image caption“Back in the pub garden for Easter!” the Mail on Sunday declares, reporting on the prime minister’s road map for easing lockdown, due to be unveiled on 22 February. The paper says the hospitality industry is likely to be allowed to reopen on 30 or 31 March for outdoor drinking or dining, but that the 10pm curfew and “substantial meal” requirement to order drinks will be abandoned.
image captionPicnics and coffee in the park will be back on the agenda from 8 March, the Sunday Telegraph reports, with one-to-one outdoor meetings or gatherings outside with your own household the first activities to be allowed. The paper says ministers are planning a “carrot and stick” approach where local areas could be locked down in the event of a major outbreak or a new variant – similar to the response to outbreaks in Australia.
image captionPrime Minister Boris Johnson will announce next week that all school children will return to the classroom on 8 March, the Sunday Times reports, saying the plan to lift lockdown is “cautious” but “puts pupils first”. But the paper quotes the leader of one of the largest academy chains saying bringing all pupils back on the same day would be “impossible”.
image caption“This must be the final lockdown” is the headline on the Sunday Express, which reports the demand from 63 Tory MPs who have told the prime minister that all lockdown restrictions must end by May. The paper says their intervention comes as the government expects to meet its mid-February target for vaccinating the most vulnerable by passing 15.2 million doses this weekend.
image captionAs it is Valentine’s Day, the Sunday Mirror draws comparisons between the government hitting its target on vaccinations and Cupid’s arrow finding its mark. Under the headline “Love is… 15 million vaccinations”, the paper says 80% of the most vulnerable groups are protected.
image captionBut the Observer says one of the key figures behind the UK’s vaccination effort – Prof Sarah Gilbert, who led the team developing the Oxford jab – has criticised the UK’s pandemic plan. She said the UK failed to respond to warnings about potential new viruses, took too long to recognise that Covid-19 was spread through the air, and was too slow in setting up the vaccine manufacturing centre in Oxfordshire, which will only be completed at the end of the year.
image captionThe Daily Star – which promises a “relationship-saving Valentine card inside” for those who forgot – tackles a very different subject on its front page, criticising the Army for having “hero dogs” put down instead of rehoming them after their service. The paper says 1,200 of the animals have been killed and quotes an SAS trooper who says they had saved the lives of a lot of soldiers.
image captionAnd an animal welfare story also leads the Sunday People under the headline “Wicked game”. The paper reports on a Briton offering hunting trips in Africa where he says the Covid crisis has meant there are “plenty of animals to slaughter” – as the People phrases it.