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Headlines
• Sainsbury’s & Aldi to hand back £540m in rates relief
• The Premier League and EFL agree a £250m rescue package
• Los Angeles issues stay at home orders
• Facebook to remove anti-vaccination posts

Company news

Buildings & Construction

Countryside – “We are 70% forward sold for 2021 and due to our strong forward sales position, our net reservation rate for the first nine weeks of the year is lower than the same period last year. As a result, subject to no material changes in market conditions, we are on track to deliver at the upper end of consensus operating profit expectations for 2021. After two years in which our weighting of delivery was skewed heavily to Q4, we expect to return towards a more balanced profile this year.”

Gleeson – “Build and sales activity at Gleeson Homes has returned to pre-Covid levels. We are grateful to the Government for implementing measures that ensured we could return to sites safely and securely following the first national lockdown and continue to deliver much-needed affordable homes. During the second lockdown all our sites continued to build and sell efficiently within Covid-secure protocols. We expect this to continue in the newly established three-tier system of restrictions.”



Support Services

Clipper Logistics – “The Group benefited directly from the structural shift and acceleration of online retail such that our e-fulfilment and returns management division saw underlying EBIT growth of 63.3%, which included a positive contribution from our Clicklink joint venture.”



Transport

Go-Ahead# – “Our regional bus businesses continue to support their communities throughout the crisis, providing a comprehensive timetable of services, including throughout the second lockdown. Having recovered to 50 to 60 per cent of pre-crisis levels before this lockdown, commercial bus passenger numbers have reduced by around 15 percentage points over the past four weeks. London & International bus is trading well. Our expectations for the full year are now ahead of previous guidance reflecting a one-off benefit due to the timing of recognition of Quality Incentive Contract income.”



Other

• Former US presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton have all volunteered to be vaccinated on camera in order to convince people to be vaccinated.

• Facebook said it would remove false claims about Covid-19 vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts, following a similar announcement by YouTube in October.

• The Premier League and English Football League (EFL) have agreed a £250m rescue package to help ease the financial challenge faced by EFL clubs as a result of the pandemic.

• The Czech Republic has moved to a lower tier of coronavirus restrictions. All shops, restaurants and pubs can reopen from today – with restrictions on the number of people – as will swimming pools, gyms and museums etc. The night-time curfew has ended. However, cinemas and theatres will not be allowed to have audiences yet.

• Sainsbury’s and Aldi have said they will hand back a combined £540m of business rates relief they received as support during the pandemic.

• The mayor of Los Angeles has issued an emergency order for the city’s residents to remain at home with immediate effect, following an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases.

• Jersey will enter a “hospitality circuit breaker” from Friday morning to tackle a surge in Covid cases. Pubs, restaurants and hotels are to close across the island of Jersey for the next month.



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