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  • Johnson raises fears of lockdown in England continuing into summertime
    by Peter Walker, Nicola Davis, Jessica Elgot and Heather Stewart on January 21, 2021 at 8:48 pm

    No 10 wary of talking about easing restrictions as infection rate remains highCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageBoris Johnson raised fears that tough Covid restrictions could continue well into the spring and beyond on Thursday as ministers refused to be drawn on plans for any potential easing of lockdown.While the vast majority of Tory MPs have toed the line since the new variant of the virus sent cases soaring, Downing Street’s reticence is already causing anxiety among a few backbenchers, who are urging an easing of the restrictions if vaccination rates stay on target. Continue reading... […]

  • Nearly 9m people in UK increased their borrowing in 2020, says ONS
    by Phillip Inman on January 21, 2021 at 8:42 pm

    People, many among Britain’s poorest, have taken on more debt to cope with effects of pandemic Almost 9 million people, many of them among Britain’s poorest, were forced to increase their borrowing last year to cope with the pandemic, according to figures that illustrate the damaging effect of the first two lockdowns on the finances of vulnerable households.The Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that the proportion of this group borrowing £1,000 or more increased from 35% to 45% since June, and its statisticians are warning of a widening financial gap that is particularly affecting those on low pay, the self-employed and parents with school-age children. Related: Ministers could pay £500 to everyone with Covid in England Continue reading... […]

  • Joe Biden hits the ground running by outlining national Covid strategy
    by Lauren Gambino in Washington on January 21, 2021 at 8:39 pm

    President laments ‘tragic cost of failure’ to datePete Buttigieg senses ‘bipartisan appetite’ on infrastructureUS politics latest – follow liveJoe Biden began his first full day as president confronting a host of major crises facing his fledgling administration, starting with a flurry of actions to address his most pressing challenge: the raging Covid-19 pandemic.At a White House event on Thursday afternoon, Biden unveiled a new national strategy to combat the coronavirus, which has killed more than 404,000 Americans and infected more than 24 million since it first began spreading across the US one year ago, by far the highest totals in the world. Related: Joe Biden marks start of presidency with flurry of executive orders Continue reading... […]

  • Malware reportedly found on laptops given to children in England
    by Sally Weale and Richard Adams on January 21, 2021 at 8:37 pm

    Investigation launched after teachers warn of worm on devices handed out for home schoolingCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageThe government has launched an investigation into reports that laptops it distributed to support vulnerable children during lockdown had been infected with malware connected to Russian servers.The problem was reported by staff at a school in Bradford who raised the alarm on an online IT forum. Enquiries are under way to establish how many devices are affected, where they were sourced and whether any are already in the hands of pupils. Continue reading... […]

  • Two helpings of Priti Patel is pretty much no help at all | John Crace
    by John Crace on January 21, 2021 at 8:24 pm

    The home secretary’s diversionary tactic of semi-coherent rambling was put into service on a day of 1,290 Covid deathsCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageBoris Johnson spoils us. Up until last week, the home secretary had been kept away from the Downing Street press conferences since a disastrous appearance last May. Now we get Priti Patel twice in two weeks. But then the prime minister didn’t have a lot of choice, given that he clearly didn’t fancy taking Thursday night’s himself. Matt Hancock is self-isolating, Dominic Raab appears to have taken a vow of silence, and Gavin Williamson had all but handed in his resignation letter during a car crash series of interviews during the morning media round.Then perhaps Patel wasn’t such a bad choice after all. Not because she had anything very important to say, but precisely because she didn’t. Few politicians match her ability to fill dead air with a series of disconnected sentences that leave most people none the wiser by the time she comes to a stop. Ideal for a press briefing with minimal news content that has to be extended to 40 minutes to keep up appearances. Continue reading... […]

  • North-east and Yorkshire vaccine supply cut to catch up lagging regions
    by Dan Sabbagh, Pamela Duncan, Niamh McIntyre and Peter Walker on January 21, 2021 at 8:23 pm

    Supply to NHS region to be halved from next week to help London and other areas reach targetsCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageVaccine supply is to be cut in half in the north-east and Yorkshire next week by the NHS to allow London and other regions lagging behind to catch up in immunising the over 80s.Official data showed that the north-east and Yorkshire, the leading English NHS region, had given a first dose two-thirds of its over 80s population – 67% – by 17 January whereas last place London had only treated just under half, at 49.8%. Continue reading... […]

