Covid-19: PM hails vaccine approval and grassroots sport returns

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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. PM hails vaccine approval

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has hailed the approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, saying the "searchlights of science" had picked out the "invisible enemy". Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, Mr Johnson said scientists had performed "biological jiu-jitsu" to turn the virus on itself, after the UK became the first country in the world to approve the vaccine. The PM said the NHS would now embark on the "biggest programme of mass vaccination in the history of the UK" from next week. But he warned that it would be "some months before all the most vulnerable are protected". Read our explainers here on how vaccines are decided to be safe and how you will be able to get the vaccine.

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Boris Johnson said the "searchlights of science" had picked out the "invisible enemy"

2. Shoppers return after England's lockdown lifted

Shoppers have been out in force in stores across England after the four-week national lockdown ended and the revised system of Covid tiers came into force. There were queues outside stores early on Wednesday as non-essential shops were able to open their doors for the first time in weeks. Some retailers are extending their trading hours to try to recoup the loss in sales over the lockdown. It comes as more than 55 million people entered the toughest two tiers of restrictions. Want to know what the new rules are? You can check what you can do right now and why your area is in the level it is.

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Shoppers have returned to high streets across England as non-essential retailers can now reopen

3. Bonmarché joins high street casualties

The reopening of non-essential shops comes as another high street casualty was announced. In a torrid week for retailers that has already seen the collapse of retail empire Arcadia and Debenhams, Bonmarché fell into administration, putting more than 1,500 jobs at risk. Owner Philip Day's other chains - Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Peacocks and Ponden Home stores - went the same way last month. Administrators said Bonmarché's 225 stores would continue to trade while options for the business were explored.

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4. Tesco to repay £585m business rates relief

Tesco is to repay £585m worth of business rates relief - months after paying hundreds of millions of pounds worth of dividends to shareholders. The supermarket giant said the business rates holiday, aimed at keeping struggling businesses alive during the pandemic, had been hugely important at the time, but its business had proven "resilient". In October, it announced half-yearly profits had risen 28.7% compared with the year before as online orders doubled and people bought more food. The company was criticised at the time for paying a £315m dividend to shareholders, having benefitted from the government's help.

Image source, Getty Images

5. Grassroots sport returns

And there's good news for sporting enthusiasts. A number of amateur sports are able to resume in England for the first time in nearly a month following the lifting of the lockdown. The FA confirmed that organised grassroots football can take place outdoors in all three tiers, with certain restrictions in place. And for some parts of England, a limited number of fans will be allowed to return to stadiums. But a BBC Sport poll suggests fans are split about whether they should be allowed to return to matches before a vaccine is available. Here we look at five key points about the new coronavirus guidance for grassroots sport in England.

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And don't forget...

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

Plus, ministers say the tougher tiers are needed to stop the NHS being overwhelmed, but is that true? Our health correspondent Nick Triggle looks closely.

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