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Live Reporting

Edited by Sarah Fowler and Martha Buckley

All times stated are UK

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  1. Thanks for joining us today

    Many thanks for joining us today.

    The live page coverage has been brought to you by: Martha Buckley, Alice Evans, Sarah Fowler, Becky Morton, Mal Siret, Lauren Turner and Kate Whannel.

  2. What's been happening in the UK today?

    Manchester city centre

    Thanks for joining us today - we will be bringing our live page coverage to a close soon, on what has been a busy day of announcements.

    Here's a round-up of some of the main headlines.

    • People living in England found out which tier of restrictions they will be living under when the national lockdown ends on 2 December
    • Most of the country will face the two toughest levels - tiers two and three - which means no indoor mixing with those from other households
    • The tiers have been toughened from the previous system in place before the national lockdown
    • Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a Downing Street press conference that the tougher rules would "strike a balance" adding that "every area has the means of escape" and of moving down a tier
    • MPs will vote on the new rules on Tuesday - but a group of Conservative MPs has criticised the measures, calling them "authoritarianism at work"
    • People coming to the UK from Estonia and Latvia will need to quarantine from 04:00 GMT on Saturday after the two Baltic states were taken off the UK government's travel corridor list
    • At the same time, Aruba, Bhutan, East Timor, Mongolia and some Pacific Islands have been added, meaning travellers from those places will not need to self-isolate
    • Christmas "bubbles" of three households in Scotland should contain no more than eight people over the age of 11, the Scottish government has said. The relaxation of rules for the festive period will last from 23 to 27 December
    • There are signs of coronavirus infections levelling off in England but the picture across the UK is mixed, according to data from the Office for National Statistics.
    • In Wales and Northern Ireland, infections have been decreasing in recent weeks - but in Scotland, they seem to be rising
    The daily coronavirus figures from the UK
  3. Watch: 'Your tier is not your destiny'

    Video content

    Video caption: Boris Johnson: 'Your tier is not your destiny'

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the new approach is designed so that regions can move down the scale of restrictions, adding "your tier is not your destiny".

  4. First US-Europe 'Covid-free' travel corridor and other world headlines

    The 94th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is closed to spectators this year
    Image caption: People have been asked to watch the 94th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York on their televisions

    Some of the day’s key developments from around the world include:

    • More than 1.4 million people across the globe are confirmed to have died from Covid-19 since the virus was first detected in the city of Wuhan, China, in late 2019. The worst-affected country is the United States
    • More than one million people passed through US airports yesterday ahead of Thanksgiving celebrations. It was the highest daily figure recorded since the start of the outbreak there, the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said
    • The US Supreme Court has temporarily blocked New York from enforcing attendance limits at places of worship in areas hit hard by coronavirus. It said the rules "single[d] out houses of worship for especially harsh treatment"
    • Italy announced that it will launch the first "Covid-free" air corridor between Europe and the US for passengers who test negative for coronavirus, removing the need to quarantine on arrival. Rome's Fiumicino airport said it was part of an agreement with Italy's Alitalia airline and Delta Air Lines in the US
    • European countries have yet to reach agreement on whether ski resorts should be open over the Christmas period. France, Italy and Germany have all said lifts at resorts should remain closed until at least January, while Switzerland is allowing resorts to accept skiers as long as strict safety measures are in place. Austria, meanwhile, is considering opening resorts next month. The winter sport is worth billions of euros in festive revenue
    • In Africa, experts fear that vaccinations may not begin there until the middle of next year. "We are very concerned as a continent that we will not have access to vaccines in a timely fashion," John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, warned
  5. Is Boxing Day pub lunch allowed? And other questions

    Christmas family gathering

    We have been answering your latest question about the new rules - and where they leave you.

    They include whether or not you can plan a pub meal on Boxing Day if you live in Warwickshire, and whether a university student returning to their family at Christmas counts as a separate household.

    Read more here.

