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The Papers: ‘Jabs for freedom by Easter’ and ‘schools chaos’

The Papers: 'Jabs for freedom by Easter' and 'schools chaos' thumbnail

By BBC NewsStaffPublishedduration1 hour agoimage captionThe UK will open up “by Easter” says the Times which reports Boris Johnson’s pledge following the approval of the Oxford vaccine. The paper says at least two million people a week will receive a jab – with a 30 million target by the end of May 2021. It adds…

By BBC News
Staff

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image captionThe UK will open up “by Easter” says the Times which reports Boris Johnson’s pledge following the approval of the Oxford vaccine. The paper says at least two million people a week will receive a jab – with a 30 million target by the end of May 2021. It adds that work to secure enough supplies to follow through with the promise is under way.
image captionThe Daily Telegraph says the Oxford jab could “stave off full lockdown” in England. The paper reports Mr Johnson as saying that not only is there light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel itself “has been shortened and we are moving faster through it”. But the Telegraph notes that a million primary pupils in England will need to stay at home next month as “sweeping” school closures are enforced.

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image caption“School chaos” is how the Guardian sees it. The paper says classrooms in the worst-hit areas of England will remain closed for at least two weeks from Monday. It highlights criticism of what it describes as the government’s “fractured approach” to the start of the new school term.
image captionThe Daily Star awards Education Secretary Gavin Williamson a “C minus” – saying he left “us all scratching our heads!!” The paper claims pupils were told to check the internet to see if they have to return to classrooms next week. Meanwhile, the Star’s most eye-catching – and outrageous – front pages from the year are printed in a special pullout.
image captionThe UK is in a “very dangerous situation” in its battle against coronavirus, says the FT. The paper reports that evidence of the rapid spread of the new virus variant “took the edge off” the approval of the Oxford vaccine. It says questions have been raised over plans to deploy it – and whether the virus can be outpaced.
image caption“One giant hope for mankind” says the Sun which depicts a needle carrying the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine blasting skyward like a rocket. The paper says 44 million people in England are now under the toughest tier measures – and it notes Wednesday’s daily UK death toll of 981.
image caption“Two giant leaps to freedom” says the Daily Mail, as the paper links Wednesday’s main news events – the passage of the UK-EU trade deal through Parliament and the approval of the Oxford vaccine. The “historic day” saw the Brexit legislation pass before the 23:00 GMT deadline – and the jab approval provided hope for millions, the paper adds.
image captionThere will be enough doses of the two approved vaccines for everyone who wants one, reports the i paper. It says Health Secretary Matt Hancock is “highly confident” the pandemic will end by the spring. But health experts warn of “over-optimism”, it adds.
image captionThe Daily Mirror reports the sombre news that the UK recorded its highest daily death toll since April on Wednesday. The paper says “another grim day” also saw 20 million more people in England move into tier four. “It’s always darkest before the dawn…” is its headline as it notes the approval of the Oxford jab.
image caption“Grim… but light at the end of the tunnel” is how the Daily Express reports the daily death toll and the approval of the Oxford vaccine. Elsewhere, the paper predicts the UK’s final exit from the EU customs union and single market will be the UK’s “finest hour”.

Many of Thursday’s front pages describe a momentous and historic day for the UK.

“Two giant leaps to freedom” reads the headline in the Daily Mail, which says the approval of both the Oxford Covid vaccine and the Brexit trade deal herald “a new dawn for Britain”.

The Sun adopts a similar tone. It depicts the new jab as a rocket blasting into space, emblazoned with the Union Jack, as the headline declares: “One giant hope for mankind.”

The Times says the jab will bring “freedom by Easter”. The paper reports that the NHS is aiming to vaccinate almost 30 million people before the end of May – with a shift in focus meaning they’ll administer as many first jabs as possible, before concentrating on the follow up injections.

But the Guardian reports that the makers of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine have raised concerns about the changes. The paper says they cannot guarantee its sustained protection, if the second dose is given more than 21 days after the first.

For most of the papers, the hope offered by the vaccine is tempered by the reality of the days and weeks ahead.

For the Daily Mirror, Wednesday was “a day of despair and hope”, with the Oxford vaccine approved shortly before the largest daily death toll since April was announced.

“It’s always darkest before the dawn” reads the headline, above a photograph showing ambulances lined up outside Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. With hospitals struggling to cope and 20 million people moved into the toughest tier four restrictions, it was, says the paper, “another grim day”.

‘Major reversal’

The Daily Telegraph says Britain’s in a race to roll out the vaccines to stave off a third national lockdown. It describes the decision to keep secondary schools and many primaries in England closed as “a major reversal by the government” which will “raise fresh questions about whether exams will go ahead as normal in the summer.”

Boris Johnson is pictured signing the Brexit trade deal at Downing Street on many of the front pages. The Guardian shows him holding aloft the massive leather-bound 1,200-page document – after MPs approved the fast-tracked legislation.

The Daily Express declares that the end of the transition period at 23:00 GMT will mark “Our finest hour” and “a time to come together as a country”. “Regardless of how anyone voted in 2016”, says the paper, “it’s time to unite in pursuit of a fairer, healthier and more prosperous future.”

The Sun notes that all of England’s pubs are now shut – with the exception of those on the Isles of Scilly, which remains in tier one.

The paper reports that some social media users have suggested it could be the only place to enjoy a proper New Year’s Eve – but says the islands have been quick to point out that they are closed to tourists.

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