Got a TV Licence?

You need one to watch live TV on any channel or device, and BBC programmes on iPlayer. It’s the law.

Find out more
I don’t have a TV Licence.

Live Reporting

Edited by Emma Owen

All times stated are UK

  1. Thank you and goodbye

    That’s all from us today, thanks for joining our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. We’ll be back tomorrow morning with more updates.

    In the meantime, you can read more detail on all of today's stories by going to our home page.

    Today’s coverage was brought to you by: Hugo Bachega, Alexandra Fouche, Jack Hunter, Alex Kleiderman, Jennifer Meierhans, Richard Morris, Ashitha Nagesh, Emma Owen, Lauren Turner and Katie Wright.

  2. What's been happening in the UK?

    We are going to be bringing our live coverage to a close soon so here's a recap on the main news from the UK:

    • The next stage of easing lockdown will go ahead in England from 17 May, the prime minister has announced
    • Boris Johnson says pubs, restaurants and cafes can welcome customers through the doors and friends and families can mix inside and stay overnight
    • Hugging will be allowed as people will be able to choose whether they continue to socially distance or not
    • There were no coronavirus deaths reported in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland today - and four deaths in Wales
    • The UK's four chief medical officers earlier lowered the Covid-19 alert level from four to three
    • This means that although the virus is still in general circulation, transmission is no longer high or rising exponentially
    • Scotland is expected to use a foreign travel traffic light system similar to England's from 24 May
  3. What's been happening around the globe?

    We'll be wrapping up the live page for the day shortly, thanks for joining us. Here's a round-up of some of the biggest stories from around the world today:

    • Restrictions are being eased across Europe, including in Ireland and Spain. Thousands took to the streets in Spanish cities last night to celebrate the end of a six-month-long state of emergency.
    • The World Health Organisation (WHO) says India's coronavirus variant is a variant of global concern. The variant continues to tear through India, where infections and deaths came close to record daily highs on Monday.
    • Vietnam has reported 125 new local coronavirus cases, as it sees a steady increase in infections after more than a month with no local cases.
    • Germany has opened access to Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccines to all adults, lifting a priority system determining who gets the jabs first.
    • There are fresh doubts over Japan's Tokyo Olympics amid a rise in infections in the city. The head of the International Olympic Committee has been forced to postpone a trip to Japan to discuss the games because of coronavirus. Japan's top tennis player Naomi Osaka says she's unsure if the Games should go ahead.
  4. Analysis

    Rule changes highly unlikely to put pressure on hospitals - Sage

    James Gallagher

    Health and science correspondent, BBC News

    The government’s science advisers – the body known as Sage – have painted a far more optimistic picture of the months to come than just a few weeks ago.

    The crucial shift comes from evidence that vaccines are significantly cutting the chances of immunised people passing the virus on if they become ill.

    The weeks and months to come look far more promising once that is factored into the equation.

    A third wave is still anticipated and even the reopening next Monday is likely to lead to cases starting to rise again.

    However, Sage – the scientific advisory group for emergencies – says the next stage of rule relaxing is highly unlikely to put intense pressure on hospitals.

    And, while there is uncertainty, any future peaks could be substantially smaller than the first wave in March last year.

    There are still key questions that could change the forecasts, such as: Will immunity wane? What about variants? How much will the summer weather suppress the virus? How will we behave when the rules are relaxed? Will we go back to normal or will some of us keep working from home and wear facemasks even if the rules are relaxed?

    So these projections will be scrutinised for months to come.

  5. Reality Check

    The return of cosy nights in, and, to hug or not to hug

    Friends on a sofa

    Earlier the prime minister announced that from Monday we can have our friends over or catch up for a drink inside a pub - it's the end of layering up to meet up.

    But if you'd warmed to the idea of an outdoor gathering, you can open it up to 30 people - the same amount of guests that will soon be allowed to weddings, receptions and other celebrations.

    Here's what else you'll be able to do from next week and what there is to look forward to after that.

    Two people hugging

    There's also been a lot of talk today about the return of hugging.

    From Monday, it's your choice whether or not to be socially distanced with close family and friends - so if you want to hug each other, you can.

    But Prof Cath Noakes, a member of the Sage committee advising the government says it would personally worry her "if we were advocating we could hug all of our friends every time we meet them again".

    Hugging risks spreading coronavirus and there are safer ways of doing it apparently, so here's some reading up to help you decide whether to hug or not to hug.

  6. Restaurants and pubs are reopening inside, but what are the rules?

    Woman in a pub

    Pubs, restaurants and cafes in England, Scotland and Wales, will soon be able to serve customers inside again.

    But things won't quite be back to normal, these are the rules that will still be in place:

    • To sit inside you'll have to be a group of up to six or two households of any size
    • But you can sit outside with up to 30 people
    • Every customer aged 16 and over must check in with NHS test and trace, or provide contact details
    • People will still need to order, eat and drink while seated, where alcohol is served
    • When not seated - for example being shown to a table, or going to the toilet - customers must wear face coverings
    • Social distancing of one metre plus will remain

    Here's a look at the rules in more detail.

