image captionPrime Minister Boris Johnson’s warning that coronavirus rules are “probably about to get tougher” makes the lead for the Metro, with the headline: “Happy New Tier.” Facing Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s call for a national lockdown within 24 hours, the paper says the PM refused to dismiss talk of a new “tier five level” of more strict measures.
image captionThere’s wordplay to be found on the Sun’s front page, too. “Jabby Monday” reads the headline, to mark the first of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines being administered. The rollout of the newly-approved jab is a “vital shot in the arm” in the UK’s fight against Covid, the tabloid says. It carries a quote from the prime minister pledging to have tens of millions of people vaccinated within three months – with help from the Army.
image captionThe Daily Express details how the vaccination programme will work: more than 730 jab sites, at GP surgeries and health centres, have already been set up, and the total will top 1,000 by the end of the week, the paper claims. Mr Johnson’s pledge “gives hope to millions”, the headline adds – but it tempers the mood with a warning about tougher restrictions.
image captionThe stricter measures could keep the country in a lockdown “straitjacket” until Easter and beyond, the Daily Telegraph reports. The paper says discussions have already begun about the return of shielding for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable – while nationwide school closures could come as soon as this week. It points towards a possible rebellion on the horizon from Tory MPs – one of whom says another lockdown would be “beyond ridiculous”.
image captionBelow a striking image of paramedics wheeling a patient past a line of ambulances, the i warns intensive care Covid wards are filling up with younger patients. It says tier four curbs could be extended across England as the number of new coronavirus cases in the UK exceeded 50,000 for the sixth day running.
image captionThe Times says the PM is expected to make an assessment of the latest infection numbers by Wednesday, which will include the first signs of the effect of easing coronavirus rules over Christmas. Downing Street sources told the paper the outcome of this assessment was likely to lead to more areas of England being put into tier four, and further school closures in the worst-affected areas.
image captionThe Guardian runs quotes from some council leaders who say the argument for reopening schools amid high coronavirus infection rates “does not stack up”. Education bosses in Newcastle, Gateshead and Manchester all told the paper they would support primary schools that decided not to fully reopen – leaving parents facing “disruption and uncertainty” across much of the country, on the final night of the Christmas holidays.
image captionThe Daily Mirror highlights what it calls the PM’s “debacle” over schools, with its front page image showing Mr Johnson bowing his head beside the caption: “Shambles.” Despite the PM urging councils to keep schools open, many have “defied orders” over safety fears for staff and pupils, the paper says – which has left parents with no time to make childcare arrangements.
image captionThe Financial Times says the PM’s plan to reopen most primary schools in England is “in disarray”, with some schools shutting unilaterally and councils calling for others to close. “Events on the ground could force the government’s hand,” the paper says – as teaching unions advised their members to work from home on the basis it would be “unsafe” to return to work.
image captionThe Daily Star challenges the prime minister, saying his “pants must be in flames” after he said he had no doubt schools are safe. The tabloid – which pokes fun at Johnson in an edited image of him with a Pinocchio nose – claims government scientists have said Covid has become too difficult to control.
image captionIn a departure from coronavirus, the Daily Mail leads on the “towering injustice” it says millions of people are facing, as they continue to live in “fire-trap” homes “because ministers have buried their heads in the sand” since the Grenfell Tower fire. It claims homeowners living in dangerous buildings are being hit with crippling bills for safety measures and extra insurance.