image captionMany of the front pages look at how coronavirus restrictions could be eased in the coming months, with the Daily Telegraph reporting that pubs and restaurants could reopen as soon as April. The paper says a temporary “booze ban” is one of the options being discussed as part of the government’s roadmap for lifting lockdown – although a government source has said “we are not going to open pubs that can’t sell booze”.
image captionMeanwhile, the Guardian says the education secretary is drawing up plans for a phased return of students to universities in England from 8 March. Final years studying practical subjects would return to face-to-face teaching first but vice-chancellors are warning many students are unlikely to be back on campus before the summer, the paper reports.
image captionThe Daily Mirror sees “a ray of sunlight” ahead, as it reports that “vaccine passports” could allow people in the UK to enjoy holidays abroad this summer. The paper says a study suggesting the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab is effective against the new coronavirus variant which is now dominant in the UK is “further good news”.
image caption“Here we go! Summer hols on cards”, is the headline for the Daily Express, which says Europe’s hotspots have “signalled a welcome return for Britons”. Greece predicts UK tourists could start returning by May, while Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and Malta also raised hopes of opening their doors, the paper reports.
image captionIn more positive news, the i says the UK is on track for every adult to get a coronavirus jab by the end of June. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has told ministers it can deliver 100 million doses on schedule, with enough to give a first dose to all adults and a second jab to 15 million people in vulnerable groups, the paper reports, although it says supply disruption is still possible.
image captionThe Financial Times reports that Chancellor Rishi Sunak will allow small businesses that borrowed money under the government’s bounceback loan scheme to spread repayments over a much longer period. The paper says the move seeks to allay fears of widespread failures among businesses who may struggle to repay the loans while the impact of the pandemic on the economy continues to be felt.
image captionAway from the pandemic, the Daily Mail has seen a leaked briefing which it says exposes the “calamitous state” of the British Army. The Ministry of Defence report reveals that all but one of its 33 infantry battalions are dangerously short of combat-ready troops, according to the Mail.
image captionThe Times reports that ministers are planning to “seize control of the NHS”, with laws to block the closure of hospitals and overrule bosses. Powers to put fluoride in water to cut tooth decay, impose health warnings on sausages and order the NHS to prevent obesity will be among those handed to government under the plans, according to the paper.
image captionFinally, the Daily Star leads with the video of a heated parish council meeting which went viral after descending into chaos. “Is this the best parish council meeting in the world ever?” the paper asks, saying the “bombshell” meeting was a far cry from usual discussions of “potholes, pavements and dog poo”.