The Spectator

Portrait of the week: A royal baby, Boohoo buyouts and France legalises lunch al desko


On Sunday 7 February, as the week began, 11,465,210 people in the United Kingdom had received a first vaccination against Covid-19 and 510,057 a second. Those aged 70 or over were invited to book a vaccination online or by telephone if they had not received one. Illegal immigrants were advised to register with a GP without risking deportation. South Africa, possessing a million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, decided to suspend its use after a trial of 2,000 people (42 of whom developed Covid) seemed to indicate that it offered ‘minimal protection’ against mild and moderate cases; no one in the trial was old. Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer for England, said that the Kent variant was dominant in Britain and that ‘there is no reason to think the South African variant will catch up or overtake our current virus in the next few months’. Travellers to England who lie about coming from countries such as South Africa or Portugal would face up to ten years in jail under new laws from 15 February that require them to stay for ten days in hotels mandated by the government, for which they would have to pay £1,750, which included meals and tea or coffee but not alcoholic drinks.

At dawn on 7 February, total UK deaths (within 28 days of testing positive for the coronavirus) had stood at 112,092, including 6,521 in the past week. In the week before, 8,242 had died. Numbers in hospital fell. Naim Attallah, the eccentric Palestinian-born publisher and businessman, died aged 89. Princess Eugenie gave birth to a baby boy, 11th in line to the throne. England beat India in the first Test, in Chennai.

Cumbria County Council suspended the permission it had granted for a new coal mine near Whitehaven, planned to operate until 2049, in light of recommendations from the government’s advisory Climate Change Committee that the use of coking coal should be curbed by 2035.

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