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The Papers: ‘Lockdown 3’ and ‘race to vaccinate vulnerable’

The Papers: 'Lockdown 3' and 'race to vaccinate vulnerable' thumbnail

By BBC NewsStaffPublishedduration1 hour agoimage captionAnother national lockdown in England is the focus of all of Tuesday’s front pages. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that everyone in the country must stay at home except for permitted reasons during a new coronavirus lockdown expected to last until mid-February. The i newspaper brands it “Lockdown 3:…

By BBC News
Staff

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image captionAnother national lockdown in England is the focus of all of Tuesday’s front pages. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that everyone in the country must stay at home except for permitted reasons during a new coronavirus lockdown expected to last until mid-February. The i newspaper brands it “Lockdown 3: the worst sequel yet”.
image captionAll schools and colleges in England will close to most pupils and switch to remote learning from Tuesday, hours after they were reopened, the Metro newspaper reports. In a TV address on Monday, the prime minister told the country it was at a “pivotal moment” with record numbers of infections, the paper adds. Elsewhere in the UK, Wales said schools and colleges would shut until 18 January for most pupils, while schools in Northern Ireland will have an “extended period of remote learning”, the Stormont Executive said.
image captionThe PM announced the move to prevent the NHS from becoming overwhelmed by the “rising flood” of Covid-19 cases, the Times reports. It adds that Mr Johnson said the lockdown would become law in the early hours of Wednesday, and the House of Commons has been recalled to allow MPs to vote on the new restrictions on the same day. However, people were asked to follow the new rules immediately. A separate front page story reports on the “race against time to vaccinate the vulnerable”.
image captionThe Telegraph leads with Mr Johnson’s warning that “the weeks ahead will be the hardest yet”. But it adds that the PM set out a timetable for the NHS to offer vaccines to all care home residents and their carers, everyone aged 70 and over, all frontline health and social care workers, and the clinically extremely vulnerable by mid-February. This could allow for the easing of restrictions, the PM said, although he warned people should “remain cautious” about timings.
image captionThe Guardian splashes with an image of the prime minister moments after addressing the nation on the latest restrictions from inside Downing Street. The paper notes Mr Johnson’s message to parents after introducing school closures a day after urging children to return to classrooms. “I completely understand the inconvenience and distress this late change will cause,” he said.
image captionMeanwhile, the Daily Mail declares “it’s back to square one” after news of the latest lockdown. It describes the new measures as “the most draconian since the spring lockdown”. Also under the new rules, end-of-year exams will not take place as normal, and outdoor sports venues must close. Amateur team sports are not allowed.
image caption“One last push”, declares the Sun, in reference to the prime minister’s hope that the country is entering “the last phase of the struggle”. The paper estimates that 13 million people will be offered a vaccination by 15 February.
image captionThe Daily Express leads with hope that vaccines will end the “struggle” against coronavirus. The paper also reports that 13 million people could get jabs in the coming weeks.
image captionThe Daily Mirror uses its front page to criticise the government’s handling of the Covid crisis. “Once again, it’s down to us,” the paper cries, adding that the PM – in closing schools – has made “yet another U-turn”. But it says that there was a “glimmer of hope” on Monday after the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was given to Britain’s first patient.
image captionAnd finally, the Daily Star runs an image of the prime minister dressed Vicky Pollard, a Little Britain character known for saying “yeah, but no, but”. It describes him as “indecisive PM Bozo Johnson” and headlines the paper: “PM finally makes up mind about lockdown 3.”

The front pages all lead with Boris Johnson’s decision to put England into a new lockdown.

“It’s back to Square One” suggests the Daily Mail, describing the measures as “the most draconian” since last spring.

The Daily Telegraph understands the “tipping point” for the prime minister came on Monday, when he was told more than 80,000 people in the UK had tested positive for coronavirus on 29 December.

The Guardian says the crackdown comes amid “catastrophic figures” for hospital admissions in England and warnings of a “grim death toll” by the end of the month.

The Financial Times cites John Edmunds, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, warning that it was now “baked in” that the UK’s Covid death toll would exceed 100,000.

image copyrightPA Media

image captionThe prime minister announced the latest measures in a televised address on Monday

The Daily Mirror describes the lockdown as “yet another U-turn” by the prime minister. It accuses the government of “shameful bungling, indecision and weakness” which, once again, it says, means it’s down to the public to show “strength, self-sacrifice and kindness”.

The Metro calls it “Lockdown Number 3”, explaining that it’s now “against the law” to leave home other than for essential reasons – in fact, England’s new rules only become law early on Wednesday.

The Financial Times says Mr Johnson’s “sharp switch in position” has resulted in “the immediate closure” of all schools until mid-February.

The Guardian reminds readers that it was just hours since the prime minister urged millions of pupils to return to classrooms – but they now have to switch to online learning. It highlights Mr Johnson’s admission that parents would “reasonably ask why we did not make this decision sooner”.

The Daily Telegraph points to the prime minister’s explanation that he wasn’t closing schools because they were unsafe – but because they were “vectors” of the virus.

The Daily Express describes the new lockdown as “tough” but says 13 million people are set to be vaccinated “in weeks”, declaring that the vaccine “will end the struggle”.

The i newspaper says shielding has been reintroduced as Mr Johnson “bows to scientific advisers”, and the PM believes that by mid-February – “if things go well” – all care home residents, carers, over-70s, frontline medics, social care workers and clinically vulnerable people should be vaccinated.

The Times describes the plan as a “race against time”, while the Sun calls for “one last push” following the decision to “shut Britain again” – quoting the PM’s words that “we are entering the last phase of the struggle”.

The Daily Star pokes fun at Mr Johnson’s indecisiveness – super-imposing his face onto the Little Britain character, Vicky Pollard, and splashing her “yeh but no but yeh” catchphrase over its front page.

The paper says the prime minister “finally made up his mind” to put the country into lockdown and shut classrooms, just a day after assuring the nation that schools were safe.

The Daily Telegraph’s “Matt” cartoon pictures an elderly man gazing out of the window of his living room, saying: “Now a ghastly South African strain of Covid and EVEN tougher restrictions. God, I miss 2020!”

image copyrightPA Media

image captionParents were urged to send children back to schools on Monday

Meanwhile, the PM’s decision-making – or therein lack of – is fair game for many of the papers’ editorial and comment pieces.

For the Guardian, John Crace accuses the prime minister of being “pathologically unable to make the right calls at the right time”, and his indecision, he says, costs lives. The sketch writer believes that “like clockwork”, the government does “what most reasonable people would have done” several weeks earlier.

And in the i, Oliver Duff claims that Covid-19 “thrives on indecision”. He thinks teachers, students and parents are justified in feeling angry about what he says was Mr Johnson’s “amateurish” decision to urge pupils to return to schools across the country, only to close them hours later.

But the Telegraph’s editorial praises Mr Johnson for being “commendably reluctant” to put the country “into hibernation” – and the inevitable negative knock-on effects – arguing that earlier lockdowns in other parts of the UK and other countries have “made no difference”.

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