Coronavirus news live: Latest UK updates as businesses push Sunak for more support

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<p>Passengers wearing PPE (personal protective equipment), including a face mask as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, walk through the arrivals hall after landing at at Terminal Two of London Heathrow Airport&nbsp;</p>

Passengers wearing PPE (personal protective equipment), including a face mask as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, walk through the arrivals hall after landing at at Terminal Two of London Heathrow Airport

(AFP/Getty)

The emergence of a new strain of coronavirus in Brazil has prompted a ban on travellers from across South America from entering the UK.

The ban covers the region, as well as the Central American state of Panama and Portugal as it has strong travel links with Brazil, and the former Portuguese colony of Cape Verde.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps described the ban as a “precautionary” measure, as the new variant is feared to be more transmissible. The government moved to stop travel from the region to ensure the rollout of the vaccination programme in the UK is “not disturbed by other variants of this virus”, said Mr Shapps.

Meanwhile, a leading business group has called on chancellor Rishi Sunak to announce more financial support for businesses, as they face a “desperate situation” due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said Mr Sunak must “urgently adopt a package of measures that covers the whole of 2021 and that takes away the cliff edges firms face in a few weeks’ time when reliefs, forbearance and furlough are set to end”.

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UK economy shrank by 2.6 per cent in November

The UK economy shrank by 2.6 per cent in November, following a small increase of 0.6 per cent in October, said the Office for National Statistics.

This is the first drop since April at the start of the pandemic, when output was 25 per cent lower compared to the same time the previous year, reports my colleague Eleanor Sly.

Kate Ng15 January 2021 08:31

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Rishi Sunak urged to offer more support for firms

The British Chambers of Commerce has called on the Chancellor to provide more financial support to businesses, warning that firms across the UK are facing a “desperate situation”.

Adam Marshall, director general of the BCC, said: “We have written to the Chancellor to highlight the desperate situation facing thousands of businesses all across the UK.

“The damage inflicted by the pandemic is widespread. It goes far beyond the very visible casualties hit by repeated stop-start lockdowns.

“The support schemes the Government has introduced so far have saved many firms and jobs, but they have not gone far enough to help many survive a tough start to 2021. The drip-feed approach to business support measures has meant many firms simply cannot plan for the future.

“We are urging the Government to urgently adopt a package of measures that covers the whole of 2021, and that takes away the cliff-edges firms face in a few weeks’ time when reliefs, forbearance and furlough are set to end. Many companies simply can’t wait until the March Budget.”

Kate Ng15 January 2021 08:25

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UK bans travellers from South America over new coronavirus variant

Travellers from South American countries have now been banned from entering the UK, amid growing fears of a new variant of Covid-19 which emerged in Brazil.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said he was taking the “urgent decision” to suspend arrivals from the region, as well as from the Central American state of Panama and Portugal, and the former Portuguese colony of Cape Verde.

Read the full story by Rob Merrick and Jon Stone below:

Kate Ng15 January 2021 08:20

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Good morning, and welcome to The Independent’s liveblog following the coronavirus pandemic as it develops.

Kate Ng15 January 2021 08:16

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