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COVID-19: Decision over moving London into Tier 3 could be made today, mayor Sadiq Khan says | Politics News

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COVID-19: Decision over moving London into Tier 3 could be made today, mayor Sadiq Khan says | Politics News

It is possible that a decision on moving London into the highest level of coronavirus restrictions could be made today, Sadiq Khan has told Sky News.

The government is due to review the allocation of COVID-19 tiers later this week, but the London mayor said the situation in the capital means a decision might be taken sooner.

A move into Tier 3 would mean pubs and restaurants in the capital being forced to close, apart from takeaway services.

“My understanding is that COVID-O is meeting as we speak – that’s the sub-committee of the cabinet that makes the recommendations,” Mr Khan said.

“We will have to wait and see what the government decides – it’s a government decision, not my decision or London leaders’ decision.”

Pressed if a decision could be made as early as today, Mr Khan said “it’s possible” because “we have seen over the last few days a big increase in the virus”.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is due to update MPs on the latest developments in the fight against coronavirus at around 3.30pm.

He will also host a Downing Street news conference later.

Mr Khan said said a move into Tier 3 would be “catastrophic to our hospitality, to our culture and to retail”.

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Aerial footage shows Oxford Street filled with Xmas shoppers

He added: “If the government decides to do that, they must provide additional support over and above what’s been offered to make sure these businesses don’t go bust.

“If they go bust, not only will it lead to thousands of Londoners being made unemployed, but our ability to recover from this pandemic will be made much harder.”

Amid rising COVID-19 cases in the capital, Mr Khan has urged the government to consider asking London’s schools and colleges to close early and reopen later in January because of “significant” outbreaks among 10 to 19-year-olds.

In a letter to Boris Johnson, the mayor said “urgent consideration must… be given to closing secondary schools, sixth form and FE colleges a few days early and keeping them closed for longer after Christmas”.

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Tier system review will be ‘fair’ says PM

Mr Khan said online lessons should replace missed classes, with mass testing in schools to help detect outbreaks of the virus.

The call came after schools in Greenwich, south-east London, were asked to move to online learning from Tuesday.

Islington Council has also advised schools to move to online learning from the end of Tuesday and to continue with the arrangement until 11 January.

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In his letter to the PM, Mr Khan said the seven-day case rate had increased in all 32 of London’s council areas compared with the previous week.

There were also 17 areas where the seven-day rate was above 200 cases per 100,000 people.

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COVID-19: Nine police officers who had breakfast together inside cafe fined for breaching lockdown | UK News

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COVID-19: Nine police officers who had breakfast together inside cafe fined for breaching lockdown | UK News

Nine police officers who had breakfast together inside a cafe have been fined for breaching COVID lockdown rules on duty.

The officers, from the Metropolitan Police, were fined £200 each and told to “reflect on their choices.”

They were spotted by IT manager Brian Jennings walking past the cafe near their base beside the River Thames at 9am earlier this month, a week into the latest lockdown.

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Hancock backs police enforcing rules

Mr Jennings, who reported the breach, told MailOnline: “We noticed in the first lockdown and again today that regularly, first thing in the morning, there will be half-a-dozen squad cards outside and every table full of police officers having breakfast in there.

“You read about people getting fined and it seems hypocritical as it looks like there is little social distancing in the cafe.

“I find the regular and continued flouting of social distancing and lockdown regulations by the police hypocritical and foolish at this time when the infection rates in Greenwich borough are among the highest in the UK.”

Photographs of apparent uniformed officers sitting inside the Chef House Kitchen, with several marked police cars parked outside, were published by MailOnline.

Their bosses launched an investigation and chose to fine them without any other disciplinary action.

They may be the first on-duty emergency workers to be given fixed penalty notices since the first pandemic lockdown began in March last year.

Chief Superintendent Rob Atkin, South East Commander, said: “Police officers are tasked with enforcing the legislation that has been introduced to stop the spread of the virus and the public rightly expect that they will set an example through their own actions.

“It is disappointing that on this occasion, these officers have fallen short of that expectation. It is right that they will pay a financial penalty and that they will be asked to reflect on their choices.”

The fines come after the force’s commissioner, Dame Cressida Dick, launched a clampdown on COVID rule breakers.

Over the past weekend, the force handed out nearly £40,000 worth of fines for COVID breaches in east London alone.

It is not known if the cafe owner has been fined, which, according to police, is a matter for Greenwich Borough Council.

Sky News has approached the council for comment.

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COVID-19: UK to look ‘very carefully’ at vaccine dosing after concerns raised over level of protection | Politics News

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A member of medical staff prepares a Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at The Vaccination Hub at Croydon University Hospital, south London, on the first day of the largest immunisation programme in the UK's history. Care home workers, NHS staff and people aged 80 and over began receiving the jab this morning.

