Covid-19: Christmas caution, spending review and Bake Off

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

1. 'Think carefully' about Christmas bubbles

We now know that three households of any size will be able to get together for five days over the festive period and travel restrictions will be lifted to allow people to move freely across the UK. The leaders of all four nations, though, have issued pleas for caution, especially when it comes to vulnerable relatives. Some scientists have warned the relaxation could spark another wave of infections and further deaths, but ministers hope with compliance up to and after the window the impact can be minimised. Read the rules in detail and our guide to the sort of questions to consider if you're deciding whether to get to together.

media captionHow you and your family can celebrate Christmas and minimise the spread of coronavirus

2. Sunak's Spending Review

The chancellor will explain later how he hopes to protect jobs and help the economy recover from the devastating impact of coronavirus. Rishi Sunak will announce more money for the coming year for the NHS and schools, but less for overseas aid and possibly the majority of public sector workers, in the form of a pay freeze. We'll also get official forecasts about how long the impact of the pandemic will be felt. We'll bring you his speech live at 12:30 GMT and help make sense of it afterwards. In the meantime, read more about why it matters to you, and four things to look out for in particular.

3. Pandemic PPE bill

A shortage of personal protective equipment at the start of the pandemic led to the government paying £10bn more to secure sufficient supplies than if they'd bought it a year earlier. Spending watchdog the National Audit Office said not enough PPE had been stockpiled and unprecedented demand led to very high prices. The government said the report acknowledged NHS providers had been able to get what they needed - although the NAO heard feedback from staff who believed they were "not adequately protected during the height of the first wave".

image copyrightAlamy

4. The 'shadow pandemic'

For many victims of domestic abuse coronavirus has only worsened their suffering - trapped at home with their tormentors, cut off from family, friends and colleagues. About two thirds of women in England living with domestic abuse told Women's Aid their ordeal had got worse during the UK's first lockdown. The UN is calling it the "shadow pandemic" and it's a focus of BBC 100 Women this year. Read the story of one woman, Victoria, who managed to escape. See the full list of 100 Women, including those making a difference to those suffering from abuse around the world.

image captionWe've told Victoria's story of struggle and relief in five objects, including flip flops

5. Bake Off comes to an end

From Christmas bubbles to the Bake Off bubble... the contestants on this year's show stayed together for the duration of filming and provided a much-needed lift to many of our spirits over the last 10 weeks. The final even saw the creation of a "Bonkers Bake Off bubble cake". This year's winner has now been crowned, but we won't reveal who it is here, just in case. Click through to find out.

image copyrightChannel4/LoveProductions
image captionPeter, Laura and Dave made it to the final

And don't forget...

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

Plus, the BBC News website's health editor Michelle Roberts explains why we should have confidence in the safety of any coronavirus vaccines given the final go-ahead.

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