Newspaper headlines: ‘Sickening abuse’ and ‘overzealous’ police warning

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Guardian front page

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The Guardian reports that police chiefs are drawing up new guidance warning forces not to “overreach” in enforcing the coronavirus lockdown. The paper says it comes amid growing concern some forces are going beyond their legal powers to stop the spread of the disease, with one issuing a summons to a household for shopping for non-essential items.

Telegraph front page

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Officers’ handling of the coronavirus crisis will be remembered for generations, one of Britain’s most senior officers has written in the Daily Telegraph. Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said the police must preserve “the trust and confidence of the public” and maintain the tradition of “policing by consent”.

Metro front page

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The Metro reports on the “sickening abuse” of NHS staff. The paper says health bosses have condemned a surge in violence and abuse against workers battling to save the country from the coronavirus pandemic. Staff have been spat at, heckled as “disease spreaders” and even targeted by muggers looking to steal their ID to obtain free perks, it reports.

Daily Express

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The Daily Express quotes a former top prosecutor as saying “soft” jail sentences for those who abuse emergency staff should be challenged by the government. The paper says the public expects such “hateful crimes” to be met with the longest possible jail terms.

Mirror front page

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“Give them all a medal” is the Daily Mirror’s take on the appropriate response to the NHS’s “heroes”. The paper says its campaign for NHS staff to be given a medal moved a step closer after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the country owed them a “debt of gratitude”.

Daily Mail front page

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A lack of coronavirus testing has led to a “furious row” among ministers, the Daily Mail reports, as it emerged that one in four NHS doctors is either ill or in quarantine. The paper says testing for the virus is well below that of other countries, and there is concern that tests introduced for NHS staff this weekend are “too little, too late”.

The Times front page

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In other developments, the Times reports that Britain has embarked on its biggest peacetime repatriation operation with its plans to bring home up to 300,000 people left stranded by the coronavirus lockdown. The paper says the government will spend £75m chartering hundreds of flights from countries where commercial flights are no longer available.

FT front page

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A potential vaccine that could be available as early as next year and a new rapid test have brought new hope to the fight against coronavirus, reports the Financial Times. The paper says Johnson & Johnson is working with the US government on its vaccine, while Abbot Laboratories is a launching a test that could be run on a portable machine the size of a toaster.

i front page

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The i leads on comments from the chief scientific adviser that the UK’s social distancing rules are “making a difference” in containing the virus. The paper features an image of an almost deserted City of London.

Daily Star front page

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And finally, the Daily Star reports that “hard-line officials” have told shopkeepers they cannot sell Easter eggs. The paper says “barmy bureaucrats” have also barred the sale of hot-cross buns, as they are not essential goods. The paper describes it as the day the “world went properly bonkers”.

The Guardian takes police forces to task for the way some officers have deployed new powers aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus.

Citing the case of the dog walkers videoed during a stroll in the Peak District, the paper says “preventive measures should stop short of public shaming of individuals – particularly on social media platforms”.

Neither should officers be deciding what constitutes exercise or which goods can be sold, the paper believes.

The Sun says “a few idiots deserve fines for blatantly flouting the restrictions, but a few officious cops need reining in, too”.

The paper thinks police “have no business feeling anyone’s collar for buying “non-essential’ items” and urges officers to use their common sense.

The Daily Mail’s Richard Littlejohn complains that after another couple of weeks of lockdown, eating Easter eggs will be one of the “few innocent pleasures left to us”.

“Are we going to see balaclavad armed response teams abseiling down the sides of buildings, bursting through windows and snatching chocolate bunnies from the trembling hands of terrified children and OAPs?” he asks.

The Daily Telegraph calls the powers “draconian”. But it says there have also been examples of the public behaving in a thoughtless and even reckless way, such as the driver stopped in a park in Stevenage in Hertfordshire who told officers he was playing Pokemon Go.

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Getty Images

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A number of the papers report on how police have deployed new powers aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus

The Financial Times reports that energy companies have asked the UK government to back a loan scheme worth up to £1m a month so they can offer payment holidays to households and businesses struggling to settle bills because of the pandemic.

The request comes from Energy UK, the trade body for electricity and gas suppliers.

Utility companies say some customers have cancelled direct debit payments and it’s feared that if there’s a surge in bad debts, many energy firms could be forced out of business.

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Several back pages report on the embarrassment of the Premier League player, Jack Grealish.

The Aston Villa star was reported to have crashed his Range Rover in Solihull on the way back from a party on Sunday morning, hours after putting out a video message on social media urging fans to stay at home and observe social distancing.

The Times says he’ll be fined around £150,000 by his club.

He’s now made a new video message apologising, saying he was stupid to go to a friend’s and that he’ll be staying at home and following the rules in future.

‘Give them all a medal’

As if their jobs weren’t difficult enough, nurses and paramedics are now reported to be targets for abuse.

The Metro says there’s been a surge in such cases. The Daily Express calls for tougher sentences, under the headline “get tough on cowards abusing NHS heroes”.

“Give them all a medal” is the front-page headline in the Daily Mirror.

The paper says support is growing for its campaign for the heroism of NHS staff to be recognised with a form of campaign medal, and that the prime minister himself has said we own them a debt of gratitude.

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