The Papers: ‘Cheers’ at roadmap
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The Papers: ‘Cheers’ at roadmap

By BBC News


image captionMost of Tuesday’s newspapers focus on Boris Johnson’s press conference on Monday, when he confirmed the next step to lift lockdown in England will go ahead on 12 April. The Daily Express is among the papers reacting with jubilation at the news that pubs and restaurants can open for outdoor service, calling it the next step of the “roadmap to freedom”.
image caption“Book your table now!” says the Metro newspaper. It says the fall in infections, hospitalisations and deaths means the next “big step out of lockdown” can go ahead. It quotes the prime minister as saying he will be going to the pub and “cautiously but irreversibly raising a pint of beer to my lips”.
image captionMeanwhile, the Guardian picks up on Mr Johnson’s quote that life will start returning to “some semblance of normality” in June. But the paper says hopes of foreign holidays from 17 May were dampened when Mr Johnson admitted he was nervous about the virus “being re-imported into this country from abroad” following a surge in cases across Europe.
image captionThe Daily Mail strikes a gloomier tone, saying Mr Johnson warned normal life may not return this year despite the success of the vaccination programme. “Call this freedom?” the paper asks, as it lists social distancing and twice-weekly Covid tests as among the new features expected as part of our daily life. Meanwhile, as hairdressers in Scotland were allowed to open, the paper pictures First Minister Nicola Sturgeon getting a trim.
image captionThe Daily Telegraph also focuses on Mr Johnson’s warning that normality is still “some way off”. The paper also reports on the latest prediction from the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, which suggests the full release from restrictions in June could spark a new wave of Covid hospitalisations as bad as the January peak. According to the scientists, even with vaccines a return to normal social mixing would still risk “a big epidemic”, the paper adds.
image captionThe Financial Times suggests Mr Johnson is “heading for a showdown” with his own MPs over the issue of Covid passports. More than 40 Tory MPs have vowed to oppose any certificates that would require people to prove their Covid status in order to do certain things in the UK, saying it would be discriminatory. A review is still ongoing, but in a statement the government said introducing a ban would in most cases intrude “on how businesses choose to make their premises safe”.
image captionThe prospect of vaccine passports also features in the i newspaper’s front page report. According to the government’s report published on Monday, the idea of Covid status certification “is likely to become a feature of our lives” until the threat from the pandemic subsides, the paper says.
image captionSummer holidays make the front of several papers. The Times says Mr Johnson was hopeful of foreign holidays to a limited number of destinations from the middle of next month. In general, the paper calls Mr Johnson’s assessment of the current situation “upbeat”, as he said there was nothing in the data to suggest England would have to deviate from the roadmap to lift lockdown.
image captionAlso focusing on holidays, the Daily Star suggests that the British camping trip is “about to boom across hundreds of makeshift summer sites”. The paper suggests demand for domestic holidays will be “astronomical” and there will be 500 pop-up holiday sites set up.
image captionThe Daily Mirror also reports on the “quirky venues” such as stately homes, alpaca farms, pubs and racecourses that are planning to transform themselves into pop-up campsites this summer. The paper says landowners are taking advantage of the demand for domestic holidays, as a relaxation in the law allows sites to open for 56 days without planning permission this year, compared to half of that time in an ordinary year.

Most papers lead with Boris Johnson’s confirmation that shops, gyms and hairdressers in England can reopen next week, along with outdoor hospitality.

The Daily Mirror hails what it calls the country’s “grand reopening”. “Cheers, we’re opening for business”, says the Daily Express.

Noting that pubs will reopen next Monday but holidays are still on hold, the Sun delivers its verdict – “glass half full.”

But there is also a sense of disappointment that the road ahead is unlikely to be smooth and full of uncertainties.

“Call this Freedom?” is the question posed by the Daily Mail, pointing to the prospects of weekly tests, no foreign travel, jab passports, social distancing and what it calls a new doomsday warning of a third wave.

