Wednesday morning UK news briefing: Today’s top headlines from The Telegraph

Welcome to your early morning news briefing from The Telegraph – a round-up of the top stories we are covering on DAY. To receive twice-daily briefings by email, sign up to our Front Page newsletter for free.

1. Boris Johnson brings glad tidings for Christmas (but perhaps not New Year)

Christmas gatherings were officially given the green light by Boris Johnson on Tuesday night as he pledged that no further Covid restrictions would be imposed before festive celebrations.

The Prime Minister said there was not enough evidence about the risks from the omicron variant to justify tougher measures before Christmas – but warned they could still be introduced before the New Year. Read the full story.

2. Darkest days could be behind us as data hint that omicron cases may have peaked

Tuesday was the Winter Solstice, our darkest day and longest night before the sun begins its slow ascent higher into the sky again. So it seems fitting that the latest coronavirus data is also starting to show a glimmer of light.

After weeks of relentless growth, the first signs of a slowdown have begun, with some experts speculating that England may even have peaked. Read the full story.

3. Putin warns of ‘military measures’ from Russia in major escalation of Ukraine crisis

Vladimir Putin warned Russia was prepared to take “military measures” in response to “aggressive” Western actions in Ukraine, hinting at potential conflict.

Speaking at a defence ministry meeting, the Russia president vowed to “react toughly to unfriendly steps”, accusing the United States and Nato of stoking tensions near Moscow’s borders. Read the full story.

4. Ghislaine Maxwell trial: Why early questions from the jury look promising for the defence

The jury in Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex abuse trial on Tuesday asked for more details about the account one of her accusers gave to the FBI which the defence claimed differed from her testimony on the stand.

The 12 jurors in federal court in Manhattan began deliberations late on Monday afternoon after three weeks of emotional testimony from four women who accused Ms Maxwell of grooming them for Jeffrey Epstein to abuse. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Read the full story.

5. Welsh face ‘outrageous’ £60 fine for going into the office… but they can still go to the pub

The Welsh Government made going to work a crime on Tuesday, introducing a £60 fine for anyone unnecessarily travelling to the office.

The new rules, which come into force on Monday, were branded “outrageous” and “naive” and will raise serious questions about how Welsh police will enforce the emergency legislation. Read the full story.

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