image captionSeveral papers carry upbeat reports about the expected impact of the vaccination programme on pandemic restrictions. “Shot in the arm for Britain plc!” declares the Daily Express, which reports a verdict from the Bank of England that the economy will rapidly recover as the immunisation rollout takes effect – with consumers having an extra £125bn in lockdown savings to spend when restrictions are eased.
image captionAs one in five adults has now had a first dose and vaccination rates have hit three million a week, the Daily Mail reports that ministers are aiming for a major lifting of restrictions in May. It quotes a Whitehall source saying that, if the vaccine rollout continues as planned, “you will start to see quite a quick return to normal in April and May”.
image captionThe Times has more detail on the possible easing of Covid restrictions, reporting that outdoor sport and socialising are due to be the first activities to resume within weeks of schools’ planned return on 8 March. The paper also says that the government is likely to allow outdoor markets and al-fresco dining to reopen before High Street shops and indoor restaurants.
image captionLife could return to normal by the summer, according to scientists quoted in Metro, with the UK on track to give all over-50s a first dose of the vaccine by 31 March. The paper quotes government adviser Prof Andrew Pollard saying that with all of the most vulnerable protected, the UK could see a “significant return to normality”.
image captionBut former health secretary Jeremy Hunt sounds a note of caution in the Guardian, telling the paper that ministers should take a careful approach to lifting lockdown and wait until cases have fallen to a manageable 1,000 a day. “We mustn’t make the mistake that we made last year of thinking we’re not going to have another resurgence of the virus,” he said.
image captionThe Daily Telegraph’s lead story focuses on ministers’ race to reserve more than 28,000 hotel rooms for passengers arriving under the new quarantine system, which begins on 15 February. The paper says the scramble for rooms, costing £800 per person, comes after a “day of chaos” during which hotels, airlines, airports and Border Force officials said that they had been left in the dark over the plans.
image caption“Delivery of hope” is the headline on the Daily Mirror front page, which carries a picture of smiling children holding up school supplies paid for by reader donations. The paper launched a multi-million pound campaign to buy home-schooling basics for families who can’t afford them.
image captionCompany directors face being held personally responsible for the accuracy of financial statements under “far-reaching” reforms that would impose fines and bans for major failures, the Financial Times reports. The paper also gives a more cautious account of the Bank of England’s outlook on post-Covid economic recovery, noting that it held out the prospect of imposing negative interest rates if the upswing after lockdown disappoints.
image captionAnd the Daily Star takes on what it calls “bedwetters and luvvies” who sought to “score political points” by criticising the applause in memory of NHS fundraiser Captain Sir Tom Moore. The paper claims a vicar who called the national clap “a cult of white British nationalism” faces the sack and it dismisses other critics as “pathetic trolls”.