What the papers say – May 18

The front pages focus on the relaxing of pandemic measures as the Indian mutation continues to spread throughout the UK.

What the papers say – May 18

England’s reopening is balanced by concerns over the Indian coronavirus strain’s spread in Tuesday’s papers.

The Daily Mirror reports there is “joy for millions as Covid rules are lifted to allow hugs and indoor meet-ups”.

The Daily Star says “everything’s back to normal” because “we’ve got holidays, hugs… and a pony in a pub”, along with a photograph of the filly trying to sneak a sip of a pint.

The tone is less celebratory in The Guardian, which reports the Government and health teams are “struggling to contain” cases of the Indian coronavirus variant.

The Independent says the surging cases have forced Prime Minister Boris Johnson to shelve a plan to scrap social distancing rules, with the reporting the move is a “huge blow” for the arts and hospitality industries as they began welcoming patrons back indoors.

Concern over the Indian variant has ministers “considering contingency plans for local lockdowns” or a delay to reopening after June 21, according to The Times.

But the Daily Mail reports Tory ministers and MPs have told Mr Johnson they would not accept pandemic restrictions “being extended to protect jab refuseniks”.

The Daily Express quotes Health Secretary Matt Hancock as saying tests suggest current Covid-19 jabs are effective against the surging strain, with Metro reporting thousands of vaccine sceptics have changed their minds and are seeking shots in places like Bolton.

The Daily Telegraph claims EU ambassadors will sign off on a plan to allow British holidaymakers to use “vaccine passports” to travel to Europe without a Covid test or quarantine.

And there is a “ferocious” battle taking place at the heart of Government over whether to agree a trade deal with Australia which includes tariff-free access to Australian farmers, the Financial Times reports.

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