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Coronavirus 1) Police vow to fine lockdown refuseniks

“Britain’s most senior police officer has said it is preposterous that anyone could be unaware of the need to follow lockdown rules and served notice that those who ignore them will be challenged and fined. Dame Cressida Dick, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, says that people are still holding house parties, meeting in basements to gamble and attending unlicensed raves in the teeth of the pandemic’s most deadly phase. Writing in The Times today, she warns that anyone breaking the rules would find officers “moving much more quickly to enforcement action”. The move comes after Downing Street increased its efforts to improve compliance with Covid restrictions with warnings that they could otherwise be toughened.” – The Times

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>Today:

Coronavirus 2) Johnson under fire for bike ride miles from No 10

“Boris Johnson has been criticised for riding a bike at the Olympic Park in east London, seven miles from his home, despite stringent coronavirus restrictions. The prime minister was said to be breaking the spirit of the rules after he was spotted cycling in Stratford on Sunday afternoon, when official guidance says people should exercise locally. Government restrictions state that “you should not travel outside your local area” for exercise, although this is not enshrined in law. Mr Johnson was seen in the Olympic Park at about 2pm, wearing a Transport for London hat and a facemask, the Evening Standard reported. He was accompanied by his security detail.” – The Times

Coronavirus 3) Tory MPs demand plan to ease virus restrictions

“Boris Johnson was on Monday urged by Conservative MPs to set a March 8 target for easing coronavirus restrictions after ministers insisted 15m of the most vulnerable people in the UK would be offered a vaccine by mid-February. The Department of Health said 2.3m people had been vaccinated since early December, and health secretary Matt Hancock said he was “confident” the government’s goal of reaching 15m would be met by February 15. However, Tory MPs sceptical about England’s lockdown seized on progress with vaccinating four priority groups of people — those over 70, health and social care workers and the clinically vulnerable — to demand a plan from the prime minister for lifting the restrictions.” – FT

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>Yesterday:

Coronavirus 4) Johnson attack on ‘demented’ Chinese medicine

“Boris Johnson set himself on a collision course with the Chinese government with a thinly veiled attack on traditional medicine, which he said was to blame for the coronavirus pandemic. The practice of using scales from the endangered pangolin to aid virility is “demented,” Johnson said at a meeting of world leaders focused on protecting nature on Monday. “The coronavirus pandemic was the product of an imbalance in man’s relationship with the natural world,” Johnson said. “It originates from bats or pangolins, from the demented belief that if you grind up the scales of a pangolin you will somehow become more potent or whatever it is people believe.” – Bloomberg

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Coronavirus 5) Sunak predicts new Big Bang for City when staff return to offices

“Workers will return to offices after the lockdown because they are “social animals” who crave interaction, the chancellor has said as he forecast a “Big Bang 2.0” for the City of London. Rishi Sunak said he did not believe that the “history books have now been written on cities”, and did not think people would shift to working from home on a permanent basis. However, he said that in the short-term Britain’s economy “will get worse before it gets better”. “Many people are losing their jobs, businesses are struggling, our public finances have been badly damaged and will need repair,” he told the Commons. “The road ahead will be tough.” – The Times

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Coronavirus 6) Vaccine target should be doubled, says Starmer

“Sir Keir Starmer has urged the government to toughen lockdown restrictions and double its vaccination target to four million a week next month, in a speech calling for a post-war approach to rebuilding the country. The Labour leader said that there should be a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week programme to distribute inoculations. In an address yesterday he also suggested that in the next week restrictions “may have to get tougher” and include the closure of nurseries and a ban on house viewings. “Having got to an at least as serious — if not more serious — situation as that in March of last year, we have got less restrictions in place,” he said.” – The Times

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Ex-ministers unite against extradition of billionaire

“Boris Johnson must not allow a British billionaire software entrepreneur to be extradited to the US on charges of fraud, five former cabinet ministers and a former head of the BBC have said. Mike Lynch faces an extradition hearing next month over alleged fraud relating to the sale of the AI firm Autonomy to Hewlett-Packard in 2011 for £6.6 billion. He could spend a decade in prison if found guilty. In a letter to The Times four former Tory cabinet ministers — Andrew Mitchell, David Davis, Lord Maude of Horsham and Lord Deben — are joined by Sir Vince Cable, the former Liberal Democrat business secretary, in warning that the government has “surrendered sovereignty” over extraditions.” – The Times

Democrats bring impeachment charge against Trump

“Democrats in the US House of Representatives introduced a single article of impeachment against Donald Trump on Monday, kick-starting the process that could see him become the first US president to be impeached twice. The article accused Mr Trump of “inciting violence against the government of the United States” for his role encouraging the mob who stormed the US Capitol last Wednesday, leaving five dead, including one police officer. Some 214 Democratic congressmen signed the article – almost every one of the party’s House members – meaning it is all but guaranteed to pass. A vote could come as soon as tomorrow, with some Republican support possible.” – Daily Telegraph

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And finally, Dutch officials confiscate British truckers’ sandwiches

“British hauliers have had ham sandwiches confiscated at the Dutch border after customs officers told truckers “welcome to Brexit”. In video footage aired by Dutch TV it shows British drivers having their packed lunches confiscated under new Brexit rules which ban the personal importation of any meat and dairy items. In the recording the officer tells the lorry driver, who is outside his vehicle at the Hook of Holland ferry terminal, that as a result of Brexit, “you are no longer allowed to bring certain foods to Europe, like meat, fruit, vegetables, fish, that kind of stuff.” The new laws came into effect on New Year’s Day, after the transition period was completed.” – Daily Telegraph

  • N Ireland shoppers face empty shelves as Brexit snags supply chains – FT
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