Thursday briefing: end of Covid rules “far too soon” |

Headlines: People might think the pandemic is ‘everywhere’

Hello, Warren Murray is pleased to present your press briefing on Thursday.

All Covid regulations, including isolation after testing positive, are to be abolished in England from Thursday February 24, Boris Johnson has announced, pushing the plan forward by a month. Downing Street has confirmed that people will be advised to avoid going to work if they test positive for Covid – but without the current legal obligation and possible fines. Some scientists have warned he risks signaling the pandemic is ‘everywhere’ while unions have said the Prime Minister is ‘going too far, far too soon’ and charities have warned he could put people at risk clinically vulnerable.

Here’s what the changes will mean for work, travel, isolation, testing, financial support and other issues where the pandemic is impacting. Hannah Devlin, science correspondent for the Guardian, examines the risks of controlling the impact of Omicron and other possible variants. Additionally, Guardian readers shared their reactions to the decision, calling it “ridiculously myopic” to “fully justified.”

‘Firm and united’ – Boris Johnson will be in Poland today before traveling to Brussels to meet NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on the Ukraine crisis. Johnson is considering further deployments in Eastern Europe. Keir Starmer will also visit NATO Headquarters. The Labor Party said it would send a “strong and united” message to its allies – and the Kremlin – in support of the British government’s policy on Ukraine. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is in Moscow to meet her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, although her plan to enlist the UK’s ‘toughest Russia sanctions regime’ in time for the trip has failed.

Workforce Contacts Encountered During Renovation – Scotland Yard is planning to investigate Boris Johnson over funding the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat. Lawyers on behalf of Labor have written to Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick suggesting the force is ‘duty’ to open a formal inquiry due to ‘reasonable suspicion’ that Johnson broke anti-corruption laws . They said the Prime Minister may have acted improperly by ‘linking’ a request for funds to cover the renovations – which ultimately cost at least £112,000 – with a promise to ‘promote a project’ supported by the benefactor. A Number 10 spokesperson called the allegations “categorically untrue” and clear misrepresentations of fact. It comes on top of the investigation into Downing Street lockdown parties, in which more than 50 people, including possibly the Prime Minister, are facing questions.

Harry: as for Covid, take an HIV test – Prince Harry has urged people to get tested for HIV, saying he hopes to continue his mother’s work to fight the virus. More needs to be done, the Duke of Sussex said, to make progress towards the UK’s target of ending new HIV cases by 2030. Noting that there had been a drop in HIV testing during Covid he said that with people regularly testing for coronavirus it should be ‘rooted in us that this is what we need to do, know our status in order to be able to keep others safe’ .

Prince Harry and Gareth Thomas. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA

Former Welsh rugby captain Gareth Thomas, who is living with HIV, said getting tested “wouldn’t be scary if you understood what living with HIV is like in 2022”. Of his own diagnosis, he said: “I take a moment at 6am… I take my HIV medicine, which is a pill, and it feels like my day starts then. I’m very active, I go to the gym, I work as hard as I can. Free take-home HIV test kits can be ordered from

Longer lives ‘have to be paid for’ – Wealth taxes will be needed to fund a £76billion-a-year increase in public spending by the end of the decade, caused by an aging population and more expensive healthcare, according to the Resolution Foundation. The think tank argues that previous methods of fundraising – such as cutting defense spending and increasing national insurance contributions – will no longer be feasible. Dan Tomlinson, senior economist at the Resolution Foundation, said: “We will all benefit from people living longer and healthier lives – as well as from reducing our carbon footprint – but it will have to be paid for.”

Hawking Chalkboard Exposed – Stephen Hawking’s blackboard is on display today as part of a collection of office items acquired by the Science Museum in London. The Cambridge cosmologist, who died in 2018 aged 76, cherished a blackboard that was smothered in cartoons, scribbles and equations during a lecture on superspace and supergravity he took organized in 1980.

Exhibition of Stephen Hawking at work at the Science Museum
Exhibition of Stephen Hawking at work at the Science Museum. Photography: Isidora Bojovic/Science Museum Group

What all the graffiti and jokes mean takes time to unravel, so curators are hoping surviving attendees of this conference will drop by to explain. The temporary exhibit titled Stephen Hawking at Work includes his 1966 doctoral thesis, his wheelchair and a host of memorabilia, including a Simpsons jacket, which he has appeared on several times.