  7. Zero deaths for England, Scotland and NI

    Earlier we brought you the UK's latest coronavirus data which showed that another four deaths had been reported within 28 days of a positive Covid test.

    Looking closer at those reported figures, four of them were recorded in Wales, meaning there were no coronavirus deaths announced in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland today.

    Take a look at the UK's latest figures in the charts below.

    BBC chart showing the UK's latest Covid data
    Graph showing number of cases in the UK
    Graph showing number of patients in hospital
  8. Pandemic plateauing globally, says WHO

    The World Health Organization briefing also heard that the world is seeing a levelling off in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths. Numbers are declining in most areas, including the Americas and Europe, the worst-hit regions.

    "But it’s an unacceptably high plateau, with more than 5.4 million reported COVID-19 cases and almost 90,000 deaths last week," the WHO's Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the briefing.

    He said a global disparity in who can access vaccines remains one of the biggest obstacles to ending the pandemic.

  9. India Covid variant of global concern, says WHO

    The new coronavirus variant known as B.1.617, first detected in India, is a variant of global concern, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says.

    Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO's technical lead on Covid-19, told a briefing that it may have increased transmissibility.

    The variant continues to tear through India, where infections and deaths came close to record daily highs on Monday.

    The variant has three lineages, of which B.1.617.2 is the fastest growing. At the UK government's Covid briefing today, England's chief medical officer Chris Whitty said that variant was a concern and officials were keeping a close eye on it.

    "Our view is that this is a highly transmissible variant... [but] at this point in time, our view is it is less likely to be able to escape vaccination than some of the other variants," he said.

    Here's what we know about the India Covid variant.

  10. Portugal - not Wembley - could host Champions League final

    Fans going to Wembley
    Image caption: Wembley last hosted the Champions League final in 2013

    Portugal has emerged as a strong candidate to host this season's Champions League final later this month after Uefa did not gain guarantees of the coronavirus exemptions it wants to move the game to Wembley.

    Uefa, UK government officials and the Football Association met earlier today to discuss moving the game between Chelsea and Manchester City from Istanbul.

    Uefa has decided it will be moved after Turkey was put on England's red travel list which the government says means fans cannot travel.

    Portugal is on the green list so fans from England would be allowed to attend on 29 May.

    Travellers from England to green-list countries will be required to take Covid tests before and after travel but do not have to quarantine on their return.

    The match could still be played at Wembley but it would require a major shift from the government, who have so far failed to reach an agreement with Uefa.

    European football's governing body feels in Portugal it is going to be easier to gain access for sponsors and broadcasters, who would need to be compensated if they were unable to attend the game.

    Porto has been mentioned as a potential venue but it is understood Lisbon, which hosted last year's final, is also a possibility.

  11. Scotland to use foreign travel traffic light system

    Beach holiday

    We've got more on Scotland's foreign travel traffic light system which is expected to come into effect on 24 May.

    Earlier, the BBC was told that people in Scotland will be able to travel to some foreign destinations without the need to quarantine on their return.

    Countries are to be classified as green, amber and red and a review will take place every four weeks, the BBC understands.

    The Scottish government says a Covid briefing will take place on Tuesday and it would not comment on reports.

    But if it's similar to England's traffic light system, here's how it could work.

  12. Russia still eyeing herd immunity by September

    Damien Sharkov

    BBC Monitoring

    Russia is aiming to achieve herd immunity against Covid-19 by September, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko has said.

    When asked on about the country's vaccine rollout, Murashko said it was progressing "as planned" and insisted that Russia's target for collective immunity will be met, the Interfax news agency reported.

    This comes despite Russia's slow start to its vaccination campaign with official figures showing that by 6 May only 13.4 million people had received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and 9.4 million had received both.

    Crowds on the Arbat in Moscow in April 2021
    Image caption: Russia's vaccine rollout has been affected by some public scepticism, polls suggest

    This is some way off the target of vaccinating 70% of the adult population by the end of the summer, initially given by President Vladimir Putin in March.

    Russia's rollout has been affected by some public scepticism of vaccines as independent pollster Levada Centre suggested that in February only 30% of Russians were willing to receive the Sputnik V vaccine - the country's most widely used jab.

  13. Labour: People still need to be cautious

    Thangam Debbonaire

    The coronavirus data supports the decision to continue to ease lockdown restrictions in England, according to the new shadow leader of the House of Commons.

    Responding to the announcements unveiled at the Downing Street news conference, Thangam Debbonaire says she is looking forward to the prospect of hugging loved ones again and visiting people in their homes.

    However she adds that people still “need to exercise caution”.

    Being able to reopen indoors from next week is “great news” for the hospitality industry which has “gone through such a lot”, she adds.