  6. Londoners' dreams collected for museum's Covid project

    Danny Aeberhard

    Europe regional editor, BBC World Service

    Woman wears face covering near St Paul's cathedral

    The Museum of London has launched an unusual project to capture how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting Londoners' lives - by collecting their dreams.

    The museum is working with researchers on dreams at a Canadian research institute.

    Sigmund Freud described dreams as the "guardians of sleep" - a description used as the name of the project, which the Museum of London says is the first of its kind.

    It seeks to document the effects of the pandemic on the subconscious of Londoners, as they work through some of the struggles and anxieties of the crisis in their sleep.

    The curator, Foteini Aravani, says people's testimonies will help to provide a more emotional and personal narrative for future generations.

  7. 'Not a realistic chance of tier plan being voted down'

    Just as many people might be feeling disappointed, frustrated and worried by the new tier system for England, so are MPs, with many in the House of Commons feeling the same way, says BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg.

    Some of the government's own Conservative MPs might even vote against the plan when it goes before them in the middle of next week.

    But "while it might be bumpy", there is "not a realistic chance" of it being blocked in any way.

    "Like it or not, this is what is due to come in next Wednesday as the government tries to get control of this disease," she adds.

  8. French ski resorts may open for Christmas - but not for skiing

    Ski lifts stand idle at the resort of Les Menuires, French Alps, 17 March 2020
    Image caption: Ski lifts stand idle at the resort of Les Menuires in the French Alps

    Would-be skiers in France have been left baffled after the prime minister said that winter resorts could open in the Alps and Pyrenees for the Christmas period - but that ski lifts would have to remain shut.

    Jean Castex said that mountain holidays were still a possibility, but that skiing was effectively ruled out.

    Hotels at resorts would be able to open when the country's national lockdown is lifted on 15 December, he said, while bars and restaurants will remain shut until January at the earliest.

    French President Emmanuel Macron said earlier this week that France's ski resorts may have to remain closed until next year because the current risks associated with the virus made it difficult for such sports to resume.

    He said he would discuss the issue with other European leaders and keep the decision under review.

    Ski resorts were responsible for numerous outbreaks of Covid-19 cases across Europe in the early days of the pandemic.

    Italy, Austria and Germany have all ordered lifts - even the high-altitude ones - at ski resorts to remain closed for the time being.

    But Switzerland is allowing ski resorts to remain open as long as they have strict safety measures in place, the health minister said today.

  9. Reaction in Nottingham to tier-three announcement

    David Pittam

    BBC News Online

    Lia Primrose and Poppi West

    Lia Primrose (pictured left) is studying health and social care at college.

    The 17-year-old said: "It just feels like a bit of a kick in the teeth after cases went down so much. I work as a waitress so it'll affect me - I can't go back to work now.

    "We watched the announcement in class and he actually said tier two first, then said 'Oh sorry, tier three.' It was the biggest heartbreak.

    "My age group is in a weird place - we're at an age where we're expected to get Christmas presents for people but we don't have the money because we can't work."

    Her classmate, Poppi West, also 17, added:" It's annoying that we keep going in and out - it feels like we're going round in circles.

    "I know it's not the biggest issue but we're both nearly 18 and we won't be able to go out and have a drink to celebrate. It's just a bit sad."

  10. PM: Liverpool 'pulled together' to beat virus

    Testing site in Liverpool
    Image caption: Mass testing was piloted in Liverpool

    Liam Thorp of the Liverpool Echo asks whether Boris Johnson will increase funding for people who are self-isolating. He also notes that the city hasn't had the best relationship with the Conservatives in the past and asks the PM if he will remember Liverpool's efforts in the future when making funding decisions.

    "What's happened in Liverpool has been fantastic," replies the prime minister.

    He says it is not just the testing programme but the way "everyone pulled together to get the virus down".

    "We are going to keep supporting you throughout Covid and beyond," he promises.

