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William Wallis

One hundred British artists, musicians and writers have thrown their weight behind a campaign to open up more of the English countryside to the public, arguing that the lockdowns of 2020 have demonstrated how vital that access to outdoor space can be.

In a letter sent to prime minister Boris Johnson on Monday, the signees, including musicians Brian Eno and Jarvis Cocker, travel and nature writer Robert Macfarlane, author Ali Smith, and actors Mark Rylance and Stephen Fry, pointed out how restrictive English laws are when it comes to rights of way.

They are calling on the government to revisit the Countryside and Rights of Way Act of 2000 that opened up mountains, moors, some down land, heath and coastlines to the public, with a view to granting a greater “right to roam.”

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Sun Yu

The head of one of China’s largest state-owned manufacturers has said mismanagement by local governments is partly to blame for business failures that have prompted a cascade of bond defaults.

The comments from Wang Min, president of XCMG Group, the country’s biggest construction machinery business, came after China’s multitrillion-dollar debt markets were rocked by defaults at government-backed companies.

Shi Yang, at Off-Highway Research, said XCMG was probably eager to increase its presence overseas. “In general, Chinese firms will have a bright future in emerging markets when the pandemic is over,” Mr Shi said.

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Edward White and Kang Buseong

Seoul residents have been asked to cancel private gatherings of more than 10 people as South Korea faces its third-biggest wave of coronavirus infections this year.

The move comes after officials last week reinstituted tougher measures over the greater Seoul area – home to half of the country’s 52m people – and highlights the risk from virus outbreaks despite rising optimism over vaccines and treatment.

The government on Sunday also announced new restrictions would be tightened across the country. The rules involve tighter restrictions on multi-use facilities, including restaurants.

Further stricter measures are also being applied to five new areas, including the southern port of Busan, the second-most populous city, where the latest outbreak has worsened.

Health officials reported 450 new coronavirus cases on Sunday following three days higher than 500.

The South Korean case numbers pale in comparison to reports from many other countries and the latest preventative measures reflects the continued risk-averse approach by officials in Seoul.

The tactics have so far helped avoid nationwide lockdowns and soften the economic blow to Asia’s fourth-biggest economy.

Chris Giles and Delphine Strauss

The coronavirus crisis has resulted in a sharp increase in poverty and low incomes across the UK, but the outcome would have been much worse without additional government support this year, according to two independent think-tank reports published on Monday.

The Legatum Institute found that the number of people living in poverty had risen by almost 700,000 to 15.2m this year as a result of the pandemic’s impact on jobs, wages and profits, while the New Economics Foundation warned that a third of the UK’s population would be living below the minimum socially acceptable standard of living by next spring.

The similar findings from think-tanks on both sides of the political spectrum will put further pressure on ministers to extend a temporary uplift to universal credit past its current expiry date at the end of March.

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Preschools in Istanbul and Ankara will be online-only from Tuesday as a surge in coronavirus cases grips the country, local officials told state media on Sunday.

The virtual kindergartens would run until at least January 4 2021, the Anadolu news agency reported, quoting provincial officials.

Turkey has been under a partial weekend curfew to help stem the virus’ spread.

The country on Sunday recorded 29,281 more Covid-19 infections in the previous 24 hours, health ministry data showed, just short of the record 30,103 cases a day earlier.

Reported deaths hit 185, setting a record for the seventh consecutive day.

Turkey has noted more than 500,000 cases of Covid-19 infection and about 13,500 deaths, the ministry data showed.

Sebastian Payne

The UK government will on Monday publish impact assessments on the new coronavirus restrictions tier system for England in an effort to win support from sceptical Conservative MPs.

A House of Commons vote on the new measures, which are stricter than the tiers in place before the current four-week lockdown, will be held on Tuesday. B

But concerns from a growing number of Tories could mean that prime minister Boris Johnson has to rely on votes from the opposition Labour party, which is likely to support the proposals, for the system to be implemented.

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George Russell

The Australian state of Victoria, seemingly free of a deadly coronavirus surge, recorded its 820th death on Monday as a woman died more than four months after contracting Covid-19.

The state Department of Health and Human Services reported that the latest fatality was a “previously cleared COVID-19 case” and died from complications “relating to their original diagnosis”.

The patient was in her 70s and part of a small group of cases diagnosed in late July, the department said.

Victoria, Australia’s second most populous state, accounts for more than 90 per cent of the 908 deaths recorded in Australia since the pandemic began.

The state of 6.4m people recorded its 31st consecutive day of no new coronavirus cases on Monday.

Sam Fleming and Martin Arnold

Brussels is planning to lay out a raft of proposals in a bid to make it easier for EU banks to offload soured loans as it anticipates the risk of a pandemic-related wave of corporate distress.

