BBC News

Newspaper headlines: 'Kindness of strangers' and Covid 'hysteria'

By BBC News

image copyrightPA Media
image captionMarcus Rashford visiting FareShare Greater Manchester at New Smithfield Market with his mother (right)

Several of the front pages show footballer Marcus Rashford and his mother dressed in hi-vis jackets and visors while volunteering at a food bank in Manchester.

"Kindness of strangers" is the headline in the i weekend, which describes the "huge network of volunteers" who have responded to the England star's plea to tackle child food poverty over half-term.

"Compassionate Brits stepped in where the government failed", says the Daily Star, while the Daily Mirror suggests the public has "shamed" Conservative MPs who voted against plans to extend free school meals through the holidays.

The Guardian reports that ministers may be preparing for a partial climbdown by expanding access to holiday activity clubs where meals are served.

However, sources tell the paper that the Treasury is holding up the plans ahead of its spending review next month.

In its editorial, the Sun warns against turning the issue into a "political football", saying it is "more complex than many make out".

But writing on the Independent website, Janet Street-Porter insists the government must intervene.

"As we enter a period of austerity", she asks, "why not accept that the state has to play an increased role?"

According to the Daily Mail, more than 350 traffic cameras have been repurposed - without consultation - to check whether pedestrians are social distancing in public places.

The paper says "large swathes of the country" are being monitored as part of a project backed by the Department for Transport.

Privacy campaigners accuse the company behind the technology - Vivacity Labs - of a "shocking disregard for transparency".

But the firm says it is solely measuring overall compliance with social distancing because the cameras cannot distinguish between household groups and strangers.

'VAT hike'

The Daily Telegraph says the cost of disposable face masks is set to rise by a fifth from next week after the government decided to scrap a tax exemption on personal protective equipment (PPE).

Correspondence seen by the paper shows that retailers have been told a six-month VAT holiday will end on 31 October.

Care homes had already been told they would receive free PPE over the next six months - although some providers have warned they still expect to purchase more on top.

image copyrightPA Media

The FT Weekend reports that several major banks have raised their interest rates on mortgages as they struggle to cope with a resurgent housing market.

With buyers hurrying to complete sales before a temporary stamp duty holiday ends in March, the FT says banks are finding it difficult to process so many applications when large numbers of staff are working from home.

In one case, Metro Bank temporarily stopped brokers from sending clients its way to try to clear the backlog.

And it appears that coronavirus restrictions - banning millions of people from meeting indoors - are doing wonders for the poncho industry.

The Times says sales of the garments have risen by almost 40% at one department store chain, as fashionistas ponder what to wear on their forthcoming winter picnics.

"Ponchos can be fringed or have a leather trim and are soft, cosy and warm," writes Hannah Rogers, "just don't call it a dog blanket".