Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Wednesday morning. We’ll have another update for you at 18:00 BST.
1. Three-tier system comes into force in England
Tighter curbs on socialising are now in place for millions in the Midlands and the North, and talks are ongoing about whether other regions should join Liverpool on the “very high” level. This is what we know about how the system works and five questions still to be answered. Pressure is already growing on Boris Johnson to go further, especially after the Labour leader called for a so-called “circuit break” – a short-term period of temporary, nationwide lockdown. Sir Keir Starmer is bound to push hard on that at prime minister’s questions today. Can the PM hold out against going further, and indeed, should he? Read our political editor’s latest thoughts.
2. Northern Ireland to close schools
Scotland has already imposed stricter rules across a large swathe of the country and Northern Ireland is set to be next. Stormont is expected to announce a series of restrictions, including a two-week closure of schools from Monday. Hospitality businesses will only be allowed to offer takeaway and delivery services for four weeks from Friday, and there’ll be other new rules around sport, hairdressing, gyms and places of worship. Our colleagues in Belfast will bring you all the latest as they get it.
3. European countries tighten rules
Across Europe there are similar moves aimed at tackling a second wave of infections. The Czech Republic is imposing a three-week partial lockdown, shutting schools, bars and clubs. The Netherlands is keeping schools open but cracking down on hospitality. Hospital admissions are rising fast again in many countries. Hospitals in Paris could have 90% of their intensive care beds filled by the end next week, health officials are warning. We’re tracking the global spread of the virus in graphics.
4. School trip worries
Schools and residential trip providers fear they’ll no longer be covered by insurance for visits cancelled because of coronavirus. The Association of British Insurers website now says schools should “seek a refund from the venue”. Vanessa Fox, chief executive of the charity Farms for City Children, said many youngsters had spent months in lockdown without access to outdoor space, meaning such trips were now even more crucial for their wellbeing.
5. ‘If you feel it, just do it’
There’s a lot of gloomy economic news right now, but the CEO Secrets series is trying to bring some positivity, focusing on businesses that have launched during this difficult period. This week we’re speaking to female entrepreneurs aged over 50. Feyi Raimi-Abraham set up The Black Dementia Company after lockdown forced her into becoming a full-time carer for her mother. Paula Grady started creating scented candles after losing her job and struggling to find a new one. Femi wants other women like her to take the plunge.
And don’t forget…
Find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.
Plus, we hear “follow the science” a lot. Here we explain what advice has been coming to the government – and when – from advisers on the Sage committee.
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