Newspaper headlines: Major events and economy ‘under threat’ from virus

The Times

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The majority of Friday’s front pages consider the possible impact of the new coronavirus in the UK and globally. The Times carries a warning from England’s chief medical officer that major sporting and cultural events are at risk of cancellation and schools could close for at least two months due to the outbreak. It comes after the World Health Organization said that the outbreak had reached a “decisive point”, and the number of cases in the UK rose by three to 16.

The Daily Telegraph

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The Daily Telegraph reports that the government is considering a ban on mass gatherings, but adds that Prof Whitty stressed on Thursday that no decisions have been made. It says that theatre performances, events such as the London Marathon and major football and rugby games could also be at risk.

The Guardian

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Elsewhere, the Guardian splashes with fears that the virus could be as damaging to the world’s economy as the 2008 financial crisis. It comes as financial markets across the globe plunged further on Thursday.

Financial Times

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The Financial Times also reports that US and European stock markets slumped into correction territory on Thursday, citing selling pressure driven by the coronavirus outbreak.

i newspaper

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Meanwhile, the i newspaper says the virus poses a “shutdown threat” to Britain.


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“The 111 Virus Farce” is the Metro’s headline. It reports that a man who fears he has coronavirus claimed he was given a hospital appointment by a NHS 111 call-handler, rather than being advised to self-isolate.

Daily Mirror

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And the Daily Mirror claims virus “panic” has caused UK shoppers to stockpile hand gel, medicine, groceries and nappies.

Daily Mail

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The Daily Mail says Canada will soon stop providing security for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who formally step down as senior royals from 31 March. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said it has been providing assistance to the couple “intermittently since November 2019” after they began spending more time in Canada.

Daily Express

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The Daily Express says the UK has warned the EU it will walk away from trade talks in June unless progress has been made towards a deal. Talks formally begin on Monday.

Daily Star

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The Daily Star reports that TV host Jeremy Kyle, whose eponymous chat show was taken off air by ITV last year following the death of a guest, will be “back soon”.

Most papers lead again with fears about the coronavirus.

The Daily Mirror has a picture of a passenger wearing a mask as she walks along a Tube platform in London – alongside the headline, “Virus Panic”.

The Times and the Daily Telegraph focus on a warning by the government’s chief medical adviser that concerts, sports events and festivals could be cancelled – and schools closed for more than two months.

“Virus outbreak poses shutdown threat to Britain”, is the headline in the i paper.

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According to the Times, the Ministry of Defence is preparing plans to use Army barracks as quarantine zones if necessary.

The Guardian says analysts have warned that the disease could wreak economic havoc on a scale not seen since the financial crisis of 2008.

The Sun devotes its front page to passing on the official advice that people can avoid infecting themselves by washing their hands regularly. “It’s in your hands”, is the headline.


Amid pictures of people wearing face masks, schools standing empty and shelves cleared of sterilising gels, a number of papers call for calm over the coronavirus outbreak.

Daily Express commentator Ross Clark urges readers to follow official advice about protecting themselves and go about their daily business as usual.

We could very easily end up in a situation where hysteria does much more harm than the virus itself, he warns.

Letters in the Telegraph make the same point, with one reader observing that the world is suffering an “unnecessary fit of over-reaction”.

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There is widespread interest in the Appeal Court ruling declaring Heathrow Airport’s expansion plans unlawful because they do not comply with the UK’s climate change commitments.

The Financial Times describes it as a crushing blow to the airport’s hopes of building a third runway, and one that brings a much needed dose of reality to Britain’s commitment to reduce its carbon emissions to almost net zero by 2050.

The FT has previously supported a third runway, but now says the broader context has altered significantly – with a marked change in the tone of the climate change discussion in the past 12 months.

Theresa May’s 2050 pledge has set Britain on a radical new course, it says.

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The Sun supports the government’s net-zero commitment, but urges ministers to stop it crippling the UK economy as rivals flourish. Increasing airport capacity is in the national interest, the paper adds.

The Telegraph expresses surprise that the government is not challenging the court’s decision – especially given that Parliament voted for expansion by a large majority.

It asks whether this is the same government that said judges should not interfere during the Brexit crisis?

Canada’s announcement that it will stop providing protection for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, when they step back from royal duties, is the main news for the Daily Mail.

It says the decision will be seen as a humiliation for the couple, and it is unclear whether they will now foot a larger share of their security bill or it will fall on British taxpayers.

According to the Times, Priti Patel has refused to hold meetings with her most senior civil servant, amid a continuing toxic atmosphere at the top of the Home Office.

The paper understands that relations between the home secretary and her permanent secretary, Sir Philip Rutnam, have all but broken down after she blamed him for allegations of bullying in the department becoming public.

A Home Office spokesman tells the paper Ms Patel and Sir Philip are deeply concerned about the number of false allegations appearing in the media.

Finally, the big question for many papers on Friday is whether the UK can once again win the Eurovision Song Contest.

For the Mail, it is our latest hope to avoid Eurovision’s nul points.

But the Guardian is not so sure. Playing on the song’s title, it says Eurovision optimists should not hold their breath.

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