Newspaper headlines: UK 'feeling the strain' but gets vaccine 'boost'

By BBC News

  • Published
Travellers arrive at Heathrow Airport in LondonImage source, EPA

There is plenty of discussion about the government's handling of the coronvirus pandemic in the papers and news websites, following the announcement that the UK's new variant could be more deadly as well as more contagious.

Huff Post's UK's executive editor, Paul Waugh, borrows a phrase from the new hard-hitting public health advertising campaign - asking whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson can look Covid patients "in the eyes" as mortality rates continue to rise.

An editorial in the Sun takes a more positive tone, urging readers to summon up the spirit of Monty Python and "look on the bright side of life", after the number of vaccinations carried out reached another daily high.

There is a lot of focus on proposals to strengthen restrictions on people entering the UK.

The Times reports that the cabinet is split on how strict to make proposed new rules on arrivals quarantining, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Home Secretary Priti Patel thought to be pushing for the strongest possible measures. The article also claims that border controls could be tightened further as a condition to relaxing lockdown rules to ensure new variants of the virus are not brought into the country.

The i's political editor, Nigel Morris, writes that a complete ban on non-British travellers arriving here will be discussed by ministers next week, with the Treasury opposing the move over fears it could provide a devastating blow to the aviation industry.

The Daily Telegraph's columnist Juliet Samuel calls the idea "a total waste of time," arguing that the UK doesn't have either the capacity to run an effective track and trace programme, or a population willing to stomach what she calls "the ironclad enforcement and invasion of privacy" needed to make the policy succeed.

An editorial in the Daily Express, meanwhile, believes the idea presents an opportunity to support the domestic tourism industry. It says a ban on foreign holidays could "start to revive the businesses and economies of some of our most popular tourist areas" and prompt people to reconnect with Britain's beauty spots.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the chancellor is planning to introduce tax rises towards the end of the year to start paying off government debts incurred during the pandemic. It's understood Rishi Sunak is considering holding a second Budget in the autumn when the UK's economic outlook could be clearer, with the report claiming he has already held calls with groups of Conservative MPs to warn that higher levels of government spending cannot be funded by long-term borrowing.

The Guardian's economics editor, Larry Elliott, believes that delaying tax rises would be the right approach to fixing the economy, urging the chancellor to "heed the words of St Augustine: Lord, make me chaste, but not yet".

Labour's former education secretary, Lord Blunkett, has urged the government to support a Daily Mail campaign to provide laptops to the hundreds of thousands of British children without internet access. He calls on ministers to end what he calls the "heart-breaking educational apartheid" being created by the closure of schools during lockdown. He also praises the efforts of the comedian John Bishop and the Premier League footballer Patrick Bamford, who have both made large donations to help fund computers for disadvantaged children in their local communities.

The front page of the Financial Times has some bad news for wine lovers, saying the cost of bottles is set to rise by £1.50 due to post-Brexit customs bureaucracy. The paper also says drinkers will face less choice, as some firms choose to avoid exporting to the UK altogether.