Home World UNITED KINGDOM Wednesday evening news briefing: The Covid Christmas trade-off

Wednesday evening news briefing: The Covid Christmas trade-off

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Scientist reveals the price of Covid Christmas freedom

The potential price of a family Christmas has been revealed. Every day of Christmas freedom will result in two extra days of tighter restrictions, health chiefs have warned. Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser to NHS Test and Trace, told a Downing Street briefing that people “need to be very careful about the number of contacts that we have” in a bid to save Christmas. Dr Hopkins said that ministers are working on what the “new tiers” will be after the anticipated easing date for lockdown and on a plan for Christmas. Jamie Johnson has the details of her appearance. A group of senior MPs have told Boris Johnson that “freedom cannot just be for Christmas”, urging him to develop a longer-term strategy to avoid living “under a cycle of lockdowns”. Yolanthe Fawehinmi summarises the possibilities for what this year’s festivities could look like.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus vaccine from Pfizer – which is due to arrive in the UK before the end of the year – is 95pc effective and has passed its safety checks, according to further data from the firm. Crucially the drugmaker said efficacy of the vaccine developed with German partner BioNTech SE was consistent across age and ethnicity demographics, and that there were no major side effects, a sign that the immunisation could be employed broadly around the world. It comes as new research suggests immunity lasts at least eight months and may even last years.

Starmer refuses to reinstate Labour whip to Corbyn

Labour was plunged deeper into civil war on Wednesday after Sir Keir Starmer announced he would not return the whip to Jeremy Corbyn despite him being readmitted as a party member. Just hours after a panel of Labour’s ruling national executive committee lifted Mr Corbyn’s suspension, Sir Keir said he would not allow his predecessor to return to the Labour backbenches because he had “undermined” efforts to rebuild bridges with the Jewish community. The move was condemned as “plain wrong” by John McDonnell, the former shadow chancellor, who warned it would cause “more division and disunity in the party”. Stephen Pollard analyses why Sir Keir has shown the very opposite of leadership.

Meghan admits giving personal details to book authors

The Duchess of Sussex has admitted giving personal information to the authors of Finding Freedom, a biography of her and Prince Harry, via a third party. In new court documents, part of her privacy claim against a British newspaper, the Duchess says she never spoke to the authors about the book but admits she does not know if the Kensington Palace communications team provided any information on her behalf. Meghan said she was concerned that “her father’s narrative”, that she had abandoned him, might be repeated so she intervened and gave her own version of events to someone else. Victoria Ward has the latest.

At a glance: Latest coronavirus headlines

Also in the news: Today’s other headlines

Electric cars | Many motorists will be chalking up the costs of an electric vehicle after the Government announced a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030. Olivia Rudgard analyses whether the proposed electric car revolution is green, convenient and affordable. The Government has been told it must do more to help drivers transition into electric vehicles including considering scrappage schemes. Read on for a summary of the costs of switching, and how the value of your current car is likely to be affected by the announcement. Duarte Dias drove an electric car for a week – he outlines what was good and what was bad.

Around the world: NZ police launch hijab uniform

New Zealand’s police have introduced a hijab in their uniform for the first time in an effort to encourage more Muslim women to join. New recruit Zeena Ali worked with the force to design the head covering and is set to become the first officer to don it as part of her official uniform when she graduates. The 30-year-old joined the police after an Australian neo-Nazi killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March last year. See Ms Ali in the uniform.

Wednesday interview

‘I could have been a transgender plumber…’


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