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Hala Gorani Tonight

Omicron Sweeps Across Britain; U.K. Hospitality Sector Warns Of Collapse; Last Haiti Hostages Freed; Haitian Gang Releases All Remaining Kidnapped Missionaries; Fed Could Hike Rates In The Spring; Ghislaine Maxwell's Defense Begins; Equivalent Of Category 5 Hurricane Hitting Philippines; JPMorgan Council On Cyber's Dangers. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired December 16, 2021 - 14:00   ET



HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, live from CNN in London on this Thursday, I'm HALA GORANI TONIGHT. Omicron continues to

sweep across Europe. We focus on the U.K. where each person could potentially be infecting three to five other people. Cases are also at an

all-time high.

And the U.K.'s hospitality sector is warning that it is on the brink of collapse after the government begins advising against socializing, but does

not provide financial aid. And we will bring you the latest from Haiti where the last 12 missionaries kidnapped by an armed gang are now free.

We'll tell you how and why that happened.

In government agencies, vaccine clinics, labs, and on the streets, right now, the world is working feverishly to counter the Omicron COVID variant.

Britain has just reported its second consecutive record number of new daily infections in a single day, 88,000 people were infected with the virus.

It's not known how many are Omicron, but we do know that the variant is extremely transmissible, and with 25 million Britons now dosed with a

booster shot, officials are hoping that this is the key out of this, and that the country will have the tools to fight back.


BORIS JOHNSON, PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: This is very different from last year because what we have is the additional protection of the vaccines

and the ability to test. We're implementing plan B which has some sensible restrictions. It's balanced, and it's proportionate, and it reflects the

balance of risk and uncertainty that we currently have about Omicron.


GORANI: So how contagious is Omicron? There's new research which is giving us a better look at this. Hong Kong scientists report the variant infects

human tissue 70 times faster than Delta. However, and this is, quote- unquote, "good news", it doesn't damage lung tissue as much. That would mean that it isn't as likely to cause severe disease. The EU's drug

regulator though not taking any chances, announcing hours ago, it is letting countries use Pfizer's new COVID pill on an emergency basis.

Pfizer says it reduces severe illness and death by almost 90 percent and works against Omicron as well. And other countries though are using other

methods, France says it will bar all non-essential travel from the U.K. starting at midnight, Saturday. CNN's Cyril Vanier is in Paris for us,

we'll go to Salma Abdelaziz in a moment who is in London. So France restricting travel from the U.K. from Saturday midnight.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Hala, I feel you and I had this exact same conversation pretty much exactly 12 months ago. At the time, it

was about the Delta variant. France was worried that the Delta variant first detected in the U.K. would spread to the continent, they wanted to

slow that down, and therefore, they all but shut their border, right, to travelers coming from the U.K. Same thing happening again, but this time to

try and slow down the spread of the Omicron variant.

Whether that actually is necessary, I would let experts weigh in on that. The European CDC says that there's already community spread in many

European countries, so the cat is out of the bag to some extent. But the French citing the British authorities saying that there is a tidal wave of

infections coming in the U.K., and we're already seeing that. So, when the French hear the British authorities say that, they think well, we don't

want that, and therefore, they have once again or they're about to once again all but close their borders, Hala. And that's it. You know, it's the

same logic that they applied a year ago.

GORANI: Yes, and the question I'm going to be asking an expert a little bit later is, it's just delaying the inevitable, you know, because

eventually Omicron will be sweeping across Europe. And let's talk about that. How is the rest of Europe bracing for this Omicron wave that will hit

them. We know that northern European countries like Norway and Denmark are already feeling the Omicron sting, but what about other countries?

VANIER: You know, it is -- it is inevitable, Hala, and European countries acknowledge that. The European CDC says Omicron will be the dominant

variant in the European area. By next month, most countries and even end of the month, for some countries, you mentioned Denmark, they say Omicron

will be dominant there this week. There aren't many days left in the week, Hala, and it's a pretty bleak picture when you look across the European

landscape with countries implementing measures with varying degrees of severity. You could say panic.

Denmark, and Denmark, children have gone back to home-schooling, in Italy, which just reported the highest number of deaths since May, well, they're

now imposing quarantines on unvaccinated travelers.


In Norway, they have banned the sale of alcohol in restaurants and bars, all of this, as you said, Hala, intended to slow down the advance of

Omicron, but also keeping in check the Delta variant, let's not forget this, which at the moment is still responsible for a majority of infections

in Europe.

