A growing list of countries have banned travel from the UK in an attempt to stop the spread of the new variant of coronavirus. France has closed its border with the UK for 48 hours, meaning no lorries or ferry passengers can leave Dover, and Eurotunnel is closed. A queue of lorries is building on the M20, and the Food and Drink Federation says UK supplies could be interrupted. Supermarkets, though, insist their warehouses are well-stocked, and government sources believe vaccine deliveries won’t be affected. There’ll be a meeting of EU states in Brussels later to discuss the crisis, while Boris Johnson will chair an emergency Cobra meeting in Westminster.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the new coronavirus variant is “getting out of control” in the UK, while Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands have already detected cases. Health officials say it’s up to 70% more transmissible, but there is no evidence it’s more deadly or reacts differently to vaccines. However, just increasing transmission could cause problems for hospitals. Our health and science correspondent James Gallagher has pulled together everything we know about it at this stage.
The number of daily coronavirus infections reached an all-time high on Sunday, and in the face of that surge, Northern Ireland has joined the rest of the UK in drastically curbing relaxations for Christmas. Households will only be able to form Christmas bubbles for one day, but the Stormont Executive said there would be flexibility around which one in order to accommodate those who have to work. Look up the rules wherever you are in the UK, and get more detail on Christmas in particular.
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Australian states and territories have begun enforcing entry bans on Sydney residents amid a growing outbreak in the city. Sydney has recorded 83 cases so far, all linked to the Northern Beaches region. The border closures have dashed Christmas plans and family reunions for many. Elsewhere, Thailand has been hit by its worst outbreak yet, after months of avoiding the struggles seen by its neighbours. And in the US, lawmakers have finally agreed a $900bn (£660bn) package of pandemic aid, including money for businesses and unemployment programmes. See the global virus picture via our tracker.
It was a very different Sports Personality on Sunday night – not least because the audience was virtual. The show itself reflected the many challenges of this year and celebrated sport’s wider impact on society. England and Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford was honoured for his work on food poverty – he successfully campaigned for the government to extend free school meals during the pandemic. Capt Tom Moore’s heroics during the spring lockdown – raising £32m for charity with his garden marathon – secured him the Helen Rollason award. See the full list of winners.
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Plus, those of us lucky enough to get together with relatives on Christmas Day might find ourselves dealing with some who believe in coronavirus conspiracy theories. So how can you deal with it without ending up in an argument?
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