Good news is broadcast across Wednesday’s front pages, as editors seize a rare opportunity to report on hope in the battle against the coronavirus.
Many papers suggest that the first day without a single Covid death for 10 months means the complete easing of lockdown restrictions will go ahead in England as planned on 21 June.
The Daily Express says simply “Zero” in large letters, adding that “hopes have been boosted for Freedom Day go-ahead”.
The Daily Mirror takes a similar tack with the headline “Zero Covid deaths in the UK” but warns in its story that thousands of fresh daily cases have led to calls to delay the easing of restrictions.
The Daily Telegraph says Boris Johnson is now under pressure to lift restrictions on 21 June. It notes with concern the move by Nicola Sturgeon to slow an easing of Covid measures in parts of Scotland. Leader writer Philip Johnston cites the example of Melbourne to argue against trying to eliminate Covid for fear of creating a “perpetual to-ing and fro-ing” out of restrictions. (The Australian state of Victoria has been in a week-long lockdown to tackle a fast-spreading outbreak – you can read more here.)
The Guardian marks the good news across the bottom of its front page, but focuses on concerns the £1.4bn programme to help children catch up at school post-Covid is not enough.
The Times also features concerns about the education package but gives the zero deaths story the biggest treatment. “Fresh hope for June 21 as deaths fall to zero” it says, but does note that this may just be a blip as a result of the bank holiday weekend.
The Daily Mail has a two-part headline: “Zero deaths .. nothing to fear from freedom”. It reports the existence of “an insidious campaign” to delay the easing of restrictions and makes clear to Johnson that he should resist such calls.
The i carries health secretary Matt Hancock’s joy that the vaccination programme appears to be working, and his warning for people to keep following the rules. “Hopes rise for 21 June after zero UK deaths” is the headline. It also includes the line that the UK is to buy an AstraZeneca vaccine adapted to tackle the Beta variant (the one first found in South Africa).
Metro goes straight with “Not a single Covid death in UK” but reports a doubling of daily cases in the space of a month, and Sturgeon’s decision to slow the easing of Covid measures.
In Scotland, the Daily Record cannot resist an 80s band reference with “Tiers for beers” as it reports that Glaswegians will be permitted to drink inside from Saturday as part of a move to level 2 restrictions.
The Scotsman reports on business frustration after Scotland moves “from lockdown to slowdown”, in reference to Sturgeon’s decisions.