Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced the government will adopt new COVID rules, turning to “Plan B” to manage the new Omicron strain of the virus
Under the new Plan B rules, people in England are being asked to work from home again if possible and face masks will be compulsory in most public places, as part of new rules to limit the spread of Omicron.
The Prime Minister also announced that vaccine passports will also be needed to get into nightclubs and large venues from next week.
Boris Johnson announced the government was moving to its back-up plan of extra Covid rules at a news conference.
“It’s not a lockdown, it’s Plan B,”
Johnson says that moving to the tougher measures was the “proportionate and responsible” thing to do, but insisted it would not become a lockdown.
The PM stated that much more is still being learned about new variant Omicron, including from the World Health Organization and the picture surrounding the variant might get better, but that it “could lead to a big rise in hospitalisations and therefore sadly in deaths”.
Under the new rules, face masks will be required in more public settings – including theatres and cinemas – from Friday, and from Monday, people will be asked to work from home where possible.
The NHS Covid Pass will also be required for visitors to nightclubs, indoor unseated venues with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people and any event with more than 10,000 people from next Wednesday.
Will Christmas be cancelled?
But Mr Johnson said Christmas parties and nativity plays should still go ahead – as long as the guidance is followed.
Many of the questions the PM faced centred on the row over the Downing Street Christmas party at the height of lockdown rules last December.
Government adviser Allegra Stratton – who was seen with other No 10 staff joking about the party in a leaked video from last year – resigned just before the news conference, saying she would always regret her remarks.
Earlier Mr Johnson apologised in the Commons for this video, although he said that he had been repeatedly told there had been no party. The Metropolitan Police has now said they will not investigate the issue, due to lack of evidence.
According to British media, when Johnson was questioned at the news conference regarding if the Plan B announcement was timed to divert attention from the Christmas party, the prime minister denied that was the case. Instead, the PM went on saying the government did not want to delay bringing in the rules which were important to protect public health.
Shinzo Abe farewelled at a controversial state funeral
Leaders from around the world are in Tokyo as Japan farewells its longest-serving prime minister
Over 2,000 people have attended the funeral for Shinzo Abe in Tokyo.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida delivered the eulogy, in which he praised Abe for his dedication to public service.
“Abe-san, your life should’ve been much, much longer. You were needed for much, much longer. You’ve worked tirelessly and exhausted all your energy for both Japan and the world,” he said.
Abe’s wife, Akie was seen crying as she farewelled her late husband for the final time.
Japan’s longest-serving leader, Abe, was gunned down at a public campaign rally in July.
Why is the funeral controversial?
Shinzo Abe had a history in Japanese politics.
He rose through the ranks of the Liberal Democratic Party and became its leader in 2006.
He was elected Prime Minister in September of the same year, but he resigned just one year later after suffering a crushing defeat in upper house elections.
Abe made a return to politics in 2012 after a landslide victory, where he announced a wide-ranging agenda came to be known as ‘Abenomics’.
He was also known as the father of the Quad Alliance—a security partnership between Japan, India, Australia and the U.S.
Outside his funeral, Japanese protesters were speaking out against the use of taxpayer funds.
The service is estimated to cost over 1.65 billion yen and comes as Japan’s currency slides to a 24-year-low against the U.S. dollar.
Around 20,000 police officers were deployed to the funeral as part of a detailed security arrangement.
The polls are open in America | TICKER VIEWS
The polls are open in America and in six Tuesdays from today, America will vote. In several states across the country, early voting has begun in the most consequential midterm elections for Congress in 12 years.
Midterm elections are a referendum on the president, and this year is no different. Biden’s future is on the line no less than the control of Congress.
However, the current President is painting an optimistic future.
In 2010, President Barack Obama lost 63 Democrats in the House, giving Republicans control in that chamber, and six Senate seats but keeping Democratic control over the Senate.
It was a big setback. That result meant that Obama’s ability to pass his legislative agenda came to a halt for the balance of his presidency.