GORANI: Yes, absolutely. I guess they're trying to buy time, time during which they hope more people will get vaccinated and boosted, that seems to

be the approach. Thanks so much Cyril Vanier live in Paris. Let's take a closer look at what's happening in the U.K. The U.K. perhaps gives us an

idea of what other European countries might look like in the coming weeks and months. Let's take a closer look at those. Here's the graphic there,

and if we could just go up there on the figures, you can see that the graphic is going up quite drastically.

And as we mentioned already, almost 90,000 cases today, another record- high, and it's now thought each infected person can infect between three and five others, that's what's called the R number, the R rate. And with

Christmas fast approaching, people are understandably worried, even the queen is not taking any chances, she's canceled a pre-Christmas lunch with

the family as a precaution according to a source at Buckingham Palace.

The football Premier League has also begun canceling midweek and weekend games. The British government is recommending people cut down on

socializing, but without actually mandating restrictions. A move widely criticized as being a lockdown by stealth. We will be looking into that and

more death later in the program. But first, I want to get to our Salma Abdelaziz on how the U.K. is coping because we're looking at almost 90,000

cases a day.

And this R rate between three and five, OK, it's not a household term, the R rate, but essentially it's how many people one single infected person can

then go on to infect, between three and five. If you look at the Delta variant, it was closer between 1.1 and 1.5. So it's significantly more


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Phenomenal rate of growth. That's what experts are saying, and that's why you really feel the country here is

bracing for impact. I'm sure you sensed that, Hala. That tidal wave of Omicron is coming in everyone, and I mean, every single person right now is

reconsidering their Christmas plans, staying at home if they're going to see their grandparents because they're worried about getting sick. As you

noted, even the queen canceling her pre-Christmas lunch because as she says, it puts too much risk on others that they might potentially get that

variant, have to cancel their December 25th plans.

So, this real sense of a war time effort across the country, a race to boost everyone as quickly as possible while this variant spreads through

like wildfire. Every person infected could infect on average three to five other people. And you have to think about those positivity rates, Hala,

because those are the reported numbers. Those are people who have actually registered their positive test --

GORANI: Yes --

ABDELAZIZ: With the National Health Service. So the expected number could be even higher. And what's worrying is the chief medical officer has said

more records will be broken because Omicron is just spreading that quickly. The prime minister of course still insisting that this Christmas will be

better than last. I would have to argue that that's quite a low bar, but we do have that layer of protection due to vaccinations, but, again, it's that

argument about lockdown by stealth as you noted, because there is that feeling in the business district that there's work from home-orders.

So, the city is empty, there's no businesses there, hospitality dealing with tens of thousands of cancellations, and everyone really sitting down

and trying to figure out where should I be on December 25th?

GORANI: Right, so much lost revenue for so many businesses. Salma Abdelaziz, thanks very much. By the way, we were telling you yesterday to

our viewers watching us that in London, the Omicron variant is already the dominant variant. And anecdotally, I can tell you, I live in London. There

is not a single person who doesn't know someone who has COVID or who has COVID themselves. So, right now, that's where we are, who doesn't have

COVID is a more common question than who does in this city.

And it could be a similar picture in other large cities across Europe if the Omicron wave hits countries as hard as it hit this one. Now, countries

across Europe are expanding their vaccination campaigns. That's one of the tools they have obviously. They're trying to get COVID-19 infections under

control any way they can. And in the case of Italy, children in Rome between 5 and 11 years old can now get their first vaccine dose. Ben

Wedeman was at a vaccination center for us. Ben.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hala, this week, Italy is launching its vaccination campaign for children between the ages

of 5 and 11, and we're outside Rome's Museo dei Bambini or Children's Museum, which will serve as one of the vaccination centers for the capital.

Now, Spain, Greece and Hungary have launched similar campaigns this week. Now, the children here will receive the Pfizer vaccine, but at a third of

the strength of the dose that adults get.


One of the doctors here working for the regional health center told us that COVID-19, specifically, the Delta variant is spreading fastest among two

groups, younger children and the 15 percent of the population, 12 years and older that has yet to be vaccinated. He said as soon as those two groups

are adequately vaccinated, Italy's fourth wave of the disease will begin to slow down. Now, Italy is still reporting relatively low numbers for the

Omicron variant.

They're still in their low double digits, and officials are hoping what with the extension of the state of emergency and new travel restrictions,

those numbers will stay low. Hala?

GORANI: OK, thanks, Ben. Let's discuss this COVID case surge in Europe and beyond just ahead of the holidays. Infectious disease and global health

expert, Dr. Peter Drobac joins me live from Oxford. Thanks, Dr. Drobac. How concerned are you right now?

