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Sunday, January 17, 2021

What are the new travel rules and how do they affect passengers

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What are the new travel rules and how do they affect passengers? All travel corridors will be scrapped from Monday in an attempt to curb coronavirus cases, the Government has announced. The new measures come after a travel ban was announced on arrivals from South America, Portugal and Cape Verde due to the emergence of a new variant in Brazil. Here the we look at the new travel rules and what they mean for passengers. – What has happened to the travel corridors? The travel corridors will be scrapped from 4am on January 18 to “protect against the risk of as yet unidentified new strains” of coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said. The new policy means arrivals from every destination will need to self-isolate for 10 days, or receive a negative result from a coronavirus test taken at least five days after they enter the UK. The previous travel corridors exempted arrivals from having to complete the isolation period on return to the UK. – Do I need to get a negative test if I want to come back to the UK? In addition to the travel corridors being dropped, from Monday January 18, all arrivals into England – including British citizens – must test negative for Covid up to 72 hours before leaving the country of departure. Travellers will need to present proof of a negative test result to their carrier on boarding, while the UK Border Force will conduct spot checks on arrivals. New arrivals who flout the rules will face a minimum £500 fine while the operator who transported them will also be fined. Passengers will still have to quarantine for 10 days regardless of their test results, or receive a negative result from a coronavirus test taken at least five days after they enter the UK. There are limited exemptions, including hauliers, young children, train crew and people arriving from countries which do not have the infrastructure for testing. Travellers will have to take an internationally approved test, and guidance released by the Department for Transport said they could include PCR tests, nasal and throat swab tests, which take between 12 and 24 hours to return results. Loop-mediated isothermal amplification (Lamp) tests, which can return results in two to three hours, and lateral flow tests, which generate results in less than 30 minutes, are also acceptable. Results can be produced as physical documents or by email or text but must be in English, French or Spanish. Translations will not be accepted. Scotland and Wales have adopted similar policies. – Can I travel abroad at all? Current lockdown restrictions dictate that people must stay at home and holidays are not allowed in the UK or elsewhere. Limited exemptions such as travelling for work reasons are still permitted, but passengers will need to self-isolate for 10 days on their return and show a negative Covid test result. Arrivals into England who do not self-isolate can face fines between £1,000 and £10,000. In Scotland, fines are up to £480 and in Wales they vary from £500-£4,000. – Which countries are subject to travel bans? Travel to and from all of South America, Portugal and Cape Verde was banned from 4am on Friday. British and Irish nationals as well as people with residency rights will be exempt, but will have to self-isolate for 10 days with their household on returning from any countries on the banned list. A similar travel ban was put into place for South Africa last month, and later neighbouring nations after scientists identified another new variant. Since December 23, entry into England has been banned for people arriving from South Africa, apart from British nationals or residents who have been subject to an isolation period. On January 9, the same rules were applied to Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Eswatini, Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho, Mozambique and Angola, as well as Seychelles and Mauritius. Published: 16/01/2021 by Radio NewsHub

R rate drops below 1 in several regions Cambridge researchers say

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R rate drops below 1 in several regions, Cambridge researchers say The number of Covid-19 infections across England is falling as a whole, with the reproductive rate – the R – below 1 in some regions, University of Cambridge researchers have said. The Medical Research Council (MRC) Biostatistics Unit Covid-19 Working Group said the current estimate of the daily number of new infections occurring across England is 60,200. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is due to release its own figures later, while Government scientists will release their own R rate, which refers to the number of people an infected person will pass the virus on to. The Cambridge researchers said regions with a current R rate below 1 are the East of England, London, the South East, West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber. They say it is above 1 in the South West, North West, North East and East Midlands. The team suggests the proportion of the population who have ever been infected could stand at 30% in London, 26% in the North West and 21% in the North East, dropping to 13% in the South East and 8% in the South West. They added: “The growth rate for England is now estimated to be -0.02 per day. This means that, nationally, the number of infections is declining but with a high degree of regional variation. “Infections are still increasing in the South West and North East, whilst plateauing in the West Midlands and East Midlands.” The team also predicts that the number of deaths occurring daily is likely to be between 518 and 860 on January 28. It comes as Public Health England (PHE) released data on Wednesday showing infection rates had fallen in most regions of England across all age groups apart from the over-80s. At the same time, however, the PHE surveillance report noted that there were more people being admitted to hospitals and intensive care units. NHS England data shows that around one in five major hospital trusts in England had no spare adult critical care beds on January 10. Elsewhere, the Zoe Covid Symptom Study UK Infection Survey from King’s College London put the UK R rate at 0.9. It said cases have also plateaued in most age groups. Tim Spector, who is leading the study, said: “It’s great to see case numbers falling in most regions but numbers are still worryingly high and hospitals will stay under pressure for some time yet. “With such high numbers and growing evidence new strains are highly transmissible, things can still take a turn for the worse. We need numbers to keep falling before we make any changes to current restrictions.” Published: 15/01/2021 by Radio NewsHub