  • Let's hope Cineworld's shameless bonus scheme proposal flops | Nils Pratley
    by Nils Pratley on January 21, 2021 at 7:59 pm

    Greidinger brothers’ outrageous plan must be voted down. Plus: the worrying rise of spread bettingYou would assume a 20% family shareholding in the company you run would serve as a strong incentive to get out of bed in the morning. Not so, apparently. Mooky and Israel Greidinger, the headline acts at Cineworld, would also like a super-charged bonus scheme to restore the quoted cinema chain’s share price to its pre-pandemic status.The blurb from the boardroom says “it is imperative we retain and motivate our highly regarded leadership team through the next phase of the company’s recovery and beyond”. Are other shareholders meant to believe the brothers, chief executive and deputy, are contemplating a change of career? Related: Cineworld faces revolt by shareholders over £208m share scheme Continue reading... […]

  • Two suicide bombers kill at least 32 shoppers in Baghdad
    by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad in Baghdad and Martin Chulov on January 21, 2021 at 7:31 pm

    Attack wounded more than 100 people and raises fear of return to violence in Iraqi capitalTwo suicide bombers have killed at least 32 people and wounded more than 100 at a Baghdad market, raising fears of a return to the militant violence seen for years in Iraq after the 2003 US invasion and during the Islamic State era. In the worst such attack in three years, bombers lured shoppers towards them and set off devices they were carrying at a secondhand clothes bazaar. It happened in mid-morning when the market was teeming with people after the lifting of nearly a year of Covid-19 restrictions across the country. Continue reading... […]

  • Cineworld faces revolt by shareholders over £208m share scheme
    by Mark Sweney on January 21, 2021 at 7:19 pm

    LTIP for senior bosses called ‘excessive’ as thousands of staff remain on furloughBritain’s largest cinema chain is facing a shareholder backlash over a scheme that could result in senior bosses being allocated up to £208m in share awards while thousands of staff remain on furlough as all 127 of its UK sites remain closed.Cineworld’s shareholders are due to vote on a new pay policy and long-term incentive plan (LTIP) at a special meeting next week. The shareholder advisory groups Glass Lewis and ISS have recommended that investors vote against the plans. Continue reading... […]

  • France says Eurostar will get French and UK aid to ensure its future
    by Gwyn Topham on January 21, 2021 at 7:08 pm

    French transport minister says he is working with UK to keep firm going amid fall in passengersEurostar will get help from France and the UK to ensure it survives the pandemic, according to the French government.The cross-Channel rail service has said its future is at risk and appealed for state aid, with passenger numbers down more than 95% on pre-pandemic levels. It now operates just one train a day each way on its London-Paris and London-Brussels routes. Continue reading... […]

  • North-west England and Wales badly hit by floods from Storm Christoph
    by Helen Pidd, Alex Mistlin and Steven Morris on January 21, 2021 at 6:50 pm

    Severe warnings in place as care homes evacuated, roads blocked and body found in riverSevere flood warnings remained in place in north-west England and Wales on Thursday evening following a tumultuous 24 hours in which hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes, and the body of a man was recovered from a river in Cardiff.Emergency crews including specialist divers found the man in the River Taff after being alerted by a member of the public. It was not clear how the man died and if the death was storm-related. South Wales police said they were investigating. Related: Storm Christoph hits the UK – in pictures Continue reading... […]

  • Ministers could pay £500 to everyone with Covid in England
    by Josh Halliday on January 21, 2021 at 6:45 pm

    Exclusive: universal payment is ‘preferred position’ of DHSC in effort to help people self-isolateCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageMinisters are considering paying £500 to everyone in England who tests positive for Covid-19, in a dramatic overhaul of the self-isolation support scheme, the Guardian can reveal.The proposed change is thought necessary because government polling found only 17% of people with symptoms are coming forward to get a test, owing to fears that a positive result could stop people from working. Continue reading... […]

  • Plans to decriminalise licence fee non-payment shelved after mixed response
    by PA Media on January 21, 2021 at 6:39 pm

    Government remains concerned criminal sanctions are unfair and will keep issue under considerationThe government has said it is not going ahead with plans to decriminalise non-payment of the TV licence fee but will keep the issue under “active consideration”.The culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, said switching to a civil enforcement system risked being seen as an invitation to evade the fee and could reward those who declined to pay. Continue reading... […]

  • John Kerry commits US to climate crisis fight but warns world is way off pace
    by Oliver Milman and Fiona Harvey on January 21, 2021 at 6:38 pm