    And that is the last question of today's press conference.

  11. Should you hug and kiss elderly relatives? No, say experts

    Ben Glaze of the Daily Mirror asks if it is a good idea for people to be travelling across the country to hug and kiss elderly relatives.

    The PM says it has been an "incredibly difficult decision" as ministers have to balance people's strong desire to celebrate a family holiday - adding "which frankly they're going do do anyway" - and keeping the virus under control.

    He urges everyone to be "commonsensical" and "do the right thing".

    "Until the vaccine comes on stream, we are not out of the woods yet and we have to be very, very vigilant," he adds.

    Prof Whitty says he would want people to see family, but adds: "Would I encourage someone to hug and kiss elderly relatives? No, I would not."

    He adds while it is not against the law, it does not make sense as you could be carrying the virus. "The fact you can do something, doesn't mean you should."

    Speaking of his own plans for Christmas, he says he will spend it on hospital wards.

    Sir Patrick Vallance says the key thing is to follow the basic rules of keeping distance where you can, keeping areas well-ventilated and so on.

    It will not be a normal Christmas and "hugging elderly relatives is not something to do," he adds.

    They want to survive to be hugged again, adds Whitty.

    Video content

    Video caption: Coronavirus: 'Take it really seriously during Christmas'
  12. Whitty praises public's 'self discipline'

    Dominic Yeatman of the Metro asks if it is fair that pubs and restaurants forced to close will get support but the businesses that depend on them will not.

    He also asks if people will still stick to the rules if they believe the end of the virus is in sight.

    Boris Johnson says closed businesses do deserve protection and cites business grants and the furlough scheme as examples of government help.

    On the second question, Chris Whitty says he believes people will abide by the rules adding that the "really heartening thing of this whole dreadful period" has been the altruism, self-discipline and patience of the British public.

    "You can always find some people who haven't followed the rules but they are in the minority," he says.

  13. 'Take sensible precautions at Christmas'

    People walk past Christmas trees wearing masks

    Sky News's Beth Rigby asks about the loosening of restrictions over Christmas and whether a rise in cases is anticipated, leading to stricter rules before and afterwards.

    Prof Chris Whitty says Christmas will increase the risk: "Everyone knows that, it's not a secret at all."

    But it is not the only risk over this next period, he adds, with January and February the most difficult time for the NHS and a "time of extreme pressure".

    It is "not the time of year where we want to be taking reckless decisions" because "things will be difficult for several months", he adds. Christmas is an element of that but only one element.

    Christmas can be enjoyed without a spike in cases if people "take it really seriously" and "don't do unnecessary things, just because you can".

    People should "take sensible precautions", he adds.

  14. Tory revolt brewing over 'appalling' tiers plan


    A number of Conservative MPs have lashed out at the introduction of new tiered Covid restrictions in England.

    The majority of the country will be placed in the two toughest levels when national lockdown ends on 2 December.

    The Covid Recovery Group, made up of Tory backbenchers, described the move as "authoritarianism at work".

    The group's deputy chair, Tory MP Steve Baker, called the announcement "truly appalling" and questioned if it was "necessary and proportionate" to the threat from coronavirus.

    The government has promised to publish an impact assessment early next week before MPs get a chance to vote on the new rules on Tuesday.

    But a revolt is brewing among the government's own MPs, including the chair of the influential 1922 committee of backbenchers, Sir Graham Brady.

    Read more.

  15. 'Huge stocks' of lateral flow tests available, says PM

    Testing site in Liverpool
    Image caption: Military personnel helped at test sites in Liverpool

    Beth Rigby of Sky News asks how mass testing could be delivered to 40% of the population - asking if the whole British Army would have to be deployed.

    The PM replies he doesn't "want to over-sell" how easy it is to do it, and it "depends on strong local leadership" and "real spirit" in the local community.

    It is also "only part of the panoply of interventions you need to defeat the disease", he adds.

