The Metropolitan Police issued a warning to potential revellers to “celebrate the New Year in the comfort of their own homes, not the homes of family and friends”.
As a year scarred by the coronavirus pandemic draws to a close, around 20 million people in the England entered the toughest level of restrictions on Thursday as Tier 4 curbs were extended at midnight.
Meanwhile, the UK’s trade deal with the EU entered law in the early hours – paving the way for its commencement at 11pm, when the Brexit transition period comes to an end.
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Troops ready to carry out millions of vaccinations
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said soldiers are preparing to carry out millions of vaccinations to speed up the the Covid jab roll out. He told Times Radio: “I have 250 teams of combat medics ready to deploy, to administer 750,000 vaccinations a week.”
Williamson: No plans for national lockdown
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has said he is “confident” the country will not move into another national lockdown.
He told Sky News: “We’re taking the absolute right approach to pursue the tiering system.
“It’s really important that areas have the opportunity to move down the tiering system as well as having to sometimes move areas up the tiering system.
“We recognise there are impositions that this has on everyone’s lives but it is the right approach, it’s the proper approach.
“This is a robust approach, so I’m confident that we won’t be moving into a national lockdown situation because the tiering structure is the right place to be.”
Education chief warns over pupil welfare
Robert Halfon, Conservative MP for Harlow and chairman of the Education Select Committee, expressed concerns over a potential “epidemic of educational poverty” as school openings are delayed. He told BBC Breakfast: “I do worry very much about children not being in school. I understand we have to balance the risks of coronavirus, absolutely, and do everything possible to keep staff and children safe, but I also worry about the impact of lost learning on the children. “This is very, very, very difficult all around and I think the impact on educational learning and mental health is perhaps the two most important things because these are things that are very difficult to deal with.“We want to deal with coronavirus but we don’t want an epidemic of educational poverty and mental health crises amongst young people in our country.”
Japan could be plunged into state of emergency as Covid infections surge
The Japanese economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura has said the country is considering declaring a state of emergency as Covid infections continue to rise. The government is asking citizens to celebrate New Year quietly as the latest figures showed that the latest figures showed that infections in Tokyo had hit a new high of more than 1,300.
Stay at home on New Year’s Eve as ‘Covid loves a crowd’
People planning to celebrate New Year’s Eve have been warned they must leave the parties for later next year as “Covid loves a crowd”.
Professor Stephen Powis, NHS England’s national medical director, said staying at home and seeing in 2021 “within the rules” will reduce infections and relieve pressure on hospitals.
He told Wednesday’s Downing Street press conference: “We know it’s the end of the year, it’s a time where people traditionally want to celebrate.
“But it’s absolutely vital that this year, everybody continues to follow the guidance by staying at home and not mixing.”
Prof Powis added: “We can all play a part in fighting this terrible virus: stay at home, mark the New Year with just nearest and dearest within the rules.
“This action will reduce infections, relieve pressures on hospitals, and that’s how everybody can help to save a life.
“Covid loves a crowd, so please leave the parties for later in the year.”
Happy New Year’s Eve
Good morning and welcome to our final coronavirus live blog of 2020. What a year it’s been… We’ll keep you updated with all the major developments on the virus, including the latest Tier 4 extensions, the growing pressure on the country’s hospitals and the vaccine roll-out plans.
— to www.standard.co.uk