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Headlines
• UK R number now 0.6-0.8, down from 0.7-0.9 last week
• UK economy shrinks 2.9% in January
• 3.2m UK households have acquired a pet since March 2020
• Italy to increase national restrictions from Monday
• Scotland relaxes rules on socialising outdoors

World news

• UK R number now between 0.6 and 0.8, down from 0.7-0.9 last week.

• New figures from the Office of National Statistics show the UK economy shrank by 2.9% in January as the third lockdown came into force. Overall, the economy is down 9% year on year.

• Transmission drops by at least 30% after a person has one dose of a vaccine, a new study suggests. Public Health Scotland and the University of Glasgow monitored 300,000 NHS workers between 8 December and 3 March.

• A total of 3.2m households in the UK have acquired a pet since the start of the pandemic, according to the Pet Food Manufacturers' Association.

• Italy will be placed under a nationwide lockdown for the Easter weekend. Non-essential shops will be shut nationwide from 3-5 April. On those days, Italians will be allowed to leave their homes only for work, health or emergency reasons. Also, as of Monday curbs will be tightened in the country’s low-risk “yellow” regions, where movement between towns will be severely limited and restaurants and bars will be closed.

• Scotland has relaxed its rules on socialising outdoors, with four adults from two households now able to meet outside in public places and in gardens.

• Portugal’s government announced it would start to gradually ease its strict rules from next week.

• Sanofi has announced the launch of human trials of its second vaccine, with its first still in the testing phase after having fallen behind in development.

• Nagpur in western India is to be the first major city in the country to return to a complete lockdown, starting on 15 March.

• Bulgaria has paused using AstraZeneca's vaccine.

• Thailand to delay the roll-out of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.



Wales lockdown lifting schedule

Wales has announced its lockdown lifting schedule - from Saturday 13 March:

• the "stay at home" rule will be replaced with "stay local" guidance

• four people from two households can meet outside, including in gardens

• outdoor facilities for sport can reopen

• indoor visits in care homes will be allowed for a single visitor



Monday 15 March:

• all primary age and secondary school pupils sitting exams will return to face-to-face learning. Schools will have flexibility to bring Year 10 and 12 pupils back and will also have flexibility for in-school check-ins for all other pupils

• hairdressers and barbers will reopen for appointment only



Monday 22 March:

• phased reopening of non-essential retail, starting with lifting restrictions on what the shops that are currently open can sell

• Garden centres will reopen

• lift the "stay local" guidance

• begin the process of opening up tourism, starting with self-contained accommodation although not to those from England

Monday 12 April:

• all pupils will return after the Easter break

• all close contact services will reopen

• all non-essential shops will be able to reopen, the same date as in England