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UK and Turkey sign trade deal in 29 December

boris johnson
Boris Johnson

UK and Turkey sign trade deal in 29 December

UK and Turkey sign trade deal in 29 December for tariff-free trading arrangements, which will support our trading relationship worth £18.6 billion in 2019, and committed to working towards a more ambitious trade agreement in the future.

  • The UK and Turkey secure trade agreement in major win for UK automotive, manufacturing and steel industries.
  • Today’s deal supports a trading partnership worth £18.6 billion last year.
  • The agreement lays the groundwork for a more ambitious UK Turkey trade relationship in the future.

The UK-Turkey Free Trade Agreement was signed today as International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Turkey’s Minister for Trade, Ruhsar Pekcan, met on a video call.

boris johnson
Boris Johnson

The deal will secure existing preferential tariffs for the 7,600 UK businesses that exported goods to Turkey in 2019, ensuring the continued tariff-free flow of goods and protecting vital UK-Turkey supply chains in the automotive and manufacturing sectors.

See more on gov.uk website …

Brexit deal done, trade agreement between UK and EU

uk eu talks
Uk Eu talks

Brexit deal done, trade agreement between UK and EU

Brexit deal done, trade agreement finally struck between UK and EU. MPs and peers will be recalled to parliament on 30 December to ratify the treaty.

A long-awaited trade deal between the UK and the EU has been struck just days before the deadline. The treaty will apply from 1 January 2021 and take over from the arrangements under the transition period, which has seen the UK continue to follow most EU rules since Brexit day.

The prime minister promised the deal will allow companies “to do even more business with our European friends” while “taking back control of our laws and our destiny” – echoing a key message of the Vote Leave campaign.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer announced he will back the deal, meaning it is almost guaranteed to pass, but argued it is a “thin agreement” and not what the government promised as it does not provide enough protections for manufacturing, workers’ rights or financial services.

uk eu talks
Uk Eu talks

In her own address, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said it had been a “long and winding road” – but that striking a deal was “right and responsible”.

She added Brussels would “continue cooperating with the UK in all areas of mutual interest” such as climate change, transport and security – but that “together we still achieve more than we do apart”.

On the key issue of fishing, Ms von der Leyen revealed the deal had guaranteed five-and-a-half years of “full predictability for our fishing communities”.

She said the UK’s chief negotiators had been “tough but fair” and the talks had been “successful”.

In her final comments, Ms von der Leyen said: “Today, I only feel quiet satisfaction and, frankly speaking, relief.

“I know this is a difficult day for some, and to our friends in the UK I want to say: Parting is such sweet sorrow.

“But to use a line from T.S. Eliot, what we call the beginning is often the end and to make an end is to make a beginning.

“So to all Europeans I say: It is time to leave Brexit behind, our future is made in Europe.”

Sources: Sky News

What countries have banned UK travel over COVID concerns

eurotunnel
Eurotunnel

What countries have banned UK travel over COVID concerns

What countries have banned UK travel over COVID concerns? More than 40 countries have banned UK arrivals because of concerns about the spread of a new coronavirus strain in England.

Read: New COVID strain in South UK, what we know in few words.

Flights from the UK are being suspended to territories across the world and France shut its border with the UK in 21st of December for 48 hours, meaning no lorries or ferries can leave from the port of Dover.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and scientists announced that the new strain had led to spiralling infection numbers. British government said on Sunday that the spread of a more-infectious new strain of the coronavirus was now “out of control”.

breaking news
Breaking news

A list with most of the countries that have announced travel bans so far:

Argentina has banned flights from the UK. It said the last flight from the UK would arrive in the country on Monday.

Belgium banned flights from the UK for at least 24 hours from midnight on Sunday.

Bulgaria said flights to and from the UK would be suspended from midnight Sunday until January 31.

Canada is banning all UK flights for 72 hours.

Chile announced that it would suspend flights from the UK effective Tuesday.

Colombia will suspend all flights to the UK.

Croatia said it would temporarily suspend passenger air traffic from the UK for 48 hours.

Denmark has suspended flights from the UK for 48 hours starting Monday at 09:00 GMT.

