Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 17 July 2021

The Week’s daily digest of the news agenda, published at 8am

1. Jabbed arrivals from France must still quarantine

Vaccinated travellers returning to England and Wales from France will still have to quarantine from Monday. Although adults who have been double jabbed in the UK arriving from amber list countries will no longer need to isolate for 10 days, the government said the relaxation would not apply to France because of “persistent” cases of the Beta variant. A travel boss said “these random rule changes make it almost impossible for travellers and industry to plan ahead”.

2. Biden says Facebook ‘killing people’

Joe Biden has warned that the spread of Covid misinformation on social media is “killing people”. Responding to a question from a reporter about the alleged role of “platforms like Facebook” in spreading falsehoods about vaccines, the US president said: “They're killing people. The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated.” Facebook insists it is taking “aggressive action” to protect public health. The BBC says Biden’s rhetoric against Facebook is “getting harsher”.

3. Sunak may push budget into 2022

The chancellor may delay the Budget until 2022 to allow time for the Treasury to consider the economic impact of the third Covid wave and winding down the furlough scheme. The Guardian reports that Rishi Sunak plans to tell ministers that he will hold a three-year spending review in the autumn, but may delay tax measures until spring. It would be the third year in a row that plans for the autumn package were postponed.

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4. ‘Hollywood ripper’ sentenced to death

A killer dubbed the “Hollywood Ripper” has been sentenced to death for the murders of two women and the attempted murder of a third, in a case stretching back 20 years. Announcing the sentence for 45-year-old Michael Thomas Gargiulo, Los Angeles superior court Judge Larry Fidler said: “Everywhere that Mr Gargiulo went, death and destruction followed him.” One of the victims was about to go on a date with actor Ashton Kutcher, who testified at the trial.

5. Historic flu vaccine rollout planned

The UK is planning the biggest flu vaccine rollout this winter, with jabs or nasal sprays offered to children aged two to 16, as well as people aged 50 and over, or those in at-risk groups. Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England, said less people built up a defence against the virus last winter. “Combined with the likelihood that Covid will still be circulating, this makes the coming flu season highly unpredictable,” she added.

6. Major calls for end to GCSEs

Sir John Major is calling for a rethink of the exam system, saying that he dislikes GCSEs due to the “stress and strain they impose on students”. The former prime minister told The Times Education Commission: “Without the examinations it would surely be possible to offer pupils a wider syllabus, providing a more rounded education.” Major said there should be a “dramatic restructuring of the curriculum”.

7. Chains back save cash campaign

Leading British retailers have backed a campaign to secure the future of physical cash. During the Covid pandemic, thousands of shops, restaurants and pubs have stopped accepting cash. The Daily Telegraph says this has left older and vulnerable people, who are more likely to use notes and coins, at risk of being excluded. Age UK says the “downward spiral” of cash acceptance is a major problem for the elderly, small businesses and local traders.

8. US sends jets message to China

The US air force is sending more than two dozen F-22 stealth fighters to an exercise in the western Pacific. Around 25 F-22s Raptors from the Hawaii Air National Guard and from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, will deploy with weeks to Guam and Tinian islands for Operation Pacific Iron 2021. CNN says the “unusually large deployment” of the jets “sends a strong message to a possible adversary in China”.

9. Arrest after crash kills three people

A lorry driver has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving after a collision in County Durham killed three people. The crash, involving four cars and two lorries, occurred on a stretch of the A1 close to the village of Bowburn. The police have asked those who may have photos or videos of the crash not to share them online.

10. Police sack Everard killer

The police officer who murdered Sarah Everard has been dismissed from the Metropolitan Police. Wayne Couzens pleaded guilty on 9 July to the murder of the 33-year-old marketing executive. He had previously pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey, on 8 June, to the kidnap and rape of Everard. The Met’s disciplinary hearing was held in private after chiefs decided that “the need for transparency was outweighed by the risk of interfering with criminal proceedings”.

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