For the next six years, there were no significant new legislative initiatives in health care and the environment or any other major domestic policy issues.
As of today, the outlook for the November 8 midterm elections for Congress looks like a replay for President Joe Biden.
Republican gains that will give them control of the House, and continued, but very narrow, Democratic control over the Senate.
This would be a better-than-expected outcome for Biden and the Democrats than many thought just three months ago.
At the end of June, Biden’s popularity was plummeting.
Petrol prices reached record highs; inflation had erupted and there was sticker shock on groceries; supply chains were a mess; there were no legislative victories.
Now to mention the nightmare of women losing their constitutional rights becoming all too real with the decision by the Trump Supreme Court to repeal the landmark Roe decision.
Biden had slumped to the mid-30s in approval. Republicans seemed in easy reach of matching the average historical benchmark of gaining 26 seats from the president’s party in these midterms – and taking the Senate too.
But momentum shifted in August to the Democrats. Women across the country are furious about what the Supreme Court did to their reproductive health rights – with the Republican Party all-in with the Court.
Biden started getting big legislation through Congress, especially on health care costs, clean energy and climate change, and high-tech manufacturing for the future.
Donald Trump’s legal challenges mounted, from FBI raids to get back the classified documents he took from the White House to state officials in Georgia and New York moving against him.
Biden regained some popular approval, and the Republicans were on the defensive – especially on abortion with their candidates for the Senate on the wrong side of the anger from women voters.
In the 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton’s team kept reminding him, and the county, that “it’s the economy stupid.” Clinton won the White House in the wake of a painful recession on President George H.W. Bush’s watch.
This economy is hurting Biden and the Democrats. The gut punch last Friday of the Fed’s raising interest rates by 75 basis points – with mortgages now the highest in over a decade and no end in sight to further sharp interest rate rises – and the markets tanking as a result, has left the mood of many deeply anxious and uncertain about the future.
Inflation is still too high and most Americans believe the country is already in a recession.
This plays to the Republicans, who are already pounding the culture war buttons on high crime in the cities, “out-of-control” immigration on the southern border and putting more control from parents back into the classroom particularly on gender and racial issues.
The essence of Donald Trump as a major factor in American politics and what America’s experience with him means about the future of America’s democracy is crystallizing.
As many as two thirds of American believe that their democracy is on the brink, and they are worried about it. Together with an extremist Supreme Court that has repealed fundamental rights for women, this makes Trump-supported Republican candidates – especially in the Senate – vulnerable.
If the Republicans take the Senate thanks to the Trump-endorsed candidates winning in key states like Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, Nevada, and New Hampshire, that will be a big win for Trump as he moves to declare for the 2024 presidential campaign.
The converse is also true: If Democrats beat Trump candidates this year, then they are more likely to beat Trump and the Republicans again in 2024.
There are two possible shock outcomes: a sweep of both chambers by either party. A Republican Congress will move aggressively against Biden, his policies and his government. Expect big investigations.
Expect Biden to be impeached by the House Republicans. A Democratic Congress, especially if they gain one or two more Senators, would present a complete reversal of fortune, making it possible to enact crucial legislation on abortion rights and voting rights and cement a historical place for Joe Biden as a truly great president.
The stakes are huge. We’ll know the final verdict in 8 weeks.
A spacecraft has successfully smashed into an asteroid
A spacecraft has successfully smashed into an asteroid – this could one day protect Earth from catastrophe
NASA’S Double Asteroid Redirection Test spacecraft, known as DART, set out moments ago to deliberately collide with the asteroid Dimorphos. This is the first mission of its kind.
The 700-kilogram Hera spacecraft slammed into a small asteroid at a speed of 14,000 kilometres per hour.
The high-speed impact is designed to create an artificial crater on the surface of the rock.
Over the next two years, Hera will study the artificial crater using its suite of cameras and sensors.
In particular, it will search for signs that the impact has altered the orbit around its larger, sister asteroid.
This information could help scientists better understand how to deflect an asteroid in the future.
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