Today's news: Latest headlines for the UK on Monday 21 December

Matilda Long
·5 min read

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Fears over Christmas food shortages amid border chaos

What happened?

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has warned supplies of fresh food face "serious disruption" over Christmas due to France's ban on freight from the UK. Sainsbury's said there will be shortages of fresh fruit and vegetables within days if transport with the continent is not restored. The ban on hauliers crossing the Channel was imposed by France due to fears about the spread of the new coronavirus strain in the UK. Downing Street urged shoppers not to panic buy ahead of Christmas.

UK travel ban

More than 40 countries have shut their borders to arrivals from the UK over fears about the new strain of COVID-19, which is believed to be up to 70% more infectious. Cases of the new variant have been reported in Iceland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Gibraltar and Australia. Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, warned the new variant was “spread around the country”, and urged people to “stay local”.

'Prompt and decisive' action

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, Boris Johnson insisted his government took “prompt and decisive” action when the mutant variant was discovered in the UK on Friday, resulting in the creation of strict Tier 4 restrictions that saw millions of people's Christmas plans cancelled. He also said discussions were ongoing to unblock trade, adding: “Our teams will be working on it flat out – if we can get a result then, that would be great, but we will do it as fast as we can.”

Read more about it

New coronavirus strain: Everything we know so far (The Independent)
New coronavirus variant could more easily target children, experts suggest (PA Media)
Five areas of England now have more than 1,000 cases per 100,000 (Yahoo News UK)

The big coronavirus stories today—

UK confirms 33,364 new cases

Another 33,364 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the UK in the latest 24 hour period. It follows a record daily high of 35,928 new infections reported on Sunday. There have been 215 more deaths confirmed within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, down from Sunday's figure of 326. Read the full story here (Sky News)

EU approves Pfizer vaccine

The European Union's drug regulator has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for use. After gaining the green light from the European Medicines Agency, the jab will receive approval by the European Commission later on Monday and rollout will begin later in the week. Read the full story here (Evening Standard)

New shielding guidance for Tier 4

Clinically extremely vulnerable people in Tier 4 areas are being told not to go to work even if they are unable to work from home in new guidance published on shielding. Those at very high risk of severe illness from COVID are being urged to stay at home and only leave to exercise or attend health appointments. Read the full story here (Yahoo News UK)

Half a million have been vaccinated

More than half a million people in the UK have been vaccinated against COVID-19, Boris Johnson has said. The number refers to those who have now received their first dose of the two-part vaccination since Margaret Keenan became the first patient in the world on 8 December to receive the jab. Read the full story here (PA Media)

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— What else happened today? —

Two guilty of killing 39 migrants in lorry

Two members of a people-smuggling ring could be facing life behind bars over the deaths of 39 migrants. The Vietnamese migrants, aged between 15 and 44, were found dead in the back of a trailer in Essex last year. Ringleader Gheorghe Nica, 43, and lorry driver Eamonn Harrison, 24, were found guilty of manslaughter. Read the full story here (Yahoo News UK)

PM rejects calls to delay Brexit deadline

Boris Johnson will not give in to demands to extend the Brexit transition period despite the coronavirus crisis, Downing Street has said. The UK leaves the single market and customs union on 31 December and will face tariffs and quotas on trade with the European Union unless a deal is reached. Read the full story here (The Guardian)

Lockerbie suspect charged by US

The US has charged a “third conspirator” in connection with the Lockerbie bombing, on the 32nd anniversary of the atrocity. The bombing of Pan Am flight 103, travelling from London to New York on 21 December 1988, killed 270 people when the plane was brought down over Scotland. Read the full story here (The Independent)

Horror film obsessive jailed for murder

A serial killer obsessive and his boyfriend have been jailed for life for murdering and dismembering a stranger. A trial was told former TV and film student Nathan Maynard-Ellis, aged 30, decided to kill Julia Rawson to “re-enact” horror movies found at his flat. Read the full story here (Yahoo News UK)

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(Yahoo News)
(Yahoo News)