The UK will need to look “very carefully” at the protection provided by the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the government’s chief scientific adviser has told Sky News, amid concerns its effectiveness is significantly lower than had been found in trials.

Sir Patrick Vallance said the government would “just need to keep measuring the numbers” as the vaccine is rolled out across the UK.

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Answering questions from Sky News viewers, Sir Patrick was asked about an analysis from Israel, where the Pfizer jab has been rolled out the fastest.

That study suggested the effectiveness of the vaccine after a single dose was as low as 33% – rather than the 89% that had initially been thought.

The 89% figure – pointing to high short-term protection – was used to help justify the UK’s decision to delay giving a second vaccine dose to people for up to 12 weeks, as part of a push to get as many people as possible in the UK vaccinated with an initial first dose.

Sir Patrick said: “We need to look at this very carefully, we just need to keep measuring the numbers.”

He admitted that “in practice” the protection provided by one dose of a Pfizer vaccine probably won’t be as high as 89%, but he pushed back against the suggestion it could be as low as 33%.

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The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was the first to be approved for use in the UK

“What we know from a clinical study is… if you take everything from day zero, the moment you get the vaccine, to day 28 then the overall figure is something like 50% protection,” Sir Patrick said.

“But, of course, you don’t expect to get any protection in the first 10 days, because it hasn’t had a chance for the immune system to build up.

“And some people may have been infected before they had the vaccine.

“So, if you take from day 10 up towards day 21 and beyond, then it looks much more like the 89% figure that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said.

“That’s the clinical trial data and we also know that when you get into real world practice, things are seldom quite as good as clinical trial.

“So I think the 89% or so is the figure you see post-10 days, so that’s the basis of the recommendation.

“It probably won’t be as high as that in practice, but I don’t think it will be as low as the figures you’ve just given.”

Sir Patrick said the UK would get more “real world” data from both Israel’s and the UK’s vaccination programme over the coming weeks to “get a better handle on exactly how effective this is in the real world, rather than in the conditions of a clinical trial”.

But he stressed it was “quite important not to assume this protects in the first 10 days, because it doesn’t”.

Scientists in Israel studied preliminary data from 200,000 vaccinated people.

Professor Ran Balicer, who works for the largest health care provider in Israel and who is an adviser to the World Health Organisation, told Sky News there was “no difference” between infections of vaccinated and unvaccinated people until 14 days after a Pfizer jab.

But he added that, on day 14 after vaccination, “a drop of 33% in positivity was witnessed in the vaccinated group and not in the unvaccinated”.

Prof Balicer said the data did not show an 89% reduction in positivity rates, but said further data and analysis would be provided after being peer-reviewed.

Israel is providing a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine at three weeks, which Prof Balicer said means it is “impossible” for them to analyse the impact of not providing a second dose for a longer period of time.

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Donald Trump issues flurry of pardons as he leaves office | US News

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Donald Trump issues flurry of pardons as he leaves office | US News

Former White House adviser Steve Bannon and rapper Lil Wayne are among the people being pardoned or granted clemency by Donald Trump in the final hours of his presidency.

The outgoing president granted clemency to 143 people on Wednesday.

Wayne pleaded guilty last month to possessing a loaded, gold-plated handgun on a private flight in 2019. He faces a sentence of up to 10 years in prison at a hearing next week.

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The president met the rapper during his election campaign last year, with the artist later praising some of Mr Trump’s policies such as proposed justice reforms.

Controversial former White House adviser Bannon, who was fired by Mr Trump, has also been granted clemency.

“Bannon has been an important leader in the conservative movement and is known for his political acumen,” the White House said in a statement.

He was charged last year with swindling Trump supporters over an effort to raise private funds to build the US-Mexico border wall, and pleaded not guilty.

Bannon was appointed chief executive of Mr Trump’s successful presidential campaign in 2016, leaving his role at conservative website Breitbart News.

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Lil Wayne is also among a raft of 11th-hour pardons and commutations

He became chief strategist for Mr Trump after his inauguration, but clashed with others in the White House and was pushed out in August 2017.

Bannon was recently banned from Twitter after he called for the beheading of top government doctor Anthony Fauci and FBI director Christopher Wray.

Others reportedly among the dozens of people being pardoned are Kodak Black – a rapper also sentenced over weapons charges, and former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick who is seven years into a 28-year sentence for corruption and racketeering.

Mr Trump has previously pardoned several of his closest confidantes such as Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser who lied to the FBI, and commuted the prison term for Roger Stone – who was convicted of lying to Congress during its probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

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