Covid-19: PM stresses England 'stay at home' message, and furlough until March


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

1. Lockdown 'is enough to have impact'

A four-week national lockdown in England is enough to have a "real impact" on limiting the spread of Covid-19, the prime minister has insisted. Speaking at a news conference, Boris Johnson said he "knows how tough" the new restrictions will be and people were "quite frankly fed up" with the virus. But he repeated his plea for people to follow the "stay at home" lockdown rules which came into force today and insisted the country can "get through this" together.

Media caption,
Boris Johnson said there was 'light at the end of the tunnel' as a new lockdown began in England

2. Furlough scheme extended to end of March

The furlough scheme will be extended across the UK until the end of March, the chancellor has confirmed. Rishi Sunak told the Commons the scheme will pay up to 80% of a person's wage up to £2,500 a month and the policy would be reviewed in January. He said the scheme would apply throughout the UK, saying the country had "a Treasury for the whole of the United Kingdom". Labour's shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds accused Mr Sunak of ignoring objections to the government's measures "until the last possible moment".

Media caption,
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has extended the furlough scheme to March

3. 'Cautious optimism' over spread of virus in Scotland

People in Scotland have been living under tough restrictions since Monday and it has started to have an effect on the spread of the virus, according to Nicola Sturgeon. The first minister said the "R number" metric - showing on average how many people each patient with the virus will infect - had dropped to about one. A five-tier system was brought in across the country earlier this week, which saw restrictions on household mixing and hospitality. Ms Sturgeon said she still could not rule out a full lockdown, but Scotland was in a "better position" than England.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
"Scotland is in a relatively strong position," said Ms Sturgeon

4. Denmark to cull mink amid coronavirus fears

Denmark is to cull all of its mink after a mutated version of the coronavirus that can spread to humans was found on mink farms. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said the mutated virus posed a "risk to the effectiveness" of a future Covid-19 vaccine. Denmark is the world's biggest producer of mink fur and the move could see up to 17 million animals culled. Coronavirus cases have been detected in mink farms in Denmark, and in other parts of Europe, for several months. But cases are spreading fast in Denmark, and five cases of the new virus strain were found on mink farms. Twelve people had become infected, the authorities said.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
There are more than 1,000 mink farms in Denmark

5. Couple finally marry to become Mr and Mrs White-Christmas

A newly-married couple have made sure they're reminded of Christmas in their home every day of the year. Tilly Christmas and Kieran White tied the knot in a pre-lockdown ceremony and brought their surnames together to become Mr and Mrs White-Christmas. The couple had planned to get married in July but it was postponed due to the pandemic. Their wedding ceremony was at the Roman Baths in Bath on Tuesday and was followed by a reception for 15 guests. "I wanted to keep the name going. It just so happens the man I am marrying has the perfect surname to go with it," Tilly said.

Image source, Memories Made Photography
Image caption,
Tilly Christmas and Kieran White, both aged 20, were due to get married in July

And don't forget...

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

England's new national lockdown takes place over winter when the nights are longer and colder. Check out this handy guide about how to exercise safely outdoors during the four-week restrictions.

Image source, BBC

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