The UK government is expected to discuss and agree new COVID-19 restrictions today. While the “big reveal” is scheduled for Monday, we can expect all of the news to be “briefed” to journalists today. We further expect that the plans will be presented as all things to all people: theoretically tougher but actually more loose.
Today’s newspapers report that Downing Street has said that a three-tiered system of local restrictions will come into force in England when the lockdown ends on 2 December. Boris Johnson is expected to formally set out his plan – including details of how families can see different households at Christmas – to MPs on Monday. More areas are set to be placed into the higher tiers, to keep the virus under control. And some tiers will be strengthened to safeguard lockdown progress.
However, any implementation of a harsher tiered system would likely intensify tensions between Mr Johnson and rebel backbenchers. On Saturday, MPs from the newly formed COVID Recovery Group (CRG) wrote to the Prime Minister saying that they may vote against new restrictions. Members of the group want the government to demonstrate that the new restrictions post December 2, will “save more lives than they cost”.
Anti-lockdown protests saw arrests in London, Liverpool, Bournemouth and Basildon.
The rapid testing in Liverpool, part of Operation Moonshot, has been successful in detecting large numbers of people in the City with COVID who have no symptoms. Liverpool’s mayor, Joe Anderson, said it had played a role in reducing the spread of the virus. “Mass testing in itself isn’t a panacea – it never will be,” Anderson said. “But it’s a tool in the armoury. We’ve got a couple of thousand people now that have tested positive within the pilot, and that means 2,000 fewer people are spreading the virus.” The Observer newspaper suggests this bodes well for a rollout nationally.
Donald Trump Jr, oldest son of the US president, was diagnosed with COVID-19 at the start of this week and has been quarantining at his hunting cabin (but of course) since the result. Don Jr is the second of the President’s children to test positive. The bad news isn’t just in the First Family. Of the 50 states of the Union, all but one – isolated Hawaii –are seeing alarming surges in new cases. The virus is on the rise so uniformly across the vast landmass of the US, that records are being shattered daily. There were more than 196,000 COVID infections confirmed, and at least 1,900 deaths on Saturday.
Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy, has sunk into its second recession in less than five years, battered by the oil price crash brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Crude oil production fell to a four-year low, with gross domestic product contracting by 3.6 per cent in the three months through September, after shrinking by 6.1 per cent in the previous quarter, according to official data released on Saturday.
The daily tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Japan has hit a record for the fourth day and a senior official says Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government may reimpose limits on sports and other large events to curb the surge.
Unfortunately the environmental benefits from Lockdown 2.0 are much slimmer than during the spring lockdown, according to satellite data from Copernicus, the EU climate monitoring agency. Levels of nitrogen dioxide, which is produced from cars and trucks, have seen only modest declines — and in some cases appeared to increase — as the lockdown took effect.
And finally…when Laszlo Rimoczi decided to put masks on his chocolate Santas in his small workshop in rural Hungary, he intended it as a light-hearted joke to raise people’s spirits amid a worsening coronavirus pandemic. But it turned out to be shrewd business move as orders surged online, and now he can hardly keep pace with demand. To keep up with orders, he has had to simplify the design and now produces about 100 Santas a day, using gluten-free Italian chocolate. He paints the hat red, and makes the masks from tiny white marzipan strips, adding the ribbons with icing.
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