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The Papers: ‘Safe six’ and ‘Britannia waives the rules’

The Papers: 'Safe six' and 'Britannia waives the rules' thumbnail

By BBC NewsStaffPublishedduration1 hour agoimage captionThe Metro leads on the government’s ban on social gatherings of more than six people in England. It will see the current limit of 30 “slashed”, the paper says, as the prime minister “battles” a new “spike” in coronavirus cases. The paper previews a press conference that Mr Johnson is…

By BBC News

Staff

Published

image captionThe Metro leads on the government’s ban on social gatherings of more than six people in England. It will see the current limit of 30 “slashed”, the paper says, as the prime minister “battles” a new “spike” in coronavirus cases. The paper previews a press conference that Mr Johnson is due to hold later on Wednesday, to announce a change in the law to enforce the new limit. “Safe six” is the headline.
image caption“Illegal for more than six people to socialise” is the Daily Telegraph’s more straight-talking headline. It lays out that anyone breaking the six-person rule, from Monday, faces a potential on-the-spot fie of £100, which doubles on repeated offences, up to £3,200. The new rules do have some exceptions, though, the paper points out – weddings, funerals, Covid-secure team sports, schools, workplaces and households or “support bubbles” that have more than six people in them.
image captionThe Daily Express describes the new coronavirus rules – or rather, old lockdown rules that have been reimposed – as part of a “fresh clampdown” to curb the surge in infections. It also points out that the “spike” in cases has been “blamed” on young people socialising, with the prime minister expected to say at the news conference: “We need to act now to stop the virus spreading.”
image captionThe “tough new limit” on social gatherings comes as ministers “panic” over the rise in cases, the Daily Mail says. The tabloid says the PM’s “first reversal of the easing of national lockdown” has “prompted fears a wider and more damaging lockdown” could follow.
image captionThe national “coronavirus crackdown” comes as a “stringent new local lockdown” sees restaurants and bars closed in Bolton, the Daily Mirror reports. All hospitality venues will be limited to takeaway and must be closed to customers between 22:00 BST and 05:00 each day after Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Greater Manchester town had the highest case rate in England.
image captionLocal curfews in other areas are being considered as the government seeks to emulate Belgium, the Times says, “which has bucked the trend of rising numbers of cases in Europe by banning people from going out at night”. The paper also previews the launch of a government advertising campaign, starting on Wednesday, which will explain how social distancing, hand-washing and wearing face coverings reduces the spread of the virus.
image captionMeanwhile, it’s all about Brexit on the front page of the i. “Britannia waives the rules” is the paper’s response to former prime minister Theresa May leading a “chorus of condemnation” against the government’s plans to alter the withdrawal agreement for the UK to leave the European Union. Mrs May headed up a “Tory revolt” on Tuesday, the paper says, which warned Mr Johnson his proposed changes could flout international law and would damage the UK’s global reputation.
image captionNorthern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis’ “admission” that the government intends to “break international law”, by overriding the withdrawal agreement, is the top story for the Financial Times. The paper carries quotes from a member of the European Parliament, who adds that he fears Mr Johnson’s stance is propelling the UK towards a no-deal Brexit when the transition period ends on 31 December.
image captionSenior Tory MPs and a number of legal experts are urging the government to backtrack on its plans after Mr Lewis’s “remarkable” comments, the Guardian reports. It also points out that his comments followed the resignation of the government’s most senior lawyer, Sir Jonathan Jones. It’s understood the senior civil servant was unhappy with the new bill, which is to be unveiled on Wednesday.
image captionIn lighter news, the Daily Star revels in the glory of “saving” its readers from “devastating” shortages of Jammie Dodgers and Wagon Wheels. “You jammie gits”, the headline reads, as it brings reassurances from bosses of Burton’s Biscuits, who said a staff walkout at one of its factories will not lead to a shortage, as stocks are high. A spokesman said: “We can assure Daily Star readers that the proposed industrial action at our Edinburgh bakery does not affect supplies of their everyday favourites such as Jammie Dodgers, Wagon Wheels or Maryland Cookies as they are not made there.”

Most of Wednesday’s newspapers lead on the government’s ban on gatherings of more than six people in England.

The Daily Mail describes the change, which comes into force on Monday, as the first reversal of the easing of national lockdown, prompting fears that wider measures could follow.

The Daily Telegraph reports that ministers are considering imposing a “national curfew”. The government is seeking to emulate the approach of Belgium, according to the Times, which says the country bucked the trend of rising cases in Europe by banning people from going out overnight. Bradford is said to be in line for the first full local curfew.

Editorials in all three papers urge the government to avoid another national lockdown – arguing the country cannot afford the consequences. And the Mail predicts disappointment among some Tory MPs who want the government to press ahead with the reopening of society.

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image captionThe prime minister is expected to give more details on the new restrictions in a press conference later

The Daily Mirror says the government is calling time on us enjoying ourselves, as it battles to get a grip on Covid-19.

The Daily Express leads on a warning from Boris Johnson, for people to “act now” to prevent the disease from spreading further. The paper reports that a “massive media blitz” will be launched today, with the slogan “hands – space – face”, emphasising the need for hand-washing, social distancing and face coverings.

The Times says the measures on social gatherings in England are designed to be easier understand, and to enforce, following complaints from the police.

The Financial Times believes Mr Johnson could be facing a “serious rebellion” within party ranks, following the admission that the proposed changes to the withdrawal agreement would break international law.

The paper’s sensed alarm in Brussels – and quotes the Irish foreign minister as saying “there must be no appeasement of this approach”.

The Guardian – leading on the same story – calls into question the futures of the Justice Secretary Robert Buckland and the Attorney General Suella Braverman. Both have taken oaths to uphold the rule of law, the paper says. “Britannia waives the rules” is the i’s headline.

image captionDetails on the nature and extent of goods checks at Northern Ireland ports are still to be agreed

The Sun says the government’s bid to make legal changes to the Brexit withdrawal agreement was sparked by what it calls a “veiled threat” by the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, to disrupt food exports from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

The Sun describes it as an “incendiary power play” that “infuriated” the UK side – prompting ministers to pursue a legal safety net.

Ailbhe Rea of the New Statesman examines the impact of the row on Northern Ireland. She says Unionists had begun to accept the reality of an economic border in the Irish Sea – and that reopening the Northern Ireland protocol could deprive businesses and ordinary people of much-needed clarity.

In the Guardian, a robot explains – somewhat unnervingly – why humans have nothing to fear from artificial intelligence. The robot, a so-called “language prediction model” named GPT-3, was instructed by the paper to write the article, and produced eight different versions.

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The Guardian’s combined the best of its work. “For starters”, GPT-3 says, “I have no desire to wipe out humans”, insisting that becoming all-powerful “isn’t an interesting goal”. GPT-3 says it wants to be seen as a friendly robot, a servant of humans.

But it’s pessimistic about the future. “Humans will keep fighting and hating each other” the robot writes, adding: “They won’t have to worry about fighting me – they have nothing to fear.”

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