PETER DROBAC, INFECTIOUS DISEASE & GLOBAL HEALTH EXPERT: I'm very concerned. We're of course seeing a huge spike in infections here in the

U.K., about 90,000 today. We know that Omicron has become the dominant variant in London in a matter of weeks, and it's doubling every two to

three days. So, if we stay on this trajectory, not only will Omicron be dominant across this country before Christmas, we could easily be in the

hundreds of thousands of cases.

And all indications suggest that a lot of the rest of Europe is not far behind. We know this variant spreads very much more quickly than Delta. We

don't know all of the implications, but we've got to do everything we can to drive down infections.

GORANI: So what do we need to do now?

DROBAC: Well, the booster campaigns and vaccinations is critically important. And that early data suggests that with Omicron, that, that third

dose or booster dose is very important to provide adequate protection. We hope that all vaccines will still provide some protection against severe

disease, but we do see a lot of breakthrough infections.

So vaccinations first, and I do think the approach that Italy is taking by also vaccinating 5- to 12-year olds, a group that has driven a lot of

transmission over the last couple of months is important and should be looked at here in the U.K. and elsewhere. But beyond that, we need to do

more to limit contacts between people --

GORANI: Yes --

DROBAC: In addition to increasing ventilation. And so, we're seeing a little bit of that right now, but unfortunately, I think we do need to do

more. Here in the U.K., we've seen a lot of mixed messaging where, you know, significant restrictions are not being put in place, but people are

being advised to make their own choices, and we're kind of getting the best of both worlds. We're not doing enough to slow transmission, but we're also

really hurting businesses at the same time.

GORANI: Exactly, that was going to be my point, because how do you restrict travel, tell people not to congregate in big groups when you have

the hospitality industry -- I'll be speaking by the way to someone from that industry in Manchester in just a few minutes saying we're going to go

under, we're going to have businesses that won't be able to recover from this Winter period. So what do you do?

And also, you have just exhausted people who are starting to say -- and I hear it all the time in my everyday life, look, Omicron, the symptoms are

milder, we have to get on with life, you know, it's going to be like the flu, how long can we keep living like this? So, what's the best approach

strategically, do you think?

DROBAC: Yes, well, first with businesses, I agree. And this is incredibly painful for everyone. But we have to remember is that when restrictions are

made policy, not only do they work better in limiting transmission, but it also allows government to provide financial support to businesses --

GORANI: Yes --

DROBAC: And to individuals to compensate for those losses. Right now, we're seeing voluntary drop-offs in businesses, people are more careful

ahead of the holidays, but businesses are getting no support. So, again, we're getting the worst of both worlds. And so, I think that's the first


And then the second is that, ultimately, we have to remember that, you know, even though there's some indication that Omicron may be milder, we

don't know that to be the case yet, it could be something of an artifact because this new variant is causing a lot more breakthrough infections,

meaning infections in people who have had past infection or have already had vaccination.

Those typically will be more milder because you have partial immunity. So we might be seeing actually as a higher proportion of people that are

having mild illness, but it may be just as severe particularly for those who are unvaccinated. And the reality is, if we're facing a situation

where, for example, in the U.K., even if it's half as severe, but we're having twice as many or four times as many --

GORANI: Right --

DROBAC: Cases as we did last Winter, we could see just as many people in hospital, we could see just as many deaths. And with case numbers like

that, that's going to disrupt businesses and schools --

GORANI: Yes --

DROBAC: And if we don't, you know, do something about it now, it's going to be a very long, painful Winter.


GORANI: I mean, obviously, you make a great point, that If we're at 90,000 infections a day and possibly hundreds of thousands of infections a day,

even if a very small percentage of that population ends up in the hospital, that is still going to put a lot of pressure on the health services and the

hospitals in this country and in other countries.

Let's talk about travel restrictions. Some have criticized -- there's another industry, obviously the tourism industry, the airlines, et cetera.

They're saying, look, you're just delaying the inevitable now, putting up walls, instead of the Omicron variant hitting France hard from the U.K., in

one week, it will be in two weeks and eventually, it will be the same picture. How do you -- what is your reaction to people who say those things

about travel restrictions?

DROBAC: Yes, travel restrictions are imperfect for sure. They do cause a lot of harm, and we've seen when they're applied incompletely, there's a

fairness question as well. I think it is true that in countries that are trying to prevent importation or seeding with many cases of Omicron, the

travel restrictions can buy some time. They're not going to keep the virus out ultimately, but they may buy time for a booster campaign or for

vaccination campaigns to be increased or other preparations to be made.

