Coronavirus latest: Hong Kong shuts bars and clubs for 3rd time in bid to curb surge

Business travellers coming into England for trips of up to three days could be exempt from the quarantine system under plans floated on Tuesday. A government task force said in a report that the exemption could be introduced in early 2021, although the visitors would be banned from socialising while in England.

The makers of Russia’s flagship Covid-19 vaccine said on Tuesday that interim results from phase 3 trials showed efficacy rates outperforming western vaccines. The state-run Gamaleya Institute said data showed the vaccine’s efficacy was 91.4 per cent 28 days after the first shot, rising beyond 95 per cent after 42 days.

The UK government has approached telecoms operators in a bid to ensure almost 50 coronavirus vaccination centres for healthcare workers in England have fast broadband connections so they can be up and running within a week. The biggest providers, BT and Virgin Media, are among companies asked to assess 47 locations.

Oil prices touched their highest level since March on Tuesday, rising above $47 a barrel after a raft of positive vaccine news sparked a comeback in one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic. Brent crude, the international benchmark, gained more than 3 per cent to reach as high as $47.82 a barrel.

International retail chains were on Tuesday counting the cost of the collapse in world travel, as Abercrombie & Fitch said it would speed up closure of flagship stores and Tiffany said sales fell sharply in Europe and the Americas. Other retailers lamenting the tourism slump include Macy’s.

Accor, Europe’s largest hotel company, is merging a quarter of its brands into a new $1bn company with the owner of the Hoxton hotel chain in a bid to move away from a traditional overnight accommodation model that was already being shaken up before the pandemic. The new entity will operate under the Ennismore name.

JD Sports has emerged as the last remaining bidder for Debenhams, as the historic department store chain’s battle for survival nears its conclusion. An agreement on the business’s future is likely to be reached within days, and failure to secure a deal would be likely to result in the liquidation of the company.

Compass has warned it expects office workers to continue working from home even after the pandemic subsides, creating a long-term challenge for the catering group. Dominic Blakemore, chief executive, said he expects white-collar workers to work from home half the week, which would depress its annual sales by 5 per cent.

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