Covid-19: £800 fines for house parties and Glastonbury cancelled

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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. Fines of £800 for attending illegal house parties

People attending house parties of more than 15 people in England will face fines of £800, Home Secretary Priti Patel has announced. The fines will double on repeat offences, rising to a maximum of £6,400, she told a Downing Street briefing. "The science is clear: such irresponsible behaviour poses a significant risk to public health," Ms Patel said. The £800 penalty for attending illegal parties comes in addition to £10,000 fines levied on the organisers. Martin Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chiefs' Council, said 250 party organisers had been fined £10,000 since August.

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2. 'Too early' to say when lockdown might end

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said it is "too early to say" when England's coronavirus restrictions might be eased. A decision on lifting lockdown will only be taken after mid-February, he said, when 15 million people in priority groups are expected to have had their first vaccine dose. Dr Marc Baguelin from Imperial College, who is part of the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, warned that opening pubs and restaurants before May would be likely to cause "another wave" of cases. Meanwhile Northern Ireland's lockdown has been extended until 5 March, with ministers being told that restrictions may be necessary until after the Easter holidays.

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3. Coughing and spitting on police among most common virus crimes

The most common Covid-related crimes being prosecuted are assaults on emergency workers, prosecutors have said. Max Hill, the director of public prosecutions, said many of these were police officers being "coughed or spat on" by suspected coronavirus rule-breakers. Assaults on emergency workers made up more than a quarter of the 6,500 coronavirus-related crimes prosecuted between April and September. Of these, 1,137 were charges for breaking coronavirus regulations, including a man who claimed the 15 people at his house party were all in his support bubble.

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4. Another 'fallow year' as Glastonbury is cancelled

Worthy Farm will have to wait another year to see the crowds return as the pandemic puts paid to the 2021 Glastonbury Festival. Organisers Michael and Emily Eavis had hoped to reopen the festival in June after cancelling last year, but said they were not able to make it happen "in spite of our efforts to move heaven and earth". Ticket holders from the October 2019 sale will be able to roll over their deposit to guarantee the chance to buy a ticket in 2022. A lesser known festival - the Dorset Knob Throwing and Frome Valley Food Festival - also announced it was cancelled. Celebrating traditional savoury biscuits known as knobs, events such as knob-and-spoon racing, splat the knob, knob darts, and pin the knob on the Cerne Abbas giant will have to wait until May 2022.

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5. First mosque to offer Covid-19 vaccinations

Over the last few days, several cathedrals have opened as vaccination centres - now it is the turn of a mosque. The Al-Abbas Islamic Centre in Balsall Heath, Birmingham is the first Islamic place of worship to become a venue for the vaccine as it seeks to dispel misinformation and improve uptake among local South Asians. "It will send a strong message to our Muslim brothers and sisters. We are doing this to say a big 'no' to fake news and a big 'yes' to the vaccine," said imam Sheikh Nuru Mohammed. "Muslim scholars advise us to get the vaccine because the sanctity of life is important in Islam."

media captionBirmingham mosque opens doors as vaccination centre

And don't forget...

You can find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.

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