Coronavirus - 23 February


• Scotland to allow households to mix from 5 April

• Italy extends domestic travel ban

• UK unemployment rose to 5.1% in Q4

• Doctors in Greece go on strike

World news

• UK unemployment rose to 5.1% in the three months to December, ONS figures show. A total of 1.74 million people were unemployed in the October to December period, up 454,000 from the same quarter in 2019.

• Syria has authorised the use of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.

• The World Health Organization has agreed a no-fault compensation plan for claims of serious side effects in people in 92 poorer countries due to get vaccines via the Covax sharing scheme.

• Oman will not allow people from 10 countries to enter the country for 15 days. The countries are: Sudan, Lebanon, South Africa, Brazil, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Ethiopia. The ban is effective from Thursday.

• Italy has extended until 27 March a ban on travel between its regions. The new decree also extends a restriction on private visits: no more than two adults and children under 14 can visit another person’s home.

• The Czech Government has ordered the wearing of FFP2 respirator masks in shops and on public transport from Thursday. The government will distribute millions of the masks via food banks to people who cannot afford them.

• The UN’s World Food Programme said that levels of hunger had risen nearly four-fold in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, from 2.2 million people affected in 2018 to nearly 8 million now, attributed to the pandemic and extreme climate events.

• Greek hospital doctors have begun a strike today, with dozens marching in Athens to protest conditions in hospitals.

• The World Bank has threatened to suspend financing for Lebanon’s vaccination programme, as it emerged that some lawmakers would get their vaccines in parliament today.

• Hungary is to start vaccinations tomorrow with vaccines purchased from Chinese company Sinopharm.

• Afghanistan has launched its vaccination programme. Doctors, security personnel, and journalists were among the first volunteers to receive doses of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, donated earlier this month by India.

 Scotland’s reopening plan:


• Some younger pupils started returning to schools yesterday. From 15 March the rest of primary school years, as well as more senior phase pupils in secondary schools, will return.

• The remainder will return from 5 April.


• Currently two people from two households are allowed to meet outside. From 15 March four people from a maximum of two households will be allowed to meet outside.

• From 5 April, the hope is that six people from two households can mix, although it was not specified if this will be just outside.

Sport and culture:

• From 15 March, non-contact outdoor group sports will be allowed for 12-17-year-olds.

• Communal worship will also restart around 5 April, with numbers restricted at first, with a final date to be decided taking into account the timing of key religious festivals, for example Easter and Passover.

Retail and hospitality:

• The reopening of retail will begin from 5 April, with the definition of essential shops extended, and also removing the restrictions around click and collect.

• The last week of April should see a “phased but significant reopening of the economy”. This includes non-essential retail, hospitality and services such as gyms and hairdressers.