- Hairdressers, close-contact services and outdoor visitor attractions are reopening in Northern Ireland
- Welsh pubs and restaurants could open indoors from 17 May, as plans to ease restrictions are brought forward
- Indoor group activities and swimming lessons will also be allowed from 3 May in Wales - two weeks earlier than planned
- UK and Irish nationals arriving from India must quarantine in a hotel, as new travel restrictions come into force
- At least two hospitals in Delhi are running out of oxygen, as India struggles with second wave
- UK government borrowing hit £303.1bn last year - the highest level since the end of World War Two
- The chances of becoming infected with Covid falls sharply after a first dose of either the Oxford or Pfizer vaccines, a study finds
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. Here are the main stories in the UK today:
- Hairdressers and other close-contact services, along with outdoor visitor attractions, are reopening in Northern Ireland – the last part of the UK where this has happened – in the latest stage of lockdown easing there
- Welsh pubs and restaurants could open indoors for the first time in more than five months from 17 May, as plans to ease the lockdown are brought forward
- UK and Irish nationals arriving from India must quarantine in a government-approved hotel, as new travel restrictions come into force
- UK government borrowing reached £303.1bn in the year to March, according to the Office for National Statistics , the highest level since the end of World War Two.
- The chances of becoming infected with Covid-19 fall sharply after a first dose of either the Oxford-AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, a UK study has found
- The Treasury has published 40 pages of messages relating to its contact with David Cameron and Greensill Capital . The former prime minister had attempted to lobby top officials on behalf of the financial firm as it sought access to a coronavirus loan scheme.
What's happening around the world?
- At least two hospitals in the Indian capital of Delhi are running out of oxygen, as the country struggles with a second wave of coronavirus infections
- Meanwhile, at least 13 patients have died after a fire broke out in the intensive care unit of a hospital set up to treat Covid patients near Mumbai
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged African countries not to destroy Covid-19 vaccines that may have passed their expiry date
- The head of the WHO has accused a handful of the richest countries of gobbling up supplies of vaccines, leaving others scrambling for the scraps
- Japan is expected to declare a state of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka and two other prefectures from 25 April to 11 May, amid a surge in coronavirus cases
- French prime minister Jean Castex confirmed that domestic travel restrictions will be lifted on 3 May and that secondary schools will reopen that same day. France is due to impose a 10-day quarantine starting from Saturday for travellers from Brazil, Chile, Argentina, South Africa and India .
- The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said there had been 168 cases up to 14 April of blood clots with low platelet counts in the UK in people who had had the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.
- EU capitals have been asked by the European commission to back legal action against AstraZeneca by the end of the week over an alleged breach of its contractual obligations to supply member states with its Covid vaccine. Earlier on Thursday, a commission spokesperson confirmed legal action had not been launched against the company, following comments by Ireland’s health minister Stephen Donnelly .
- New coronavirus cases in the Netherlands rose by more than 9,000 in 24 hours on Thursday, the highest level since early January, figures show .
- In Indonesia , scores of prisoners have been sentenced to death over Zoom and other video apps during the pandemic in what critics say is an “inhumane” insult to those facing the firing squad.
- Indonesia issues travel ban to India over coronavirus variant
Indonesia will stop issuing visas for foreigners who have been in India in the past 14 days to prevent the spread of different coronavirus strains, a government minister said on Friday.
Latest across Europe
- Italian ministers will finalise a plan from PM Mario Draghi for an enormous €221.5bn (£192bn) recovery package of investment and structural reform. All but €30bn of the money is from EU grants and cheap loans, so the package has to be approved by the EU first: it covers six areas including energy transition away from carbon fuels; digitalisation and innovation, infrastructure projects, education, social inclusion and health.
- Twenty Indian nursing students who recently arrived in Belgium via Paris have contracted the Indian variant of Covid. They all tested negative in PCR tests before leaving India and all gave a negative rapid test on arrival in Paris, before going into Belgian quarantine. Belgian experts believe they were infected by one of the students on the bus from Paris to the towns of Aalst and Leuven. The chances they have infected anyone else are small.
- Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, has said this morning that vaccination rates there will reach 40% next week and will help the country reopen further. He says anyone with a vaccination card will be able to enter cinemas, gyms, hotels and theatres. But Hungary still has high rates of infection and had to limit a plan to reopen primary schools on Monday.
- The Dutch parliament has backed measures to reopen café terraces during the afternoon and lift overnight curfews, even though infection numbers have reached their highest numbers since early January, with almost 9,700 cases announced on Thursday. Caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte says five million vaccinations will have been completed by the end of this week.
- French Prime Minister Jean Castex believes the third wave has peaked in France, with case numbers down 17% in the past 10 days. Nursery and primary schools will reopen on Monday with a strict testing protocol, and older children will start going back on 3 May.