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‘Tis the season to be jolly careful’, PM warns, as he reveals new tiers

“Boris Johnson warned on Monday night that Britain is entering “the season to be jolly careful” as he announced new coronavirus restrictions that will last until the end of March. On the day that Oxford University announced successful trials of its Covid vaccine, Mr Johnson revealed details of a revised regional three-tier system that will begin on December 2. Under the new scheme, pubs and restaurants in Tier 3 areas will only be allowed to serve takeaways, while in Tier 2 they can only serve alcohol with a meal, prompting warnings of “dire” consequences for the hospitality industry. However, all shops will be able to reopen in every tier, amateur sport and children’s activities will also be allowed to resume, and crowds of up to 4,000 will be allowed in sports stadiums. Hairdressers, gyms and beauty salons will also be excluded from the new regulations.” – Daily Telegraph

New tiers
  • Vaccine cheers, but first the tiers – Daily Mail
  • Johnson outlines tougher tier system to replace England lockdown – FT
  • London should be split into different tiers, MPs urge – Daily Telegraph
  • Leaders from North warn PM over revised Covid curbs – The Guardian
  • What are the new Covid tiers after lockdown? – Daily Telegraph
Testing
  • Elderly can leave care homes this Christmas – if family get tested – The Sun
  • Travellers must pay £120 to exit quarantine early – The Times
  • Covid rules should be over by Easter, says medical chief – The Times
Comment

Janet Daley: The end of this Covid nightmare is in sight

“Admittedly it was a difficult message to sell with much clarity. We have had spectacular, wonderful, splendid news: not just a couple of brash American vaccines but now a nice, civilised British one (which was presumably capable of irony) and we’ve already ordered lots and lots of it. Hooray! But don’t get too excited. Boris Johnson drew a fine distinction between optimism and over-optimism which you may have found difficult to calibrate. But I think we got it. This is all looking really, really good and we really, really want to let you have the kind of Christmas that will be humanly palatable – but please don’t get carried away.”- Daily Telegraph

  • UK economy set to shrink as restrictions limit activity – FT

Johnson issues letter to ministers warning there is no place for bullying

“Boris Johnson has written to ministers and heads of Government departments warning them there is “no place for bullying” after an investigation into Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, found that she had shouted and sworn at staff. In a joint letter with the Cabinet Secretary, Simon Case, the Prime Minister said there was a “particular duty” on ministers and permanent secretaries to create a culture that was “professional, respectful, focused and ambitious for change and in which there is no place for bullying”. Mr Johnson also stressed the “paramount importance” of relationships between politicians and their civil servants being based on “mutual trust and respect”. – Daily Telegraph

  • Tory MPs rebuked over letter to judge in Elphicke case – The Guardian
Comment

Spending review: Davidson argues against cut to foreign aid

“Boris Johnson will be “taking the flak” from world leaders for cutting international aid as Rishi Sunak reaps the domestic political advantages, the Tories’ former Scottish leader Ruth Davidson has warned. Ms Davidson today becomes the latest former Conservative leader to urge Mr Johnson to resist Treasury pressure to slash the aid budget. Mr Sunak, the chancellor, is expected to announce a reduction from 0.7 per cent of gross national income to 0.5 per cent tomorrow to help cut borrowing. Writing in The Times, Ms Davidson, the party’s Scottish leader until last year, says cutting aid would set back by decades the poorest nations’ efforts to rebuild after the pandemic.” – The Times

Other comment

Barnier set to leave quarantine for final Brexit talks

“A Brexit trade, security and fishing deal could be in sight early next week as Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief negotiator, prepares to come out of coronavirus quarantine for the final round of talks. Negotiators continued line-by-line talks on a draft legal treaty text yesterday as talks enter the last stage. There was an outbreak of the virus in the European team last week. While opening a new customs facility at Dublin port yesterday, Micheál Martin, the Irish prime minister, said that negotiators were working on “texts now in all areas” and the EU’s assessment was the most hopeful to date.” – The Times

  • Brexit deal ‘done in days’ as Johnson to phone Von der Leyen – Daily Express
  • No-deal will cost more than Covid, Governor says – The Guardian

Chief whip demands apology from Corbyn

“Labour’s chief whip has demanded that Jeremy Corbyn ‘unequivocally’ apologise for claiming that the scale of anti-Semitism in the party was ‘dramatically overstated for political reasons’. MP Nick Brown said the former Labour leader caused ‘distress and pain’ to the Jewish community with his response to a damning Equality and Human Rights Commission report into antisemitism in the party. In a letter, the chief whip told MP for Islington Mr Corbyn to ‘unequivocally, unambiguously and without reservation’ apologise for his comments.” – Daily Mail

Comment

Trump agrees transition to Biden

“Donald Trump has directed his team to cooperate with an incoming President-elect Joe Biden administration after the General Services Administration ascertained the Democrat as the “apparent election winner”. The US president, in his closest statement yet to finally conceding he lost, tweeted: “In the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily (Murphy, GSA Administrator) and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.” The move clears the way for the start of an official transition and allows Mr Biden to coordinate with federal agencies on plans for taking over on January 20.” – Daily Telegraph

And finally, will there be enough Christmas trees this year?

“Britain’s most popular Christmas tree could be in short supply after imports from Denmark were halted by Covid-19 restrictions. The UK normally imports more than one million Nordmann Fir trees each year from what is Europe’s largest festive tree producer. However, exports to the UK and other countries have been severely hit by restrictions linked to a cull of mink, which became a reservoir for a mutant form of coronavirus. Garden centres say that, historically, many stores and supermarkets rely on Danish trees for their festive stock.” – Daily Mail

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