Sunday’s papers are dominated by alleged failings in the UK’s test and trace policy, plus the impact Dominic Cummings’ lockdown trip to County Durham has had on public confidence in the government as restrictions ease.
Going through newly-released papers from the government’s scientific advisory group, Sage, The Sunday Telegraph reveals that the government abandoned routine testing and contact tracing in March because Public Health England was struggling to keep up with demand.
The paper also runs an article by the government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, in a defence of the Prime Minister’s right to decide when and how the lockdown will end.
The paper says Sir Patrick’s intervention came as Boris Johnson was faced with a growing revolt from other scientists, who think he is easing restrictions too quickly.
The Observer leads on a letter from 26 scientists and public health experts, warning that public trust in the government’s coronavirus strategy has been “shattered” by the actions of Mr Cummings.
The letter – which was sent to No 10 on Friday – says the PM’s chief aide’s refusal to resign, and Mr Johnson’s refusal to sack him, “could put lives at risk” as the lockdown measures change this week, while expecting continued public compliance.
In what the paper describes as an “extraordinary intervention”, the group also casts doubt on the effectiveness of the government’s test and trace system – leaving the experts “very concerned” for the safety of the public.
The Mail on Sunday says Mr Johnson has issued a “stern rebuke” to his chief adviser, and has warned him he “will not tolerate another media firestorm”.
He has been given “one last chance” the paper says – and has been told to stay out of the public eye.
The paper also claims that former teacher Robin Lees, who alerted police to Mr Cummings’ movements, allegedly broke lockdown rules himself. Mr Lees denies this, saying he complied with the relevant rules at the time.
The Mail on Sunday claims that a man who said he saw Mr Cummings in Durham on 19 April, doctored the details on an app used by runners to record routes and times. The Mail reports Mr Matthews said he did see Mr Cummings, but cannot be certain when.
“Taste of freedom” is the headline in the Sunday Express – which leads on new advice for more than two million people shielding at home, who’ve been told they can go outside from Monday.
In its editorial, the Sunday Mirror says the easing of restrictions for all is an “important milestone” in the UK’s recovery – but with “lives and livelihoods at risk”, the paper hopes the government has not let politics influence its decision.
A report in the Sunday Times says one in five A-level grades awarded to teenagers this summer could be inaccurate. Teachers will use an emergency marking system, after exams were cancelled because of coronavirus.
The paper says modelling for the regulator, Ofqual, suggests the system will favour “conformist” pupils and penalise “mavericks”, who do better when they sit exams than teachers predict.
The return of competitive sport is welcomed by many of the papers – with the Sunday Mirror suggesting a limited number of spectators could be allowed at the FA Cup Final at Wembley in August.