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The Financial Times is one of several papers to lead with reaction to the events in Hong Kong, reporting that Boris Johnson has condemned Beijing’s sweeping new security law for the territory as a “serious breach” of the 1985 UK-China handover agreement. It came as the UK prime minister vowed to honour a pledge to open the path to citizenship for almost three million Hong Kong residents, the paper reports.

Times front page 02.07.20

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The bespoke immigration arrangement will be open to British National Overseas passport holders in Hong Kong and their dependants, as well as those who are eligible to apply for one, the Times reports. Under the plans, they will be given the right to remain in the UK, including the right to work or study, for five years, after which they will be able to apply for settled status and after a further year, seek citizenship.

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The i says the citizenship offer will open the door to 40% of Hong Kong’s population and their dependants, with no limit on the number who could be admitted to the UK. The paper predicts sanctions and a U-turn on the involvement of Chinese firm Huawei in the UK’s 5G network are likely, as tensions with Beijing rise.

Daily Mirror front page 02.07.20

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The Daily Mirror’s front page carries a montage of some of the NHS staff and care workers who have died with coronavirus, alongside the headline “our lost heroes”. The tribute comes as the UK prepares to mark the 72nd anniversary of the NHS on Sunday.

Guardian front page 02/07/20

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The Guardian says there are growing fears for the UK High Street, after more than 6,000 retail job cuts were announced on Wednesday. The latest jobs losses, which range from Harrods to Philip Green’s Arcadia group, bring the total cuts announced this week to more than 10,000, the paper reports.

Daily Express front page 02.07.20

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The Daily Express carries warnings from scientists that more towns and cities will follow Leicester with local lockdowns, after high localised infection rates were highlighted. Experts said areas including Bradford were of concern amid expectations of a trend of coronavirus clusters, the paper reports.

Metro front page 02/07/20

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“Hold on tight!” is the headline for the Metro, alongside a picture of people enjoying a socially-distanced ride at Alton Towers as the theme park prepares to reopen on Saturday. The paper’s lead story also warns that more Leicester-style local lockdowns could be “just days away”, as the government is accused of “burying” local testing data from drive-through centres and home tests.

Telegraph front page 02.07.20

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However, the Daily Telegraph is more optimistic, reporting that the rate of coronavirus cases in England has dropped almost 40% in the past week, according to official figures. The paper suggests other local lockdowns may be unnecessary because rates in towns on the government watch list, including Bradford, Barnsley and Rochdale, have notably declined.

Daily Star front page 02.07.20

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The Daily Star leads on a lawsuit involving Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown, who is being sued by his former wife.

“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.

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Protesters gathered in Hong Kong on Wednesday

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.

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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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