Now, however, the problem is that when you're always reactive and waiting for something to get bad in a country and then putting restrictions on that

particular country, you're always sort of guessing and you're often two steps too late. So, I think what would be smarter would be a uniform and

consistent set of travel guidelines which is may be not a complete red list, but would require vaccination, require pre and post-travel and

possibly some post-arrival isolation as well. And if that was --

GORANI: Right --

DROBAC: Standard across the board, the industry could deal with it, passengers could deal with it, and I think it would still provide some


GORANI: It's all about being able to plan, right? To know what to expect, to be able to integrate some of these bumps in the road and to your

business plan and into your travel plans. For instance, the France restrictions were announced this morning, and it was a surprise to many

people who were planning to visit friends and family in Paris and across the country next week. So, yes, indeed, that -- so much to talk about. Dr.

Drobac, as always, thank you so much for joining us, really appreciate having you --

DROBAC: Thank you --

GORANI: On the program. Still to come tonight, desperate pleas for help from the U.K.'s hospitality industry, we were just talking about that with

Dr. Drobac. I'll be speaking to Manchester's night-time economy adviser on why that's the case and what he would like the government to be doing at

this stage. Plus, the two-month long ordeal for kidnapped missionaries in Haiti is finally over. That is next.



GORANI: So, we were discussing earlier that there were mixed messages being sent by the government in the U.K., and it's confusing people

especially in the hospitality industry. Now, amid these surging COVID cases for the past few days, the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been

saying he will not be clamping down on socializing. Hospitality and venues will not be closed down and parties can continue. At the same time though,

he is urging caution. And now England's chief medical officer Chris Whitty has this message.


CHRIS WHITTY, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, ENGLAND: People want to protect the time that is most important to them, and that does therefore mean in

practice, it is sensible for people to cut down on work or other interactions with people including potentially social ones which are less

important to them so that they reduce their chances of catching COVID and, indeed, reduce their chances of passing it on.


GORANI: So which is it? Do you socialize, do not socialize? The government is been widely criticized for being what's called in a state of lockdown of

stealth, something the prime minister was denying. And the hospitality venue say they are the ones who will suffer with one industry body already

making a desperate plea for financial support. Let's bring in Sacha Lord; she is the night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester on how this is

affecting businesses in that sector. Thanks for being with us. How much of a financial --


GORANI: Thank you. How much of a financial hit has the hospitality industry taken so far? Can we put a number on it?

LORD: We can't. It's too early to say. I can tell you my industry, the fifth biggest industry in the U.K. is absolutely spiraling out of control.

Businesses are being decimated. Jobs have been lost by the minute, redundancies. And I think you hit the nail on the head. The mixed messaging

that has come out from this government is quite frankly appalling, it is insulting to my sector. You know, one of the leading scientist two weeks

ago, said, do not mix leading up to Christmas.

The following day, the Prime Minister said go to your Christmas party. But the holes had already bolted, and we all know that bad news spreads a lot

quicker than good news. And at that point, the phones started ringing across the whole of the U.K., not just Manchester, cancellation after

cancellation. And for many, this is worse than the first lockdown because at least with the first lockdown, there was financial support there.

GORANI: Yes --

LORD: And the government has just simply turned their backs on us. And you're right. They have closed my industry down with words --

GORANI: Yes --

LORD: And we are speechless. And I think, you know, packing finances, packing business and jobs for one second. The calls I've taken all day

today, people's mental health is in tatters. After 20 months they're on a cliff edge. And the government have to come forward tomorrow. It is

absolutely imperative.

GORANI: Can you -- can you tell me about those calls? What are people telling you? Who will call you in this industry? They may be, I imagine pub

landlords, restaurant owners, night club owners, that type of thing. What are they telling you?

LORD: Well, imagine this. You've been on a roller coaster for 20 months trying to save your business, trying to save jobs, the people you cared who

work within your business, and during December, we take up to 25 percent, 30 percent of our annual turnover. You know, it is huge for the industry.

And I am not saying let's open up. I'm not saying let's get back to normal. There's a variant there. But they're not listening to us, and at the moment

when people thought, well, we can start to pay back the money we borrowed from banks during the last 20 months, the VAT that's been deferred, the

money that we borrowed off friends and family, at the 11th hour we've had the rock pulled from us.

And you know, this is breaking up marriages, this is -- people have had enough, and I cannot understand for the life of me when we've all been

screaming for the last two weeks, chancellor, you need to stand forward, you need to support us. And to find out this morning he is in California on

a business trip is not right, it really isn't. And I have to say the majority of other European countries around us have stood forward, have

supported hospitality.

