image captionSeveral papers lead with Boris Johnson’s warning that the Indian coronavirus variant could delay the end of lockdown. The Daily Mail carries comments from the prime minister, who said there was a “real risk” the plan to lift all restrictions in June could be threatened. While the next step will go ahead on Monday, over-50s will have their second jab fast-tracked, cut from 12 weeks to eight – signalling the government’s anxiety over the situation, according to the paper.
image caption“Threat to 21 June end of lockdown” is the headline on the front of the i weekend. The PM has shocked the public by warning there will be “tough choices” ahead if the mutation spreads much faster, the paper reports. Meanwhile, passengers arriving in the UK from India have told the paper of airport failures on quarantine and social distancing.
image caption“Threat to freedom day” is the headline on the front of the Daily Mirror, as the paper also leads with the PM’s warnings. Cases of the Indian Covid variant have nearly tripled in the past week, Public Health England figures show.
image captionThe prime minister warned the nation faces “hard choices” due to the potential impact the Indian variant could have on reopening plans, the Times reports. From Monday, people in England will be able to mix indoors and physical contact will be permitted, but scientists say that the lifting of measures could lead to a substantial rise in the number of hospital admissions, the paper adds. Separately, Portugal, Italy and Greece are set to open their borders to British tourists.
image captionNew coronavirus cases involving the Indian variant have more than doubled in a week, the Daily Telegraph reports, from 520 to 1,313 cross the UK. London and the North West have seen the biggest rise of the variant, the paper adds. But lockdown sceptic Conservative MPs have urged ministers to “keep cool heads” and “avoid sacrificing the progress made by our rollout”.
image captionThe PM has admitted that “the race between our vaccine programme and the virus may be about to become a great deal tighter”, the Guardian reports. Mr Johnson has also announced that the Army will go to Bolton and Blackburn with Darwen – variant hotspots – to help with the vaccination drive. The lead image on the paper is of a child crying at his brother’s funeral in Gaza, after he was killed in an Israeli airstrike. Violence in the conflict is escalating, the paper adds, as people in Gaza flee their homes and Israeli forces “pounded the territory from the air, sea and land”.
image captionThe FT Weekend’s main image is also of the conflict, with rockets fired from the northern Gaza Strip meeting the Israeli Iron Dome defences. Meanwhile, an investigation has been launched by the Serious Fraud Office into suspected fraud, fraudulent trading and money laundering at Sanjeev Gupta’s metal empire, the FT Weekend reports. The SFO has been talking to whistleblowers for about a year, according to the paper. GFG Alliance, Mr Gupta’s family conglomerate, said it would co-operate fully with the investigation.
image captionElsewhere, the Daily Express carries an interview with Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who tells the paper Britain can look forward to a “brighter future”. “Enormous” pent-up savings will help the country recover, the chancellor tells the paper.
image captionAnd finally, according to the Daily Star, Russia is using a four-year-old story from the paper to warn its people they face a potential invasion from the British Army.