    The Army will help and support where necessary, but the key thing is local leaders saying they want the mass testing and the "local will" for it to be done.

    There will be "adequate personnel" and there are "huge stocks" of the lateral flow tests themselves right now, says Boris Johnson, adding there is hope they'll be made in the UK eventually.

  16. PM: Economic recovery will require fiscal prudence

    ITV's Robert Peston asks the PM whether he will have to raise taxes and cut spending as a result of the pandemic.

    He also asks why the government's "whack-a-mole" strategy "didn't work".

    On the economy, Boris Johnson says his government is taking steps to ensure the country can "bounce back from Covid".

    "It will need fiscal prudence - and that you will get from this government," he adds.

    On the lockdown strategy, Chris Whitty says, "There are tiers that would work in the spring and summer which I would not expect to work at this stage."

    Patrick Vallance says implementing weaker restrictions now would mean the government would have to resort to "much more drastic measures" later on.

    "Madness is doing the same thing twice and expecting different results," Whitty adds.

  17. The clashing arguments over English tiers

    Chris Mason

    Political Correspondent

    The news conference can be summed up like this: the scientists say cases will rise in tier one, they'll hold steady in tier two and they'll fall under tier three.

    The prime minister wants to offer hope: "Your tier is not your destiny," he says, and, "By April things will genuinely be much, much better."

    But, he adds, we must not "take our foot off the throat of the beast now".

    Boris Johnson knows there is a noisy collection of his own backbenchers who are spitting with anger over what the government's announced.

    And Labour are yet to commit to backing the government in next week's vote on this - they're expected to decide early next week once they have had the chance to speak to the government's experts.

    So this is Mr Johnson's case for why his plan is both necessary and, in his view, sensible.

  18. PM: This is not continuing the lockdown

    Boris Johnson

    Laura Kuenssberg, political editor at BBC News, asks what the point of the national lockdown was if people are now moving to tougher restrictions.

    Boris Johnson replies it is "very important" for everyone to understand that "this is not continuing the lockdown," with shops, hairdressers, gyms and places of worship among the venues reopening.

    "This is a very different thing," he adds. "What we have to do is keep eyes on the prize. In a few months we will have a vaccine, I'm absolutely convinced of it now.

    "By April things will generally be much, much better."

    He warns of relaxing too much now - taking our "foot off the throat of the beast" - when we are in a "much better place" than before the national lockdown.

    There are long months ahead but we are not abandoning the fight, he says.

    He stresses there is now option of mass testing, especially for tier-three communities "who feel they have endured so much for so long".

    Whitty is asked why more areas were not moved to tier three - and he replies that the government was keen to do enough to keep the R below one - but not to do anything unnecessary.

  19. Government more confident about new tiers

    Nick Triggle

    Health Correspondent

    It's clear the government now has greater confidence about the impact the regional tiers will have.

    Research by the University of East Anglia has shown that tier three is effective at suppressing the virus and tier two stopped it from rising.

    Both of these tiers have been beefed up – in particular around hospitality.

    The hope of government is that by going in hard and placing nearly all of England in one of the top two tier, then in the coming months areas will be able to drop down the tiers.

    The example of Liverpool is one that offers hope - it has been placed in tier two, down from tier three before lockdown.

    The city used the new tool in the armoury – rapid mass testing.

    The availability of these tests – which do not need to be sent to the lab to be processed – is, ministers believe, a way of avoiding a third lockdown and making progress during winter.

  20. Will a new vaccine be needed if Covid mutates?

    Covid vaccine

    Richard from Lancaster asks if the new vaccine will still work if Covid mutates.

    Patrick Vallance replies, "This virus doesn't mutate as often as the flu virus but it does mutate."

    He says none of the Covid mutations so far have changed in a way that would make the vaccines less effective but it is possible that future mutations might require new vaccines.

    He adds that making new vaccines would be possible, and points out this is what happens with flu vaccines every year.