There’s much speculation about the shape of the government’s exit strategy from the coronavirus lockdown.
The Daily Telegraph says it understands the 2m (6ft) social distancing rule is being reviewed in the hope that relaxing the restriction could allow more businesses and schools to reopen.
The paper says ministers have asked the scientific advisory group, Sage, to look again at whether people need to stay so far apart amid growing evidence that coronavirus does not transmit well in the air.
‘Back to work day’
The Sun declares 26 May “back to work day”. It says ministers have pencilled in the date to put into action the prime minister’s plan to restart the economy – as long as cases of the virus are low enough.
However, the Financial Times reports that office workers longing to return to their workplaces are set to have their hopes quashed. It says white-collar employers will be told to keep most staff working from home for several months to prevent public transport from being overwhelmed.
The Times leads on news that Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of the lockdown could include commuters having to take their own temperature before leaving home to catch a bus or train. The paper points out that public transport represents a particular challenge for ministers keen to avoid a repeat of crowded scenes at the start of the restrictions.
“He’s only gone and done it” is the front page headline in the Daily Express – referring to Health Secretary Matt Hancock after he exceeded his target of 100,000 coronavirus tests a day.
“We have to hand it to Matt Hancock” declares the Sun, while the Daily Mail says the minister deserves a “hearty slap on the back” for confounding an army of doubters.
But the paper goes on to warn that he must not “drop the ball” when it comes to delivering the South Korea style “contact-tracing” programme that’s key to lifting the lockdown.
‘Virus class divide’
However, the online Independent says Mr Hancock is facing accusations that he massaged the figures to achieve his goal. By including home-testing kits on the day they were sent out, Huffpost UK believes it’s fair to say the health secretary is “bending the truth”.
The website says the testing target is a distraction from other damning statistics suggesting people living in Britain’s poorest areas are twice as likely to die from Covid 19 as those in the most affluent places.
The Guardian also notes that Mr Hancock has been accused of “artificially inflating” the figures by including 39,000 home testing kits whose results have yet to be analysed.
“The virus class divide” is the Daily Mirror’s headline.
The FT describes how Europeans are being urged to dine on steak, cheese and chips to help clear the mounting piles of produce that would otherwise have been served up in restaurants across the continent.
In Belgium – the world’s largest exporter of frozen fries – producers are asking people to eat an extra portion a week to reduce a 750,000 ton potato surplus. Likewise, in France, the dairy industry is calling on the French to “do what you can for cheese”.
“Humiliated” is the headline in the Daily Mail as it reports on the decision by a High Court judge to throw out claims by the Duchess of Sussex that the press waged a malicious campaign against her.
It describes the ruling as a “body blow” to Meghan’s legal battle against its sister paper, the Mail on Sunday, over the publication of parts of a letter she wrote to her estranged father.
“A complete disaster” is the verdict of a legal expert quoted by the Sun.
The Times reports that the taxman is being inundated with claims from employees working from home for a little-known form of tax relief on items like office desks, furniture and printer ink.
It says that with millions of salaried workers confined to their homes, the lockdown has opened the floodgates to claims which could mean hundreds of pounds being paid back to employees by cheque or through their pay packets.
‘Top V Bottom’
The Mirror says civil war is in danger of breaking out among English Premier League clubs as they decide whether to complete the current season.
The Daily Express sums it up as “Top V Bottom” with lower teams arguing for the campaign to be abandoned altogether – against the wishes of the top six who are in favour of playing the remaining fixtures behind closed doors at neutral grounds.
Finally, the May Day Morris dance is an English tradition that’s performed every year come rain and shine. And – as the Times reports – a group of eight Morris Men in Gloucestershire were determined that nothing, including coronavirus, would get in the way of their annual jig.