Priti Patel sets out new UK border measures

Priti Patel has announced UK citizens returning from high-risk countries will have to quarantine in hotels upon arrival. As part of a range of measures designed to slow the spread of new coronavirus variants, the home secretary also said that people who want to leave the UK will also be under heightened scrutiny. Anyone travelling outside the country will have to make a declaration of their reasons for doing so, while the number of border police will be stepped up.Read more: Travellers must prove journey is essential – Patel

Covid: Would-be travellers must prove journey is essential – Patel

SharenocloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingPeople wishing to travel out of the UK will first be required to declare their reason for travel, the home secretary has said.Priti Patel told MPs that people would have to prove their journey complied with stay-at-home regulations, which would be checked by carriers.She said there would be an increased police presence at airports and ports, and fines for those breaching rules.But Labour described the measures as “too little, too late”.Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said protecting the UK’s borders was one of the key areas where the government had “fallen short” and he was “deeply concerned” the latest measures were “yet another example of this – too little, too late”.He added Ms Patel’s proposals to limit hotel quarantine to the specific “red list” countries did “not not go anywhere near far enough”, adding the measures left “huge gaps” in the UK’s defences against emerging variants of the virus.In a statement to the House of Commons on Wednesday, Ms Patel said England’s lockdown rules were “clear [that] people should be staying at home unless they have a valid reason to leave. Going on holiday is not a valid reason.”Live: Latest updates on coronavirus in the UK and elsewhereWhat are the UK travel rules?How worrying are the new coronavirus variants?She said the new rule would require people wishing to leave the UK to go abroad to first “make a declaration for why they need to travel”, which would then be “checked by carriers prior to departure”.Ms Patel said: “Anyone who doesn’t not have a valid reason for travel will be directed to return home or they will face a fine.”She added it was “clear that there are too many people coming in and out of our country each day” and other border measures would be toughened up to “reduce passenger flow” and protect the UK’s “world-leading” vaccination programme.She said police would increase checks at home addresses to ensure arrivals were complying with self-isolation rules and the UK would continue to refuse entry non-UK citizens from “red list” countries which were already subject to the travel ban.The list of travel exemptions would also be “urgently” reviewed, she added, to make sure “only the most important and with exceptional reasons are included”.Earlier, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that UK nationals and residents returning from coronavirus hotspots would have to quarantine in government-provided hotels.The measures will apply to people coming from most of South America, southern Africa and Portugal, amid concern over new variants of the virus. Most overseas visitors from those countries are already barred from entering the UK. British nationals and those with residency rights who arrive from high-risk countries will be required to quarantine in a hotel at their own expense for up to 10 days, in a bid to improve compliance with self-isolation rules. Mr Johnson told the House of Commons on Wednesday that arrivals who could not be refused entry would be required to isolate in government provided accommodation, such as hotels, “without exception”.These arrivals would be met at the airport and “transported directly into quarantine”, with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) working to set up these facilities “as quickly as possible”, he said.Ms Patel said the DHSC would “set out further details” on the hotel quarantine policy next week.But Labour said hotel quarantine should be mandatory for all arrivals. Covid hotel quarantine: ‘It’s the luck of the draw’image copyrightKeri McmenaminKeri McMenamin was returning to the country with her husband and two children after securing a job offer – leaving the UK in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic last year.”It is literally luck of the draw,” the 38-year-old said after securing her family’s place in Australia’s 14-day quarantine system. “You didn’t know what to expect.” Having done some research, Keri discovered Facebook groups busy with people relaying their experiences of quarantine.”A lot of people were saying, ‘Look, just expect the worst and then whatever you get is a bonus.'”In the end, the family was given an interconnecting room. But the windows were sealed and their time outside limited to 20-minute stints every two to three days.Read more about life in a quarantine hotelIan Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader, told the Commons that the Scottish and Welsh governments wanted “to go further” than what the UK government was proposing on quarantine measures, and challenged the PM to “stop his half measures” and bring in “stricter enforcement on international travel”.A spokesman for the Welsh government said “the need for a joint approach” to border measures had been agreed between the UK’s four nations and the Republic of Ireland, but it did not believe the approach outlined by the UK government went “far enough”.”Further discussions on the details of the proposals will take place as soon as possible,” he added.Senior ministers met on Tuesday night to approve the plan, following days of disagreement over the details. They also agreed that if other areas were designated as high risk in the future, then the requirement for hotel quarantine would be extended. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps had argued for a targeted approach to quarantine, while the home secretary had favoured its more widespread use, according to BBC political correspondent Iain Watson. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called for tougher measures to combat the spread of new variants from abroad. He told reporters on Tuesday: “It’s very clear that we need to have quarantine comprehensively in hotels for everybody coming into the country, we need much stronger defences at our borders.”In response to the government’s announcement, Airport Operators Association chief executive Karen Dee said it was “welcome” the new hotel quarantine policy would only apply to a limited number of countries, but questioned what “additional public health benefit” it would have, given strict travel rules were recently introduced.She called on the government to set out “when and how we can ease all these measures safely and provide people with reassurance that travel will be possible again in the future”.At the moment, incoming travellers have to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test on departure, taken in the previous 72 hours. Then they still have to quarantine for up to 10 days, although this can be done at home.Those who do not comply will face a fine of £500, with Border Force officials carrying out spot checks. In England, the self-isolation period can be cut short with a second negative test after five days. Quarantine rules are set separately in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland but have tended to differ only slightly.Hotel quarantine is already in use in countries including New Zealand and Australia. QUARANTINE: What are the UK travel rules?TESTING: How do I get a virus test?SYMPTOMS: What are they and how to guard against them?LOOK-UP TOOL: How many cases in your area?DOCTOR CHATTERJEE: With another lockdown in place, how can we manage our health and wellbeing without feeling overwhelmed?I’M NOT A MONSTER: An American mother living in the ISIS caliphate, and all is not as it seems. Where does her account end and the truth begin?Are you a UK national in one of the countries affected? Will this mean you’ll be forced to quarantine in a hotel? Email haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also get in touch in the following ways:WhatsApp: +44 7756 165803Tweet: @BBC_HaveYourSayUpload pictures or videoPlease read our terms & conditions and privacy policy

