image captionMany of the newspapers focus on the planned five-day relaxation of rules over Christmas, due to begin next week. The Daily Express’s headline quotes Prime Minister Boris Johnson who, in a press conference on Wednesday, himself quoted a well-known Christmas song when he urged people to “have yourselves a merry little Christmas and, this year, I do mean little”. The paper says Mr Johnson urged people to “exercise extreme caution” when they get together with families.
image captionThe Daily Telegraph also chooses the same quote in its headline, emphasising the word “little”. Mr Johnson “refused to bow to pressure to change laws” but issued updated government guidance, the paper says. The Telegraph also looks ahead to later today, when Health Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to announce whether any more areas in England will be moving up to tier three.
image captionThe Metro quotes Mr Johnson as telling people that five days was a “maximum, not a target”. The paper points out that Wales and Scotland have gone “their own way” by issuing further guidance, with the Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford tightening the law to allow two households to meet, rather than three.
image captionThe Daily Mirror is critical of the PM over his decision not to reverse the five-day relaxation – with its headline calling him “coward”. “He won’t change the law and wants you to take blame for killer third wave,” the paper says, after Mr Johnson urged people to “think hard” before meeting friends and family and take “personal responsibility” over household mixing.
image captionFor the Sun the new advice is “madcap” and “crackers”, as it reports that families were urged to celebrate Christmas outside “if granny is joining”. “Looks like mum’s gone to Iceland,” says a caption on its front page, next to a picture of a frozen turkey. The paper adds that Mr Johnson urged extreme caution as virus cases soar.
image captionMr Johnson’s warning was “stark”, says the Guardian, which points out the comments about Christmas came with less than a week to go before the planned relaxation of rules is due to start on 23 December. The paper says the more cautious tone is reflected in the updated government guidance, which says forming Christmas household bubbles should be done only “if you feel you absolutely need to”.
image captionThe Daily Mail describes the PM’s latest comments on Christmas as a “partial U-turn”, and that families have been asked to “drastically cut back” their Christmas plans. The government’s chief medical adviser Professor Chris Whitty went further, the paper says, warning that family get-togethers would cost lives. Mr Johnson also warned against Boxing Day sales shopping.
image captionThe i newspaper picks out Mr Johnson’s call for families not to stay away from home overnight over Christmas. It also highlights the “splits” between the UK nations, and suggests that the Christmas messaging “risked confusion”, as what is legally allowed is different from the official advice.
image captionThe Times focuses on Mr Johnson’s advice for the over-70s, who were told that “the safest approach may be not to form a Christmas bubble”. It also highlights the guidance in England for people to start isolating from Friday if they are planning to see relatives over the festive season. And it cites polling from YouGov that suggests three quarters of people do not intend to travel for Christmas.
image captionThe Daily Star calls the advice “crackers”, as it pictures a family of six wearing masks at the dinner table. But its top story is not on coronavirus. Instead, it reports on Prince Harry and Meghan, who have signed a deal with Spotify to produce and host podcasts. The paper is critical, asking Spotify when “the rest of us” can get paid £30m “to bore on”.