Top story: Single case of illness halts vaccine trial
Hello, Warren Murray with an update that shouldn’t hit your battery life too hard.
Virtually all gatherings of more than six people in England will be banned, Boris Johnson is due to announce today. The change, beginning on Monday, follows a sudden spike in infections with almost 8,500 positive tests recorded in England in three days. The limit applies across all of England in private and public spaces including parks, pubs and restaurants, and to all ages. Exemptions apply when households or support bubbles are larger than six people; where gatherings are for work or education purposes; and for weddings, funerals, and organised team sports held in a safe way.
AstraZeneca, the company working with Oxford University, has temporarily halted its vaccine trial after a participant came down with a “potentially unexplained illness”. A spokesman said the pause was a routine precautionary measure, commonplace during vaccine development. A government ad campaign with the slogan “Hands. Face. Space” is being relaunched to remind people to wash their hands, cover their faces and keep their distance. The slogan was originally launched in July but was drowned out by the “Eat out to help out” campaign. More coronavirus news at our global live blog.
Refugee camp on fire – Several blazes have ripped through the overcrowded Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos overnight with thousands of people fleeing, authorities have said. People were seen leaving the camp carrying belongings as at least 25 firefighters with 10 engines, aided by police, battled flames in and around the compound. Moria had been holding more than 12,000 people – more than four times its stated capacity. It was placed under quarantine last week due to dozens of coronavirus cases. A child died after a fire at the camp in March.
Brexit changes against law – The government has dramatically admitted its bid to change the Brexit agreement on Northern Ireland would break international law. Tory MPs including the former PM Theresa May have urged the government to reconsider, fearing Britain will no longer be seen as a dependable country of laws. Sir Jonathan Jones, the most senior legal civil servant, has resigned after ministers ignored his advice that overriding the withdrawal agreement would likely be illegal. This morning it emerges that backtracking on the Brexit agreement on Northern Ireland may also jeopardise a future US-UK free trade deal if Joe Biden becomes president, because Biden and the Democrats think the Johnson government’s reneging on the agreement could put the Good Friday agreement at risk.
> The Belarus opposition figure Maria Kolesnikova tore up her passport so her captors couldn’t bundle her across the border into Ukraine, it has emerged. The despotic president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, has given an interview in which he refused to step down and sought to draw Russia into the country’s crisis on his side.
> Zephaniah McLeod, 27, Nately Grove, Selly Oak, Birmingham has been charged with murder and attempted murder after the series of stabbings that left Jacob Billington dead and seven other people injured, two critically.
> In Suffolk a teenager has been charged with attempted murder and firearms offences after a 15-year-old boy was shot on his way to school. The victim was taken to Addenbrooke’s hospital in a critical condition.
> An attempt to stage a “Festival of Brexit” is going ahead with organisers seeking ideas on what to do for it. The plan is that 10 ideas will become the festival but it has no official name and there has been little visible progress since Theresa May was PM.
Diversity in the Oscars – The Academy Awards are raising the inclusion bar for best picture nominees starting in 2024. Nominees will have to encourage diversity and equitable representation on screen and off, addressing gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity and disability. The academy has established four broad representation categories: on screen; among the crew; at the studio; and in opportunities for training and advancement in other aspects of the film’s development and release. To be considered for best picture, films will have to meet two of the four new standards, the academy has announced.
The Pianist screenwriter dies – Sir Ronald Harwood, the playwright and screenwriter best known for The Dresser and his Oscar-winning script for The Pianist, has died aged 85. Harwood wrote several books and other successful plays such as Quartet. He died of natural causes on Tuesday at his home in Sussex, said his agent, Judy Daish.
Today in Focus podcast: Is US democracy under threat?
As the US election draws closer, the Guardian’s Ed Pilkington hears from civil leaders on their fears for the integrity of the process and the future of their democracy.
Lunchtime read: ‘A massive smoke with George Michael’
The artist Dawn Mellor depicts stars as being disfigured by showbiz. So what treatment will the beloved Wham! frontman receive? Ahead of the work’s unveiling we get a sneak preview.
Gareth Southgate said that Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden have to regain his trust before he considers calling them up for England again after the pair missed a dire goalless draw against Denmark. In Stockholm, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo rattled home a superb first-half free kick against Sweden for his 100th international goal – and struck another spectacular effort in the second half to seal a 2-0 Nations League win. Naomi Osaka continued to underscore her status as the favourite to win the US Open title as she won her ninth consecutive match since the tour restart, moving into the semi-final with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Shelby Rogers. In the men’s draw, Alexander Zverev recovered from a poor start to defeat Borna Coric in four sets and reach the final four.
Owen Farrell will miss Saracens’ European Champions Cup quarter-final against Leinster in Dublin next week after receiving a five-game ban for the high tackle that flattened Wasps’ teenage fly-half Charlie Atkinson on Saturday. The double Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya appears to have lost her long-running legal battle against regulations requiring women with high testosterone to take medication to compete internationally between 400m and a mile. England were given brief hope by Adil Rashid before Australia eased home by five wickets in the last T20 of the three-match series. The double world medallist gymnast Ellie Downie has expressed her frustration after her complaint about being weight-shamed when she was a teenager was not upheld. And Charley Hull has been forced to withdraw from the ANA Inspiration, the second major of this year, after testing positive for Covid-19.
Amazon’s main UK business paid only 3% more tax last year despite a 35% rise in profits to nearly £102m as the online retailer benefited from the switch to home shopping. The group’s warehouse and logistics operation, which employs more than two-thirds of its 30,000-plus UK workforce, paid £14.46m in 2019, up from £14.03m the year before. The FTSE 100 is set to open lower as world markets struggle with a selloff in tech stocks on Wall Street. The pound is down thanks to Brexit uncertainty at $1.296 and €1.100 as the Briefing hits your inbox.
“Britannia waives the rules” – a winner from the i today as it covers the government’s intention to break the Brexit withdrawal agreement. In the Guardian it’s “We are breaking law with Brexit bill, minister admits” and the FT splash headline is similar.
“Safe six” – the Metro hits on a catchier slogan than “Hands. Face. Space.” for its lead story on the six-person gathering limit that applies in England from next Monday. “Six therapy” says the Mirror – OK this is getting a little wearing. “Britain’s hit for six” says the Mail – please make it stop …
“Illegal for more than six people to socialise” is how the Telegraph sums it up, while the Times is similarly straitlaced: “Covid ban on meetings of more than six people”. And Boris Johnson rallies a nation in the Express: “Act fast! We must keep lid on virus” and “PM strengthens police powers after spike blamed on young”.
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