Five things Gef thought you needed to know today:

  • Three new cases of Covid-19 have been identified in the island, bringing the total number of active cases to four. The three new cases were confirmed as of 4pm on Monday. Two of the cases are returning Manx residents and the third had been granted an exemption certificate on compassionate grounds. All four positive individuals are isolating.

  • On the adjacent island, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced London is to go into Tier 3 as infections in the British capital continue to rise. Mr Hancock also confirmed that a new variant of coronavirus has been found which is growing faster in some parts of England. He told MPs there is ‘nothing to suggest’ it is a more dangerous strain of coronavirus or that vaccines won’t work.

  • A major project to replace Pulrose Bridge, reduce the risk of flooding, improve the highway and protect vital infrastructure connections is scheduled to begin in March. The £3.4m capital scheme will lead to the closure of the bridge over the River Douglas for about a year. A temporary entrance to Riverside Trading Estate will be created through Hills Meadow to enable customers requiring vehicle access to easily reach businesses while work takes place. Pedestrian access between Peel Road and Pulrose will be maintained throughout, while diversions and temporary routes for motorists will be fully signposted.

  • Public housing rents in the island will go up by 1% from April. The increase has been announced by the DoI (which is in charge of social housing) following consultation with the island’s 15 local authorities. Tenants in social housing will see an average weekly rent increase of between 73p and £1.52, depending upon the size of their home. Over the year, this means those in a one bedroom flat will pay an extra £37.96, a three bed house will cost an extra £53.56 and a five bedroom house will cost an additional £79.04. DoI Minister Tim Baker said: ‘The aim is for the income generated by this increase to be ring fenced for maintenance.’

  • Meanwhile over in the USA, the Electoral College is meeting today to confirm President Elect Joe Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump. These votes for President Elect Biden and Vice President Elect Kamala Harris will be officially counted by Congress on January 6 ahead of Biden’s inauguration as the 46th POTUS at 12pm (Washington DC time) on January 20.