A European Commission paper due to be published in December will discuss ideas including boosting secondary markets for buying and selling non-performing loans and creating a network of national bad banks across the EU.

Europe is braced for a surge in insolvencies once national business support programmes lapse next year.

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Cyprus’s top banker said on Sunday he has tested positive for coronavirus.

Constantinos Herodotou, governor of the Mediterranean nation’s central bank, said he would work from home.

“I wish for all of us that the ordeal of the pandemic is soon overcome,” he wrote on Twitter.

Mr Herodotou has warned of a rise in nonperforming loans as the coronavirus pandemic affected the economy.

A debt repayment moratorium has been in place since March, as part of the measures to tackle the impact of the pandemic.

A health worker draws a dose of the Russian-made Gam-Covid-Vac vaccine, also known as Sputnik V, during a trial at the No 2 City Clinic in Moscow

Russia’s tally of coronavirus cases has risen as much in the past seven days as in all of September, state media calculated on Sunday.

There were 179,987 cases detected between November 22 and November 28, while 180,967 coronavirus cases were recorded in September, the Tass news agency reported.

Russia announced 26,683 new cases on Sunday, just shy of Saturday’s total of 27,100 new cases.

Of the Sunday cases, 7,967 were recorded in Moscow and its surrounding region, while 3,701 occurred in St Petersburg.

Separately, the head of one of Russia’s largest state vaccine makers told Tass he expected the pandemic to end in the first half of next year.

“The virus will not go away but the pandemic, of course, will come to an end,” Rinat Maksyutov, director-general of the Vector State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology, a vaccine developer, told an online science event.

He said he expected the next Science Bar Hopping event, scheduled for July 2021, would be held offline.

George Russell

California on Sunday put San Francisco in the state's most restrictive “purple” tier due the surge in Covid-19 cases.

Authorities ordered indoor cinemas, gyms and fitness centres, museums, aquariums and zoos closed.

California reported 15,614 new cases, pushing the 14-day average to a record and the total to more than 1.2m. Another 32 new deaths were reported, with the state tally now at 19,121.

“As cases continue to climb throughout California and the rest of the country, this advisory is even more important to follow,” said San Francisco mayor London Breed.

“I don't know how to be more clear,” she added. “This is the most dangerous time we've faced during this pandemic. Do not travel or gather with others.”

In other restrictions, indoor services at houses of worship are closed although individual prayer is allowed, while all dining and non-essential businesses must be shut from 10pm to 5am.

Outdoor dining, indoor retail, indoor personal services and outdoor fitness programmes can continue.

The state’s four-tier system is designated yellow, orange, red and purple. Purple means there is widespread Covid-19 transmission and nearly all businesses have to keep indoor operations closed or severely limited.

Joe Rennison

Debt investors are betting that some of the companies most damaged by coronavirus will manage to avoid bankruptcy.

Bonds issued by low-rated companies in the US have rallied 7 per cent this month, one index of triple C bonds shows — the biggest jump in more than four years. In Europe, junk bond yields have fallen from over 8 per cent in March to almost 3 per cent as prices have risen.

The jump in the Ice Data Services indices erases the losses sustained in the depths of this year’s market tumult to turn them positive for the year. “It tells you investors are looking through the spike in Covid-19 now,” said John Gregory, head of leveraged finance at Wells Fargo Securities.

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George Russell

Saudi Arabia’s central bank on Sunday announced it would extend a loan deferral programme to help small businesses cope with the coronavirus pandemic until the end of the first quarter of 2021.

The extension of the Deferred Payments Programme is “part of the state’s ongoing efforts to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and the measures taken to mitigate its effects”, the Saudi Central Bank said in a statement.

The bank said since its launch on March 14 the programme had benefited more than 87,000 contracts valued at SR77.3bn ($20.6bn).

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio greets a pupil

George Russell

New York City announced on Sunday it would reopen kindergartens and elementary schools next Monday.

“Reopening our [schools] is paramount to recovering from Covid-19,” said mayor Bill de Blasio.

Special schools for pupils with emotional disturbances, sensory impairments and disabilities would reopen on December 10, the city added.

The city’s schools were closed on November 19 as a second wave hit the metropolis. Middle and high schools will remain remote for the time being.

“The unparalleled value of in-person learning for students has been evident in the first few months of school, and we will do everything we can to keep our schools safe and keep them open for the duration of this pandemic,” city schools chancellor Richard Carranza said on Sunday.

New York has the largest public schools system in the US, with 1.1m students attending 1,800 schools.

Benedict Mander

Argentina played down the prospects of an early deal with the IMF to repay a controversial $44bn loan, as the country’s year-old leftist government tries to build a domestic consensus on how to end its economic crisis.

