Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Wednesday evening. We’ll have another update for you on Thursday morning.
1. Pubs and restaurants close in central Scotland
The top story in the UK today concerns the major new restrictions announced in Scotland. All pubs and restaurants across central Scotland – which is home to 3.4 million people and includes the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh – will have to close from Friday evening. Cafes that do not have an alcohol licence can stay open during the day until 18:00. In other parts of Scotland, pubs and restaurants can open but will only be able to serve alcohol outdoors. To read about the evidence that has led to the decision, head here. And for the rest of the UK, here’s a guide to the rules on going out.
2. Questions over pub rules – as Greene King cuts 800 jobs
Meanwhile in England, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been challenged to publish the scientific advice behind the decision to close pubs and restaurants early at 22:00. During Prime Minister’s Questions Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told him the public “deserved to know” the basis for the rule, which the Mr Johnson says is designed to reduce the virus spreading. There’s a vote next week on whether to continue the restriction – and some Conservative MPs are opposed to it. It comes as pub chain Greene King said it is closing more than 25 pubs and cutting 800 jobs across the UK, a move it partly blamed on the lockdown restrictions.
3. Will exams go ahead next year?
The exams fiasco earlier this year led to U-turns over how students’ results will be decided. Now schools are looking ahead to 2021. The current plan is for exams to go ahead – but with key changes including trimmed-down content and later start dates. However Scotland has announced it has axed the National 5 exams – the equivalent of GCSEs down south – and will replace them with coursework and teacher assessments, although Higher and Advanced Higher exams will go ahead. Our education correspondent Sean Coughlan has more on what we know so far for other exams.
4. Ministers to look at how to cut travel quarantine time
Currently, anyone arriving into the UK must quarantine for 14 days, unless they have come from a place that is exempt. But Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says he is setting up a taskforce to look at how the self-isolation period could be reduced by testing travellers. One of the proposals is for a test taken after a few days and paid for by the passenger and if it’s negative, they can stop quarantining early. The aviation industry has struggled with the drop in customers, and airports and airlines have repeatedly called for tests to be given to UK arrivals.
5. Anti-lockdown movement backed by scientists
Nearly 6,000 health experts and scientists, including dozens from the UK, have joined a global movement warning of the impact of lockdown rules. They say strict restrictions are having a devastating effect on people’s physical and mental health as well as society. The group say healthy people should get on with their lives while the vulnerable are protected – but many critics have said there are flaws with that plan. To read more from young people who say their mental health has been hit hard by lockdown, look here.
And don’t forget…
Plus… after hospitals in England saw hospital admissions jump by a quarter in just one day, what is the risk of Covid overwhelming the NHS?
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