08Feb: The problem appears to have returned. I have reported it to Google.
Creating a site appears to be just about back up to speed. A side effect of the problem appears that internal site search is
not working slow. I believe that this is improving as the servers catch up on the back-load.
There is currently a bug that prevents site creation using any template other than the blank template. The bug also prevents site copying This was thought to be fixed yesterday (7Jan) but the problem returned. Google is aware of it and are working to resolve the issue.
Star the issue to be informed of updates but do not post there. Please keep your postings in the forum.
If you have tried to create several sites and have exceeded the 5 sites per week limit, there is no way of resetting that count.
You can create only 5 sites per week and that includes any sites you have deleted and any sites that you started to create and cancelled and any sites that are in the process of being created. If you have any sites in the process of being created don't cancel them. They will eventually finish.
You can create a new account and create sites using it, but I suggest waiting until the problem has been resolved.