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Covid UK news – live: ‘Limited’ household mixing to be allowed at Christmas as PM faces Tory revolt over stricter tier system

Ministers have endorsed a shared objective of introducing a limited period during Christmas that will allow families to get together and form bubbles with a small number of friends and relatives, as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The Cabinet Office said the objective was agreed on after talks with the devolved administrations over the weekend. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will set out the basis of the plans on Monday, but will not be able to provide details until a later date, according to the PA news agency.

Mr Johnson will also announce that the current national lockdown in England will come to an end as planned on 2 December, only for the country to revert to a “strengthened” three-tier system, similar to the one in place before the lockdown.

However, the Prime Minister may face a revolt by Tory backbenchers who have warned him they would not back such a move without scientific evidence. Around 70 Tory MPs are said to have signed a letter demanding a cost-benefit analysis to show restrictions “will save more lives than they cost”.

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Boris Johnson faces backbench revolt over tougher three-tier lockdown plans

The Prime Minister is facing the threat of a backbench revolt, as he plans to move England into a strengthened three-tiered system after the current lockdown ends on 2 December.

Around 70 Tory MPs are said to have signed a letter warning Boris Johnson they will not back such a move without a cost-benefit analysis to show restrictions “will save more lives than they cost”.

Get the full story by Sam Blewett:

Kate Ng22 November 2020 20:27

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Chile opens border after 8 months

Chile has said it will open its main border crossing and principle airport to foreign visitors on Monday for the first time in eight months.

New arrivals into the country will have to provide evidence of a recent negative test in order to visit, as well as health insurance.

They will also have to report their whereabouts and health status to the government for two weeks. People coming from high-risk countries must quarantine for two weeks.

Chile closed its borders on 18 March, two weeks after reporting its first Covid-19 infection. To date, it has recorded 540,640 positive cases and over 15,000 deaths.

Kate Ng22 November 2020 19:34

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How are Brits feeling about Christmas household bubbles?

News that ministers are endorsing the introduction of “limited additional household bubbling” to allow a small number of family and friends to gather over Christmas for a limited number of days has been shared widely on social media.

Britons have taken to social media to voice their opinions and questions about the idea, which could see a temporary amnesty from social mixing restrictions over the festive period.

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, stressed earlier on Sunday that it will not be a “normal” Christmas, suggesting that people will still have to follow social distancing rules to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Some people have welcomed the idea of allowing households to form festive bubbles, while others raised questions about why the bubbles cannot last beyond the Christmas period.

Many raised concerns that the virus could still spread if people are allowed to meet, leading to a third wave of Covid-19 and further lockdowns.

A large number of people were disappointed the government didn’t take the opportunity to call the bubbles “baubles” – a waste of a good pun.

Boris Johnson is expected to address parliament on Monday with the proposals, but No10 is yet to confirm how many days the Christmas reprieve could last for or how many households will be allowed to form bubbles.

Kate Ng22 November 2020 19:27

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ICYMI: 12 arrested at ‘idiotic’ anti-lockdown protest in Basildon

If you missed it, twelve people were arrested and several police officers injured during a clash at an anti-lockdown protest in Essex that has been branded as “idiotic”.

The unauthorised gathering took place on Saturday in Basildon town centre, involving large groups of protesters marching and changing “freedom”.

Kate Ng22 November 2020 18:41

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Spain to begin Covid vaccination programme in January

Spain will begin a comprehensive coronavirus vaccination programme in January, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Saturday.

The Spanish government expects to cover a “substantial part of the population” within three months of beginning the programme.

Mr Sanchez told a news conference that Spain and Germany were the first two European Union countries to have a complete vaccination plan in place.

After a two-day virtual summit of G20 leaders, he said a single national strategy would start with “priority groups”, adding that he would present the plan to the cabinet on Tuesday.

“We have a touch few months ahead of us but the road map has been drawn up,” said Mr Sanchez.

Kate Ng22 November 2020 18:21

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1,000 mink culled in France after discovery of mutated Covid-19 strain in farm

A thousand minks will be killed in France after lab analyses detected a mutated version of the coronavirus in one farm.

All animals at a farm in the Eure-et-Loire region of Western France will be culled and all animal products will be eliminated, the French government said in a statement.

Four mink farms have been tested since mid-November after a mutated coronavirus strain that threatened to make future vaccines less effective was discovered in mink farms in Denmark.

My colleague Alessio Perrone reports:

Kate Ng22 November 2020 17:37

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Lab-confirmed Covid cases surpass 1.5m in UK

The number of lab-confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the UK has passed 1.5 million

The Government announced a further 18,662 positive cases on Sunday, bringing the total number of cases in the UK to 1,512,045.

In addition, 398 more people have died within 28 days of testing positive for the coronavirus as of Sunday. The UK death toll now stands at 55,024.

The Government said Sunday’s figures on deaths of people who tested positive for Covid-19 included 141 deaths that were excluded from published data on 21 November.

“This issue has now been corrected for data published on 22 November, which includes deaths omitted yesterday in today’s total and a daily number of newly reported deaths.”

Kate Ng22 November 2020 17:11

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Government backs ‘limited’ Christmas household mixing after talks with devolved nations

Families will be allowed to form bubbles with a small number of friends and relatives over Christmas for a limited number of days, the government has suggested.

The Cabinet Office said, after talks with the devolved administrations, that ministers endorsed a shared objective of introducing a temporary amnesty from household mixing restrictions to allow “limited additional household bubbling”.

Our Political Correspondent Ashley Cowburn has further details in his report:

Kate Ng22 November 2020 17:00

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Bodies of hundreds of Covid patients remain in freezer trucks in New York

More than 600 bodies of people who died from coronavirus in New York City earlier this year are still being stored in freezer trucks used as temporary morgues, it has been reported.

The makeshift morgues are located on the Brooklyn waterfront. The city’s Office of Chief Medical Examiner told The Wall Street Journal that the city either cannot find the families for many of the dead or their families cannot afford a proper burial.

Alex Woodward reports from New York:

Kate Ng22 November 2020 16:14

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Christmas shoppers hit the stores in Cardiff after firebreak lockdown

Shoppers queue outside a Primark store on Queen Street

(Getty Images)

Cardiff is alive with people doing their Christmas shopping, after a two-week “firebreak” lockdown was lifted.

Shoppers were seen queuing outside shops in the city centre as restrictions were relaxed and retail stores were allowed to open their doors once again.

(Getty Images)

On Friday, First Minister Mark Drakeford warned people to act “sensibly” and follow the rules, adding that there was no guarantee that Wales would not have another firebreak lockdown in the run-up to the festive period if infections rose again.

According to Wales Online, pubs and restaurants were also booked out as people took full advantage of being out of lockdown once again.

(Getty Images)

Kate Ng22 November 2020 16:10