Supreme Court substantially allows FCA appeal on coronavirus insurance claims

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Supreme Court ‘substantially allows’ FCA appeal on coronavirus insurance claims The Supreme Court has “substantially allowed” an appeal brought by the Financial Conduct Authority in a landmark £1.2 billion legal battle over businesses’ ability to claim on insurance for coronavirus-related disruption. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) last year brought a test case, which could affect around 370,000 businesses, over the wording of business interruption insurance policies, which some insurers argued did not cover the Covid-19 pandemic. The City watchdog previously said it was bringing the legal action following “widespread concern” over “the lack of clarity and certainty” for businesses seeking to cover substantial losses incurred by the pandemic and subsequent national lockdown. In September, the High Court ruled on several “lead” insurance policies issued by eight separate insurers largely in favour of the FCA, which welcomed the judgment as “a significant step in resolving the uncertainty being faced by policyholders”. The regulator, however, argued the judgment “paved the way for many insurance policies to pay indemnities on Covid-19 business interruption claims”, but also “took something away with one hand after giving more substantially and in detail with the other”. Six of the insurers – Arch, Argenta, Hiscox, MS Amlin, QBE and RSA – also appealed against aspects of the High Court’s ruling, as did the Hiscox Action Group, which represents around 400 businesses insured by Hiscox. In November, the UK’s highest court heard “leapfrog” appeals – which have bypassed the Court of Appeal – in a case which could have implications for hundreds of thousands of businesses affected by coronavirus. Announcing the Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday, Lord Hamblen said: “The appeals of the Financial Conduct Authority and the Hiscox Action Group are substantially allowed and the insurers’ appeals are dismissed.” Published: 15/01/2021 by Radio NewsHub

Tory candidate suspended by party over comments about fat food bank users

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Tory candidate suspended by party over comments about ‘fat’ food bank users A Scottish Conservative candidate for the Holyrood election has been suspended by the party after claiming “fat” food bank users are “far from starving”. Craig Ross, the Tory candidate for Glasgow Pollok, also expressed scepticism about the UK Government listening to campaigning footballer Marcus Rashford about food poverty and feeding hungry children. Craig Ross, the Tory candidate for Glasgow Pollok, also expressed scepticism about the UK Government listening to campaigning footballer Marcus Rashford about food poverty and feeding hungry children. The Scottish Tories have now suspended Mr Ross over the “unacceptable comments”, which were unearthed by the Daily Record newspaper. The current MSP for Glasgow Pollok, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf, called for him to be dropped as the Tory candidate. Speaking on his podcast, Mr Ross – who earlier this year posted a video challenging SNP election candidates to complete 18 pull-ups – discussed coverage of people using food banks and said: “Their biggest risk is not starvation, it’s diabetes.” He claimed Manchester United star Rashford organised an “online mob” to pressure the Government to change its policy on free school meals for pupils. Mr Ross said: “Has Marcus Rashford stood for election to anything? Not that I’m aware of. “So should we turn our welfare policy upside down in order to suit Rashford’s view as to what would be decent?” In his podcast, which aired on June 29, the former lecturer said: “In this world of such tremendous hunger, in this world where people are routinely struggling to eat, in this world where people appear on Channel 4 News and talk about how their children eat but they don’t because they can’t afford to – almost everybody in that world is grossly overweight. “And again people can’t accept this. People have no idea how fat they are. “I’m not saying that every single person who claims to be really hungry and is reliant on charity is also very overweight, but what I am saying is if Channel 4 News is having a reasonable go at showing the reality of food bank usage, then we know that the people that they film are far from starving.” In the wide-ranging podcast, Mr Ross argued food potentially has less “meaning” now than for generations, reflecting on how he and his family used to “stuff themselves” when food was available. “Food had a meaning in the 1980s earlier for a lot of folk that perhaps it doesn’t have now,” he said. “There isn’t really an expectation any longer that you should eat simple things that are full of energy. “If someone was forced to consider the number of calories in a foodstuff and whether it’s the sort of thing you should buy, that would be thought to be indecent. “It seems much much better to encourage people to behave unwisely and then end up in a situation where they’re in great need, and then – and only then – we can address their need and suggest that the state has to change this entire welfare policy in order to address that need, which could have been avoided if someone had stood with a packet of ramen noodles some point earlier and recognise what a tremendous good pie they were at that price.” The would-be MSP also lamented the findings of a report published in the wake of the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence that found the Metropolitan Police was “institutionally racist”. He said: “I remember my pal, the Metropolitan police officer, and his mates, and their reaction to that. “How nauseated they were, how utterly sickened they were, to be told that there was something called institutional racism and that they worked in the institution and therefore they by implication were racists. “This is the least racist country in the world.” A Scottish Conservative Party spokesman said: “We have suspended this candidate and an investigation is under way. “These unacceptable comments do not reflect the views of the party.” On Twitter, Mr Yousaf wrote: “The @ScotTories must sack their candidate for Glasgow Pollok. “His remarks that those who use foodbanks ‘are far from starving’ are utterly heartless. “To then go on to deny institutional racism in the context of the murder of Stephen Lawrence is deplorable.” Published: 15/01/2021 by Radio NewsHub

