‘Happy hours … for now’: what the papers say about Britain emerging from lockdown


Newspapers are almost unanimous in identifying the easing of coronavirus restrictions as the biggest story of the day – but they all deliver the news with a health warning.

As the most parts of the UK take another step out of lockdown on Monday – with two households or groups of six allowed to meet indoors in England for the first time since last year – health experts have said that the Indian Covid variant still poses a real risk.

The Guardian’s lead story warns, citing health experts, that readers should “ignore” Monday’s easing of lockdown and avoid socialising indoors in pubs and restaurants to prevent the new Covid-19 variant first detected in India sparking a third wave of the disease.

The Telegraph’s splash has Boris Johnson urging the public to “play your part” and get vaccinated as fears grow over the spread of the variant. Quoting the prime minister, it reports that the “vast majority” of those in hospital with the new variant had not yet been vaccinated.

The Daily Mail puts it more bluntly, with the headline “Don’t Blow it, Britain”.

The Mirror says it is “Happy hours … for now” as it celebrates the prospect of readers having a pint and going to the cinema.

The Daily Express leads on the PM’s words in the headline, “Enjoy freedom with ‘a heavy dose of caution’”. More than 20 million Britons have now been fully vaccinated after receiving their second dose, the paper reports, with Johnson now aiming for “one million jabs a day to see off the Indian variant of the virus”.

The Times is also concerned about holiday and reports that plans have been “thrown into chaos” by Hancock’s warning, after he urged people not to visit countries on the government’s “amber list”. Airports are nonetheless expecting their busiest day of the year, the paper says. And despite the Indian variant, the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital fell to below 1,000 for the first time since September.

The i splashes on “New freedoms come with a health warning” – among those on the front page is health secretary Matt Hancock’s advice against trips to Greece and Spain as limited international travel resumes.

The Independent reports that “ministers refuse to rule out new local lockdowns” in response to the spread of the B1.617.2 variant, quoting the health secretary’s warning that the variant could “spread like wildfire” among unvaccinated Britons.

The Sun, meanwhile, urges its readers to “Get the shots in”, referring to both the government’s plan to send vaccinations into “overdrive” and drinkers’ “joy” over the easing of restrictions.

The big story in Scotland is also Covid, but focuses on the Rangers fans who flouted regulations to gather in the centre of Glasgow to celebrate their team’s title win.

The Scotsman’s lead is “Sturgeon: rioting Rangers ‘fans ‘selfish beyond belief’”.

The Record just goes with “Selfish beyond belief”.

The FT carries a short write-off on its front page saying “Lockdown’s end brings new worries for hospitality”, but its lead is “AT&T closes in on content streaming deal with Discovery”.



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