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2020-09-09T11:00:20.076Z

Pizza Hut plans 29 restaurant closures amid coronavirus pandemic

Pizza Hut has revealed plans to shut 29 of its 244 UK restaurants, in a restructuring move that will put about 450 jobs at risk. It said it is negotiating a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) restructuring deal after it faced “significant disruption” from the pandemic.

The Pizza Hut Restaurants group said it has put forward the proposals as “sales are not expected to fully bounce back until well into 2021” despite a quick and safe reopening of sites.

The measures aim to protect about 5,000 jobs across its remaining restaurants as well as the “longevity” of the business, it said.

Pizza Hut has become the latest in a raft of restaurant chains to announce closures and job losses following the pandemic.

Rival Pizza Express confirmed on Monday that it will shut 73 restaurants with 1,100 job losses after its own CVA deal was approved by creditors.

Pizza Hut added that the move will not affect operations or jobs at Pizza Hut Delivery or related franchises.

2020-09-09T10:32:30.543Z

Surge in people seeking “inappropriate” coronavirus tests, says the Health Secretary

Matt Hancock said there had been an increase in people seeking tests when they have not got symptoms of Covid-19.

One school sent a whole year group for tests, which is “not appropriate”, he added.

Mr Hancock also described how some people who were going on holiday had sought to get tests, which is “not what the testing system is here for”.

People seeking unnecessary tests meant that it was harder for those who needed them to be tested, he added.

Many people who tried to access a test on Wednesday morning were met with the error message: “This service is currently very busy. More tests should be available later. If you cannot book a test now, or the location or time are not convenient, try again in a few hours. Warning: Do not call the helplines – you will not be able to get a test this way.”

The free tests are available to people with symptoms of coronavirus – a fever, new and continuous cough or a loss or change in sense of taste or smell – and for some others such as those who have been instructed to do so by a doctor or local council and some essential workers.

2020-09-09T10:19:47.616Z

The four-page “Virtual Event Request Form” has been issued by The Harry Walker Agency, which describes itself as “the world’s leading speakers’ bureau”:

2020-09-09T10:17:25.860Z

The National Association of Headteachers has called for the Government to pay back schools for the money spent on items such as hand sanitiser, extra sinks and more cleaning:

Schools ‘facing funding crisis after virus measures eat up budgets’

Schools will be left out of pocket because they have spent so much of their budgets on Covid-proofing their buildings, headteachers warned today.

The National Association of Headteachers called for the Government to pay back schools for the money spent on items such as hand sanitiser, extra sinks and more cleaning that are not being reimbursed.

2020-09-09T10:15:57.453Z

Restrictions are set to tighten:

10pm curfew ‘could be introduced in Britain’ after success in Belgium

A nationwide curfew could be introduced across Britain, forcing businesses to close from 10pm, according to reports. 

It comes after drinkers in Bolton were told to finish their pints before being kicked out of pubs early in an attempt to curtail young people partying, which is thought to have led to a surge in coronavirus cases. 

2020-09-09T09:11:13.776Z

No change with rules for places of worship:

2020-09-09T09:04:32.743Z

The shadow health minister slams Matt Hancock over testing comments:

2020-09-09T09:03:31.730Z

Professor Sir Jeremy Farrar said he supports the new coronavirus restrictions and hopes they will be enough.

But the Wellcome Trust director and Sage member said the next few weeks will be “absolutely pivotal” to the sort of autumn and winter the country will have.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The next four to six weeks as we reopen schools and we start to try to get the economy going again – which is just so critical – are going to be absolutely pivotal to the sort of autumn and winter we have.

“So I am very supportive of the restrictions coming in and sincerely hope they are going to be enough.”

2020-09-09T09:03:08.086Z

Professor Sir Jeremy Farrar said the public must have absolute trust that any vaccine is safe and effective.

The Wellcome Trust director and Sage member said an independent investigation would look at whether the illness in the trial volunteer is related to the vaccine or placebo and, if not, then the trial can restart safely.

But he added that it is inevitable that some of the 30,000 to 40,000 people given the vaccine will have illnesses unrelated to it.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “In the end we must absolutely know these vaccines are safe and we must know that we can trust the regulator and independent investigation.”

He said it is crucial that data is shared internationally between vaccine trials and added: “In the end the public must have absolute trust that these vaccines are safe and of course effective, and in the end will hopefully bring the pandemic to a close.”

2020-09-09T08:00:04.933Z

Wellcome Trust director and Sage member Professor Sir Jeremy Farrar said the Oxford vaccine trial being put on hold underlines the importance of it being carried out properly.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that such an occurrence is quite common but each one must be taken seriously.

