image captionMany of Thursday’s front pages lead on plans to ease coronavirus restrictions for Christmas. The Daily Telegraph says ministers are considering allowing three households to meet to allow relatives to spend five days together over the festive season. However, the newspaper says, this will come at a cost, with health officials warning that every day of freedom will cost five days in tighter restrictions. Meanwhile, it features a photograph the Duke of Cambridge on the front page, saying he has welcomed an independent inquiry into the 1995 BBC Panorama interview with his mother, Diana.
image caption“Christmas is back on!” says the Daily Mail. The newspaper says the plan for the festive season could see four households being allowed to mix and form a “bubble” – with another month of lockdown to pay for it. Covid restrictions could be relaxed for up to five days, it adds.
image captionThe i says this window of freedom could start on Christmas Eve – meaning a locked down new year. It quotes Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as saying people are more likely to break the rules if they are not allowed to celebrate.
image caption“The cost of Christmas,” is the Daily Mirror’s headline. The newspaper says five days of extreme lockdown equates to one day of fun. Experts are warning that partying will lead to new crackdowns if infections soar, it adds.
image captionThe Times reports that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to reveal a four-year funding settlement for the Ministry of Defence worth an additional £16.5bn. It says this is the largest investment in the military since the Cold War. There are also plans for a new space command and artificial intelligence agency, the newspaper adds. Elsewhere, the Times says a coronavirus vaccine that stops 95% of infections could be ready “in weeks”.
image captionThe Guardian also leads on the £16.5bn funding boost for UK defence. The newspaper says the news has come only days after it emerged that the overseas aid budget is to be cut by billions. It quotes the prime minister as saying he decided to boost defence spending “in the teeth of the pandemic” because “the defence of the realm must come first”.
image captionThe Metro reports that an NHS consultant had premature twins while in a coronavirus coma. Perpetual Uke says it is a “miracle” they are both safe and well after they were welcomed into the world at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital in April at just 26 weeks. They had been due in mid-July.
image captionThe Daily Express says Britain’s coronavirus vaccine roll-out scheme is “edging closer” after the vaccine produced by US firm Pfizer and German partner BioNTech passed safety tests and is effective among the elderly. The newspaper says the UK’s main vaccine, made by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, is also set to unveil successful early trial results on Thursday. It is a “double dose of good news”, the Express says.
image captionThe Financial Times says Chancellor Rishi Sunak is preparing to publish what allies describe as a “scary” economic outlook in next week’s spending review. The newspaper reports it will contain the largest downgrade in economic performance and the public finances since World War Two.
image captionThe Daily Star reports on concern over PPE contracts, after a report by a spending watchdog found suppliers with links to Conservative MPs were given priority.