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‘Short-squeeze’ spreads to Europe as day traders hunt next GameStop

A “short-squeeze” that started on Wall Street has swept across the Atlantic, triggering another day of frenetic moves in the share prices of companies with large bets levied against them.
Stocks such as German pharmaceutical company Evotec, former Financial Times owner Pearson and Polish games developer CD Projekt rose strongly in intraday trading.
Some of the companies were targets of Melvin Capital, a hedge fund that has been singled out by day traders. The stocks included Evotec, which soared as much as 30 per cent before falling back to trade up 5.5 per cent; CD Projekt, which rose 15 per cent and was recently trading up 6.4 per cent; and German battery manufacturer Varta, which surged 12 per cent before trimming its gains to trade up 4.6 per cent.

The short squeeze in the US also continued on Wednesday, with shares of AMC, the cinema company, jumping more than 200 per cent in volatile action. GameStop, which has been at the centre of the retail trading bonanza, shot up by 100 per cent.
The dramatic moves highlight the growing influence of retail traders, who have organised on the message board site Reddit. The group has focused on pushing up stocks that are the subject of large “short bets” by hedge funds. Melvin, which has been at the centre of the storm, on Wednesday revealed it had closed its GameStop position, with the bets contributing to a multibillion-dollar loss at the start of this year.
Retail investors are using “a tried-and-true hedge fund strategy of swarming crowded trades held by weak-handed investors,” said Andrew Beer, managing member at fund firm Dynamic Beta Investments.
In contrast to in the US, which has limited disclosure on short bets, hedge funds and other investors have to disclose when they have shorted more than 0.5 per cent of a company’s stock in the EU and the UK, making it easier to target a fund’s positions.
Melvin’s latest disclosure shows it has bet against more than 6 per cent of Evotec’s shares, making it the largest single wager against a European company by percentage of shares shorted, according to data provider Breakout Point. The US hedge fund’s bet against Varta is the fifth largest.
The “short squeeze phenomena fuelled by retail investors’ discussions is spilling over to Europe”, said Ivan Cosovic, founder of Breakout Point. “We are recently detecting some European stocks being touted as ‘the next GameStop’ among retail investors.”

