“Crowds defy crackdown” is the caption on the Guardian’s front page photo of a demonstrator being arrested – his T-shirt emblazoned with the word “courage” – during Wednesday’s protests in Hong Kong.
Images of tear gas, batons and armed police feature heavily across many of the front pages. “Escape to the UK” is the caption for the i’s coverage as it details the British government’s offer of citizenship to up to three million residents.
Eunice Wong, who has just finished a masters degree at Imperial College tells the Times she will be taking advantage of the offer as this week’s events have made her decision for her: “It’s the only option. I don’t think I can go back home now. I will be persecuted.”
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, the former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind warns China’s President Xi Jinping risks inheriting an obedient but “wasteland” Hong Kong, with all its best and brightest citizens and businesses emigrated elsewhere.
Many papers mull the prospect of more Leicester-style local pandemic restrictions.
“Hold on tight! We’re ‘just days away’ from further lockdowns” is the Metro’s headline – the accompanying picture: people testing a ride at Alton Towers to ensure it can operate in a socially-distanced way. The paper says the government has been accused of “burying” data on infection rates in Leicester by initially publishing results only for tests done in hospitals.
The Sun provides a map charting the “top 10” places with the next highest infection rates to Leicester. Bradford, Barnsley and Rochdale top the list.
Concerns about job cuts – or, as the Daily Mail puts it, the “Corona Cull” – also dominate. The paper says experts are predicting unemployment could hit 10% as redundancies pick up speed ahead of the government’s deadline to pare back furlough on 1 August.
The Guardian says fears are growing for UK High Streets. It reports that the latest announcements from retailers bring the total job losses announced this week to more than 10,000.
That bleak figure, it says, coincides with new statistics showing more shops have already gone into administration in the first six months of this year than failed in the whole of 2019.
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“Just two cases of Covid could close schools” is the front page claim of the Daily Telegraph, which says it has seen government guidance to be published later on school reopenings in England. The paper says heads will be told to upgrade online learning just in case.
The Times also previews the guidance, suggesting Education Secretary Gavin Williamson will call on schools to have contingency plans in place to resume home-learning in the event of a local lockdown.
The Daily Mail quotes a cabinet source saying ministers are determined schools will reopen in September “come what may” and that they are braced for a battle with unions if necessary.
Under the headline “Our Lost Heroes” the Mirror devotes a striking front page to 182 individual photos of people who have died while working in health or social care during the pandemic.
“We remember their sacrifice” the paper says, ahead of a final round of applause planned for this Sunday to mark the 72nd anniversary of the creation of the NHS.
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