— Today's top story in 60 seconds —
Lockdown has worked, Matt Hancock says
Matt Hancock has said COVID-19 is "back under control" in England as the country nears the end of the month-long national lockdown. Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, the health secretary said that in the last week cases have dropped by 30%. “This is clearly good news. It shows that the national restrictions have been successful,” he said.
'We can’t afford to let up a lot'
Despite the encouraging figures, Hancock sounded a note of caution ahead of the introduction of the new, stricter tier system. He said: "While we can let up a little, we can’t afford to let up a lot." He warned of the dangers of asymptomatic transmission, pointing to the fact that about one in three people have no symptoms at all but can still infect others
R rate falls below 1.0
The health minister pointed to new data from Imperial College London, showing that the infections fell by almost a third during the first two weeks of the second national lockdown. Regionally, the research suggests infections fell by more than half in the North West and North East, and were also down in Yorkshire and the Humber. However prevalence remained high in the East Midlands and West Midlands. The study found that the R rate has now fallen below 1.0 across England, meaning that each infected person passed the virus on to fewer than one person on average.
Read more about it
What are the rules for relationships in each tier? (The Independent)
Coronavirus cases fell by almost a third in lockdown, study suggests (PA Media)
The 18 areas in England where COVID infections are increasing (Yahoo News UK)
—The big coronavirus stories today—
Moderna seeks approval for vaccine
Moderna is filing for regulatory approval of its coronavirus vaccine after trials showed no serious safety concerns. The UK has secured seven million doses of the jab from the US firm – enough for around 3.5 million people in the UK. Read the full story here (PA)
Watch: Moderna to Submit COVID-19 Vaccine for FDA Regulatory Approval
Police issue 2,000 lockdown fines
Police gave out almost 2,000 fines in the first 12 days of England’s national lockdown, new figures show. In total, 24,933 fixed penalty notices were handed out by forces in England and Wales between 27 March and 16 November. Read the full story here (Independent)
Scotch egg 'can be a meal'
Drinkers would be allowed to order a Scotch egg with their pint to get around the Tier 2 restrictions in England, a minister has suggested. George Eustice said the snack would constitute a “substantial meal” under the rules which will only allow alcohol to be served with food. Read the full story here (HuffPost)
Welsh pubs must shut at 6pm
Pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes in Wales will be forced to stop selling alcohol and to shut by 6pm in a new round of restrictions from Friday night, first minister Mark Drakeford has said. Cases are rising again after falling during the two-week lockdown. Read the full story here (Telegraph)
— Have your say —
— What else happened today? —
PC Harper killers' sentenced reviewed
A court is hearing a bid to review the sentences of the teenagers imprisoned for killing PC Andrew Harper. Henry Long, 19, was jailed for 16 years and Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers, both 18, were given 13 years for manslaughter. Attorney general Suella Braverman told the Court of Appeal the jail terms are “unduly lenient”. Read the full story here (Yahoo News UK)
Watch: PC Andrew Harper: Teenage driver who killed police officer should have been given life term, attorney general says
Council 'failed to act on air pollution'
The family of a girl who died of an asthma attack have accused the London Borough of Lewisham of acting at a “glacial pace” over illegal levels of air pollution. Ella Kissi-Debrah died in February 2013 after suffering numerous seizures and making 27 visits to hospital with breathing problems. Read the full story here (PA)
Man guilty of son's manslaughter
A man who threw his 11-month-old son into a river has been found guilty of manslaughter by diminished responsibility. Baby Zakari Bennett-Eko died after he was pulled from the River Irwell in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, by emergency service crews on 11 September last year. Read the full story here (PA)
Driver admits killing 12-year-old boy
A driver has admitted killing a 12-year-old boy who died following a hit-and-run outside his school. Harley Watson died at Whipps Cross University Hospital in east London after a vehicle ploughed into children who were leaving Debden Park High School in Loughton, Essex, on 2 December 2019. Read the full story here (Evening Standard)