Boots and Superdrug among pharmacies to start high street vaccine rollout

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Boots and Superdrug among pharmacies to start high street vaccine rollout Health Secretary Matt Hancock has praised the work of pharmacies throughout the pandemic High street pharmacies in England will be able to distribute coronavirus vaccines from Thursday, the NHS has said. Boots and Superdrug branches will be among the six stores across the country which will be able to administer the jabs. Boots in Halifax, and Superdrug in Guildford, will be in the first group to hand out the injections, alongside Andrews Pharmacy in Macclesfield, Cullimore Chemist in Edgware, north London, Woodside Pharmacy in Telford and Appleton Village pharmacy in Widnes. The stores have been picked because they are capable of delivering large volumes of the medicine and allow for social distancing, while still giving a spread across the country. By the end of the month, more than 200 community chemists will be able to give vaccines, according to NHS England. The pharmacies join the 200 hospitals, around 800 GP clinics and seven mass vaccination centres where jabs are already being handed out. Published: 14/01/2021 by Radio NewsHub

Car dealers in Scotland banned from offering click and collect from Saturday

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Car dealers in Scotland banned from offering click-and-collect from Saturday Dealers will allowed to deliver directly to customers Car dealers in Scotland won’t be allowed to offer click-and-collect services from Saturday as more stringent coronavirus measures are put in place. However, dealerships will still be able to deliver vehicles to customers who purchase their car online or over the phone. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says that the rules surrounding click-and-collect are being strengthened in order to reduce the number of reasons people have to leave their homes and interact with others. From 00:01 Saturday, only retailers in Level 4 areas selling essentials will be able to offer collection services. Published: 13/01/2021 by Radio NewsHub

Andy Murray Australian Open appearance in doubt after positive test for Covid

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Andy Murray Australian Open appearance in doubt after positive test for Covid Andy Murray’s participation at the Australian Open is in doubt after he tested positive for coronavirus. The former world number one was due to travel to Australia on one of the 18 charter flights laid on by tournament organisers but is still isolating at home. Its understood that Murray, who is said to be in good health, is hoping to be able to arrive in Australia at a later date and participate in the year’s first grand slam, which begins on February 8 in Melbourne. Murray and his team are working closely with tournament director Craig Tiley to try to come up with an acceptable solution. Tournament organisers spent several months negotiating an arrangement that was acceptable to local and national government agencies regarding the admission of more than 1,000 tennis players and associated personnel to Australia. Players are due to begin arriving in the country within the next 24 hours. They will then complete a two-week period of quarantine, during which they are allowed out of their rooms to practise for five hours a day. They were told that a positive test prior to flying would mean they were not allowed to travel to Australia. Published: 14/01/2021 by Radio NewsHub

