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Live Reporting

Emma Harrison

All times stated are UK

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  1. Thanks for joining us...

    We're closing our live coverage for the day, so thanks for joining us - we'll be back again tomorrow.

    Our writers have been Joseph Lee, Alexandra Fouche, Alex Kleiderman and Adam Durbin. The page has been edited by Alex Therrien, Holly Wallis, Emma Harrison and Tiffany Wertheimer.

  2. What's been happening today?

    It's been a very busy day with plenty of developments. Here's a round up of the key headlines:

    And if you're keen to follow the debate and votes over Covid measures in the Commons, our friends and colleagues at BBC Politics have you covered here.

  3. Thousands cancel Christmas bookings over Omicron

    Group of friends playing karaoke dressed in Christmas outfits

    The hospitality industry is feeling the impact of the new Covid curbs, with pubs and restaurants reporting a wave of Christmas cancellations.

    The Bar 44 chain tells the BBC 3,200 people have scrapped bookings in December alone across its four outlets in Bristol and Cardiff.

    Natalie Isaac, the business' operations director, says only a "handful" of people would have cancelled before the pandemic.

    She adds 1,000 of those bookings were lost because of the knock-on effects of cancelled concerts by Tom Jones and the Stereophonics.

    Others say that although they face no new rules, public caution is causing lower footfall and a loss of trade.

    The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has called for the government to provide financial support for businesses affected, but the Treasury has not unveiled any new measures.

    Read more here.

    Quote Message: Having to stay open but not getting the business is our big worry. This should be our bumper two weeks before Christmas, but the diary is worryingly empty. We're significantly impacted and without furlough, we won't be able to protect our staff. from Natalie Isaac Operations Director, Bar 44
    Natalie IsaacOperations Director, Bar 44
  4. PM thanks those who queued 'for hours' to get booster

    Boris Johnson visits a Covid vaccine centre in London
    Image caption: Boris Johnson visiting a Covid vaccine centre in London yesterday

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson has expressed his thanks to people who have queued for booster jabs, No 10 has said.

    Johnson's official spokesman said the PM was grateful to those who "queued for hours to get their jabs yesterday", following the expansion of the booster rollout to all adults in England.

    The spokesman adds the government wants to "go further and faster" with the rollout.

    He says: "You'll have seen that the 15-minute wait has been temporarily paused by the UK chief medical officers. That will allow for significantly more people to go through those vaccination sites.

    "It's something that will be very beneficial on the ground and I'll stress that that's been done on clinical advice and safety continues to be our top priority."

  5. More than half a million booster jabs given on Monday

    People queue up at St.Thomas"s hospital for Covid-19 booster jabs in London, Britain, 14 December 2021.
    Image caption: There have been long queues at many vaccination centres in England

    The UK government has reported that 513,722 booster shots were given on Monday, which means that 42% of the population has now been given a third dose - that's more than 24 million people.

    And as we've been reporting, the booster campaign is in full swing, having been brought forward in response to the Omicron variant.

    There have been some teething problems, with the NHS website crashing under the strain of so many people trying to book their appointment.

    In England and Scotland, it's hoped every adult will be able to book a Covid booster before the end of 2021.

    In England a booster is now available to every adult aged 18 or over - as long as it's at least three months since their second dose.

    Over-30s can start booking their booster from two months after their second dose (but the appointment dates offered will only be after three months has passed) and from Wednesday, this will be extended to over-18s.

    There have been long queues at walk-in vaccination centres, but the government has urged people to be "patient and keep trying, or book online".

    Scotland aims to offer booster appointments to all eligible adults before the end of the year.

  6. Doctors cancel Christmas party over 'coming wave' of Omicron

    Professor Stefan Marciniak

    A doctor from Cambridge has spoken of the sadness his lab team felt at taking a decision to cancel their Christmas party, despite it being the "right thing to do".

    Prof Stefan Marciniak, a respiratory specialist, tells the BBC it was a "unanimous decision" from the whole team to protect the health of their family, friends and the wider community from the spread of the Omicron variant.

    He says: “Some of us are clinicians and we don't want to contribute to the coming wave that will hit us.

    "We also have responsibilities. If I can't do my ward rounds on Christmas Eve then someone else has to do that."

    Quote Message: Omicron is transmitting extremely quickly and coming into a population with relatively little protection from two doses of vaccine, although boosters appear to have a very good effect in early studies. from Prof Stefan Marciniak Doctor and Professor of Respiratory Science, University of Cambridge
    Prof Stefan MarciniakDoctor and Professor of Respiratory Science, University of Cambridge
  7. Indonesia starts vaccinating children

    A young Indonesian girl prepares to receive her Covid-19 vaccination

    Indonesia has become one of the few countries in Asia to start vaccinating children against Covid-19.

