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Covid-19: New Manchester rules, and a world-first vaccine trial

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  • Coronavirus pandemic

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

1. Tier 3 restrictions for Greater Manchester

The highest tier of Covid restrictions will be imposed on Greater Manchester from Friday after talks between local leaders and Westminster to resolve a row over financial support broke down. At a Downing Street briefing, PM Boris Johnson said a "generous" offer of financial support had been made to the region, but mayor Andy Burnham refused. Mr Burnham said ministers "walked away" from talks earlier today after refusing to offer the £65m called for. Our political editor Laura Kuenssberg said it is understood that Mr Johnson and Mr Burnham discussed a figure of £60m but were unable to agree. The "very high" alert level - or tier three - means pubs and bars not serving food must close, and there will be extra restrictions on household mixing. In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has insisted she will have the final say on local Covid-19 restrictions in different parts of Scotland, saying "the buck stops here".

2. UK push to 'give people Covid' for vaccine trial

The UK is pushing ahead to be the first nation to carry out "human challenge" studies, where up to 90 healthy people will be deliberately exposed to Covid-19. The trials, which could begin in January, aim to speed up the race to get a coronavirus vaccine. The government is putting £33.6m towards the work and experts insist safety will be a number one priority. The plans will need ethical approval and sign-off from regulators before they can go ahead. Researchers would first use controlled doses of the pandemic virus to discover what is the smallest amount that can cause Covid infection in volunteers aged 18 to 30. Next, scientists could test if a Covid vaccine prevents infection.

media captionCould human challenge trials speed up the development of a coronavirus vaccine?

3. School attendance worsens in England

Almost half of secondary schools in England sent home one or more pupils because of coronavirus incidents last week, the latest attendance figures show. It meant pupils having to isolate in 46% of secondary and 16% of primary schools. Overall, attendance across both primary and secondary schools has worsened from 90% to 89%, data from the Department for Education shows. The rules around how schools operate during the pandemic varies in each of the devolved nations.

image copyrightPA Media

4. A lockdown loophole?

Hospitality chiefs are scrambling to work out whether working lunches at pubs and restaurants could be exempt from new coronavirus restrictions. Trade body UK Hospitality said it wants government clarification, as many central London venues rely on workers meeting up over lunch. People from different households are banned from meeting in pubs and restaurants in tier two and tier three areas. But the rules suggest meetings are allowed for business purposes. Current government guidance advises working from home as much as possible and limiting social contact.

image copyrightGetty Images

5. Durex condom sales boost

The sale of Durex jumped when social-distancing rules were relaxed in the summer, says maker Reckitt Benckiser. The consumer goods giant said growth in its health arm, which includes condoms and "sexual wellbeing products", rose 12.6% in the last three months. Sales of Dettol, Cillit Bang and air fresheners also jumped, helped by workers improving their new home-office environment, Reckitt said. Total group sales in the last quarter rose 13% to £3.5bn on the same period last year.

image copyrightGetty Images

And don't forget...

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

Plus, with Northern Ireland already in one and Wales soon set to follow, when will we know whether a circuit-breaker is working?

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