Newspaper headlines: 'Don't blow it, Britain' as nations 'open up'

By BBC News
Staff

Published
image copyrightPA Media

With the headline, "Don't blow it, Britain," the Daily Mail sums up the celebratory but guarded tone taken by many of the front pages as they mark the latest easing of lockdown restrictions.

"Enjoy freedom with a heavy dose of caution," says the Daily Express, highlighting Boris Johnson's comments about the lifting of the ban on indoor socialising and hugging.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the prime minister has called on everyone to "play their part", amid concern that the spread of the Indian variant is being fuelled by people who refuse to be vaccinated.

"Get the shots in," says the Sun - which claims the vaccine rollout is set to "go into overdrive" as pubs reopen for indoor drinking.

Several health experts have told the Guardian that people should stick to meeting outdoors despite the relaxation of rules to prevent the Indian variant from sparking a third wave of infections.

Prof Sir Mark Walport, who is a former chief scientific advisor to the government, says he will be doing things outside "as far as possible", while a professor of public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Martin McKee, says he will not be going indoors at bars and restaurants "for some time".

The Independent website is also wary, noting that if the past year has taught us anything, "it's that relaxing lockdown too early only means another, harsher, lockdown later on".

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According to the Times, plans for foreign holidays have been "thrown into chaos" by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who has warned against visiting countries on the amber list of destinations even though leisure travel outside the UK is now legal again.

He said people should "certainly not" go to places including Spain, Italy, France and Greece because of the risks posed by mutant strains of Covid.

The paper says Mr Hancock has been backed by a member of the government's vaccine taskforce, Sir John Bell, who insisted that swathes of Europe were "largely unvaccinated".

Despite the warnings, the Times says the easing of travel restrictions is predicted to "trigger a stampede" for foreign travel, with airports anticipating their busiest day of the year.

Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph says the government will unveil plans next month to try to reverse falling conviction rates for rape, including allowing victims to give evidence on video before trial.

Ministers are said to hope the move will increase guilty pleas, with those accused of rape often holding out for a trial in the hope the victim will withdraw to avoid the trauma of appearing in court in person.

According to the paper, the proportion of rape victims dropping prosecutions has doubled from 20% to more than 40% over the past five years, with "intrusive" police investigations and lengthy court delays also to blame.

A number of front pages feature photographs of George Hinds, the two-year-old boy killed in a suspected gas explosion in Lancashire yesterday.

The Daily Mirror says the blast "could be heard 10 miles away" as it destroyed three properties, with locals emerging to scenes "straight out of a war film".

The Daily Star says George's parents have revealed their devastation at losing their "precious" son - saying: "Our beautiful little angel grew his wings."