El Salvador‘s President Nayib Bukele said anyone who had been in Britain or South Africa in the past 30 days will not be allowed to enter the country.

EstoniaLatvia and Lithuania have halted flights from the UK.

Finland has barred flights from the UK for two weeks.

France has banned all travel from the UK for 48 hours, including journeys “related to goods transport by road, air, sea or rail”.

Germany halted all air links with the UK from midnight on Sunday, with the ban initially slated to last until December 31. Cargo flights will be exempt.

Hong Kong will ban flights from the UK over new coronavirus strain.

Italy has blocked flights from Great Britain and the “entry into Italy of people who have stayed there during the last 14 days”. The new strain has been found in one person in Italy who recently returned from the UK.

India announced a suspension of all flights originating from the UK to the country until the end of the year, the aviation ministry said in a tweet.

Iran has ordered flights from the UK suspended for two weeks.

Ireland has banned all flights arriving from the UK from midnight Sunday for at least 48 hours.

Israel said it was barring entry to foreign citizens travelling from the UK, Denmark and South Africa.

Jordan suspends flights to and from UK from Monday until January 3.

Kuwait has added the UK to a list of “high-risk” nations and banned flights.

Morocco banned all flights to the UK beginning on Sunday.

Norway will be suspend flights from the UK with immediate effect for a minimum of 48 hour, the Norwegian health minister said in a statement on Monday.

Netherlands have been banned all passenger flights and ferries from the UK until January 1, the Dutch government said.

Peru has suspended flights from Europe for two weeks.

Poland will be suspending flights from the UK starting from midnight on Monday.

Portugal is suspending flights from the UK from Tuesday.

Romania has banned all flights to and from the UK for two weeks starting on Monday afternoon.

Spain will ban all travellers from the UK except Spanish nationals and residents from entering the country from Tuesday.

Sudan will ban travellers from the UK, the Netherlands and South Africa from Wednesday.

Switzerland has stopped flights to and from Uk until further notice.

Turkey said it cancel flights from the UK, Denmark (where nine cases of the new strain have been detected), the Netherlands and South Africa will be suspended.

European Union member states met earlier in Brussels to discuss a co-ordinated response, with officials suggesting a requirement for tests could be imposed on all people arriving from the UK.

eurotunnel
Eurotunnel

Eurotunnel services to France are also suspended and Eurostar trains to Belgium are not operating. However, Eurotunnel spokesman John Keefe said he hoped travel from the UK could begin on Wednesday or Thursday.

New COVID strain in South UK, what we know in few words

covid 19
Covid-19

New COVID strain in South UK, what we know in few words

New COVID strain in South UK, what we know in few words? So it was of little surprise to scientists that variants of COVID-19 have been detected since the pandemic started. Seasonal influenza mutates every year, which is why there is an updated flu jab annually. Viruses change all the time.

But concerns are growing over a new strain of coronavirus identified in the United Kingdom. Several countries ban UK passengers in bid to contain new mutation, which is 70 percent more infectious and ripping through London.

Read: What countries have banned UK travel in this article. 

Read: England move to tier 4 starting Sunday 20th December.

Vaccines should still be effective against it and the new strain is not believed to be any more deadly, but people are increasingly worried because this mutation appears to be 70 percent more infectious. The broad symptoms of the new strain are the same – high temperature, persistent dry cough and a loss or change in taste and smell.

The new variant, which has been named VUI-202012/01 (the first Variant Under Investigation in December 2020), is thought to have first occurred in mid-September in the country’s southeast, in the capital London or the county of Kent.

Susan Hopkins of Public Health England said the agency notified the government on December 18 when modelling revealed the full seriousness of the new strain. The UK submitted its findings to the World Health Organization the same day.

Since then it spread quickly in the southeast, becoming the dominant form of the virus there. In London, 62 percent of cases were due to the new variant in the week of December 9. That compares with 28 percent three weeks earlier.

boris johnson
Boris Johnson

Faced with this rapid development, the UK government has moved to enforce stricter lockdown measures over the coming Christmas period.