High street pharmacies to start vaccines as UK records worst day of Covid deaths

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High street pharmacies to start vaccines as UK records worst day of Covid deaths High street pharmacies are to begin rolling out Covid vaccines, as the virus death toll across the UK climbed above 100,000. Boots and Superdrug branches will be among the six stores across England which will be able to administer the jabs from Thursday while the Government aims to hit its target of vaccinating all people in the four most vulnerable groups by the middle of next month. Andrews Pharmacy in Macclesfield, Cullimore Chemist in Edgware, north London, Woodside Pharmacy in Telford, and Appleton Village pharmacy in Widnes will be in the first group to hand out the injections, alongside Boots in Halifax, and Superdrug in Guildford. Those who are eligible for a vaccine will be contacted and invited to make an appointment through a new national booking service. This gives them the option of having a vaccine at a pharmacy or in a GP-led vaccination centre. Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs that distribution “will be going to 24/7 as soon as we can” but said supply of doses remains the main barrier. The Scottish Government published its vaccine delivery plan on Wednesday evening, including details of how many doses it expects to receive for each week until the end of May, prompting a row with London, which has declined to publish its numbers. The six pharmacies have been picked because they can deliver large volumes of the vaccine and allow for social distancing, and Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it is “fantastic” that jabs will be available on the high street. “Pharmacies sit at the heart of local communities and will make a big difference to our rollout programme by providing even more local, convenient places for those that are eligible to get their jab,” he said. By the end of the month more than 200 community chemists with capacity for 1,000 doses a week will be able to give vaccines, according to NHS England. The pharmacies join the 200 hospitals, around 800 GP clinics and seven mass vaccination centres where jabs are already being handed out. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer urged ministers to go further and use England’s 11,500 pharmacies to deliver round-the-clock vaccinations by the end of next month. The expanded vaccination service in England comes as the daily reported UK death toll reached a new high on Wednesday, with 1,564 fatalities recorded within 28 days of a positive test. The latest figures meant the grim milestone of more than 100,000 deaths involving coronavirus has now been passed in the UK, according to official data. The Prime Minister warned that hospital intensive care units (ICUs) face being overwhelmed unless coronavirus rates are brought under control, with the latest official figures showing more than 36,000 people are in hospital with coronavirus, including almost 3,500 on ventilation. He told MPs: “If you ask me when do we think that the ICU capacity is likely to be overtopped, I can’t give you a prediction for that. “But all I can say is that the risk is very substantial and we have to keep the pressure off the NHS and the only way to do that is to follow the current lockdown.” Mr Johnson told the Commons Liaison Committee that “the situation is very, very tough indeed in the NHS” and “the strain is colossal” on staff. The Scottish Government published a 16-page document setting out how it intends to vaccinate 4.5 million people, including 400,000 a week from the end of February. It set out the supply of vaccine from Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna from the start of April that it expects to receive each week. This angered ministers in London, with a senior Government source warning: “Publication of numbers like these risks suppliers coming under pressure from other countries. “These vaccines are a finite resource and as we have said throughout – supply is the limiting step.” Amid the warnings of struggling hospitals, the Government’s top scientist also warned the country is “in for a pretty grim period” of deaths which will not “reduce quickly”. Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance told ITV’s Peston programme: “The daily numbers jump around a bit but I think we are in a position now – when you look at the number of infections we’ve had over the past few weeks and how this is likely to continue, so I don’t think they’re going to drop very quickly – that I’m afraid we’re in a period of high death numbers that’s going to carry on for some weeks. “It’s not going to come down quickly even if the measures that are in place now start to reduce the infection numbers. “So we’re in for a pretty grim period, I’m afraid.” In his two-hour questioning from a committee of MPs, the Prime Minister also acknowledged concerns about a new strain of coronavirus from Brazil, but stopped short of promising a travel ban on the South American country. “We already have tough measures … to protect this country from new infections coming in from abroad,” he said. “We are taking steps to do that in respect of the Brazilian variant.” Meanwhile, a new study has found that Covid infection provides some immunity for at least five months, but people may still carry and transmit the virus. The first report from Public Health England’s Siren study found that antibodies from past infection provide 83% protection against reinfection for at least five months. Published: 14/01/2021 by Radio NewsHub

