Covid: New curbs as backlash grows, and no Christmas party police probe

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Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Thursday morning. We'll have another update for you this evening.

1. New curbs as backlash grows

The prime minister faces a growing backlash from his own MPs over plans to move England into tougher restrictions, or Plan B. Boris Johnson announced that rules such as wearing face coverings in more places and guidance to work from home would come into effect as early as Friday. He says the decision's been made based on analysis of the new Omicron variant of Covid. But some Tory's aren't convinced by the case for introducing the measures, or by the timing after the leaked video emerged of senior aides joking about a party held at Downing Street last year. Despite this, the plan is likely to be voted through Parliament next week with support from Labour.

Image source, EPA

2. No Downing Street party police probe

An "absence of evidence" means the Met Police will not be investigating allegations No 10 staff broke Covid rules last year. The decision comes despite a video leaked to ITV which triggered a backlash, showing aides joking about a Christmas party held when restrictions were in place. Labour says it's "simply implausible" for police to argue there was no evidence given the existence of the footage, which the prime minister has apologised about and launched an inquiry into. Labour is urging police to pursue an investigation "without fear or favour".

Media caption,

Ros Atkins on... the No 10 Christmas party fallout

3. Australia deputy PM contracts Covid

After feeling some fatigue and pain in his legs, Australia's deputy prime minister took a Covid test while in the US for an official visit and discovered he had the virus. Barnaby Joyce doesn't think he was infected there and instead believes he contracted Covid when he was visiting the UK earlier this week. He's isolating and has mild flu-like symptoms. Here's the story.

Image source, EPA

4. How big a threat is Omicron?

Scientists are focusing on how fast the Omicron variant can spread and how sick it will make you to understand the risks and challenges posed by this strain of Covid. So how big a threat is Omicron? Our health and science correspondent James Gallagher has investigated.

Image source, Getty Images

5. Career changes

Joe Flynn had spent 10 years selling mortgages, but during lockdown he, like millions of other people, started to a think about what he wanted to do with his life. He says he realised he wanted a career "where I felt I could make a difference about something I cared about". A role at The Vegan Society soon caught his eye and he thought it was perfect. Read more about the people changing jobs to make a difference.

Image source, Joe Flynn

And there's more...

How will the new measures, or Plan B, affect the economy which is still recovering from the impact of previous waves of Covid? Find out here.

You can find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.

Image source, BBC

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