The government’s extension of lockdown conditions for another three weeks receives varying degrees of support in the press.
The Sun’s leader column says the decision “seems fair” while it remains unclear how successful the battle against the pandemic is going, but insists it is important to review the measures “every day”.
However, it argues it is “vital” that Britain endures what it calls “our virtual house arrest” only once.
The Daily Mirror agrees that another few weeks of social distancing “is a price worth paying” if it saves lives, but warns the extension will require more sacrifices for many people.
“The country has shown remarkable resilience so far”, it says, and “if ministers want that to continue they need to say what the exit strategy entails”.
And the Guardian’s leader column says the decision to extend was “correct”, before warning: “We need to start getting used to the idea that parts of the economy, some demographic groups and maybe some regions will be subject to different levels of control.”
The Daily Mail says ministers are discussing ordering the use of protective equipment in the workplace and on public transport, to allow what the paper calls “a widespread return to normality”.
A cabinet source is quoted as saying the UK “won’t want to be too far behind” other countries such as Germany which are easing their lockdowns “but everyone accepts, including industry, that social distancing will have to continue for many months”.
French President Emmanuel Macron argues the case for the EU to help economies worst-hit by the pandemic, such as Italy, in an interview with the Financial Times.
He says there is “no choice” but to set up a fund that could issue common debt with a common guarantee, in order to finance member states according to their needs, rather than the size of their economies.
He argues the EU faces a “moment of truth” in deciding whether it is more than just a single economic market, and warns that a lack of solidarity during the pandemic is likely to fuel populist anger in southern Europe.
‘United the nation’
Photographs of Captain Tom Moore are featured on most front pages and websites, after the 99-year-old completed 100 laps of his garden yesterday morning to raise more than £17m for the NHS.
Huffpost UK says the “heart-lifting moment” has seen the war veteran become “a national hero”, while the Daily Express highlights his “inspiring” promise that “the sun will shine again” when the pandemic is over.
The Sun says Captain Tom has “united the nation during this new war” and, with a reference to his surname, it demands one “Moore” medal for the former army officer.
Hopes that Britain can achieve widespread immunity to the virus by the end of the lockdown “were dealt a devastating blow yesterday”, according to the Daily Telegraph.
It quotes research suggesting only a small proportion of the population may have acquired resistance to the disease. The paper says a former British director of the World Health Organisation will highlight the study when he delivers a highly critical appraisal of how the government has handled the pandemic to a Commons committee today.
Professor Anthony Costello will warn the failure to conduct widespread testing has left Britain facing “eight to 10 waves” of coronavirus, the paper reports.
In such a scenario, the Telegraph says, “both the death toll and economic consequences would be catastrophic”.
The Independent website says Health Secretary Matt Hancock lost his temper on Thursday morning during a series of fractious interviews about the government’s response to the pandemic.
It says he was “visibly frustrated” during a “heated clash” on ITV, before taking listeners by surprise by “lashing out” on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
The Mirror’s leader column says the health secretary felt the questions “were beginning to irritate the public”. But it argues that action might not have been taken had the media not highlighted how care homes were “hotbeds” for the virus.
A free press, the paper concludes, “means asking hard questions of ministers who stand accused of having failed to protect the people they are there to serve”.
There are reports that home coronavirus swab tests, delivered by Amazon, are being trialled as a way out of the lockdown.
The Times understands a pilot involving key workers is beginning this week, with the aim of completing the process within 48 hours.
According to the Mail, Mr Hancock is under mounting pressure over the UK’s testing regime, after he claimed there had been lower-than-expected demand for checks over the Easter weekend.
The paper quotes healthcare and union sources the health secretary’s claim could be a “fig leaf” to cover up testing failures.
Finally, the Economist considers whether the pandemic will be remembered as a geopolitical turning-point away from America.
It says President Trump seems to have no interest in leading the global response to the virus, giving China a chance to enhance its sway.
The Economist argues an unconstrained China “is not a comforting prospect” and warns that “the 1920s showed what happens when great powers turn selfish and rush to take advantage of the troubles of others”.