The government’s easing of travel restrictions from next month – with a traffic light system for low, medium and high-risk countries – is the lead for most of Saturday’s papers.
The Mail’s headline advises readers that they can “fly out for sun, sea and 70 per cent off”. It says tour operators are offering record discounts for trips to France, Spain, Italy and Greece.
The Matt cartoon in the Telegraph shows a couple at the airport as they prepare to fly off to the Costa del Sol. The man tells his wife what he expects to be doing on holiday: “Breakfast on the terrace, wine with lunch and a siesta in the afternoon. It will be just like working from home”.
And it seems that British holidaymakers trying to book villas for their European summer holiday are facing unusually fierce competition from local people who would normally go abroad – but have decided it’s safer to staycation this year. An agency that manages thousands of villas and holiday homes tells the Telegraph that 35% of its bookings for villas in France have been taken by the French, up from 5% in normal years. According to the paper, villas and holiday homes have grown in popularity this summer because they give families a chance to create “bubbles” minimising the risk of infection that might come with mixing in hotels or campsites.
The Telegraph’s main report says the announcement of the new travel arrangements comes ahead of a week in which the prime minister “will try to focus the nation’s minds on coming out of lockdown and building a post-Covid economy”. According to the paper, Boris Johnson is expected to make a speech in the north of England on Tuesday setting out his plan for getting the country out of recession – with the key themes of jobs, health and homes. The Telegraph says Boris Johnson hopes his speech will “put him firmly back on the front foot after months of crisis management”.
A cartoon in the Financial Times shows Boris Johnson letting people in England out of their home (in this case, a giant snail shell) to be greeted by the new normal – signs telling them to keep their distance, leave their names at restaurants and not to stand at the bar in pubs.
For the Guardian, the lockdown is being relaxed too quickly – and it suggests people have been willing to gather en masse in places like Bournemouth this week because the messaging from the prime minister emphasises the reopening rather than the risks. “It is inexplicable… as to why the government decided to ease restrictions while daily infections are still running into four figures, there is a projected death toll of 20,000 by next April and a largely privatised ‘test, trace, isolate’ system has yet to prove its effectiveness,” it says.
The Telegraph thinks otherwise. It says “the virulence of Covid is waning” and there are more empty hospital beds than in a normal summer. It supports opening up more activities, such as club cricket, gyms and live theatre. If people had more things to do, beaches and parks might be less crowded, it declares.
The Sun warns that the alternative to reopening as much of the economy as possible is “national ruin” – and new flare-ups may well have to be quelled by local lockdowns.
Away from coronavirus, the papers feature pictures of armed police responding to the stabbings in Glasgow.
The attack is the main story for the Scottish papers. The Scotsman has the headline: “Horror at the Park Inn”. The Scottish Daily Mail has a picture of police and ambulance crews outside the hotel. “Bloodbath”, is the headline. The Scotland edition of the Times highlights First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s appeal for calm.
There are many assessments of Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s position following his sacking of the shadow education secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey, for retweeting an article that he said contained anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
Stephen Bush says on the New Statesman website that the row has the potential to make Ms Long-Bailey “an organisational figurehead in parliament for discontent on the left of the party”. But – he adds – Sir Keir has shown that he is “willing to act on the problem” of anti-Semitism, even if that is “ultimately to his cost”.
The Guardian says it’s learned that the education secretary is planning an overhaul of the university admissions arrangements in England. Under the current system, sixth formers apply to university in January using grades predicted by their teachers, before sitting A-levels in late spring and accepting course offers in June. But – the paper says – Gavin Williamson is understood to believe that applying after sitting the exams “would benefit disadvantaged students”, with research suggesting that talented applicants tend to get lower predicted grades than they ultimately achieve.
The Telegraph reports that a head teacher has been suspended after suggesting some of her teachers were sitting at home doing nothing during lockdown. The paper says Pauline Wood is being investigated by the governors of Grange Park Primary in Sunderland for potentially bringing her school into “disrepute” with her comments during an interview on BBC Radio Newcastle. She had described the issue as “the elephant in the room”.
Finally, the Times has a picture of Glastonbury festival organiser Emily Eavis on its front page sitting in an empty field, the deserted Pyramid stage in the background. She should have been welcoming some 210,000 people this week for the festival’s 50th anniversary. Instead – she tells the paper in an interview – “nature’s having an amazing party”. “The cows are out and happy… There’s lots of deer, lots of rabbits. Hares. The hedgehogs have bounced back,” she says. But Ms Eavis adds that people will be holding their own festivals at home this weekend – watching highlights from previous years on the BBC and coming together online. They have been sending her pictures of tents going up in gardens, along with fairy lights, bars, and even stages. “It’s probably going to be the biggest festival we have ever had”, she says.