The Papers: ‘Virus heroes’ honoured as ‘lockdown looms again’

By BBC News



image copyrightFelicia Kwaku

image captionFelicia Kwaku was awarded an OBE for services to nursing

“The ordinary people who proved truly extraordinary” is the Daily Mail’s take on “unsung heroes” of the pandemic celebrated in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Among those highlighted by the paper includes nurse Alison Williams, who raised money to buy iPads for patients in intensive care so they could speak to their families, and Penelope Bond, who set up a nationwide network of volunteers to write letters to care home residents. Since its inception, her scheme has sent more than 35,000 messages.

Under the headline, “best of British”, the Daily Mirror also highlights some of the everyday “virus heroes”. Its list includes restaurateur David Maguire, who turned his gastropub into a free NHS canteen, and Asda delivery driver Geoff Norris, who used his own car on days off to ensure elderly and vulnerable customers got food when official slots ran out. The Mirror describes all those honoured as “the very best of this country”, while the Daily Express’s editorial says the UK would be in a “much worse place” without their efforts.

The Sun’s editorial praises the decision to honour unsung doctors, nurses and voluntary staff this year ahead of “time-serving nobodies and political favourites”. It says they all “worked tirelessly” and “performed heroics” to save lives and help communities.

While the Daily Star’s leader also describes this year’s choices for honours as “refreshing”, it suggests the awards are “still hollow” and “largely meaningless”. They “don’t mask the fact that what our frontline workers really need is a pay rise,” it says.

There’s a stark warning about the state of coronavirus in the UK in the Times. “The data is really bad, the numbers keep going up,” one minister is quoted as saying. They also believe it is “inevitable” that the UK will need to impose nationwide restrictions in the form of a “circuit breaker” lockdown to reduce the rate of transmission.

“Hospital beds filling up fast as Britain goes back to square one,” is another bleak headline in the paper. In what has been described as a “punchy” briefing to MPs, the deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan Van-Tam, is reported to have said intensive care units in the north west of England could be full within three weeks.

To further underline the seriousness of the situation, the FT Weekend points out that there are currently 3,090 Covid patients in English hospitals – just seven fewer than on the day in March when the UK-wide lockdown came into force. Under the headline “world-beating plan unravels”, the paper carries quotes from Sean Donnelly, the deputy leader of Knowsley Council, who says a “total lockdown” is needed because “track and trace has failed” and they can’t “pinpoint” how Covid is spreading.

“Furlough returns as lockdown looms again” is the headline in the Daily Telegraph. The paper says Prime Minister Boris Johnson will spend the weekend “fine tuning” a new tiered system of coronavirus restrictions for England. The Telegraph reports that hairdressers and leisure venues could be closed alongside pubs, bars and restaurants in the highest category.

The paper also reports that some scientists believe imposing new coronavirus restrictions would be “too hasty”. Analysis by Professor Carl Heneghan from the University of Oxford reportedly shows that 18% of Covid patients in hospital in England contracted the virus following their admission. He tells the paper that ministers and officials are over-simplifying the situation if they only look at rising cases – without realising there is a “significant problem” with healthcare-acquired infections.

image copyrightGetty Images

image captionCases are highest in the North West, North East and Yorkshire and The Humber

The Guardian reports that pubs and bars in areas including Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Nottinghamshire will be ordered to shut – but restaurants will be allowed to stay open. A source tells the paper that the new rules will be reviewed after a month.

The i weekend says the cabinet is “torn” over the new restrictions, with a Whitehall source telling the paper there is a “broad shape of a plan” but it has not been finalised.

The Sun’s leader describes the likely closures as a “bitter pill” for many because the evidence to support the move “looks increasingly dodgy”. It adds that the public will lose faith in health officials who “base policies on flimsy facts”.

“Will Rishi’s rushed return to Furlough be enough to stop mass unemployment?” is the question posed by Huffpost UK. It says while the package to pay 67% of employees’ wages is “welcome”, it “remains unsaid” what people should do to cope with the loss of a third of their income.

The New Statesman describes the chancellor’s new scheme as “the worst of all worlds”, suggesting it is “perverse” not to also provide support for businesses in areas that aren’t forced to close, but whose ability to trade has been hampered by bans on inter-household mixing.

Plans seen by the Guardian reportedly reveal that schools in England will be asked to hold “rigorous” mock exams this winter to avoid a re-run of this summer’s A-level and GCSE “chaos”. The paper says ministers want exam-style invigilation, marking and grades so that they could be used if pupils have had their preparations severely disrupted by coronavirus outbreaks. The Department for Education said it is “committed to exams going ahead” – but unions have called for pupils to be able to choose topics they have studied in sufficient depth.

And finally, the Times reports on problems for game shooters as the RSPB looks set to “take aim” and end its neutrality on the sport. The paper says the charity is concerned that millions of unretrieved game birds are becoming food for foxes, crows and rats – “boosting their numbers”, meaning they are preying on threatened species such as curlews and lapwings. The pro-shooting Countryside Alliance says the RSPB has become “influenced by a small clique… who are obsessive about their dislike of shooting”.

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