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Covid-19: Sunak to outline jobs plan as UK cases surge

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  • Coronavirus pandemic

Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Wednesday evening. We'll have another update for you on Thursday morning.

1. Sunak to outline jobs plan

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has promised an update on Thursday afternoon on the government's plans to "continue protecting jobs through the winter". With new coronavirus measures in England set to hit various sectors of the economy, the government had come under increasing pressure to set out a replacement for its job retention scheme. At Prime Minister's Questions, Labour and SNP MPs urged Boris Johnson to act swiftly to prevent a "tsunami of job losses". Here we look at whether the UK could adopt a wage top-up scheme, like those already in use in France and Germany.

image copyrightPA Media
image captionChancellor Rishi Sunak is understood to be looking at options including a salary top-up scheme

2. UK cases rise by a quarter

Coronavirus cases in the UK have surged by 25% compared with Tuesday's, the latest figures show. Daily cases rose by 6,178 on Wednesday - up from 4,926 on Tuesday, while there were 37 deaths recorded. It comes as Scotland recorded its biggest rise in cases - 486 - since mass testing began. The country's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said the figures were "concerning", although she pointed out that many more people were now being tested than at the peak of the outbreak in mid-April.

3. Government defends 'balanced' measures

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has defended the government's new coronavirus measures as "balanced, targeted and proportionate" amid criticism from some scientists. A 22:00 closing time for hospitality venues and bigger fines for rule breakers are among the new restrictions. But Prof John Edmunds, who advises the government, said they did not go "anywhere near far enough". The debate over the extent of restrictions the government employs is only likely to get more heated, says our health correspondent, Nick Triggle.

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4. Asda to get stricter on face coverings

On Tuesday, the government announced that fines for people who fail to wear a face mask would increase to £200 for a first offence. Now, Asda has said it will enforce the rules more strictly. Customers who do not have a covering when they enter a store will be offered a pack of disposable masks they can pay for at the end of their trip. "We know that safety remains a key priority for our customers," its chief operating officer said. Shoppers are already required to wear face coverings in shops, supermarkets and shopping centres around the UK, although the rule is not always enforced in practice.

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5. McDonald's 'not included' in new table service rules

When the government announced that hospitality venues in England would be required to provide table service, there was speculation about whether the measure would apply to fast-food outlets like McDonald's and Pret a Manger. Now the government has confirmed restaurants without an alcohol licence will not need to serve customers at tables.

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And don't forget...

Find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.

Plus, meet the pop star doctor who decided to scrub up and help out on the wards again after coronavirus put paid to her tour.

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