Covid-19: Everyone must ‘play their part’, and travel bookings surgeon February 23, 2021 at 7:23 am

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Five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Tuesday morning.

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

Everybody has to “play their part” to meet the dates for England’s lockdown to be eased, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said. It comes after Boris Johnson outlined his four-step strategy that could see restrictions lifted by 21 June – if strict conditions are met. Lockdown will start to end in England on 8 March, when schools reopen, and two people are allowed to meet outdoors. On 29 March, six people, or two households, will be able to meet outdoors – including in private gardens. Non-essential retail and outdoor hospitality are due to open on 12 April, with all restrictions due to end by 21 June. Meanwhile in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon will reveal her plan to end lockdown later today.

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Under Mr Johnson’s plan, international travel will not return until 17 May at the earliest – but that hasn’t put people off booking. Tui reported their best day of bookings in over a month, with strong interest in Greece, Spain and Turkey for the summer. Thomas Cook said traffic to its website was up over 100% on Monday from 15:00 GMT onwards. EasyJet also reported a 337% surge in flight bookings and a 630% jump in holiday bookings. Mr Johnson said a global travel taskforce would put forward a report on how to return to international travel on 12 April.

Woman on a beach in Thailand

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The rate of unemployment in the UK rose to 5.1% in the three months to December, official figures show. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that was 1.3 percentage points higher than for the same period in 2019, before the pandemic. There was better news on pay – allowing for inflation, regular pay in October to December was up 3.3% up on the previous year.

Two women walk past a job centre

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President Joe Biden has addressed the nation as the US marks 500,000 deaths from Covid-19, the highest toll of any country in the world. “As a nation, we can’t accept such a cruel fate… we have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow,” he said. Watch more from his speech below.

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Younger pupils returned to school in Scotland and Wales yesterday, and all pupils are due to return in England on 8 March, with Northern Ireland schools beginning to reopen on the same day. But what is the risk? Watch our explainer below.

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You can find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page. This page has the plan to end lockdown in England in detail.

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