Ireland has reported progress in tackling coronavirus ahead of a key government decision on Friday on the easing of a national lockdown over Christmas. But top health officials are urging caution over the reopening of the hospitality sector from December 1.

Europcar has agreed a debt restructuring deal that will hand control of the Paris-based car rental group to its creditors, after the pandemic dealt a blow to the sector. The reduction in the group’s €2bn gross debt load by funds that hold its bonds will result in them owning between 92 per cent and 97 per cent of Europcar.

An anti-lockdown coalition of Conservative MPs condemned new virus restrictions in England as “authoritarian” on Thursday, as the government outlined which rules each region will face under a new tiered system launching on December 3.

European consumers coped with the gloom of this year’s first wave of lockdowns by spending more on alcohol and sugary snacks, fuelling a “spending boom” according to fresh data from research firm IRI.

Nicolai Tangen, the chief executive of Norway’s $1.2tn oil fund, has tested positive for coronavirus, sending the country’s central bank governor and other executives at the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund into quarantine.

UBS economists have pushed up their growth forecasts for major European economies as optimism grows over coronavirus vaccines, but the UK’s recovery is set to lag behind its peers. Germany and France will lead the way in the eurozone but the UK is expected to be hobbled by its dependence on the services industry.

Delta Airlines and Alitalia are to launch “quarantine free” flights between the US and Italy, opening up the first travel corridor to link the US and Europe since countries introduced isolation rules during the pandemic.

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Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Leeds and Bristol have been placed in the toughest tier 3 restrictions, with pubs, restaurants, museums and theatres closed under the UK government’s regional system of Covid regulations. London and Liverpool will escape the harshest measures that come into effect when the national lockdown ends on December 2.

Sweden’s central bank expanded and extended its quantitative easing programme as it acts early to ease the economic effects of an increasingly damaging second wave of Covid-19. The Riksbank said it would keep its interest rates at zero in the “coming years” and expanded its asset-purchase programme from SKr500bn ($58.5bn) to SKr700bn.

Via Financial Times

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