After successfully restructuring $65bn of foreign debt with private creditors in August, the government’s attention has turned to talks with the IMF, which began this month.

“We are fine,” insisted Martín Guzmán, economy minister. “In a crisis in the context of a pandemic, the state plays an important role to protect the most vulnerable and co-ordinate actions to maintain stability.”

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George Russell

The number of new daily coronavirus infections in Canada could almost double to 10,000 by mid-December on the current trajectory, the country’s top medic warned on Sunday.

Canada recorded an average of 5,335 new cases daily in the week to November 26, according to Health Canada data.

Theresa Tam, Canada's chief medical officer, said there was continued rapid growth of the epidemic in more areas of the country.

“If we continue at the current pace, our longer-range models continue to forecast significant increases in daily case counts and estimate that there could be up to 10,000 cases reported daily by mid-December,” Dr Tam said.

She said there were more than 60,000 active cases in the nation of 38m people, and 2,111 people were being treated in hospitals.

“The troubling rise in the number of people experiencing severe illness continues,” Dr Tam said.

George Russell

Another member of the Pakistan cricket squad has tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total to six, New Zealand’s health ministry announced on Sunday.

“Following serology testing, two of the original six positive cases are now considered to be historic cases and are therefore not infectious,” a ministry statement said.

All 53 members of the squad in managed isolation in Christchurch have also had serology tests, in addition to the routine polymerase chain reaction testing for the virus.

Of those, another 11 people returned serology results indicating previous infections.

Konstantinos Chionos holds a mink in his farm in the village of Mikrokastro

George Russell

Three employees of a mink farm in Greece have tested positive for coronavirus, as the animals bred for fur face increasing scrutiny as carriers of the pathogen, state media said on Sunday.

Officials told the ANA-MPA news agency that 2,500 mink at one farm in the northern Kozani region would be culled.

It is the third Greek mink farm where coronavirus has emerged and follows earlier outbreaks among mink in Denmark and the US.

Denmark has recorded more than 200 people with mink-related coronavirus, and authorities launched a plan to cull all 17m mink in the country, a decision later reversed.

More than 15,000 mink in the US have died of suspected coronavirus since August.

George Russell

Hong Kong will close all schools from Wednesday as a fourth wave of coronavirus infections emerged, as the Chinese city confirmed 115 new infections on Sunday.

Face-to-face classes and school activities for all kindergartens and primary schools have been cancelled until December 6, the government announced.

Private schools will suspend face-to-face classes for two weeks.

Hong Kong has recorded a total of 6,239 cases, of which 679 cases have emerged in the past 14 days.

Hong Kong is also battling a new coronavirus cluster originating from one of the city’s lesser-known elite pastimes — wealthy older women visiting dance clubs for lessons, often with handsome younger instructors.

As China continues to shake off the impact of coronavirus, it has also offered a glimpse into the role consumption has played in the wider economic recovery. Some economists maintain that households will soon be ready for a more sustained rush to spend after months of caution.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson has told parliamentarians they will have an opportunity to vote on England’s coronavirus restrictions in January. About 70 Conservative MPs have expressed concerns about the new system which will see millions of people experience tougher restrictions.

Fund managers have slashed the amount they are willing to pay for sellside research analysts’ insights during the pandemic, as the shift to digital meetings has reduced the value placed on these interactions. One-to-one analyst meetings are a long-established and lucrative part of the investment research market.

Toxic side-effects from the pandemic will cause further damage to the world’s pension systems, a study of 158 retirement plans in 17 countries shows. Nine out of 10 funds surveyed warned that they expected investment returns to be lower in the current decade than the last and three-quarters expected inflation to increase.

Americans splashed out billions of dollars from smartphones and laptops on Black Friday as those who have never shopped online before fuel a boom in ecommerce. But retailers are nervous. “Consumers still face uncertainty with rising Covid cases and high unemployment,” said Sonia Syngal, chief executive of Gap.

Spain’s BBVA and Sabadell have given up merger talks they confirmed less than two weeks ago because of disagreements over pricing. Sabadell had expressed interest in merging with another bank and the talks came as Spain’s lenders face a rise in past-due loans because of the pandemic-induced economic crisis.

The pandemic is spurring deals in Italy’s luxury hotel sector as international travel restrictions aggravate financial woes. Italy is the only European country with more than 1m hotel rooms and big chains account for only 5 per cent of them, with the rest of the market dominated by small family-owned businesses.

HSBC is weighing a complete exit from retail banking in the US. In February the bank outlined $4.5bn in cost savings and 35,000 job cuts but Executives decided the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and ultra-low interest rates required more drastic measures.

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