UK Coronavirus LIVE: Christmas easing ‘could spark third wave’ as Rishi Sunak undertakes spending review

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Despite the increasing costs of fighting the pandemic, the Treasury has already indicated that huge sums will be spent on health, unemployment and infrastructure.

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‘Think carefully about the distance to travel for Christmas,’ warns Welsh Prime Minister

People should ‘think carefully’ about who they meet and how far they travel over Christmas and use the easing of coronavirus restrictions ‘in a reasonable and responsible manner’, the Premier of Wales said.

Mark Drakeford told BBC Breakfast: ‘The coronavirus is not gone and while Christmas is a very special time and it was important to make people feel there was modest relaxation, it is about always a relaxation to be used with care and in a responsible way.

Mr Drakeford described the deal between the British nations at Christmas as “about as good as we could get” and said it was clear the choice was not between no restrictions or all restrictions.

“If we had just asked people to live with the current level of restrictions, there was a real risk that people just could not come to terms with this,” Mr Drakeford said.

He told the BBC that Tuesday’s Cobra meeting was “led by science” and heard for the first time from the scientific director and chief medical officers of the four countries.

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New cases fall in 18 London boroughs

The capital is increasingly likely to have reached its peak five days ago

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Christmas easing ‘not trying to grab headlines,’ says Drakeford

Welsh Prime Minister Mark Drakeford has denied that the deal allowing three households to reunite for Christmas is a ‘headline’.

He told GMB: “Our decision is based on the calculation that this is the safest way – not a totally secure way, not a risk free way – but the safest way we can offer.

“By giving people limited freedom, a set of rules that we believe people can operate under, we’ll have a Christmas where people can have the opportunity to see people they haven’t seen in months.” and months into the toughest year they’ve ever been through, but doing it in a way that doesn’t mean people will just feel the restrictions are so severe they won’t notice them.

‘Most people in Wales would like to play by the rules, but in the coronavirus you only need a small minority of people who decide they are not ready to do it and that means the virus spreads again. “

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A gentle Christmas to avoid the “free for all”

Welsh Prime Minister Mark Drakeford said the decision to agree to an easing of restrictions on Christmas was aimed at avoiding a ‘free for all’.

“I think it was very clear to us from the advice we got at the Cobra meeting, but also from what we’re hearing in Wales, that unless we find a formula allowing people to get together on Christmas, it was very unlikely that people would be willing. to stick to the current level of restrictions we have here in Wales, ”Mr Drakeford told GMB.

“So the choice was between some form of guided meeting at Christmas or people who just came up with their own solutions.”

Mr Drakeford said it was “not about encouraging people” to come together during the holiday season.

“It’s about finding a set of rules that give us a guided path to Christmas – without the rules that we agreed upon, I think there was a very high risk that people would just make up the rules for themselves,” he said. Mr Drakeford said.

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Lender Virgin Money records a 77% drop in underlying profits for the year after recording a £ 501million charge for loan losses amid pandemic

The owner of Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank reported underlying pre-tax annual profits of £ 124million, down sharply from £ 539million the year before.

The group – formerly known as CYBG – said its “substantial” bad debt charge comes as it braces for an outbreak of borrowers in arrears due to the fallout from the coronavirus crisis, although that he said he had not yet found any significant arrears.

On a statutory basis, the group saw its pre-tax losses decline to £ 168m, following losses of £ 265m the year before.

David Duffy, Managing Director of Virgin Money, said: “While we have yet to see significant impacts of the pandemic on the credit quality of our loan portfolio, our results reflect a cautious and conservative approach to the period to come as we refine our assessment. uncertain economic outlook and the impact of the second lockout.

“Although information on vaccines is a strong cause for hope for the future, the economic benefits are still far from being considered compared to the immediate reality of the current restrictions and have therefore not yet been realized. taken into account in our short-term forecasts. ”

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Households mixing “mockery” of restrictions that will remain in place for pubs

Plans to ease the rules on household mixing over the Christmas period have been called a “mockery” of restrictions that will remain in place for pubs and the hotel industry in general.

According to government guidelines released on Tuesday, people cannot meet Christmas bubbles from up to three households in pubs, hotels, shops, theaters or restaurants between December 23 and December 27.

This despite the fact that those who live in the Christmas bubbles can come to their homes and stay overnight during this time.

The rules governing meetings at host institutions will depend on the level of restrictions in England in which a venue is located.

Emma McClarkin, Managing Director of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “These Christmas plans poke fun at the additional restrictions on pubs and the economic devastation they are experiencing this Christmas. “

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Malala Yousafzai calls on UK government not to cut overseas aid budget

Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai called on the UK government not to cut the budget for overseas aid during Wednesday’s spending review.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to announce that he is suspending the UK’s commitment to spend 0.7% of its national income on overseas aid, with a 0.5% cut likely.

Ms Yousafzai, an education activist, tweeted: “Covid-19 could force 20 million more girls out of school. For girls to keep learning, we need leaders to prioritize education. @BorisJohnson & @RishiSunak: UK pledged 0.7% aid last year.

“When you announce your spending priorities tomorrow, I hope you keep that promise.”

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Sage member warns of third wave caused by Christmas

A member of the government science advisory group for emergencies (Sage) has warned that the planned easing of coronavirus restrictions on Christmas could lead to a third wave of the pandemic.

Professor Andrew Hayward told BBC2’s Newsnight: “Basically what it’s going to do is add fuel to the Covid fire.

“I think it will definitely lead to an increase in transmission. This will likely lead to a third wave of infection, with hospitals overflowing and more needless deaths.

“We are still in a country where we have high levels of Covid infection, especially among young people.

“Reuniting them for hours, not to mention days, with elderly parents, I think, is a recipe for regret for many families.

“With the vaccine on the way, if we’re not very careful at Christmas, we really risk snatching defeat from the jaws of victory over this one.

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