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Covid-19: Travel quarantine, Christmas plans and festive TV

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  • Coronavirus pandemic

Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Tuesday morning. We'll have another update for you at 18:00 GMT.

1. Cut quarantine - for a price

Travellers who arrive in England from high-risk countries will soon be able to reduce their quarantine period by more than half if they pay for a Covid test after five days - and of course, if that test is negative. The new system will begin on 15 December and will cost between £65 and £120 per person. The travel industry welcomed the policy but described it as long overdue. The transport secretary said it would allow people to see loved ones and give a boost to business. Read more on the current quarantine rules.

image copyrightPA Media

2. Christmas plans still being thrashed out

We're expecting restrictions to be eased over Christmas, but discussions between ministers in the four nations are continuing over very practical concerns - the length of any relaxation, the impact on public transport, and what exactly constitutes a "household". Overall, the tone has been cautious - the PM called it the season to be "jolly careful". On Monday, he announced the new "toughened" tier system for England - the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg says the real political test will come on Thursday when it becomes clear how many regions are in the highest level.

3. NI support package agreed

Every household in Northern Ireland is to be given a voucher worth about £200 to spend on the High Street, as part of the devolved government's economic support package. The country re-enters a strict lockdown for two weeks from Friday. Other measures include money to help older and disabled people with their heating bills, and cash for drink-only pubs. Read more on the new restrictions coming for Northern Ireland. Meanwhile, concerns have been raised about rising rates in certain parts of England, especially Kent, despite the ongoing lockdown.

media captionWATCH: The BBC speaks to people in Canterbury about compliance with lockdown rules

4. Spending Review looms

Tomorrow, Chancellor Rishi Sunak begins setting out plans for the economy beyond Covid-19 - although such is the uncertainty that his lookahead, or Spending Review, has been limited to the next 12 months, rather than the usual three or four years. The economic shock of the pandemic has left the UK a poorer country, so what might Mr Sunak do? Our BBC Business colleagues take a look. The overseas aid budget certainly seems on course for a cut - find out more.

image copyrightPA Media
image caption"We see the data every month, and the shock that our economy is facing at the moment is significant" - Rishi Sunak

5. Festive viewing

One thing you can start planning for Christmas is your TV viewing, and this morning the BBC has revealed its festive schedule. Staples such Doctor Who, Call the Midwife and Mrs Brown's Boys are all on the list, along with some new entries, including dramas Black Narcissus and The Serpent. BBC chief content officer Charlotte Moore said it had been "a real struggle" to make the usual range of festive shows during the pandemic, but the stars and crews "pulled out all the stops".

image captionThe Vicar of Dibley will return in three 10-minute lockdown-inspired episodes

And don't forget...

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

Plus, we now know four Covid vaccines have shown very promising results in final-stage trials, so how and when might a programme of jabs begin? Our health reporter Philippa Roxby explains.

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