“There are often pauses in vaccine trials,” he said.

“For me it underlines just how important it is that these vaccine trials are done properly, that they have independent oversight, that the regulator is involved and we can trust and support that regulator and that we take these sorts of pauses seriously.

“Yes, they do happen quite commonly in vaccine trials when you’re offering a vaccine to tens of thousands of individuals, but each one must be taken seriously.”

2020-09-09T07:57:07.323Z

Matt Hancock said breaking international law by overriding the Withdrawal Agreement is necessary to preserve peace in Northern Ireland if a trade deal with the EU is not brokered.

The Health Secretary told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The decision we’ve made is to put the peace process first, first and foremost as our absolute top international obligation.

“We are also absolutely clear about if we don’t manage to achieve that (a deal), and I really hope that the Europeans will make the progress necessary in order to deliver it – it’s straightforward and available in my view – if not we absolutely have to choose and to govern is to choose and I choose peace in Northern Ireland.”

2020-09-09T07:36:10.350Z

Matt Hancock said he is sure the UK arts sector “will bloom again” once we have a vaccine.

The Health Secretary made the comments in response to a threat from Andrew Lloyd Webber to move his shows abroad if British theatre does not get more government support.

Speaking to LBC, Mr Hancock said: “The UK has always, for centuries, been at the heart of theatre and the arts and I am sure that it will bloom again.

“One of the reasons that we are pushing so hard on the testing is in order to test people so that we can get our theatres full again and get our sports (stadiums) full of crowds.

“That is part of the solution that everybody wants to see, and for that I am relying on the technology working, the tests working and again like the vaccine that is currently being validated by the scientists.”

Mr Hancock said the Government is working with theatres to try to get them fully open as quickly as possible.

2020-09-09T07:34:09.163Z

Matt Hancock said the ban on gatherings of more than six people will be in place for the “foreseeable future”.

The Health Secretary told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s absolutely therefore the foreseeable future. I really hope we can turn this round before Christmas.

“I think that, in a pandemic, Christmas is a long way off.

“Three months is a long time in a pandemic and I very much hope this strong rule, together with the local action we’ve taken in places like Bolton… I very hope much therefore this can work to do that by Christmas.”

2020-09-09T07:32:39.410Z

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it will be compulsory for pubs and restaurants to take customers’ details for the Test and Trace programme.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We’re also going to enforce more strictly the rules around hospitality, including for instance you need to give your contact details when you go to hospitality, which has so far been voluntary.

“Large swathes of the hospitality industry have followed it.

“Some have chosen not to, so we’re going to make that compulsory as well.”

2020-09-09T07:30:28.500Z

Matt Hancock has said he is not too concerned over pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca’s decision to halt vaccine trials after a volunteer suffered an adverse reaction.

The Health Secretary told LBC: “This is a normal part of a vaccine development that, when you find a problem, the system is paused while you investigate that particular problem.

“What it underlines is that we won’t bring forward a vaccine unless it is safe, no matter how enthusiastic I am for a vaccine.”

He added: “The good news is that we have on order many different vaccines – 340 million doses in total, which is far more than we need for the UK population, so that if one doesn’t come off then we have other irons in the fire.

“This is a pause not a stop so I am hopeful (AstraZeneca) will be able to resume but only if it is safe to do so.”

2020-09-09T07:27:57.240Z

Matt Hancock has said that the new rules on social distancing will apply to students gearing up for university freshers week.

Mr Hancock told LBC the goal was to get the rise in infections under control so that “we can have the sort of Christmas that everyone wants to see”.

He said he was “absolutely” expecting students to limit themselves to parties of six during freshers week, saying: “Obviously it is not something I would want to do, but unfortunately, yes, because otherwise we know the spread of the disease is going to keep going up and up.

“We know that that leads to more people in hospital and more people dying.”

2020-09-09T07:27:36.720Z

Matt Hancock has insisted the public should follow the new rules on social distancing despite the Government’s willingness to break international law over the EU Withdrawal Agreement.

“The Government has a number of international obligations and prime amongst them is the Northern Ireland peace process and the rules of not gathering in groups of more than six it is being brought in so it is really simple, really clear and super simple for people to understand,” he said.

He told LBC: “Obviously we are determined to deliver Brexit at the end of the transition arrangements with the EU, there has been good work going on, I very much hope and expect that we will get a deal.”

“We are putting the peace process in Northern Ireland first and I think everybody would understand why we have decided to do that.”