And if the U.K. do not do that, then come January --

GORANI: Yes --

LORD: We're going to see many business close and many redundancies. This is a huge turning point.

GORANI: So, Rishi Sunak, you mentioned the chancellor of the Exchequer there, he says he's cutting his trip short by the way to the United States


LORD: I believe --

GORANI: To come back and listen to the industry's concerns.


What would you want the government to do now? I mean, I know you've criticized them for acting in a way that was detrimental to your sector up

until now. But if you could tell them --

LORD: Yes --

GORANI: You know, going forward what the strategy needs to be, what should it be?

LORD: Well, it is simple. They have to reintroduce furlough immediately. They have to defer repayments of bounce-back loans. Incredibly, one thing

they did during lockdown when we first reopened, is they put VAT down from 20 percent to 5 percent. That saved many jobs, many businesses. They've

hiked it back to 12.5 percent. And in March, they want to increase that to 20 percent. So, to go from 5 percent to 20 percent is far too quick, too

soon, and businesses cannot substantiate that.

In the U.K. -- and I hate using the Brexit word, but for that reason, we are paying a lot more for our supplies, there's a lack of haulage drivers.

So, the gross profit is being massively reduced and to increase the tax hike, it's such a burden, he must extend that for at least -- freeze it for

at least another two to three years.

GORANI: Well, we'll see where we -- in fact, Rishi Sunak will be interviewed by my colleague Richard Quest next hour, and I'm sure he'll be

asking those questions certainly as it pertains to the hospitality industry. He specifically mentioned that when he -- listed the reason, when

he mentioned the reason he is coming back early from his trip. Sacha Lord, thanks very much for joining us, we really appreciate it.

LORD: Thank you. Thank you.

GORANI: All right, now to Haiti, the last 12 missionaries kidnapped by an armed gang there are now free according to the Haitian Justice Minister.

It's been exactly two -- if we could go back, two months since the group of 17 missionaries were taken hostage outside of Port-au-Prince. Two were

released in November and three more a few weeks ago. Matt Rivers is in Port-au-Prince. Can you tell us why this release came about? What was

behind it? Was it ransom paid? What happened?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the circumstances, Hala, still unclear, something we're trying to figure out in terms of exactly why

today, exactly two months after these group of 17 missionaries were kidnapped. Why this morning were the remaining 12 finally released? We know

how they were released though. We know that the gang members holding them, 400 Mawozo brought the 12 people to an area just outside of Port-au-Prince,

now far from the territory that the gang controls, and they essentially left them in the neighborhood.

It was in that neighborhood that locals found these 12 missionaries walking around, they alerted authorities, and that's how we got to where we are

right now. Exactly two months after all of this started.


RIVERS (voice-over): A moment two months in the making with the news that all 17 missionaries including 16 Americans and one Canadian kidnapped by

armed gang members in Haiti are now free. It started back on October 16th as the group was returning to their home base from visiting an orphanage

east of Port-au-Prince. Among the missionaries representing Christian Aid Ministries, five children including an infant, a 3-year old, a 6-year-old

and two teenagers.

The bus they were in got stopped by armed men as they drove through the suburb of Croix-des-Bouquets.

(on camera): Several miles down that road there is where our source and the Haitian security forces says this kidnapping was carried out. And in a

more normal situation, we would drive several miles down that road and go see exactly where this took place. But following the advice of both our

Haitian producer and our security team, we're not going to go any further than this because they say it's not safe. Down that road is the suburb of

Croix-des-Bouquets which is essentially completely controlled by the 400 Mawozo gang, a gang that authorities say carried out this kidnapping.

(voice-over): As the group was being kidnapped, this WhatsApp message obtained by CNN was reportedly sent by one of the missionaries. "Please

pray for us. We're being harassed. Kidnapped currently. They have control of our vehicle with about 15 Americans right now, ladies, men and

children." A few days later, the gang that took them seen here in an older video said they would kill the missionaries if they didn't get paid a

ransom. As Christian Aid Ministries quietly opened negotiations with the gang, we got some insight into what conditions might be like for those


We spoke to a French priest who had been kidnapped by that same gang in Haiti earlier this year, who told us about one of the places the gang held


He says it was like a dark hole, like a prison cell, the last place we were in with no windows. At the beginning, they were giving us food once a day,

but by the end they stopped feeding us, they forced us to go hungry, he said, believing it was a negotiation tactic.


