November 30, 2021

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True cost of virus revealed

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Exclusive: Treasury warns of tax rises and wage freeze

The expense of lockdown is already extraordinary. For the first time, we now have the Treasury’s analysis. A confidential assessment of the coronavirus crisis estimates it will cost the Exchequer almost £300bn this year. We can exclusively reveal details of a document drawn up for Chancellor Rishi Sunak, setting out a proposed “policy package” of tax increases, spending cuts and a public sector pay freeze that may be announced within weeks. With suggestions UK finances are in their weakest state since the Second World War, GDP figures released this morning show the economy shrank at its fastest pace in more than a decade in the first three months of 2020. As Political Editor Gordon Rayner writes, the figures are an inevitable consequence of policies to support jobs and businesses. And Economics Editor Russell Lynch sums up the brutal choices left for Mr Sunak and the Prime Minister.

The figures help explain why the Government is urging a return to work where possible from today. Other new rules on what people can and cannot do in England have also come into force this morning. From exercise… to meeting friends… to wearing masks… read how the changes will affect your daily life. And Matt finds humour in the contradictory nature of some of the guidance for today’s cartoon.

Schools stay out? Teachers urged to scrap June return

Teachers should not “engage” with plans to reopen schools from June 1, the head of the UK’s biggest education union has said. Kevin Courtney, the joint general secretary of the National Education Union, told members to “await further union advice” before preparing to return to work. The Prime Minister’s strategy to end lockdown includes asking teachers to prepare for pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 at the start of next month. Where does this leave parents? And what happens if you do not send your child back to school? Read our ultimate Q&A.

Druids rely on Zoom for summer solstice live-stream

They have gathered at Stonehenge for the summer solstice since time immemorial. But this year’s celebrations will have a rather different feel for druids as the historic site is closed and revellers are urged to watch a live-stream of the sunrise on Zoom instead. Usually, around 10,000 people gather at the Neolithic monument in Wiltshire to mark midsummer. Victoria Ward reports on the changes English Heritage is making this year to live-stream the sunrise via social media.

PS: For more things to live-stream, read our guide to the films to watch (and avoid). You can also try our subscription offer. It gives you access to all our newspaper and online articles without leaving your home. Take a free one-week trial – then save 50pc on your first three months.

At a glance: More coronavirus headlines

Comment and analysis

 You Are Not Alone: Getting you through lockdown

  1. Open season | What to buy (and who to spot!) at garden centres from today
  2. T-shirt or sock | Tried and tested: what makes the best DIY face covering?
  3. Confessions of a nanny in lockdown | What it is like to isolate with family that is not your own

Business and money briefing

Hopes of swift UK-US trade deal ‘delusional’ | Britain and America will find it impossible to strike a rapid trade deal while coronavirus is laying waste to the world economy, according to former US treasury secretary Larry Summers. Lizzy Burden assesses the chances of a rapid tie-up.  

Life after lockdown: Sun, sea and… safety

Safety is being added to the traditional three S’s of “sun, sea and sand” this summer as Spanish beach resorts scramble to prove that they offer a minimal risk of coronavirus contagion. Read James Badcock‘s dispatch from Madrid and view more pictures as the world lifts lockdown.

Empty sun loungers in Benidorm, where there are plans to segregate bathers – Getty

Also in the news today

Snappy or what? | With their tendency to sleep a lot and to grunt when disturbed, dogs and teenagers have some shared habits. Now scientists have proven this is no coincidence, after they found that dogs also go through a “stroppy” phase. Jessica Carpani reports on the new study.  

And finally… for this morning’s downtime

Digital love letters of lockdown | It was one of the first films about the internet. Now, in lockdown, Nora Ephron’s celebration of letter-writing has struck a chord. Susannah Goldsbrough explains why You’ve Got Mail is back on millennial screens.

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