The paper points to the warning by Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) that hospital admissions could once again hit the levels seen in January.

image copyrightGetty Images

image captionPubs and restaurants serving outside can reopen as planned next Monday in England

The Daily Telegraph finds Boris Johnson’s caution on lifting the coronavirus restrictions hard to justify.

It reminds us that the prime minister once said he would be guided by data not dates. Yet, the paper says, even though the number of Covid cases have fallen faster than predicted – with no surge caused by the return of schools – it is the roadmap dates that are determining the pace of relaxation.

The paper argues crisis measures are only defensible when the emergency is in full flood.

But the i newspaper sees merits in the prime minister’s caution. It warns of new cases which could see a surge because of the South African variant of the virus.

The paper says this could lessen the impact of vaccines and begin to cause real harm. It also reminds us of Sage’s forecast of a third wave which could hit the UK in late summer or autumn.

Passports and tests

The government’s suggestion that “vaccine passports” could be used by pubs and restaurants to relax social distancing rules is covered by many papers and websites.

The Guardian says Sir Keir Starmer is expected to vote against the move.

HuffPost UK recalls that more than 70 Tory MPs have already signed a cross-party letter opposing the introduction of Covid certificates.

The website notes that the government is to begin trials to enable the safe return of crowds to mass gatherings including FA cup finals at Wembley and indoor events such as comedy clubs.

Meanwhile, a professor of public health at Newcastle University, Allyson Pollock, has told the Daily Mail that regular testing for the coronavirus will do more harm than good.

Calling it a “scandalous waste of money”, she argues that such tests will result in a public health disaster with thousands forced needlessly to self-isolate.

image copyrightGetty Images

image captionEveryone in England is to be given access to two rapid tests a week, the government has announced

And with no foreign holidays in sight for potentially some time, the Daily Star reports of more than 500 pop-up campsites coming up to meet soaring demands for domestic holidays.

The paper says the “law to get Britain to Carry on Camping like Barbara Windsor in the classic comedy movie” has been relaxed to allow pop-up sites to open for 56 days without planning permission – twice as many in recent years.

According to the Financial Times, the pandemic has prompted more people in Wales to support devolution – with many young people calling for independence.

The paper says although support for Welsh independence is nowhere near a majority, the coronavirus crisis appears to have given Wales a much greater belief in the virtues of self-government.

Western Isles tunnel

The Scotsman says Transport Scotland is considering a 17-mile tunnel between Rarnish on Benbecula and Neist Point on Skye – a project that could take shape over the next 20 years.

Supporters of the plan believe it would improve quality of life and economic growth of the islands by making travel easier for residents, workers and business.

Several papers have reported about a motion passed by the teachers union NASUWT on Monday calling for black history to be fully embedded and taught across the curriculum.

The Times says the motion was brought by the union’s former president, Michelle Codrington-Rogers, who said children are taught about black people as slaves, victims of colonisation and having a heritage only based in pain rather than as scientists, military strategists and authors.

But the Daily Express says the move has sparked anger among some other teachers.

Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph has a warning to children: offensive old tweets and comments could jeopardise your future career, as police are recording them as non-crime hate incidents.

The paper reveals that more than 2,000 such incidents have been recorded against under-17s since 2014. It says non-crime hate incidents are defined as actions of hostility based on religion, race, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity and must be recorded.

Fresh research on Giacomo Casanova may change your view of the Venetian adventurer as the most famous womaniser in history.

The Times reports a new analysis of Casanova’s 18th century memoirs which reveals him to be a doctor with a kinder nature. The paper says posterity may, it turns out, have overlooked the tender heart of a breaker of hearts.

And the Guardian reveals that the sounds of an Easter concert performed for James IV in a Scottish chapel 500 years ago have been recreated using gaming technology and new techniques.

The paper says researchers have captured how they believe choral music would have sounded when played and sung in the now-ruined chapel at Linlithgow Palace, West Lothian, the birth place of Mary Queen of Scots.

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