Coronavirus latest as officials reportedly consider two-week lockdown; Boris Johnson presented with Plan C options; SAGE warns tougher COVID restrictions must be brought in “very soon”; weekend football fixtures postponed.
But before you go – here are Saturday’s biggest stories:
US President Joe Biden is due to speak to Americans in the week ahead, amid an Omicron surge in the country, NBC reports.
It is thought he will unveil new measures that will go beyond his previously-announced Winter Plan, with NBC saying he will be “issuing a stark warning of what the winter will look like for Americans that choose to remain unvaccinated.”
Arsenal Women have been forced to postpone their Super League match against Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday, after “ongoing COVID issues”.
A club statement said: “We can confirm that Sunday’s Barclays FA Women’s Super League fixture against Brighton & Hove Albion at Meadow Park has been postponed.
“The decision has been made by the FA following ongoing Covid issues.
“A revised date for the fixture in the New Year will be announced in due course – all tickets will remain valid for the rearranged fixture, but the club will refund any ticket holders who are unable to attend on the revised date.
“All ticket holders will be contacted in due course with further details.”
A federal appeals court in the US has allowed a vaccine mandate for large private employers to take effect.
A ruling, which was 2-1, on the 6th US Circuit Court Of Appeals in Cincinnati has reversed a decision from a lower court which halted the requirement.
Republican led states had been challenging President Biden’s ruling, which means that companies than employ more than 100 people must require its staff to be vaccinated.
Opponents have said they will continue to appeal, vowing to take the decision to the Supreme Court – which is currently tilted in favour of Republicans.
Queen guitarist Brian May has revealed he has tested positive for COVID-19.
Writing on Instagram, with a picture of the dreaded double-lined lateral flow test, he said: “Yep. The shocking day finally came for me.
“The dreaded double red line. And yes – definitely NO sympathy please – it has been a truly horrible few days, but I’m OK.
“And I will tell the tale. PLEASE take extra care out there, good folks. This thing is incredibly transmissible.
“You really do NOT want it messing up YOUR Christmas. With love – Bri”.
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has announced that the country will go into lockdown from Sunday morning, in an effort to limit new COVID-19 infections in the wake of the Omicron variant.
Mr Rutte told a news conference: “The Netherlands is again shutting down.
“That is unavoidable because of the fifth wave that is coming at us with the Omicron variant.”
It will reportedly run until 14 January, according to local media.
Across the Atlantic – two crew members from the US Air Force who travelled with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on his foreign trips to the UK and South East Asia last week have tested positive for COVID-19.
It means that three people in total from that trip have now contracted the virus.
A spokesperson said: “Both aircrew members were fully vaccinated.
“Neither had come into close contact with the Secretary of State or senior staff.”
They added that those in question had been removed from the trip, saying: “One aircrew member is asymptomatic, while the other is experiencing mild symptoms.
“Both are following host nation COVID-19 protocols.”
Demonstrations against COVID restrictions have also been going on in France, Italy and Germany today.
In Germany, people took to the streets of Hamburg to fight back against more restrictions.
Protesters also hit the French capital to object to the country’s health pass, which is used to get into the majority of public spaces.
And in Italy, demonstrators gathered in Turin to protest against the COVID health pass.
The officers were injured at a protest in Parliament Square, London, while attempting to escort a police motorcyclist through the area at around 12.30pm.
Footage from the protest shows shoving between police and protesters.
At around 3pm, a group of demonstrators also stopped outside a shop on Regents Street and began “directing abuse” at people inside.
The group egged the shop until police intervened.
Police are now “closely monitoring” the demonstration but no arrests have been made yet.
More than 800,000 booster or third doses have been administered in the last day – taking the total to more than 27 million.
Meanwhile, a further 32,099 first vaccine doses have been handed out – along with 41,221 second jabs.