    Those aged six to 11 will now receive China's Sinovac vaccine.

    Covid vaccinations for children have been a sensitive and sometimes controversial subject around the world.

    In Europe, the medicines regulator approved the use of Pfizer-BioNTech's lower-dose vaccine on children aged five to 11 last month, however different countries are approaching it in different ways.

    For example, one region in Italy is using clowns and jugglers at clinics and France and Germany are targeting only the most vulnerable children. Denmark, on the other hand, has been giving the shots even before the specially-designed vials and syringes have arrived, according to Reuters news agency.

    In the UK, the government has been advised to offer 12 to 15-year-olds a second jab.

    Read more:

  8. BreakingPost-jab observation period scrapped

    The UK's four chief medical officers have just advised that the waiting period where people are monitored after getting their Pfizer or Moderna Covid jab in case of an allergic reaction should be temporarily suspended.

    They said scrapping the 15-minute observation period would speed the process up at vaccination centres and allow more people to get boosters.

    They also said the rates of anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction) after Covid vaccination are low - around one per 100,000 vaccine doses.

    Speaking in the Commons just now, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the change would help the NHS "get more jabs in arms more quickly to give people vital protection this winter".

    Those who have a history of allergies, particularly to other vaccines, or have had an immediate reaction after previous doses may still be advised to stay for the 15 minutes.

  9. France may tighten travel restrictions from UK

    Eiffel Tower with tourists wearing masks

    The French government is keeping a close eye on the Omicron situation in Britain, and may tighten entry restrictions to those travelling from the UK if the situation worsens, says a French government spokesman.

    "We are always looking at means to tighten the framework, we are currently working on that and we should, I think, come to a conclusion in the coming days," Gabriel Attal told France Info radio on Tuesday.

    France is currently in the midst of a fifth coronavirus wave, mostly driven by the Delta variant.

    There are 133 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in France, Mr Attal said.

  10. BreakingUK records another 59,610 coronavirus cases

    The UK government has updated its daily Covid numbers:

    • Another 59,610 new infections have been recorded. There has been a 12.1% increase in the number of cases in the last seven days compared to the previous seven days
    • A further 150 people have died within 28 days of a positive test. There has been a decrease of 6.5% in the number of deaths in the last seven days, compared to the previous seven days
  11. End all travel restrictions, says UK industry body

    Arrivals at Gatwick Airport

    Ministers have announced that all countries will be removed from the travel red list in England because the Omicron variant is spreading throughout the UK - but travel testing will remain in place. Now the travel trade body Abta is calling for all restrictions to be lifted.

    Chief executive Mark Tanzer says: "The government has always been clear that once the Omicron variant is widespread across the UK there would be little rationale for retaining any restrictions on international travel."

    Travel businesses are facing a "serious situation" with temporary testing requirements extending over Christmas and the New Year, and into the peak booking period for summer 2022, he says.

    He adds: "Consumer confidence in travel has suffered a significant setback, which will outlast these restrictions. The government must acknowledge this by bringing forward grant support to help businesses through the difficult weeks ahead."

  12. MPs raise concerns about Covid passes

    As the debate on Plan B measures continues, MPs have been indicating their concerns throughout in interventions.

    Tory Alec Shelbrooke asked if variants keep coming, "how do we avoid debating the same thing in three months or five months' time?".

    Health Secretary Sajid Javid responded that the key is the vaccine, and said the government has struck deals for 114 million more doses that could be adjusted for future variants.

    In light of the new data on Omicron, Covid passes will require booster jabs and not just the initial two doses "as soon as all adults have a reasonable chance" of having an extra jab, Javid says.

    One Tory MP said he is worried about a "two-tier system" and wants the health secretary to assure him negative tests will always be an alternative as part of Covid passes.

    Javid said: "This is not a vaccine passport, it is really important that people have a range of options."

    But Lib Dem Alistair Carmichael said "a vaccine passport with a lateral flow option is still a vaccine passport" and questioned what effect they had had in other parts of the UK, where they have been in place for weeks.

  13. Labour supports masks, Covid passes and mandatory jabs for NHS staff

    Back in the Commons, Labour's Wes Streeting has outlined his party's support for the government's Plan B measures.

    The shadow health secretary says mask wearing has been "proven to be effective" and adds the government should never have lifted the rules in the first place.

    On Covid passes, Streeting says Labour supports the requirement to have the option to show a negative lateral flow test and argues they are "not vaccine passports" as a result.

    Although the party doesn't support mandatory vaccination in general, he says it will back the measure for health and care workers. But he says the government must do more to persuade them to get jabs voluntarily.