    Asked whether the country should open up sooner than the government's roadmap, she says we need to wait to see the data once restrictions have eased further to find out whether there has been an impact.

    “There’s no denying that everybody must be looking forward to things getting better and opening up this summer," she says.

  14. Watch: PM says we should make our own choices on hugging

    Video content

    Video caption: Boris Johnson warns not to 'throw caution to the wind'

    Despite confirming that hugging relatives and friends from different households will be allowed from Monday, the Prime Minister urged people to remain cautious.

    Speaking at the Covid briefing, Boris Johnson warned that "this does not mean we should throw caution to the wind", and hugging is still a main way that the virus can spread.

    Meeting outdoors is still safer, he added, and encouraged opening windows while meeting indoors.

  15. Re-cap: What did the PM announce for England?

    Social distancing in London

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed the third stage of England's roadmap out of lockdown will go ahead on 17 May - next Monday.

    In a significant step towards normality after off-and-on restrictions for more than a year:

    • Updated guidance on close contact between friends and family will set out the risks so we can all make our own choices
    • But this will not mean we can just "throw caution to the wind", the PM said, with people urged to consider the vulnerability of loved ones - including whether they have been vaccinated or not
    • People should continue to be tested for the virus - even without symptoms - and self-isolate when confirmed to be positive
    • Social distancing will also continue when we are not with our friends or family - for example, in workplaces, shops and restaurants
    • Businesses will receive clearer guidance on what the end of social distancing may mean for those working from home at the next stage of the roadmap, no earlier than 21 June

    Read more here.

  16. Positive signs but a heavy dose of caution

    Helen Catt

    Political correspondent

    So Step three is going ahead; that's been expected for a while now.

    The updating of guidance to say we can have physical contact with friends and family again - even if caution was very much the word - also means life should feel a bit more normal from next week.

    There were several hints in this news conference that seemed to suggest the Prime Minister is reasonably confident that Step four is also likely to happen from 21 June too, although once again he resisted any temptation to suggest that date could be brought forward.

    He did promise though more information this month to help businesses prepare and there is the start of a shift in tone to letting people make up their own mind about how best to protect themselves.

    However, both he and the scientists stressed that next week marks a particularly big step.

    The discussion of the India variant and situations which "can come out of a blue sky" mean that there is still a heavy dose of caution to all this.

  17. Travel to green list countries from Monday

    The "stay in the UK" restriction will lift from Monday and people will be able to travel to green-list countries, the PM confirmed during the Downing Street press conference.

    But he urged caution and stresses that we must remain vigilant to unexpected changes in the data, and the spread of new variants.

    To ensure our progress through the roadmap continues to be irreversible, he says people must continue to follow the rules, remember "hands, face, space, fresh air", and come forward to get the vaccine when called.

  18. Cabinet approved next step of lockdown easing

    Before the PM was able to announce the lifting of further coronavirus restrictions had had to get approval from his cabinet.

    MPs reviewed the latest data which shows infection rates are at their lowest level since last September, and deaths and hospitalisations are at their lowest level since last July.

    They were also told that more than two thirds of all adults across the UK have been vaccinated, with more than 18 million people having received their second dose.

    And in light of the most recent data, the four UK chief medical officers had confirmed that the UK Covid-19 alert level should move from level four to level three.

    The changes to lockdown restrictions were approved by Cabinet at a meeting earlier today.

  19. India variant 'highly transmissible'

    Boris Johnson
    Image caption: The prime minister answered questions from the public and journalists at the briefing

    Now the prime minister is asked whether it would be irresponsible for Scotland to hold a second referendum during this stage of the pandemic.

    Boris Johnson says he had good conversations with the heads of the devolved nations and everyone’s number one priority was to come out of the pandemic and "build back better".

    Prof Chris Whitty is asked about the threat of one of the Indian variants in the UK. He says cases of it have gone up sharply and that’s a "reason to be very careful about it".

    "What we know with all the variants is that things can come out of the blue sky - you’re not expecting it and then it can happen."

    He adds that at this point in time “our view is that this is a highly transmissible variant” but it is less likely to be able to escape vaccination, although the data is incomplete.

  20. Is this going to be the last lockdown?

    Sir Patrick Vallance
    Image caption: Sir Patrick Vallance joined the PM at the briefing

    Jason Groves from the Daily Mail asks if this is potentially the last lockdown we see, bar any new "terrible variant" because of the vaccination programme. He asks if people should expect to continue working from home in the future.

    Sir Patrick Vallance says "this is a big step forward" and there will be "many many more people vaccinated" this time around, but it is important that "we don't get ahead of ourselves".

    "Everything is pointing in the direction" that the vaccines are reducing infection rates.

    Boris Johnson says the more people can communicate remotely, the more reasons they find to meet face to face. He says he is "pretty certain that eventually our town centres are going to be full of bustle, full of people who want to interact again".