Covid-19: Scotland and Northern Ireland announce timetables out of lockdown

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Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Tuesday evening. We'll have another update for you tomorrow morning.

1. Hairdressers to open in Scotland on 5 April as rules ease

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has outlined Scotland's latest timetable for the route out of its coronavirus lockdown - with the country's "stay at home" order to be lifted on 2 April. Three days later, hairdressers and garden centres will be allowed to reopen. People will still have to stay inside their own local authority areas until 26 April, when the travel ban will be lifted within Scotland. That date will also see all shops, gyms and tourist accommodation reopen, as well as some indoor hospitality - find a detailed breakdown here.

2. NI to ease rules on gatherings from April

Northern Ireland will also begin to ease coronavirus restrictions in April. Six people from two households will be able to meet in a private garden from 1 April, while groups of up to 10 will be allowed to take part in outdoor sports such as golf. From 12 April, the rules will be relaxed further, including the removal of the "stay at home" order. First Minister Arlene Foster also announced the return of P4-P7 primary school children (ages seven to 11) to classrooms from next Monday.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Golf courses like this one in Belfast can reopen from 1 April

3. School attendance back at high levels in England

The first attendance figures since schools in England returned last week show high levels of pupils back in the classroom. In primary schools, 95% of pupils were in classes at the end of last week. The return has been staggered in secondary school to allow for Covid testing, but 89% of pupils were in last Monday - the highest proportion since the first lockdown began a year ago. When will all children in the UK be back in school?

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Secondary pupils in England went back to masks and Covid testing

4. EU agency 'convinced' of Oxford jab benefits

The EU's medicines regulator says it remains "firmly convinced" that the benefits of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh the risks. It reiterated that there was "no indication" the vaccine causes blood clots, after several leading EU countries paused their rollouts. France, Germany, Spain and Italy are among the countries seeking further clarification on its safety, amid criticism of their decision to suspend giving the jab. Find out more about the safety of Covid vaccines.

Media caption,

One senior global health researcher called the concerns of some countries "baffling"

5. Seaside resort prepares for post-lockdown visitor surge

Covid marshals, drones to monitor crowds, and a park-and-ride scheme are being brought in ahead of an expected influx of visitors to Bournemouth. Thousands of people flocked to the seaside resort when the first lockdown in England was eased last June and the council says it is expecting "exceptional" numbers when current coronavirus restrictions end.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
The beaches at the resort were heaving with people when the first lockdown was eased

And don't forget...

Find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.

Head here to find out how the distribution of Covid vaccines is going around the world.

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