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Headlines

• UK retail sales up 5.4% MoM in March

• Japan declares a state of emergency

• UK deficit was £303bn in the year to March

• Germany under new restrictions from Monday

• Perth, Australia goes into lockdown


World news

• UK government borrowing reached £303.1bn or 14.5% of GDP in the year to March, according to the ONS. Public sector net debt was pushed up to £2.142tn, which is 97.7% of GDP.

• Retail sales in the UK were up by 5.4% MoM in March. Clothing saw the biggest rise in sales volumes last month, with a 17.5% increase, ONS.

• Research by the ONS and the University of Oxford shows that people vaccinated with a single dose of either the Oxford-AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are 65% less likely to get a new infection. Link.

• The R number in England has risen slightly from between 0.7 and 1 to between 0.8 and 1, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies estimates.

• The estimates for the number of people in the UK carrying the infection compared with last week are:

• England: 1-in-610 compared with 1-in-480 last week.
• Wales: 1-in-840 compared with 1-in-920 last week
• Northern Ireland: 1-in-660 compared with 1-in-710 last week
• Scotland: 1-in-560 compared with 1-in-500 the week before.

• The WHO has urged African countries not to destroy vaccines that may have passed their expiry date, and to instead keep hold of them and wait for further guidance.

• Japan has declared states of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka and the two neighbouring prefectures of Hyogo and Kyoto. From 25 April to 11 May, restaurants, bars, and karaoke parlours serving alcohol will be required to close, while big sporting events are to be held without spectators.

• Germany’s new measures are likely to come into force in all but one state on Monday. These include:
• A night-time curfew between 10pm and 5am.
• The restriction of contact to one household plus one other person, both inside and outside, excluding children aged 14 and under.
• Sporting activity allowed, only if it is non-contact, is carried out with one other person, or with the members of a single household.
• The closure of non-essential services involving close physical contact including beauty treatments and personal hygiene. Hairdressers are allowed to stay open if customers provide a negative test.
• The closure of museums and other cultural institutions.
• Non-essential shops can only receive customers who provide their contact details and evidence of a recent negative test. Above an incidence rate of 150, only a click and collect service is possible.
• Essential shops are to remain open, including supermarkets, chemists, and bookshops. The outdoor areas of zoos and botanical gardens are open to visitors who can provide a recent negative test result.

• 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.

• Indonesia will stop issuing visas for foreigners who have been in India in the past 14 days.

• Perth, Western Australia will face a three-day lockdown starting from midnight tonight.

• Close-contact services such as hairdressers, along with outdoor visitor attractions, are reopening in Northern Ireland today. Driving lessons are also restarting, while competitive outdoor sport organised by a club or individuals can resume without spectators and with no more than 100 people participating.

• In the US, demand for vaccines has declined drastically, with some states turning down new shipments. Louisiana has stopped asking the federal government for its full allotment of vaccines. About three-quarters of Kansas counties have turned down new shipments of the vaccine at least once over the past month and in Mississippi, officials asked the federal government to ship vials in smaller packages so they don’t go to waste.

• Israel and Bahrain have recognised each other’s vaccine certificates, allowing travellers between the countries to forgo quarantine and other restrictions.

• In Brazil, 1.5 m have missed appointments for the second vaccine dose, according to the health ministry.

• Austria is to allow restaurants, hotels and theatres reopen on 19 May.