Today's news: Latest headlines for the UK on Wednesday 16 December

Matilda Long
·4 min read

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LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 16: United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a news conference on the ongoing situation with the coronavirus pandemic, inside 10 Downing Street on December 16, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Matt Dunham - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Boris Johnson during a news conference on the ongoing situation with the coronavirus pandemic today. (Photo by Matt Dunham - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

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Christmas chaos as Wales defies Johnson with new law

What happened?

The UK will no longer have a unified approach to the easing of COVID rules over Christmas, after the Welsh government confirmed it was banning more than two households from mixing by law. The decision came just hours after Boris Johnson claimed there was “unanimous agreement” among the four UK nations to continue to allow three households to gather for five days over Christmas.

A 'merry little Christmas'

The prime minister held a press conference to confirm the relaxation of social distancing rules across the UK will go ahead despite concerns about the possible impact on efforts to control the virus. Johnson urged caution, saying people should “think hard” before meeting family and friends. He said: “Have yourselves a merry little Christmas – and I’m afraid this year I do mean little."

Christmas split

Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford set out his decision to deviate from the UK approach. He said: “Here in Wales, the position is that only two households should come together to form an exclusive Christmas bubble during the five-day period. The fewer people we mix with in our homes, the less chance we have of catching or spreading the virus.” Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon recommended that those people forming a Christmas bubble should only meet up on one day and not stay overnight “unless it is unavoidable”.

Read more about it

COVID Christmas: The latest advice on mixing, travel and crowds (HuffPost)

Coronavirus festive bubble rules explained (Evening Standard)

WHO pleads with Europe to have a quiet Christmas (The Independent)

The big coronavirus stories today—

UK vaccinates 138,000 people

Almost 138,000 people across the UK have been vaccinated against COVID-19 so far, a minister has said. Nadhim Zahawi, who oversees the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine in England, tweeted that there had been a “really good start” to the programme. Read the full story here (Evening Standard)

PM denies 'slow' decision caused death s

Boris Johnson has denied his “slowness” to introduce a lockdown at the start of the coronavirus pandemic led to more deaths. Sir Keir Starmer asked the PM to admit that delaying the decision in March cost lives in the UK. Read the full story here (Yahoo News UK)

Tom Cruise caught in COVID rules rant

Tom Cruise has been filmed delivering a COVID-19 safety rant on the set of Mission Impossible: 7 after crew members appeared to ignore social distancing rules. In audio obtained by The Sun, Cruise can be heard shouting and swearing at two employees he says are sitting too close together. Read the full story here (Sky News)

20% of infected deve lop long COVID

A fifth of people who have had coronavirus go on to suffer from long COVID, according to newly released estimates. Around 186,000 people in England are living with COVID-19 symptoms that had persisted for between five and 12 weeks, the Office for National Statistics said. Read the full story here (Yahoo News UK)

— Have your say —

— What else happened today? —

'Very narrow path' to Brexit trade deal

There is a “path” to an agreement between the UK and European Union on a post-Brexit trade deal, Ursula von der Leyen has said. The European Commission president warned arguments over fishing rights have not yet been resolved, and the route to a deal is “very narrow”. Read the full story here (PA)

Pollution contributed to girl’s death

Excessive air pollution from traffic fumes contributed to the death of a nine-year-old girl who died of a fatal asthma attack, a coroner has ruled. Ella Kissi-Debrah is believed to be the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as the cause of death on their death certificate. Read the full story here (Independent)

Pc killers' sentence review rejected

The sentences given to three teenagers for the manslaughter of Pc Andrew Harper will not be changed after the Court of Appeal dismissed challenges by the Attorney General. Henry Long, 19, was jailed for 16 years and 18-year-olds Jessie Cole and Albert Bowers were handed 13 years in custody. Read the full story here (Yahoo News UK)

Court lifts ban on Heathrow runway

Plans for a third runway at Heathrow have been given a major boost after the airport’s owner won a Supreme Court challenge. Heathrow Airport Ltd successfully overturned an earlier ruling that the government had failed to take account of its own climate commitments when it approved the scheme. Read the full story here (Guardian)

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(Yahoo News)
(Yahoo News)