5.18am GMT

As Victoria marked its 23rd consecutive day of no new Covid-19 cases and no additional deaths, the state’s premier, Daniel Andrews, announced the end of mandatory mask-wearing outdoors and increased visitor limits in homes, and increased capacity in restaurants, pubs, and gyms.

From Monday, for the first time in more than three months, Victorians will no longer be required to wear masks when outside at all times, under the new rules announced on Sunday. Instead, people will only be required to wear mask when indoors and on public transport, or in places outside where social distancing is not possible.

“If you go to Bunnings and you are inside the store, you are wearing a mask. If you are in the car park, you do not have to wear your mask,” Andrews said. “But if you are queueing up for a sausage, and you are with other people, and you are simply not keeping a distance, you are part of a crowd, you need to put the mask on.”

Under the relaxed rules, people will be allowed to have up to 15 people in their home each day, and this rule applies to holiday accomodation. Cafes, bars, and restaurants will be able to seat 100 indoors and 200 outdoors, within the density limits:

5.04am GMT

Guitar Center Inc, the largest US retailer of music instruments and equipment, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Saturday, as the coronavirus pandemic made music lovers move their shopping online.

The retailer has negotiated to have a total of $375 million in debtor-in-possession financing from its existing lenders and intends to raise $335 million in new senior secured notes, the company said in a statement.

The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States Bankruptcy Court of the Eastern District of Virginia.

4.54am GMT

Here is the full story on South Australia’s opposition leader calling for an end to hotel quarantine:

4.42am GMT

Japan may limit event attendance as Covid-19 cases surge

Japan may reimpose attendance limits for sports and other large events to curb a spike in Covid-19 infections, economy minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said on Sunday.

The limits would be applied in areas of the country seeing a sharp increase in cases, Nishimura said on a talk show on public broadcaster NHK. The government imposed attendance limits earlier in the year but relaxed them in recent months.

The government is also considering how to refund cancellation fees for customers who booked trips via a domestic tourism campaign that was partially suspended on Saturday, Nishimura said.

New coronavirus cases across Japan climbed to a record 2,596 on Saturday, according to NHK. In Tokyo, the daily infection rate was an all-time high 539 cases.

People enjoy illuminated autumn leaves at the Eikando temple in Kyoto on Saturday, 21 November 2020. Photograph: Yoshio Tsunoda/AFLO/REX/Shutterstock

at 4.48am GMT

4.28am GMT

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 15,741 to 918,269, data from the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases showed on Sunday.

The reported death toll rose by 138 to 14,022, the tally showed.

at 4.48am GMT

4.19am GMT

On 7 May, when England was still in its first national lockdown and the crisis over shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) was its height, a Tory peer called Dido Harding was thrust suddenly to the centre of the fight against Covid-19.

Harding was well known in the business community and, partly thanks to her marriage to Conservative MP John Penrose, in top Tory circles too. But her professional reputation had little to do with any great medical knowledge. Since 2017 she had been chair of NHS Improvement, a management post overseeing foundation trusts, but her career heights were as boss at the telecoms firm TalkTalk, and before that she had been in senior roles at the supermarket chains Sainsbury’s and Tesco.

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, knew Harding, however, and shared an interest in horse racing with her. She was also a good friend of former prime minister David Cameron.

With the Covid crisis raging, there was little time to waste. Because of her management abilities and as she was available and willing to serve, Hancock placed her in charge of England’s new Covid-19 NHS test-and-trace system without putting the unpaid position out to open competition:

at 4.49am GMT

4.08am GMT

In the UK, coronavirus may be doing its best to cancel Christmas but, for the time being anyway, shoppers are carrying on regardless, with this week’s Black Friday online sales expected to reach new heights.

In previous years, store chiefs have agonised about the impact on their high street chains of the US-inspired discount event, which arrived on British shores with a bang in 2013. But come this (Black) Friday, selling online will – for anything other than essentials – be the only game in town for retailers, whose shops may by then be closed in three of the four home nations.

Richard Lim, chief executive of consultancy Retail Economics, says lockdown 2 means a “seismic shift” towards online shopping this Christmas. About 23m Britons are expected to do most of their gift buying on the internet, in a development that will starve struggling high streets of much-needed business.

