- Here are the headlines on Tuesday, March 16
Experts defend AstraZeneca jab as EU countries pause use
UK leaders and medical experts have defended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine despite multiple European countries pausing its use due to concerns over possible side effects.
Boris Johnson said there was ‘no reason at all’ to stop the vaccine’s rollout and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she would accept her jab ‘without hesitation’ when called on.
Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride also urged people to retain confidence in the jab as he received his first dose of the AstraZeneca version yesterday. It comes as Germany, France, Spain and Italy paused injections of the vaccine amid concerns about blood clots.
Portugal to be removed from red list
Portugal will be removed from England’s travel ban red list, the Department for Transport said.
The decision means returning travellers will be able to quarantine at home, rather than in a hotel at a cost of £1,750.
But Ethiopia, Oman, Somalia and Qatar have been added to the red list to ‘protect the country against new variants of Covid-19’, the DfT said. The changes come into force at 4am on Friday.
Sturgeon expected to relax Covid restrictions on retail
Further aims for the easing of lockdown measures on hospitality and retail in Scotland are due to be announced by Nicola Sturgeon.
The First Minister is to address Holyrood today with details of how and when restrictions could be lifted across Scotland.
Her statement is expected to include details on measures for the retail and hospitality industries.
Shoppers venturing out
Footfall around the UK’s retail sites was up seven per cent last week, but is still heavily depressed compared to its pre-pandemic levels, new data has shown.
The survey from Springboard found that footfall had grown most rapidly in shopping centres, where it was up 9.8 per cent compared to the week earlier.
Thorntons to shut shops putting 600 jobs at risk
Chocolate shop chain Thorntons is to shut all its 61 stores, putting 603 jobs at risk.
The retailer said it has been hit hard by the pandemic, which has kept many of its stores shut for key periods around Christmas and Easter.
It said it has seen sales surge online and will invest in its grocery supply business as part of the shake-up of its operations.
Pub bookings fly a month ahead of outdoor reopening
Pub owners have said Britons are ‘desperate’ to have drinks with their friends again as venues have been flooded with bookings with weeks to go until they reopen to the public.
Venues said their outdoor tables have been booked out for weeks after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his timetable for the reopening of hospitality, which sees outdoor areas open from April 12.
Clive Watson, founder and chairman of the London-based City Pub Group, said his sites have been flooded with bookings while Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade group UKHospitality, added her members’ bookings were ‘very strong’.
Hand sanitiser and home workout gear added to inflation basket
White chocolate bars are out and hand sanitiser, home workout gear and WiFi light bulbs are in as the UK’s inflation basket was updated yesterday.
The Office for National Statistics has added several Covid-inspired items to the inflation basket, which is used to calculate the cost of living in the UK.
The list included obvious choices that were sparked by the pandemic, such as hand sanitisers. Casual clothing has also been added as those working from home abandoned formal office wear.
Shares fall as countries halt AstraZeneca vaccine rollout
Share prices fell across much of the FTSE 100 yesterday as several European countries stopped the rollout of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine, but the pharmaceutical giant shrugged off the news.
The London index erased gains that had peaked as high as 0.6 per cent to end the day down by 0.2 per cent after Germany, France and Italy joined the likes of Ireland and Norway in suspending AstraZeneca vaccinations.
It left the index at 6,749.7, a reduction of 11.77 points. However, none of the downward pressure came from AstraZeneca, which rose 0.5 per cent. On the continent, the Dax and the Cac rose 0.2 per cent.
Catch up on this week’s Car Dealer Podcast
New SportLine trim added to Skoda Enyaq iV range
The electric Skoda Enyaq iV has been given a sporty makeover with the addition of a highly equipped SportLine trim.
The key changes are related to the styling inside and out, while some suspension tweaks should make it handle better. It gets a sporty body kit with a black finish for the grille, window frames, roof rails and rear bumper diffuser. Other equipment includes 20-inch alloy wheels and full LED Matrix headlights.
The Skoda Enyaq iV is available to order now with prices starting at £39,900. Deliveries are expected in the summer.
Car insurance loyalty costing drivers £720m a year
Drivers allowing their car insurance to auto-renew cost them £720m in 2020 – a seven per cent increase on 2019’s figure of £674m.
New research by comparison site MoneySuperMarket found that 17.1m drivers allowed their insurance to auto-renew last year. It accounts for 41 per cent of drivers, the same percentage as in 2019.
Cloud and rain
England and Wales will start overcast with outbreaks of rain, says the BBC. It will be drier this afternoon, with sunshine in Wales and the north. Northern Ireland and Scotland will be dry with sunshine throughout the day.
It will be a mostly dry night with clear skies for many areas. There will be cloudy skies in the far north of Scotland with a few showers possible in the early hours. Mist and fog will form in Northern Ireland.
Tomorrow will be a mostly dry day with sunshine in western areas. The east will be cloudy, with the odd shower in the southeast during the afternoon. Scotland will be largely dry with patchy cloud.
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