Pressure on ministers to introduce statutory bereavement leave

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Pressure on ministers to introduce statutory bereavement leave Ministers are facing calls to introduce a minimum of two weeks’ paid bereavement leave following the death of a close relative or partner. A coalition of MPs, business chiefs and charities called for the measure in the face of the mounting Covid-19 death toll. The Government has so far been reluctant to introduce statutory bereavement leave, although it has done so for parents who lose a child. But Carl Ennis, the UK boss of engineering giant Siemens, said the coronavirus pandemic showed “we need to take a more empathetic and holistic approach to bereavement”. Ministers have argued that extending entitlements to paid bereavement leave would come at a significant cost to the public purse and place extra burdens on employers at a time when many are struggling. However, economic research conducted by bereavement charity Sue Ryder suggested that the grief experienced by employees who have lost a loved one costs the UK economy £23 billion a year and hit the Treasury by nearly £8 billion a year through reduced tax revenues and increased use of NHS and social care resources. The charity’s chief executive Heidi Travis said it was not appropriate for people to rely on annual leave or unpaid time off to cope in the aftermath of a death. She said: “Bereavement is not a holiday. Moreover, it is often the lower paid and those in less secure employment who are unable to take time off to start processing their pain – they may not have the option of flexible working, cannot call in sick and unpaid leave is not a viable alternative. “Coronavirus has already led to an increase in bereavement across the UK, devastating thousands of families. “At this time of national crisis, introducing a more compassionate approach to bereavement leave is paramount.” The coalition, which includes senior MPs and representatives from Hospice UK, Cruse Bereavement Care and the Royal College of Physicians, has written to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng calling for a change in policy. Siemens boss Mr Ennis, part of the coalition, said: “As the Government looks to ‘build back better’, we believe that introducing statutory bereavement leave for an immediate family member or partner is a clear example of a bold, compassionate and caring commitment to UK workers, particularly after the devastating year we had in 2020.” Debbie Abrahams, a Labour member of the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, said the pandemic had “cast a spotlight on the urgent need to better support people who are dealing with grief”. A Government spokeswoman said: “Family bereavement is an extremely personal and difficult issue which people deal with in different ways. “We are the first country in the world to have introduced a right to time off specifically for the loss of a child and we urge employers to also display compassion and flexibility towards employees facing the ordeal of losing a partner or close family member.” Published: 13/01/2021 by Radio NewsHub

Star Wars actor Jeremy Bulloch dies aged 75

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Star Wars actor Jeremy Bulloch dies aged 75 Tributes have been paid to Jeremy Bulloch who played Boba Fett in the original Star Wars films. The actor, who also appeared in James Bond film Octopussy and featured in a number of Doctor Who episodes in the 1970s, died on Thursday aged 75. His death followed “health complications following his many years living with Parkinson’s disease”, according to a statement on his website. Mark Hamill, who starred as Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, labelled Bulloch as “the quintessential Englishman”. He added: “A fine actor, delightful company & so kind to everyone lucky enough to meet or work with him. “I will deeply miss him & am so grateful to have known him.” According to the Star Wars website, Bulloch, of Market Harborough, Leicestershire, got his role in the Star Wars films thanks to his half-brother Robert Watts. Watts had attempted to help Bulloch for many years and was working as an associate producer and tasked with finding someone to fit into the Boba Fett costume. The website said: “He called his half-brother and told him that if the costume fit him, he had the role. “When Jeremy Bulloch arrived and put on the costume, it fit him like a glove. “George Lucas saw Bulloch as Boba and said, ‘You look fantastic.’, and thus, an iconic character of the saga was born.” Billy Dee Williams, who starred as Lando Calrissian in the Star Wars films, tweeted: “Today we lost the best bounty hunter in the galaxy. RIP Jeremy Bulloch.” Daniel Logan, who played a young Boba Fett in Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones, paid tribute to Bulloch on Instagram. He wrote: “RIP legend I’ll never forget all you’ve taught me!! “I’ll love you forever!! Conventions won’t be the same without you may the force be with you always.” The official Twitter account for the Star Wars franchise also paid tribute to Bulloch. “Jeremy Bulloch, whose unforgettable performance as notorious bounty hunter Boba Fett has captivated audiences since he first appeared in 1980’s Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, has sadly passed away,” it said. “He will be remembered not only for his iconic portrayal of the legendary character, but also for his warmth and generous spirit which have become an enduring part of his rich legacy.” He is survived by his wife, three sons and 10 grandchildren. Published: 18/12/2020 by Radio NewsHub