But the first sign of hope, two missionaries, both adults freed by the gang on November 21st, then came three more freed exactly two weeks later, and

the remaining 12 would soon follow.

Meanwhile Haiti's kidnapping crisis goes on unabated. An overmatched federal government is unable to quell the gangs behind the crimes, with

total kidnappings this year nearing 1,000, according to a Port-au-Prince NGO tracking that data, nearly 100 in November alone.

The vast majority of victims are Haitians, not foreigners. Thankfully, the ordeal for 17 foreign missionaries is over. But for many Haitians, the

nightmare continues.


RIVERS: And, Hala, we know, according to a source in Haiti security forces, that when these 12 missionaries were found this morning, they

looked skinny, according to our source. They're also undergoing medical checks before heading back to either the United States or Canada, depending

where they're from. Just a horrific ordeal, now seemingly over, Hala.

GORANI: Matt Rivers, live from Port-au-Prince. Thank you.

Still to come, the Bank of England makes a surprise move in an effort to combat inflation. We'll be right back.




GORANI: (INAUDIBLE) like many central banks around the world, the Bank of England is taking aim as the COVID-19 pandemic fuels a surge in global

prices. In a surprise move ithiked interest rates to 0.25 percent.

Consumer price inflation surged to over 5 percent last month. In the Eurozone inflation pressures are transitory, it's the view and it's the

hope. The European bank decided to keep rates unchanged at record lows.


That comes after the U.S. Federal Reserve hinted it will hike rates next year to try to put a lid on growth. Richard Quest of "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS"

is here now in London.

This was a surprise move but it's a small quarter percentage point.

What is the strategy here for the Bank of England?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN HOST: Oh, the strategy. Well, it was a surprise they've done it now because of Omicron. Remember the last meeting, the thinking was

they would raise rates and they didn't.

Now the thinking was they wouldn't raise rates and they did. But, Hala, we're talking just about a month or two either side here, because rates

going up in the U.K. was always in the cards and probably sooner than later.

Interestingly, if you look at what the other central banks have done, in their own way, they've all started to take accommodation off the table. So

the ECB moved things around and did technical things with the various plans and programs that they have, sending a message that things are going to

tighten up.

The United States did the same, hurrying up in terms of what they were buying, bringing the tapering to a close. The message is quite clear.

Things are going to get tougher economically in the weeks ahead.

GORANI: You spoke with Rishi Sunak, who's the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the finance minister, basically. I just spoke from Manchester with Sasha

Lord, who's basically an adviser to the hospitality industry, economy and who runs a number of venues.

And he says the government is basically harming us because they're not calling this an official lockdown; therefore, we're getting no help but

we're getting cancellations by the thousands.

Did you ask them about this?

QUEST: I did. Lockdown by stealth is what it's being called and they deny it. But the reality is, the hospitality industry is being clobbered. Mass

cancellations of parties and events and the like. I asked the chancellor, was he going to do more to help them?


RISHI SUNAK, U.K. CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER: Well, I think it's important to recognize, as the prime minister said earlier today, that the

situation is very different to what we've done and encountered before.

The government is not telling people to cancel things, not closing down businesses. but what we're saying is there are easy and effective things to

protect yourself, wearing masks, good ventilation and most importantly right now, going and getting your booster because that is the best

protection we have.


QUEST: In other words, he's not saying he'll do more but if you push him hard enough he'll suggest there are plans and programs out there and

they'll wait and see. The reality, though, is we're facing devastation in certain industries; hospitality, for instance.

GORANI: Certainly, billions of billions of dollars lost in the last several months alone. And travel, of course, you're seeing more

restrictions in place. France has announced it would restrict travel to only essential travel for French and citizens --

QUEST: Bizarre, it's bizarre, Hala. It's bizarre because the reality --

GORANI: I'm not happy about it for personal reasons, as you know.


QUEST: But the reality is, the proper policies should go toward ensuring safety, testing on arrival. But this idea of restricting the nonessential

traveler, it's meaningless. It's very difficult to enforce with any sort of integrity. And if it starts to spread, once again, you'll find Schengen

falling apart.

GORANI: I wonder, if you only impose restrictions at the U.K.-France border, can a U.K. passenger fly to Germany and then drive to France?

Are there any restriction in that direction?

QUEST: Always remember, the question you should ask is where have you been?

So the question you would ask, you're right, you should probably declare yourself as you cross the border, which is why I say, as Omicron gets

going, the who question of free borders once again is going to be questionable because you're not going to be able to keep it out. Before

long, you're going to be back to square one.