Earlier, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had been committed to allowing people to meet for festivities. But amid rising criticism and on the advice of his scientific advisers, many Britons are now banned from mixing households until at least the end of December, when the new measures will be reviewed.

Patrick Vallance, the UK’s chief scientific adviser, said the new variant may be in other countries as well but might have started in the UK. Several countries ban UK passengers in bid to contain new mutation, which is 70 percent more infectious and ripping through London.

Read: What countries have banned UK travel in this article.

Sources: Al Jazeera and news agencies

England move to tier 4 starting Sunday 20th December

boris johnson
Boris Johnson

England move to tier 4 starting Sunday 20th December

England move to tier 4 starting Sunday 20th December because of an increase in Covid-19 infection rates. Christmas rules tightened for England, Scotland and Wales

From midnight, a new tier four was introduced in areas including London, Kent, Essex and Bedfordshire. ‘Tier 4 – Stay At Home’ comes into effect  on 20 December in the following areas:

  • All 32 boroughs from greater London and the City of London.
  • Kent
  • Buckinghamshire (including Milton Keynes)
  • Berkshire
  • Surrey (excluding Waverley)
  • Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth
  • Rother and Hastings
  • Bedfordshire
  • Hertfordshire
  • Essex (excluding Colchester, Uttlesford and Tendring)
  • Peterborough

Those in tier four cannot mix indoors with anyone not from their household.

Elsewhere in England, Scotland and Wales, relaxed indoor mixing rules are cut from five days to Christmas Day.

boris johnson
Boris Johnson

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the changes for England at a Downing Street briefing after scientists said a new coronavirus variant was spreading more rapidly.

Tier-four restrictions – similar to England’s second national lockdown – will apply in all areas in the South East currently in tier three, covering Kent, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Surrey (excluding Waverley), Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth, Rother and Hastings.

It will also apply in London (all 32 boroughs and the City of London) and the East of England (Bedford, Central Bedford, Milton Keynes, Luton, Peterborough, Hertfordshire, Essex (excluding Colchester, Uttlesford and Tendring).

In Scotland, Covid restrictions will only be relaxed on Christmas Day, with mainland Scotland being placed under the tightest restrictions from Boxing Day.

Outlining the changes, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she wished she had acted quicker to curb the virus in February, adding: “Standing here saying this actually makes me want to cry.”

see more on bbc …

Bestway Wholesale has confirmed acquisition of Costcutter

costcutter
Costcutter

Bestway Wholesale has confirmed acquisition of Costcutter

Bestway Wholesale has confirmed acquisition of Costcutter Supermarkets Group (CSG) from owner Bibby Line Group. Costcutter Supermarkets employs around 500 people.

The deal is expected for completion in the first three months of 2021 under the Financial Conduct Authority’s approval. It will bring Bestway’s total retail store estate to 3,795, which includes 2,682 symbol and 195 centrally owned sites. It would mark Bestway’s latest major acquisition following its takeover of Conviviality Retail in 2018.

Under the terms of the deal, Costcutter’s brands, which include Mace, Kwiksave, Simply Fresh and four Co-op franchises, will continue to operate as normal. Costcutter’s existing supply deal with Nisa will also remain unaffected.

This means that Costcutter retailers will continue to benefit from access to the same range they have today, including a fresh offer that is right for today’s convenience shopper, as well as the Co-op’s Own Brand range.

costcutter
Costcutter

During the 12 months to 31 December 2019, CSG’s sales rose by 10% to £426m, it said, with sales and profitability continuing to rise throughout 2020 as consumers increasingly shopped locally as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The acquisition takes Bestway Wholesale’s annual turnover to almost £3bn, alongside a symbol, franchise and company-owned store retail estate of more than 3,795 stores in the UK, including 2,682 fascia and 195 company-owned.

Under the terms of the acquisition, CSG and its brands will become part of Bestway Wholesale’s retail division and continue to operate as normal.

Approximately 1,500 stores branded under Costcutter, Mace, Supershop, Kwiksave and Simply Fresh, along with 20 Costcutter and four Co-op franchises, will join Bestway Wholesale’s retail estate, which already includes Bargain Booze, Best-one, Wine Rack, Select Convenience and Central Convenience.

