- The UK nations are "very close" to agreeing co-ordinated restrictions over Christmas, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says
- Each nation is in a "slightly different phase of locking and unlocking”, he said, but an announcement would be made this week
- It comes after Boris Johnson set out a toughened sets of regional tiers for when England's lockdown ends on 2 December
- People arriving in England will be soon able to reduce their quarantine period if they pay for a Covid test
- The rules will come into force from 15 December and the tests from private firms will cost between £65 and £120
- The world's most vulnerable must not be "trampled in the stampede" for vaccines, the World Health Organization warns
- Spain's King Felipe VI has begun ten days of quarantine after coming into contact with a person who tested positive
Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of developments in the coronavirus pandemic.
Here are the main stories in the UK so far:
- The UK nations are "very close" to agreeing co-ordinated restrictions over Christmas, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said. The nations are in different phases of going in and out of restrictions, he said, so an announcement would be made later this week
- People arriving in England will be soon able to reduce their quarantine period if they pay for a Covid test. The rules will come into force from 15 December and the tests from private firms will cost between £65 and £120
- There is continued discussion of the tougher tiers of restrictions in England - set out by Boris Johnson last night - that will come into force when the national lockdown ends on 2 December. Regions will not find out which tier they are in until Thursday
Key global developments from the last few hours:
- International virus sleuths expected to go to China soon: WHO. The World Health Organization said Monday it had received reassurances from Beijing that international experts would soon be able to travel to China to help investigate the animal origins of Covid-19. “We fully expect and have reassurances from our Chinese government colleagues that the trip to the field... will be facilitated, and as soon as possible,” WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan told a virtual press briefing.
- The WHO also said Monday that avoiding family gatherings would be “the safest bet” over Christmas, insisting there is no zero-risk option for traditional holiday merry-making during the coronavirus pandemic.
- England to cut quarantine period for arrivals from abroad. Travellers arriving in England from abroad face a shorter spell in quarantine from mid-December if they test negative for coronavirus five days after their arrival, the UK government announced Tuesday. It hopes the new rules will revive the ailing travel industry, particularly aviation, which has suffered a steep drop in ridership because of restrictions imposed to fight the pandemic.
- Japan’s government is preparing to pause its domestic travel campaign in two cities following sharp rises in Covid-19 cases, the minister handling the government’s coronavirus response said on Tuesday.
- Border restrictions ease in Australia. The border between NSW and Victoria (the worst affected state in the country) opened earlier this week, and this morning, Queensland has announced its barrier to NSW will come down on December 1. NSW and Queensland have been isolated for most of this year, the first time the country’s internal borders have been closed since the Spanish Flu.
- Daily Covid-19 cases in France at near two-month low. France reported 4,452 new Covid-19 infections on Monday, the lowest daily tally since 28 September, suggesting a second national lockdown is having an impact.
- UK aims to inoculate those most at risk from Covid by Easter. The British prime minister, Boris Johnson, said he hoped almost all Britons at high risk from Covid-19 would be vaccinated against the disease by Easter. He also said people will not be forced to have vaccinations against Covid-19.
- Spain’s king self-isolating after virus contact. Spain’s King Felipe VI has started 10 days of quarantine after coming into close contact with someone who later tested positive for Covid-19, the palace said.
- Pope says anti-maskers stuck in ‘their own little world of interests’. Pope Francis has taken aim at protests against coronavirus restrictions , contrasting them with the “healthy indignation” seen in demonstrations against racism after the death of George Floyd.
- New infections in Gaza spiralling out of control. The mounting number of coronavirus infections in densely populated Gaza is spinning out of control, Palestinian health officials warned. Bassem Naim, a senior Hamas official, said the health ministry “expects the worst if the epidemiological situation remains the same” citing “a health system at the end of its rope”, “severe drug shortages” and “extreme overcrowding”.
Half of England could be placed in tier 3, minister saysHalf of England could be placed into the highest level of coronavirus restrictions - tier 3 - after the national lockdown ends on 2 December, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said.
The government will announce on Thursday which tiers areas are being placed into.
On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out the revised rules for the three tiers.
Mr Shapps told BBC Breakfast the government will decide which tier each region in England is placed into based on the number of cases in each area, but particularly the numbers of people aged over 60 testing positive for the virus.
He said that although half the country may be placed in the strictest tier three alert level, this will still allow for more freedoms than the national lockdown currently in place for England.
Mr Shapps said: "I think it is the case that we do need to be a bit tighter on the tiers - tier three in more places is a strong possibility - but there's still a difference between that and what we're doing now.
"For example, in terms of the number of people that can meet outside in a public place, and a number of other things.
"We've been living through this nightmare for a long time now, we all know the only way to defeat this virus is, I'm afraid, to keep people apart and separate from the most natural thing, which is human contact.
"You can only breach that in a certain number of places and I think we've made our decisions as a country that that has to be for things like education and work whilst we get through this winter."
UK Christmas rules announcement 'could be made on Thursday'An announcement about Covid restrictions over Christmas for the UK could happen on Thursday, Grant Shapps has said.
The transport secretary told BBC Radio 4's Today programme it was likely this would happen at the same time as the government sets out which tiers areas will be placed into when national restrictions in England end on 2 December.
However, Mr Shapps said it was possible an announcement about Christmas could be made earlier if the devolved nations came to an agreement before Thursday.
"Stand by your radios" for any news, Mr Shapps said.
Ryanair chief questions test to cut quarantine timesRyanair chief executive Michael O'Leary has questioned plans to allow travellers arriving in England to end their Covid-19 quarantine early if they get a negative coronavirus test five days after arrival.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think the idea is not very well thought out.
"I think the problem with this system in the UK is that you only have to isolate for five days. And we know that people simply don't isolate."
He said it would be better if there were tests for people before they boarded planes and before they arrived at airports in England.
But Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said "at the moment the medical evidence doesn't justify it".
"If it were possible to do as Mr O'Leary describes we would have done it, because we want people to move around."
Australia's Queensland to open border in time for ChristmasIn Australia, there's relief for residents of states of Queensland and New South Wales after news that the border between the neighbouring regions will open on 1 December.
Queensland barred visitors from New South Wales, home to the city of Sydney, on 1 August to control a rise in coronavirus cases.
But now New South Wales has met the criteria of going 28 days without an untraceable case of Covid-19, meaning that Queensland will allow the borders to open again.
The closure had caused political tension between the governments in each state - but now the move means Sydney residents will be able to travel home to Queensland for Christmas.