  14. Hospital and care home visit limits in Scotland

    Care home visit

    Some more details from Nicola Sturgeon's update for Scotland now. Visits to care home residents should not now involve any more than two households at a time, she announces.

    The new guidance also asks people to do a lateral flow Covid test before visiting.

    For hospitals, the Scottish government is recommending that no more than two people visit a patient at any one time.

    Meanwhile, on schools, Sturgeon tells MSPs that entire classes are not recommended to isolate when one pupil tests positive.

    She says a "key aim" is for schools to stay open to minimise disruption to learning.

    You can read more about the changes coming into effect in Scotland here.

  15. 'A necessary response to the Omicron threat' - Labour

    Wes Streeting

    Labour's shadow health secretary Wes Streeting is speaking in the Commons, and opens by saying sincere beliefs are held on all sides, but he hopes the debate on Plan B measures can be worthy of Parliament.

    He criticises the comparison by one Tory MP of Covid passes to Nazi Germany's policies, saying: "We are not living in the 1930s and the secretary of state and his team are not Nazis."

    Streeting says the health secretary has a responsibility to protect our NHS and calls the measures "a necessary response to the Omicron threat".

    But he says that confronting the challenges of this winter has been made much harder because we went into the pandemic with record waiting lists, 100,000 unfilled vacancies in the NHS and shortages of care staff.

  16. 'Quarantine hotel fiasco has cost us £5,500'

    Alison Stitt

    As we've just heard, a number of countries have now been removed from the travel red list, including South Africa.

    This has come too late for some people who have been forced to quarantine, including Alison Stitt.

    She was in South Africa visiting her father for his 90th birthday when the country went on the UK's red list.

    She says it took her days to re-arrange a flight home on a date that a quarantine hotel room was available. They had to stay longer in their Airbnb and re-book their car hire while they waited - on top of extending their car parking and kennels bookings in the UK.

    Now, she and her husband David are at a hotel near Gatwick.

    Alison says the total cost of their extended stay in South Africa and their quarantine, has been at least £5,500.

    Speaking to the BBC before all countries were taken off the red list, she said the idea of the travel rules being changed "has fuelled our argument that this whole fiasco was wrong".

    Read more here.

    Quote Message: "It was one expense after another. It's all going on credit cards. It was meant to be a budget trip from Alison Stitt
    Alison Stitt
  17. Javid seeks 'urgent advice' on quarantine hotel release

    Sajid Javid has told MPs he is seeking "urgent advice" about people currently in quarantine hotels being permitted to leave early.

    Labour MP Ben Bradshaw asks the health secretary if the government will now release people in isolation in quarantine hotels, given that all 11 African countries are to be removed from the red list.

    Javid says: "I am told that the practice in the past has been requiring them to complete their quarantine period. However, I do understand the importance of that.

    "I have asked for urgent advice about what this means and I hope to act very quickly on just that."

  18. Travel red list 'less effective' now Omicron spreading in UK

    Heathrow arrivals

    The health secretary has set out in Parliament the rationale for ending the travel red list, saying that as the new variant is spreading in the UK, travel restrictions are "now less effective in slowing the incursion of Omicron from abroad".

    The decision means England will no longer require hotel quarantine for travellers from Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

    Travel rules are set by the four nations of the UK independently, but the other nations' governments often follow proposals from Westminster.

  19. Scotland shops and pubs to return to physical distancing

    Back to Nicola Sturgeon's update, and the first minister says firms in Scotland are being encouraged to bring back physical distancing and screens in shops and hospitality venues.

    Sturgeon says Scotland is facing a "likely tsunami" of new infections of Covid-19 in the weeks ahead, with a "very significant" impact on health services.

    Businesses will have a legal requirement to take practicable measures to minimise the risk of transmission of Covid.

    In retail, it will involve a return to the kind of protections in place at the start of the pandemic - including physical distancing and measures to control the flow of customers and protective screens.

    For hospitality, it will mean, measures to avoid crowding at bars and between tables, and a reminder of the requirement to collect contact details of customers to help with contact tracing.

  20. Shapps confirms red list removals, while testing rules remain

    Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has also confirmed that all 11 African countries on the UK's travel red list will be removed from tomorrow.

    And the minister announced on Twitter that all testing measures for arrivals will remain in place.

    The rules for England require all travellers to have a pre-arrival negative PCR or lateral flow test taken within the 48 hours before arriving.

    Arrivals must also self-isolate until they get a negative result from a PCR test.

    Shapps adds: "As always, we keep all our travel measures under review and we may impose new restrictions should there be a need to do so to protect public health."

    View more on twitter