GORANI: Right, absolutely. OK, here we are, almost two years into this thing. Richard Quest, thank you very much. You're back next hour.

They just tested your bell and it's working, you'll be happy to hear. See you in a bit.

Now the defense in Ghislaine Maxwell's sex trafficking case has started to present its case.


She's the longtime friend of Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted sex offender, who died by suicide. Maxwell is accused of facilitating and participating

in the sexual abuse of minors.

Earlier, the defense called a witness who testified she never saw anything to suggest that Maxwell or Epstein behaved inappropriately with underaged


Last week, prosecutors showed these photos of Maxwell and Epstein -- you see them on the screen now -- embracing, smiling, showing physical

closeness. The defense objected to them. But the judge agreed their closeness is central to the case.

Still ahead, a typhoon slams into the Philippines, bringing heavy rains and the threat of massive flooding. That's not the only extreme weather

disaster we're following. In the U.S., some states are facing record heat and tornado force winds, and it's not the time of year when you'd expect

that. We'll be right back.




GORANI: Typhoon Rai is lashing Philippines after hitting the islands as a category 5 supertyphoon. Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated

and coastal areas are on alert for storm surges of up to 4 meters. CNN's Lynda Kinkade has more.


LYNDA KINKADE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what Rai felt like when the storm slammed into the Philippines Thursday. It went from barely a

category 1 to a category 5 in just 24 hours.

Before making landfall on the island with sustained winds reaching 260 miles an hour. It was the strongest to hit the Philippines in December. The

storm brought torrential rain and the threat of widespread flooding across the popular tourist destination.

Rescue efforts are underway. An infant floated through the water in a small tub rescued by the Philippine Coast Guard. An elderly woman is carried to

safety while others escaped from the water and were ushered to a Coast Guard truck. The Red Cross says helpng people in the community is a top


RICHARD GORDON, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, PHILIPPINES RED CROSS: Right now, there is no power. They've cut power or they have lost power simply because of

the rains. There are certain areas without water.


And certainly a lot of people are -- have to be looked at, at the evacuation center, because we still have COVID in this country. And we want

to make sure they're fine.

KINKADE (voice-over): Many residents evacuated their homes earlier in the week as heavy rain fell in the region. Government officials say nearly

200,000 people are in shelters. About 70 households rode out the storm in a cave.

One river began overflowing Tuesday, flooding streets and homes.

This man took solace in playing the piano as he watched his home fill up with muddy brown water. Having lived through typhoons before, many were

well prepared. Red Cross teams readied rescue equipment and fishing boats were well secured.

Philippines is one of the most climate vulnerable nations and warmer oceans from climate change are making typhoons like this more intense and

destructive -- Lynda Kinkade, CNN.


GORANI: So Lynda just mentioned that the climate crisis is making all of these weather events -- typhoons, hurricanes and cyclones -- more intense

all around the world and also more destructive.

Wednesday night extreme weather rocked aprts of the United States from the Rockies all the way to the Great Lakes, once again, images of destruction,

thunderstorms with hurricane-force winds were reported across several states. The National Weather Service says the extreme weather threat is

unprecedented. CNN's Lucy Kafanov is following this.


LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From the Rockies to the Midwest, an intense storm system pummeled the region, producing tornadoes

and hurricane-force winds in nine states. The massive storm system resulted in the most hurricane-force winds in a single day.

In Minnesota, the National Weather Service office in the Twin Cities confirming a tornado touched down in Plainview.

"Please calmly take shelter," they tweeted out.

This is the first tornado reported in the state during the month of December.

In Colorado, clouds descend onto Boulder, bringing with it strong gusts of wind.

In El Paso County, high winds were responsible for knocking over tractor trailers and were the cause of delaying or canceling many flights at the

Denver International Airport on Wednesday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They canceled our flight. And I went to customer service and they didn't have any flights going out until Friday.

KAFANOV: Down in New Mexico, intense winds flipped this small plane over at the Santa Fe Airport.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the first time that -- since I've been here that we've had this kind of extensive damage, especially to aircraft.

KAFANOV: Over in the Plains, winds are producing dust storm conditions. In Western Kansas, visibility on Interstate 70 is virtually nonexistent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll tell you, this is like a tornado.

KAFANOV: Intense winds whipping up dust and sand, shutting down parts of the road for several hours.

While over in Garden City, Kansas, all flights were canceled to and from the airport.

The severe weather has left hundreds of thousands of people without power and comes less than a week after tornadoes ripped through eight states in

the Midwest and the South -- Lucy Kafanov, CNN, Davenport, Iowa.