The targeting of hedge funds will be viewed with irony by many financial market insiders, given that such funds are often the protagonists in short selling “attacks” on troubled companies.
Heavily shorted shares with no link to Melvin Capital also rose on Wednesday. Shares in Pearson, the British education publishing company that is the third-most shorted stock in Europe, according to IHS Markit, were up 12 per cent by mid-afternoon in London. Daniel Sundheim’s New York-based hedge fund D1 Capital Partners, which has also been shorting Varta, has the biggest bet against Pearson, at 3.8 per cent of its share capital.
Real estate company Wereldhave, in which Woodson Capital has disclosed a 4.2 per cent short position and London-based Adelphi has a 3.6 per cent bet, rose about 5 per cent.
Hedge funds in Europe are now fervently scouring lists of most-shorted stocks and message boards such as Reddit for any signs that their short bets could be in trouble.
“Any good hedge fund group will be looking at this,” said the head of one multibillion-dollar European hedge fund firm. 
One European hedge fund manager who specialises in short selling described the recent stock market rallies as “insane”, but said the elevated share prices of troubled companies would “make a great opportunity” for short sellers that survived the week’s mayhem.

Holocaust Memorial Day: PM warns against complacency over anti-Semitism

SharenocloseShare pageCopy linkAbout sharingimage copyrightDowning StreetBoris Johnson has warned that the UK “can’t get complacent” about anti-Semitism, in a statement to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.He was speaking after a virtual meeting with a Holocaust survivor and soldier who liberated a Nazi death camp.The prime minister described their testimonies as “perhaps the most powerful things I have ever heard”.People are being asked to light a candle in their window at 8pm to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.The international date remembers the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis during World War Two, and the victims of subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.’British citizenship saved mum from the Holocaust’This year’s theme, chosen by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, is “be the light in the darkness”, to encourage people to reflect on the depths to which humanity can sink.image copyrightJessica Taylor/UK ParliamentMr Johnson spoke to Renee Salt, a survivor of both the Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen camps, and war veteran Ian Forsyth during a video call from Downing Street.’Emotional’In the call, the pair described their memories of the camps.Mrs Salt told the Prime Minister: “All the children, old people, pregnant women, invalids, all went to the right.”I went to the left… left to live, right to die. I was together with my mother, for which I was very grateful, and so was she. Without my mother, I would never have survived.”Mr Forsyth wept as he recalled arriving in Bergen-Belsen in April 1945 to liberate the survivors.He said: “We didn’t even know the camp was there.”When we got up that morning – a beautiful morning, I can remember that – my tank happened to be the lead tank on that particular day, but no-one told us what to expect.”I’m sorry, I get very emotional when I talk about this.”We came along the road and cut over across the fields, there was this camp in front of us.”I’ve been back quite a few times, it draws me like a magnet.”‘Courage’Mr Johnson told them: “People get complacent about anti-Semitism. I think in the UK we can get complacent about it and we mustn’t. “It’s so vital that you both have had the courage to continue to share with everybody, with me and the world, your memories of what took place. We can never forget it. “Your personal memories have been perhaps the most powerful things I’ve ever heard. “What you saw and experienced is horrifying and we must make sure nothing like that happens again.”‘Stand together’At Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he would be taking part in the candle-lighting ceremony “to remember the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, along of course with the other genocides and persecutions that have taken place around the world”.The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said “we must never forget” the six million Jews who lost their lives or “indeed those that have sadly followed them in genocides around the world”.Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle held a short candle-lighting ceremony for MPs in Portcullis House, the first time such an event has been held on the Parliamentary Estate for Holocaust Memorial Day.He urged colleagues to “stand together, especially with those who are suffering”.