    Joe Biden’s new climate envoy says: ‘all nations must raise ambition together – or we will all fail, together’The world is lagging behind the required pace of change needed to avert catastrophic impacts from the climate crisis, John Kerry has warned in his first remarks as the US’s new climate envoy.Kerry, the former US secretary of state, acknowledged that America had been absent from the international effort to contain dangerous global heating during Donald Trump’s presidency but added that “today no country and no continent is getting the job done”. Related: Biden raises hopes of addressing climate crisis as Cop26 nears Continue reading... […]

  • Covid quarantine: Home Office considered electronic tags for travellers
    by Simon Murphy Political correspondent on January 21, 2021 at 5:41 pm

    Exclusive: policy paper includes option of ‘tagging’ arrivals to track them during quarantine periodA mandatory requirement that electronic tags be worn by international arrivals for up to 10 days to ensure they abided by Covid-19 quarantine restrictions was an option explored by the Home Office under controversial plans, the Guardian has learned.The details, understood to have been included in a draft “borders enforcement” policy paper produced by Priti Patel’s department, have emerged as the UK government’s Covid-O committee is preparing to meet on Friday to discuss implementing further travel restrictions. Australia-style quarantine hotels for arrivals or an extension of travel bans are under consideration by ministers. Continue reading... […]

  • Treasury expected to balk at further education loan plans
    by Richard Adams and Sally Weale on January 21, 2021 at 5:17 pm

    Gavin Williamson hails plans for ‘lifelong loan entitlement’ but Treasury is hostile to expanding systemThe government’s plans for a “lifelong loan entitlement” for further education study – a key part of its new skills white paper for England – are predicted to run into stiff opposition from the Treasury.The white paper says the loan entitlement will be equivalent to “four years of post-18 education” when it launches in 2025, and claims it will “transform the funding system so it is just as easy to get a loan for a higher technical course as it is for a full-length university degree”. Related: Overhaul of skills and vocational education to focus on employability Related: Scrapping in-work training fund will harm economic recovery, warn trade unions Continue reading... […]

  • EU website purchases: the import charges UK customers have to pay
    by Miles Brignall on January 21, 2021 at 4:32 pm

    Consumers now face UK VAT, rather than local rates, as well as customs duty and courier admin chargesBritons buying from EU websites hit with £100 customs billsBefore Brexit, UK consumers were free to buy items from anywhere in the EU without incurring import duties and other charges. That all changed on 1 January 2021.Online orders up to £135 are now supposed to have the UK’s prevailing VAT rate added at the point of sale by the EU retailer, which has to have registered with HM Revenue & Customs. Continue reading... […]

  • Previously unseen dog painting by Manet to be sold at Paris auction
    by Kim Willsher in Paris on January 21, 2021 at 4:32 pm

    Artist painted pet as present for Marguerite Lathuille, whose family has owned picture for last 140 yearsA previously unseen painting of a pet dog by Édouard Manet will be sold for the first time at an auction in Paris next month.The French modernist artist dashed off the small work in 1879 as a present for Marguerite Lathuille, the daughter of a Paris innkeeper whose portrait he painted around the same time. Continue reading... […]

  • 'Freedom': UK Covid patient returns home after 306 days in hospital
    by Ben Quinn on January 21, 2021 at 4:22 pm

    Geoffrey Woolf was admitted in March and his three sons were called in to say their goodbyesCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageA retired lawyer who survived Covid-19 after contracting the virus in the early weeks of the pandemic made an emotional return home today after spending 306 days in hospital.Geoffrey Woolf, 74, who was rushed to hospital last March after collapsing over breakfast, is believed to have spent one of the longest periods in hospital of any Covid patient before being discharged. Continue reading... […]

  • English care homes 'sitting ducks' as GPs refuse Covid vaccine at infected sites
    by Robert Booth Social affairs correspondent on January 21, 2021 at 4:09 pm

    Outbreaks recorded in 635 facilities, but vaccinations delayed despite NHS deadline to protect vulnerable people Coronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageCovid outbreaks are slowing delivery of the vaccine to some care homes in England as GPs postpone jabs in infected facilities. Managers say they have been left as sitting ducks.Covid outbreaks were recorded in 635 English care homes last week, a slight fall on the previous week, data from Public Health England revealed. But outbreaks are still four times higher than at the start of December. Although the health secretary, Matt Hancock, said on Thursday 63% of care residents in England have received jabs. Covid deaths in care homes in England rose 46% last week to 1,260, the highest level seen since mid-May. Continue reading... […]