“I think people are well aware that this Christmas is going to be completely different,” he says. “They are not going to be able to go to their local town centre or shopping mall and have the same pleasant experience as they had last year.”

The virtual high street has already gone into overdrive: online sales are up 58% in the second week of November compared with the same period last year, according to internet industry body IMRG. It predicts that sales during Black Friday week will end up being between 35% and 45% higher than in 2019:

at 4.52am GMT

3.53am GMT

Loeffler quarantining after mixed Covid test results

US senator Kelly Loeffler is quarantining after receiving mixed results from recent coronavirus tests.

The Georgia senator’s campaign said in a statement on Saturday night that Loeffler took two rapid Covid tests on Friday morning which came back negative.

She did another test on Friday evening and the results came back positive. Loeffler tested again Saturday morning and the results were inconclusive.

Vice president Mike Pence will deliver remarks at a Defend the Majority rally in Canton, Georgia, in support of David Perdue and Loeffler. Photograph: Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times/RexShutterstock

Her campaign says she doesn’t have symptoms and she is following CDC guidelines and informing those with whom she was in direct contact.

Loeffler appeared at a campaign event with vice president Mike Pence and senator David Perdue in Georgia on Friday.

at 4.54am GMT

3.43am GMT

Back in Australia, the federal finance and trade minister, Simon Birmingham, says it’s not impossible that international travel could be back on the cards next year, but to do it in the first half of 2021 would be challenging.

Such travel would depend on the effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines.

“Then of course the manufacturing rollout, distribution, uptake, all the other factors that come into how it is that a vaccine could change the way we look at things around this pandemic,” Birmingham told Sky News’ Sunday Agenda program.

“It’s not impossible … I think the first half may be challenging.”

Photograph: Ken Jack/Getty Images

Aside from the various vaccines Australia is involved with, a new nasal spray with the potential to fight Covid-19 and other respiratory viral infections will be tested in the hopes of manufacturing it domestically.

The federal government said that with a private partner it would provide $11.7m to fund the testing, as part of the biomedical translation fund.

“This investment will continue the proud Australian tradition of discovery and translation that saves lives and improves lives,” Health minister Greg Hunt said in a statement.

at 3.51am GMT

3.30am GMT

In New York, the Rockefeller Centre ice-skating rink is opening in a limited way but on time for the holidays.

The iconic, sunken rink in midtown Manhattan welcomed skaters on Saturday afternoon as part of a tradition dating to the 1930s, according to its website.

The rink is operating at reduced capacity, with skate time limited to 50 minutes. Masks are required.

The Independent

Skates (and masks) on! Rockefeller Center ice rink opens https://t.co/4ze0AEbL9x

November 22, 2020

The website says there’s a legend that the rink was inspired by “a Depression-era skate salesman who demonstrated his product by skating on the frozen water of the Rockefeller Centre fountain”.

It officially opened as a “skating pond” on Christmas Day 1936. It was supposed to be temporary but became so popular it became a permanent fixture for the holiday season.

Another seasonal fixture, the Rockefeller Centre Christmas tree, went up last weekend and will be lighted on 2 December.

at 3.39am GMT

3.03am GMT

Mainland China reported 17 new Covid-19 cases on 21 November, up from 16 the previous day, with three cases of local transmission and nine cases originating overseas, the National Health Commission said on Sunday.

The commission said in its daily bulletin that two of the local transmissions took place in Inner Mongolia and one in Shanghai.

Inner Mongolia’s health authority said on Saturday it had confirmed two new coronavirus cases in Hulunbuir city on the Chinese border with Russia.

A worker wearing a protective suit leads residents to a makeshift Covid-19 coronavirus testing centre in Tianjin on 21 November after new coronavirus cases were detected in the city. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

According to a report from the official Xinhua news agency, the positive case in the city was found after mass testing following infections of a security inspector at Pudong international airport and his wife.

Mainland China reported another 11 asymptomatic cases on 21 November, down from 18 on the previous day.

It has so far reported an accumulated total of 86,431 Covid-19 cases, with the official death toll at 4,634.

at 3.05am GMT

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