image captionThe extension of tier three Covid restrictions to large swathes of southern England is the lead story for many of Friday’s papers. The Daily Mail says the move – which brings more than two-thirds of the population under the toughest rules – leaves the country facing the “bleakest of midwinters”.
image captionThe Daily Mirror points out that millions of people are being put into the highest tier – just days before the rules are relaxed for Christmas. It carries the headline “tiers before bedlam” – a reference to warnings from some health experts that mixing during the festive season could lead to a spike in new coronavirus cases.
image captionThe Times says there are fears that a rise in Covid cases in southern England has been driven by London commuters. It reports that Health Secretary Matt Hancock is understood to be considering additional curbs in the worst affected “hotspots” including the closure of non-essential shops.
image captionThe i says millions more people are now “trapped” in the toughest tier. The paper highlights the decisions not to move cities in the North down a tier and also to stagger the return of pupils to England’s secondary schools in the new year.
image captionThe Sun features a photo of Sir Paul McCartney on its front page – and the headline “Get Vacc”. The paper says the 78-year-old former Beatle and Get Back singer has vowed to have the Covid jab as soon as he is allowed.
image captionThe Guardian reports analysis suggesting that a growing number of hospitals across England are running short of beds and having to divert patients and cancel operations amid the resurgence of the virus. The pressures are compounded by the numbers of NHS staff who are off work with Covid, it adds.
image captionThe Metro leads on a survey that suggests four out of 10 nurses are struggling financially and go without without meals or rely on food banks. Months after the nation clapped for the careers helping the UK battle Covid-19, a third of nurses say poor wages and conditions mean they plan to quit the NHS, says the paper.
image captionThe post-Brexit trade deal talks also makes the headlines following the latest call between Boris Johnson and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. The Daily Telegraph says the prime minister has warned a deal was “drifting away” but could still be done this weekend if Brussels gives ground on fishing rights and state subsidies.
image captionA “final showdown” in the Brexit trade talks is looming as Boris Johnson refuses to buckle to “unacceptable” EU demands, according to the Daily Express.
image captionThe Financial Times says the post-Brexit trade talks are bogged down in a fresh dispute about state aid – with the EU’s Covid recovery package a “sticking point”.
image captionThe Daily Star turns its attention to the new year – reporting predictions that the 1980s hairstyle known as the mullet will be making a return in 2021.