Backlash over virus ‘rule of six’



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‘We must act’ to stop rise in coronavirus, says PM

He said he wished he did not have to take this step. But Boris Johnson is facing a mounting backlash from the Conservative backbenches over a tough new coronavirus law that bans social gatherings of more than six people. Announcing the legal limit on all indoor and outdoor venues from Monday, the Prime Minister told a Downing Street briefing this evening: “We must act… I must do what is necessary to stop the spread of the virus and save lives.” Read a simple guide to what you will be legally banned from doing from next week – as well as several apparent loopholes. It comes amid a sudden surge in Covid-19 cases driven by young people, which has prompted fears of a second wave. The above animation showing the spread of the virus nationally was played at the press conference. Search for confirmed infections by postcode. Follow the latest updates and reaction in our liveblog.

Mr Johnson earlier said the Government would eventually like all Britons to take a coronavirus test every day to “unlock the nation”. It came after Health Secretary Matt Hancock defended the test and trace system as “excellent” despite growing criticism, saying problems have been caused by people without symptoms requesting tests – including those going on holiday. And, some good news. It has emerged that a quick, accurate test could be in UK airports by the end of the month.

Tory concern grows at breaking law over Brexit deal

A backlash from Conservative MPs is mounting after the Government set out its plans to override key elements of the Brexit deal signed by Boris Johnson. The European Commission called for urgent talks to discuss “strong concerns” about plans to overwrite the divorce agreement after the tabling in Parliament of the UK Internal Market Bill, which ministers have admitted will breach international law. Meanwhile, our Brussels Correspondent reports that European Union politicians insist reports they threatened to block British food exports to Northern Ireland during Brexit negotiations are “fake news”. These are the next likely steps in the Brexit process. And this is how a no-deal exit might affect daily life.

Oscars introduces best picture ‘diversity criteria’

Films hoping to qualify for best picture at the Oscars will soon have to meet strict diversity guidelines. New rules will require studios to boost diversity both in front of and behind the camera. The Academy, which oversees the Oscars, has attracted strong criticism for a lack of diversity among its winners and nominees. In recent years, it has broadened its membership in a bid to fix the problem. But Film Critic Robbie Collin argues the latest move is PR-driven tokenism that insults us all.

At a glance: Latest coronavirus headlines

Also in the news: Today’s other headlines

Traveller site | Armed officers including the country’s most highly trained police marksmen have swarmed a traveller site in south-east London in a raid targeting suspected organised crime. The raid early today followed months of work by local police in gathering evidence. Involving hundreds of officers, it was one of the biggest armed operations run by the Met Police this year. View pictures of the raid.

Around the world: Arson inquiry after migrant blaze

Greece’s largest migrant camp on the island of Lesbos was gutted by a huge fire early today, leaving more than 12,000 fleeing asylum seekers homeless, with reports that the blaze was started by migrants revolting against coronavirus isolation rules. Authorities warned of a “titanic” effort to provide shelter after the fire. View dramatic pictures and video.

Wednesday interview: ‘Arts programmes cannot always be accessible’

As Sky Arts launches on Freeview, its head Philip Edgar-Jones tells Ben Lawrence about his plans – and his surprising stance on the BBC. Read the full interview.



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