Dawood Pervez, managing director of Bestway Wholesale, described Costcutter as a “great brand with a long heritage and a history of success”.

He said: “Clearly, there will be benefits of joining forces for our retailers, for shoppers, and for suppliers.”

Costcutter Supermarkets Group (CSG) employs around 500 people.

Costcutter Supermarkets Group (CSG) is a business based in the United Kingdom primarily operating as a symbol group supplier to various independently owned convenience shops and off-licences. It has operations in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and Poland. It encompasses both supermarkets and convenience shops.

Surrey move into tier 3 from Saturday 19th December

surrey county tier 3
Surrey enter Tier 3 - photo Surrey Council

Surrey move into tier 3 from Saturday 19th December

Surrey move into tier 3 from Saturday 19th December, the Heath Secretary Matt Hancock has announced.

Due to rapidly rising rates of Coronavirus across most of Surrey, the Government has taken the decision to implement tier 3 restrictions in all other Districts and Boroughs. Waverley Borough, which has the county’s lowest infection rate, is the single to remain in tier 2.

The Very High alert level is for areas with a very high or very rapidly rising level of infections, where tighter restrictions are required. The decision to move an area into a higher tier is based on a number of indicators, including the overall infection rate, the rate in the over 60s, and the pressure on the NHS.

surrey county tier 3
Surrey enter Tier 3 – photo Surrey Council

This means that, with the exception of Waverley, if you live in Surrey:

  • You can only mix households (in groups of up to 6) in outdoor spaces, such as parks and the countryside, not in private gardens
  • All hospitality venues such as bars, pubs and cafés must shut. They can open for takeaway only
  • Indoor entertainment venues, such as theatres and cinemas, must close
  • Accommodation, such as hotels and B&Bs, must close

This is in addition to existing guidelines that state you must not mix with anyone you don’t live with (or who aren’t in your support bubble) in any indoor setting.

The Heath Secretary announced the new coronavirus tiers for every area of England on Thursday (December 17) in the House of Commons and said that 10 of Surrey’s 11 districts and boroughs will enter the toughest restrictions from 12.01am on Saturday (December 19).

According to the latest data, released on Tuesday (December 15), infection rates are rising in every Surrey area apart from Runnymede.

Tim Oliver, leader of Surrey County Council, said after the announcement: “The Government has taken the decision to put most of the county under further restrictions because of their much higher rates of infection.

“I know this will be very disappointing news for residents and businesses in our Tier 3 areas, after an exceptionally difficult year.

“But we need to take swift action to save lives and stop our crucial NHS services from being put under even more pressure. We all need to be extremely vigilant, including residents in Waverley, as the situation can change quickly and we want to prevent them going into Tier 3 in the new year.”

Everyone in Surrey should continue to follow guidance on wearing face coverings, social distancing, and working from home when possible. If you can’t work from home you should walk or cycle where possible, or try to avoid busy times on public transport.

Welsh Government has launched the Restrictions Business Fund

ken skates welsh economy minister
Ken Skates Welsh economy minister

Welsh Government has launched the Restrictions Business Fund

Welsh Government has launched the Restrictions Business Fund to support businesses that have been directly impacted by the additional restrictions put in place on the 4th December to control the spread of Covid-19.

The Welsh and UK Government have continued to provide finical support for those who are self-employed including those within the taxi industry. The newest support from the Welsh Government (which opened on 16 December 2020) for the self-employed (including taxi drivers) can be found here or for drivers who live in Newport here.

The purpose of the grant is to provide businesses with cash flow support and to help them survive the economic consequences of the restrictions introduced. The grant seeks to complement other Covid-19 response measures to support businesses, social enterprises and charitable organisations in Wales.

It is important you apply ASAP as grants are time limited: The grant is up £2000. It is likely many drivers will require applying for group 2 grant . Please Note you must apply to the Local Authority where you currently reside. If you live outside of Newport, please select the area where you live for more information.

ken skates welsh economy minister
Ken Skates Welsh economy minister

The fund consists of two separate grants and you can only apply for one of them only.