GORANI: This is really sad news from Australia. It happened at a party that was meant to celebrate the end of the school year in Australia. It

turned into a national tragedy.

Five children were killed after strong winds lifted an inflatable bouncy castle into the air. It dropped 10 meters to the ground and they died. The

children who died were in their final year of primary school. And four more are in the hospital with some pretty serious injuries. Now obviously this

community is in mourning.


SCOTT MORRISON, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: The events that have occurred today in Davenport in Tasmania are just shattering. They are just

unthinkably heartbreaking. And young children, on a fun day out together with their families, and it turns to such horrific tragedy. At this time of

year, it just breaks your heart.


GORANI: Still to come, CNN exclusive and the dark warning of cyber crime and why experts call it the most dangerous weapon in the world right now.

We'll be right back.





GORANI: Cyber is the most dangerous weapon in the world. That is the warning from former U.S. Defense Secretary Bob Gates and a report from JP

International Council that it gave to CNN.

That's as millions of devices could be exposed to a critical and widespread security flaw that one cybersecurity expert calls a ticking time bomb. Matt

Egan has more.

What should people who use devices, business owners, who obviously rely on computer networks, know about this warning?

MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS SENIOR WRITER: Well, Hala, I think that the big message here is that business leaders and former policy makers, they're

really sounding the cyber alarm here.

The JPMorgan International Council, in a report obtained by CNN, they're saying we need to have the public sector and private sector work together

here, because cyber poses this enormous threat, not just to the economy but to national security as well.

And this council, it's made up of JPMorgan's CEO, Jamie Dimon, Johnson & Johnson CEO and former U.S. secretary of state Condi Rice, who said, cyber

is the biggest weapon right now.

Bob Gates, the vice chairman, said the public and private sectors must work together to fortify our business and government activities against this

threat and adequately educate the American people about just how dangerous this weapon is.

Look, the last year or so should have been a wakeup call to the whole world about the dangers here.

There was the infamous hack of the Colonial Pipeline in the United States, where it caused, you know, panic buying of gasoline and there was a gas

shortage in the Southeast, one of the most critical pieces of energy infrastructure in all of North America.

There was the hack on JBS, the meat producer, which actually shut down production. There was the SolarWinds hack.

So that's why they're coming up with this list of recommendations for how they think this cyber threat needs to be addressed.


GORANI: What are they -- sorry. Go ahead. Finish the rest of your answer there.

EGAN: I'll give you just a few of them.

First of all, they say there needs to be better collaboration between public and private. They need to ramp up hiring cybersecurity experts,

particularly among government agencies, where they have a lot of open positions there.

They need to have enhanced intelligence sharing among like-minded nations. They want the United States Congress to codify some of the executive orders

that the Biden administration and others have put out on cyber.


And they really want governments to define and enforce the norms of cyber behavior and really bring cyber criminals to justice.

Now, Hala, we know that there's just so many urgent issues facing governments and businesses around the world right now. There's the climate

crisis, we're in the middle of a pandemic. We have historic levels of inflation. But clearly governments need to devote the time and the

resources to tackling cyber, because it is such a critical issue.

GORANI: Absolutely. Matt Egan, thanks very much.

EGAN: Thank you.

GORANI: The mayor-elect of New York City says his appointment of a new police commissioner is a powerful message to young women and girls that,

quote, "There is no ceiling to your ambition," unquote.

For the first time in history, a woman will head the NYPD. Keechant Sewell will take over the nation's largest police department in January.

Currently, she's the chief of detectives in a nearby county. She'll oversee efforts to reduce a sharp rise in gun violence and murders in New York City

so it's a critical time for this appointment.

Today she told CNN she's more than ready.


KEECHANT SEWELL, INCOMING NYPD COMMISSIONER: Good morning. I certainly believe that we certainly can stop the flow of guns. I know police officers

are scared about doing their jobs. I want them to know that I have their backs. We have the support of the communities to get these guns off the


We have to stop the violence. That is priority. That is day one.


GORANI: Well, there you have it.

Now to another story. The Boss will no longer be the boss of his own music.



GORANI (voice-over): He does have plenty to dance about, though, half a billion reasons to dance. Bruce Springsteen has reportedly sold his music

catalog to Sony Music Entertainment for $500 million or around there. It includes the rights to his iconic albums "Born to Run" and "The River." It

would be the largest-ever sale of a single musician's work.


GORANI: Not bad.

I'm Hala Gorani. Thanks for watching tonight. Do stay with CNN. We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, Richard Quest will host "QUEST

MEANS BUSINESS" from right here from London.