Your Tuesday Briefing

England’s cautious steps toward normalcy.

By Natasha Frost

Good morning.

We’re covering a road map out of lockdown for England, Myanmar protesters going strong and bringing live music back to New York.

England’s winding route out of the pandemic

After weeks of lockdown, and with 17 million people having received a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, England is slowly relaxing nationwide restrictions, in what Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain described as “a one-way journey to freedom.”

Schools in England are set to reopen on March 8, and people will be allowed to socialize outdoors starting on March 29. Pubs, restaurants, retail shops and gyms will stay closed for at least another month. By June 21, all legal restrictions could be lifted. International travel remains banned.

Lockdown skeptics in Mr. Johnson’s Conservative Party are calling for all restrictions to be lifted by the end of April, when the government aims to have vaccinated the nine most vulnerable groups, including everyone over 50.

Global view: Worldwide, the pandemic is receding. New cases have declined to half the level seen at the global peak at the end of 2020, which experts credit to improved social distancing and mask-wearing, the seasonality of the virus and a buildup of natural immunity among groups with high rates of infection.

In other developments:

President Biden held a memorial at the White House for a “truly grim, heartbreaking milestone,” as deaths in the U.S. from the pandemic surpassed 500,000.

As France raced to plan its vaccination campaign, the government quietly issued millions of euros in contracts to the consulting giant McKinsey & Company, prompting debate in a country where the Civil Service is expected to manage public affairs and private-sector involvement is viewed with wariness.

Early data from Britain’s vaccination campaign showed that a single dose of either the AstraZeneca vaccine or the Pfizer one could avert most coronavirus-related hospitalizations, though researchers said it was too early to give precise estimates of the effect.

Trump’s final, failed bid to shield his taxes

The Supreme Court issued an order that allowed the release of Donald Trump’s tax returns and related documents, a decisive final defeat for the former president in his battle against New York prosecutors.

After the brief, unsigned order from the court, investigators for the Manhattan district attorney’s office will collect the records from the law firm that represents Mr. Trump’s accountants, Mazars USA, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Prosecutors, forensic accountants and analysts have been investigating Mr. Trump and his companies for a wide range of possible financial crimes. With the records, they will have a fuller picture of potential discrepancies between what the Trump Organization told its lenders and the tax authorities. Read our investigation from last year of Mr. Trump’s taxes.

Related: Speaking at his Senate confirmation hearing, Judge Merrick Garland said that investigating the Capitol riot would be his first priority as attorney general.

The return of Washington’s weekends: President Biden’s demonstrable lack of interest in generating audacious headlines emphasizes how much the Trump-size hole in Washington has created a sense of free time, writes one of our White House correspondents.

Myanmar’s protests grow despite crackdown

Millions took part in a general strike on Monday against the military coup that deposed the country’s civilian leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, three weeks ago, despite an ominous warning on state television: “Protesters are now inciting people, especially emotional teenagers and youth, toward a path of confrontation where they will suffer a loss of life.”

Myanmar’s military has a long history of deadly crackdowns. The generals tried to halt Monday’s dissent with barricades, armored vehicles and snipers waiting on rooftops. Two protesters were fatally shot over the weekend.

Quotable: “I will sacrifice my life for our future generations,” said Ko Bhone Nay Thit, a 19-year-old university student in Mandalay. In that city, one restaurant owner, Daw Htay Shwe, wrote her will before joining a rally, saying, “I will protect our country’s democracy with my life.”

If you have 8 minutes, this is worth it

Bringing a comic book classic into the present

Above, the cover of the French edition of “A Cowboy in High Cotton.” After seven decades, Lucky Luke — the Franco-Belgian comic book series — is adding Black characters.

“A Cowboy in High Cotton” was published last year in French and is now being released in English. It tells the story of Lucky Luke and recently freed Black enslaved people on a plantation in Louisiana. For the first time, there is a Black hero.

Here’s what else is happening

Congo attack: Italy’s ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Luca Attanasio, was among three people killed in an attack on a humanitarian convoy on Monday near the city of Goma. The attack is the latest in a wave of violence there.

Pakistan aid workers: Gunmen killed four aid workers in the northwestern district of North Waziristan on Monday. The attack could signal a revival of insurgency in the region bordering Afghanistan that was once a stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban.

A post-Covid economic boom: Economists always expected the pandemic to be followed by a period of strong growth in the U.S. In recent weeks, some have begun to talk of something bigger: a supercharged economic rebound.

Snapshot: Above, the jazz musician Jon Batiste and his band, Stay Human, dancing their way through one of New York City’s coronavirus vaccine sites. The concert is part of a pop-up series of unannounced performances throughout the state aimed at giving a jolt to the arts after nearly a year of darkened theaters and concert halls.

Missive from Mars: This three-minute video shows what NASA’s new rover saw as it landed.

Daft Punk: The French electronic-music duo has broken up after almost 30 years.

What we’re listening to: Spotify yesterday released the first two episodes of “Renegades: Born in the USA,” in which former President Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen discuss race, fatherhood and the painful divisions that persist in American society.

Now, a break from the news

Cook: This cannellini-bean pasta with beurre blanc transforms little more than a can of beans into a luxurious meal.

Read: “The Committed” is Viet Thanh Nguyen’s sequel to his Pulitzer Prize-winning debut, “The Sympathizer.” Both novels hinge on questions about individual and collective identity and memory.

Do: Travel virtually to the vast landscape of the Altai Mountains in western Mongolia, where Kazakhs have for centuries nurtured a special bond with golden eagles.

Keep your curiosity alive. At Home has ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do while staying safe at home.

And now for the Back Story on …

A floral uplift in Japan

Our Tokyo bureau chief, Motoko Rich, wrote about finding solace and calm in flowers around the city. Below is a condensed excerpt.

Not long after we moved to Japan, I came to appreciate the public obsession with flowers.

Across the city, there are carefully tended stands of trees along many boulevards and rivers, as well as lovingly cultivated gardens. And while Tokyo is one of the most densely packed cities in the world, flowers are abundant here in everyday places.

It’s in the unassuming flora that I find the most pleasure: the weeds sprouting behind a rusted guardrail, or an unkempt shrub of scarlet berries climbing up a drain pipe on a dilapidated house.

Back in Brooklyn, before moving to Japan to become Tokyo bureau chief for The New York Times, I hadn’t been a particularly horticultural person. My husband and I used to joke that it was a miracle our two children managed to thrive given our poor track record with house plants.

Here in Japan, though, I soon discovered that I am easily enchanted by the flowering profusion. Particularly during the pandemic, hunting for flowers has become a way to soothe anxiety.

After two days when I didn’t leave our apartment because I was covering the resignation and replacement of the president of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee, I walked to the grocery store and spotted tiny pink and cream winter daphne blossoms nestled in some bushes out front.

And for a moment, tension evaporated.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Natasha

Thank you
Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh contributed the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected]

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