As an example for Newport you can select the correct grant below. 

Grant 1 – You could be eligible for this grant if you:

  • Operate within the hospitality, tourism, leisure sectors, or their supply chain
  • Are liable for Business Rates on a property in Newport (up to a rateable value of £150,000).

Read more. 

OR 

Grant 2 – You could be eligible for this grant if you:

  • Operate within the hospitality, tourism, leisure sectors, or their supply chain
  • Are NOT liable for Business Rates for a property in Newport

Read more. 

These application forms are for Newport businesses only. If you are from outside the Newport City Council area, please check application details with your relevant local authority website.

London, Essex & Hertfordshire to enter tier 3 on Wednesday

matt hancock
Matt Hancock

London, Essex & Hertfordshire to enter tier 3 on Wednesday

London and parts of Essex and Hertfordshire go into Covid Tier 3 from Wednesday morning after data showed infection rates increasing exponentially.

Tier three restrictions could turn central London into a “ghost town”. Londoners will only be able to meet outdoors. Pubs and restaurants must close except for takeaway services.

The cultural sector has faced unprecedented challenges due to the previous lockdown. Tighter restrictions could leave parts of the industry even further in danger.

Socially distanced performances to smaller audiences had been allowed in London since the last national lockdown ended. Yet, the Society of London Theatre / UK Theatre said the move would cause “catastrophic financial difficulties” for venues, producers and thousands of workers.

matt hancock
Matt Hancock

London, Essex & Hertfordshire to enter tier 3 on Wednesday

Businesses in London, Essex and Hertfordshire understand that rising infection rates must be controlled, and tougher restrictions are necessary to save lives and protect against longer-term economic scarring.

However, the financial impact of moving into tier 3 will be stark. Businesses – particularly those in sectors like retail and hospitality – will have been counting on a festive fillip to help mitigate months of hardship, and further restrictions now will come as a devastating blow. Thousands of jobs and livelihoods could be at risk.

It’s vital that any tightening of measures anywhere across England is shaped by clear evidence, consistently applied, and accompanied by increased support for businesses in the worst-hit sectors.

If there is one thing we need now, is to come together and support those who need it most. Vaccinations are now underway and offer tangible reasons for optimism in 2021 – the government must do everything possible to help businesses survive until risks recede and trade returns.

British Airways launches new flights from Southampton Airport

british airways airplane
British Airways

British Airways launches new flights from Southampton Airport

British Airways launches new flights from Southampton Airport. British Airways has announced that it will launch flights from Southampton Airport to 11 European destinations next summer.

The airline has signed an agreement with the airport to operate 17 seasonal flights each weekend to locations in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece, France and Germany.

The flights will take place between May 1 and October 31, 2021, and will be operated by its BA Cityflyer subsidiary using its Embraer 190 aircraft.

british airways airplane
British Airways

Destinations on the flight network (see image below) will include Berlin, Bergerac, Edinburgh, Faro, Florence, Ibiza, Limoges, Malaga, Mykonos, Nice and Palma de Mallorca.

Return fares will start from £66, and travellers can book via the website from today.

Tom Stoddart, Managing Director of BA CityFlyer, said: “We are delighted to announce the extension of our services to Southampton Airport next summer.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the British Airways family. The ideal location of the airport and excellent facilities on offer will hugely benefit our customers along the South Coast as they plan to take to the skies again and book a well-deserved holiday in the sun.”

Steve Szalay, Operations Director at Southampton Airport, said:

“Today’s announcement from British Airways is fantastic news for Southampton Airport and the region during what has been the most challenging of years.

“It’s also great to see BA return to the airport once again and the range of excellent destinations on offer is sure to be a welcome early Christmas present for passengers looking to plan a European holiday next summer.”

The services will be replacing some of those lost due to the collapse of Flybe in March.

British Airways Holidays is also offering seven-night flight and hotel packages from Southampton to destinations including Malaga, Faro and Palma from £199 per person, available to customers who book before midnight on December 16, 2020.

see more … 

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