeting of the Covid-O committee today. No 10 declined to comment.
EU threatens export controls on coronavirus vaccines
The EU has threatened to impose tight controls on the export of coronavirus vaccines made in the bloc, potentially impacting the UK’s supply of Pfizer jabs.
The government said it was in ‘close contact’ with suppliers after the European Commission (EC) issued the warning amid a row with AstraZeneca over a shortfall of doses for member states.
Facing criticism of a slow rollout in the EU, the EC threatened to impose controls on vaccines that would affect the Belgium-manufactured Pfizer vaccine. European health commissioner Stella Kyriakides accused pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, which worked with Oxford University, of failing to give a valid explanation for failing to deliver doses to the bloc.
Discussions with @AstraZeneca today resulted in dissatisfaction with the lack of clarity and insufficient explanations. EU Member States are united: vaccine developers have societal and contractual responsibilities they need to uphold.
— Stella Kyriakides (@SKyriakidesEU) January 25, 2021
Supermarkets failing to act quickly on single-use plastic, report says
The UK’s 10 largest supermarket chains put almost 900,000 tonnes of plastic packaging through their tills in 2019, a report has found.
The annual Checking Out On Plastics report found 2019 saw a dip of 1.6 per cent on 2018’s plastic waste total, but overall waste levels increased by 1.2 per cent from 2017’s figure.
The research found most supermarkets managed to reduce plastic packaging on their own-brand products, but were being undermined by lack of action from brands they stocked. Waitrose was found to have made the most progress, reducing packaging by 6.1 per cent since 2017 through amending its own ranges and active engagement with its suppliers.
Historic department store Jenners to close
One of the UK’s historic department stores, Jenners in Edinburgh, is to close with a loss of 200 jobs.
The announcement was made after Frasers Group plc failed to reach an agreement with building owners Anders Polvsen to continue the lease on the building. The House of Fraser department store is expected to cease trading on May 3.
The shop has been a landmark on Princes Street for the last 183 years, previously trading as an independent shop until it was acquired by House of Fraser in 2005. The news comes as Boohoo bought the Debenhams brand and website for £55m and is unlikely to save many of the 12,000 jobs at Debenhams, many of which are linked to the company’s 118 stores, which will close for good.
Vauxhall expands free charging offer
Vauxhall is expanding its offer of free electric vehicle charging for buyers of its Corsa-e supermini.
The British car maker has joined forces with British Gas to offer 30,000 miles of free electricity and a free charging home charging point with a free six-month subscription to the BP Pulse network.
The offer has now been expanded to include Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) and Conditional Sale (CS), which is more commonly referred to as Hire Purchase (HP). Previously it was only available for Personal Contract Hire (PCH) and cash buyers. On a PCH finance offer, prices start at £330 with an initial rental fee of £1,980.
Incoming trade from Great Britain remains at ‘half the level of 2020’
Incoming trade to Ireland from Great Britain remains at about half of the level seen at the same time last year, almost a month after Brexit, a Department of Transport official has said.
Irish customs officials say they are ‘concerned’ about the low levels of goods coming into the country, as hauliers and importers grapple with new customs red tape.
Eddie Burke, from the Department of Transport, said he would like to see the volume of incoming goods increase quicker than is currently happening. He said delays were happening ‘as people come to grips with the new reality and the difficulty of adapting to what are now quite complex procedures of trading with a third country’.
Markets drop amid worries of travel restrictions
Global markets drifted lower on Monday amid worries that governments are considering new restrictions to slow the spread of Covid-19.
London’s FTSE 100 closed the day down 56.22 points to 6638.85, a 0.8 per cent drop.
In the US by the later afternoon in Europe, the S&P 500 had dropped by 0.3 per cent and the Dow Jones was trading down 0.6 per cent. The two main EU indexes, the Dax and Cac, fell by 1.7 per cent and 1.6 per cent respectively.
Goodbye snow, hello rain
Rain will sweep across the UK from the west today turning to sleet and snow over higher ground in northern England and southern Scotland, reports BBC Weather. The rain will clear later on, however, leaving a dry night with cloudy skies.