THE SUN reports that BBC staff are being offered a one-hour online training session on how to drink water. It is among wellness webinars designed to support workers’ mental and physical health during the pandemic, while many are working from home. One insider said: “We’ve all had a good laugh about it, so I guess it has boosted our mental health.” But the Beeb shot back: “We are addressing the fact you can take a journalist to water, but you can’t make them drink.”
NEW NASAL SPRAY DEVELOPED
The Daily Telegraph reports: A nasal spray which can prevent a coronavirus infection for up to two days could be available in high street pharmacies by the summer, researchers have said. Scientists at the University of Birmingham have been developing the spray since April last year and are currently in discussions with shops and pharmaceutical giants on the next steps to mass produce it.
MILITARY POLICE WATCH DOG
According to the Telegraph, the military is to get its own police watchdog, the veterans minister has announced, in a move that will enable families to complain about the handling of cases. The Armed Forces Bill, due to be presented to Parliament shortly, will implement the recommendations of the recent Service Justice System review to allow complaints about service policing, including by families, to be handled independently. Johnny Mercer, the Veterans Minister, says the new Service Police Complaints Commissioner will mirror the arrangements used in the civilian system’s Independent Office for Police Conduct to ensure any complaints about service policing are handled independently.
HOME SCHOOLING STRESSES PARENTS
The Guardian reports that parents say teachers are expecting parents to do more homeschooling with their primary-age children. Nearly half of parents say primary school teachers are expecting more of their child this time round, according to research for the Observer by the Parent Ping survey app, compared with the first one, leaving parents feeling stressed and anxious about their children’s mental health.
NEW TRADE DEAL
The Express reports: Boris Johnson is one step closer to securing a trade deal with the United States after a phone call with new President Joe Biden. Joe Biden and Boris Johnson held a call this evening as the Prime Minister expressed his intent to resolve any issues in pursuit of the trade deal. During the call the Prime Minister welcomed Mr Biden’s decision to re-join the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the World Health Organisation.
HEALTH PASSPORTS NEARER
The Daily Mirror writes that Department of Health chiefs are said to be in talks with a tech expert who has developed a ‘health passport’ to allow Brits vaccinated against Covid to return to normal life. The so-called health passport features a round barcode or VCode that could allow officials to scan people from three metres away. Pub bosses could then tell if a person has been vaccinated and would also be told the date and results of all Covid tests.
From the Express: Boris Johnson is facing a major rebellion in March if he has not started easing lockdown restrictions and doesn’t have a plan in place to end them altogether. The Prime Minister will be asking MPs to agree to the six month renewal of the Government’s so-called Henry VIII emergency powers to be able to impose restrictions at will to tackle the pandemic. But already senior MPs in his own party have warned that significant numbers could vote against unless there are moves to end lockdown and revitalise the economy.
COUNCILS GIVEN POWERS TO EXTEND LOCKDOWN
The Daily Mail reports: Pubs and restaurants could stay closed until July after Government chiefs chose to extend the lockdown powers given to councils. The specially-created powers, which give local authorities in England the ability to close venues and tape-off public areas due to coronavirus, were due to expire next week. But in a blow to millions of Britons hoping for a summer of reduced restrictions, Government chiefs have now extended the laws until mid-summer. The move does not mean lockdown has been extended. But it does mean the powers are in place should the Government decide to push back its current lockdown timetable. Frustrated Tory backbenchers have called on the Government to release its road-map out of lockdown – as the UK’s vaccine roll-out total hit more than five-million.
LONG LONG WAY TO GO
From The SUN: Hancock has warned we still have a “long, long way to go” before lockdown ends. He told Sophy Ridge on Sunday cases are nowhere near low enough to see an end to the draconian lockdown measures. Data from Saturday, January 23 saw deaths rise by 1,348 as fatalities topped 1,000 for the fifth day running. Infections increased by 33,552, bringing the total to 3,617,459.
The Express reports: Furious MEPs have begged the EU to take action after Jersey restricted French vessels from fishing in English Channel waters. Fishing in Jersey had previously been managed under the Treaty of the Bay of Granville which presided over the destinies of the fishing rights of French boats in Jersey waters since 1839. However, officials from the Jersey Government had been negotiating with French officials on future access terms since the UK left the EU. Jersey is not part of the UK and manages a large number of Brexit affairs domestically including fishing vessel licensing. As part of a temporary deal, it was expected French vessels, which significantly outnumbered the Islands own vessels, were still allowed to fish in the islands’ waters due to the previous Treaty while negotiations took place. However, the Channel island removed those temporary measures and are now seeking to implement a new strict proposed licencing regime due to legal issues.
SWEAR WORDS RATED
The INDEPENDENT reports that every swear word in the English language has been ranked in order of offensiveness. The UK’s communications regulator, Ofcom, interviewed more than 200 people across the UK on how offensive they find a vast array of rude and offensive words and insults. People were asked their opinion on 150 words in total. These included general swear words, words linked to race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, body parts and health conditions, religious insults and sexual references, as well as certain hand gestures. They were asked to rate words as mild, medium, strong or strongest. Words rated as mild were thought to be okay to use around children, whereas medium words were seen by most to be potentially unacceptable before the 9pm watershed. The vast majority thought the strong words should definitely be saved for after 9pm. For sexual insults, most words were rated as strong.
The Times reports: MPs are charging the taxpayer for heating and electricity they used while working from home during lockdown. Most workers, on the other hand, are forced to pay out of their own pockets. Despite working largely remotely during the first lockdown last year, MPs claimed £9.1m in expenses, 11% more than during the same period in 2019.
FORMER BREXIT MEP DIES IN ACCIDENT
From the Independent: A former Brexit Party MEP has died in a diving accident near his home in the Bahamas. Robert Rowland, 54, represented the southeast of England at the European Parliament from July 2019 until December 2020. Nigel Farage announced the death of the father-of-four, who was born in Bowdon, Greater Manchester, on the website of the Reform Party, the new name for the Brexit Party. He said: “It is with great sadness that I have to announce the death of Robert Rowland, after a diving accident near his home in the Bahamas.”