Today in Focus Podcast: When Things Unravel at #10

Gavin Barwell was at No 10 when Tory MPs were plotting the downfall of his boss, Theresa May. Now, with Boris Johnson’s prime ministership hanging in the balance, he’s telling Nosheen Iqbal what it’s like on the inside when things start to fall apart.

Today in brief

When everything collapses at No 10

Midday Reading: Death of the Department Store

The closure of the John Lewis store in Sheffield after nearly 60 years was a major blow. As debate rages over what to do with the huge empty site, the city becomes a test of where Britain’s urban centers might be headed.

The closed John Lewis department store in Sheffield
The closed John Lewis department store in Sheffield. Photograph: Richard Saker/The Observer


At the Winter Olympics, the British women’s curling team played their first match of the day, which Switzerland won 6-5. The men will face Italy before the women return against Sweden. Matt Weston was tied for 13th after today’s skeleton, and Huw Nightingale competes in snowboardcross. American snowboarder Chloe Kim became the first woman to successfully defend the Olympic halfpipe title, while her compatriot Nathan Chen won gold in men’s figure skating. Follow all the action on our live blog.

Tottenham inflated their lines against Southampton. They would get nothing in the 3-2 loss, which they deserved, in the first serious misstep of Conte’s Premier League tenure. Much like Aston Villa, working their way into a 3-1 lead before diving to allow Leeds to battle to a draw, Steven Gerrard built Jacob Ramsey’s bid for an England call-up before asking us everyone to stay calm and let it develop. Manchester City seem determined to make their title defense a procession. After a 2-0 loss to Brentford, their lead is now 12 points and although Liverpool could reduce it to nine by beating Leicester on Thursday, Pep Guardiola’s side have a relentlessness that could soon propel them far and wide.

Joe Marler has revealed ‘internal groans’ are a thing of the past in the England squad after throwing his hands up for the way he choked on his costly line-out in the loss to Scotland. Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad insist their omission from the England squad to visit the West Indies next month is ‘not the end of the road’ and focus on their forced return to the Test squad, according to Andrew Strauss. Simone Biles and Lindsey Vonn are among American sports stars who have thrown their support behind Mikaela Shiffrin as the American alpine skiing star’s nightmarish start to the Winter Games continues.


Shipping costs are skyrocketing for UK businesses as supply chain issues rocking the global economy continue to weigh on consumers. Pickering’s Gin saw the cost of shipping glass bottles from China increase sixfold in the past year and while it’s come down a bit, it’s still four times more expensive than before the pandemic. The FTSE100 looks stable this morning, as does the Pound at $1.353 and €1.184 ahead of the US inflation data later.

The papers

the of the guardian Today’s front page has ‘Covid rules to be abolished in England in a fortnight’. Also the story of the man who murdered two partners – after Ian Stewart was arrested for killing his fiancée in 2016, it was discovered that his first wife had also died at his hands six years earlier. Stewart, 61, was jailed on a life order. the Time says “PM among 50 willing to be questioned by police” about partygate.

Guardian front page, 10 February 2022
Guardian front page, 10 February 2022

A photo of the PM with an “open bottle of champagne” is on the front of the Metro and the title is “Cops’ quiz question”, referring to a “Downing Street Christmas quiz” that took place. the IThe wording is “Police questioning Johnson and 50 staff for partying in lockdown”. the Mirror has the quiz photo on the front although its main story is about Coleen and Wayne Rooney’s wedding.

the Telegraph said “Police need to contact fifty No10 partygoers”. As on other fronts, Liz Truss, the foreign minister, poses for a photo in front of a colorful landscape in Moscow where she is due to meet her Russian counterpart over the Ukraine crisis. It’s a happy day for the Daily mail: ‘England tear up the Covid rules – and rule the world’. the Express is also cheerful and shouts “Freedom!” And the main story in the FinancialTimes is “US regulator moves to strengthen disclosure rules for private equity funds”; while a high point in fusion energy research comes down to having produced enough energy to “boil 60 kettles”.


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