It can be hard to keep up with the news. That’s why we do the hard work for you, making sure everything is written up each Sunday ‘For The Record’.
This week, a combination of coronavirus regulations and student responses dominated local headlines. The week began with a series of warnings that further Covid rules were on the way across Scotland, and voluntary restrictions were extended in St Andrews following further cases within the University. The predictions came true; on Tuesday, Nicola Sturgeon announced a ban on meeting in houses and a 10pm curfew for pubs.
As the week continued, cases continued to rise and hundreds of Scottish students entered forced isolation. This was met with widespread criticism of all involved: the government, universities and students themselves. As Sturgeon defended students, telling them outbreaks are ‘not your fault’, St Andrews student Jackson Lone made local headlines with a piece written for The Saint urging students to ‘take ownership’ of the crisis.
Covid closed out the week, as Principal Sally Mapstone urged students not to visit bars, pubs or restaurants over the weekend as case numbers rose to 12. This was later criticised by pubs such as The Criterion, who claimed a drop in sales as students fled local establishments.
Unfortunately, Covid also led in national news this week. The alert level was raised to level 4 on Monday, opening the door to new major restrictions, which Boris Johnson told the country could last up to six months on Tuesday. Restrictions were also extended in Wales and Northern Ireland, as planned easing of sporting restrictions in England was cancelled.
The government defended the new measures throughout the second half of the week, as emails obtained by the BBC revealed the backlash faced by advisers to ‘herd immunity’ comments made early in the response to the pandemic.
Problems for the government continued, as users reported issues with the coronavirus app in England and Wales, testing times lengthened again, and ministers were unable to rule out a Christmas lockdown of students. These issues were all compounded by news that cases in England rose by 60% this week as the R number rose well above 1, with a quarter of the UK under strict Covid rules.
Even Chancellor Rishi Sunak couldn’t weather the week, being forced to unveil an emergency jobs scheme – where the government pledged to cover 22% of eligible workers pay for six months – following concerns from the backbenches and businesses alike.
The government’s problems weren’t just Covid related – this week Labour lead in a national poll by Opinium for the first time since July 2019, just after Keir Starmer urged the party to get serious about winning.
Finally, this week we heard the tragic news that a police officer was shot dead in Croydon police station by a man who was being detained. The Record sends its heartfelt condolences to the officer’s loved ones.
To close out the week, let’s look at a standalone headline from each day:
Monday: Theresa May couldn’t support the government’s Brexit bill, claiming it risked the UK’s reputation for upholding the rule of law.
Tuesday: The government dropped plans for self-identification for trans people, sparking waves of protest from the LGBT community and major charity Stonewall.
Wednesday: Hauliers were warned that a reasonable worst-case Brexit scenario included a 7000-truck queue in Kent.
Thursday: A #BlackLivesMatter necklace worn by judge Alesha Dixon on Britain’s Got Talent caused over 1900 complaints.
Saturday: Renowned journalist Andrew Neil left the BBC to join start-up 24-hour opinionated news channel, GB News.
Sticking with Covid for just a moment longer, the WHO warned that two million coronavirus-related deaths were ‘very likely’ – even with a vaccine.
In the US, news continued to focus on the Trump administration’s intention to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg – who became the first woman to lie in state – before the next election. According to US media, Trump is likely to nominate Amy Coney Barrett, a favourite of social conservatives. Hopes that the nomination might be blocked by Republican senators collapsed earlier in the week, as Mitt Romney announced his support.
Also in American politics, Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose the November election, and a riot was declared in Portland and two police officers were shot in Louisville following the indictment of a police officer in the Breonna Taylor case – but not for her death.
In Europe, some stories continued from last week. Hundreds of refugees in a new temporary camp in Lesbos have caught Covid-19 following a fire in the overcrowded Greek migrant camp, Moria, three weeks ago. The EU is abandoning mandatory refugee quotas as an idea, as it attempts to revive plans to change asylum rules following four years of dead-end negotiation.
In Belarus, mass protests continued following the secret inauguration of disputed leader Alexander Lukashenko. Videos of the protests continue to make their way online, even as police attempt to stifle resistance.
New European stories went international this week, too:
- Dutch celebrities faced backlash after opposing Covid rules.
- Vatican official Cardinal Becciu was forced to step down in a rare insight into papal politics.
- Switzerland returns to the polls to vote on ending free movement with the EU.
- Two people were seriously injured in a knife-attack near the former offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris.
In Asia, stock markets continued to suffer amidst fears of a second wave of coronavirus cases. Also, Kim Jong Un made a rare apology to his South Korean counterpart over the death of an official who entered North Korean waters. Seoul has demanded further investigation.