Newspaper headlines: Italy in coronavirus ‘chaos’ and quarantine ‘farce’

The Guardian

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Plans to quarantine more than 16 million people in Italy to tackle the coronavirus outbreak are the focus of many of Monday’s front pages. The Guardian says Italy was “in chaos” on Sunday after the lockdown was leaked to the press, prompting thousands to flee affected areas. The paper also reports Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to loosen constraints on spending and borrowing in Wednesday’s Budget – his first since taking on the role.

Daily Mail

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The Daily Mail, which splashes with the latest coronavirus death in the UK, says there was confusion over monitoring of travellers arriving to the UK from Italy. It claims questions have been asked about whether enhanced monitoring of travellers arriving from Italy is being carried out at British airports. This includes whether travellers are being told to alert crew members if they are unwell during a flight.

The Daily Telegraph

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The Daily Telegraph calls the quarantine in Italy a “farce”, reporting that dozens of flights from locked-down areas were permitted to land in the UK. The paper claims that 17 flights left Milan Malpensa on Sunday alone, and passengers were not put into quarantine or tested for the virus upon arrival. The Foreign Office has advised against all but essential travel to areas affected, but there are no restrictions on Britons or Italians returning from Italy.

The Times

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The Times adds that anyone who has returned from affected areas of Italy, or is about to, has now been told by the Department of Health to self-isolate for 14 days – even if no symptoms are apparent. Separately, the paper reports that Trevor Phillips, the former head of Britain’s equalities watchdog, has been suspended from the Labour Party over allegations of Islamophobia. Mr Phillips has said there is no suggestion that he has done anything unlawful. A Labour Party spokeswoman said the party “takes all complaints about Islamophobia extremely seriously and they are fully investigated”.

i newspaper

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The i describes northern Italy as a “no-go zone”, alongside an image of tourists wearing masks in the Vatican as they watched Pope Francis deliver his weekly Angelus blessing via videolink – to avoid large crowds.

Financial Times

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The Financial Times’ lead says the growing public health crisis has led to fears that the economy is heading for a sharp slowdown. The broadsheet adds that the impact on international commerce became clearer over the weekend – with China reporting a steep fall in exports over the first two months of the year.


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“Don’t Be So Shelf-Ish” urges the Metro, after reports of people panic buying goods across the UK. Supermarkets began rationing essentials on Sunday to combat stockpiling.

Daily Express

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The Daily Express reports that supermarket shelves across the country were “stripped bare” of necessities such as toilet rolls, anti-bacterial wipes, long-life milk and children’s medicine on Sunday. The paper also runs a large picture of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on their way to join the Queen at a church service in Windsor on Sunday – calling it their “final goodbye”.

The Sun

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The Sun carries an interview with Aker Okoye, 16, who hugged Meghan on stage on Friday during her visit Robert Clack School in Dagenham, east London. The paper says he has written to Prince Harry, saying: “Sorry I cuddled your wife.”

The Daily Star

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Meanwhile, the Daily Star claims Britons will face the first of three storms this week, warning of 65mph gales and heavy rain.

“Quarantine farce as Italian planes fly in” is the headline on the front of the Daily Telegraph. The paper reports that although 16 million people were put into lockdown, “dozens” of flights were allowed to arrive in the UK and passengers were not put into quarantine.

It adds that ministers are reportedly coming under pressure to follow France and Germany and cancel mass gatherings of more than 1,000 people.

But a government source is quoted as saying that British ministers are reluctant to act – with the view that EU nations are shutting down events for political reasons rather than scientific ones.

The government’s response to the Italian lockdown is criticised in the Guardian.

The paper reports that “hours after” the plan was put in place, the Foreign Office was still advising that it was safe to travel to anywhere apart from the initial 11 towns that were quarantined.

The guidance was updated to urge against all but essential travel, but holidaymakers were reportedly left confused – with flights to affected areas still being advertised.

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PA Media

Panic buying in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak is the focus of a number of front pages.

“Don’t be so shelf-ish” is the headline in the Metro. The accompanying story includes a warning from Boris Johnson that people do not need to panic buy.

The paper says there have been “scuffles” at checkouts over products including toilet roll.

The Daily Express reports that shelves across the country have been “stripped bare” of essentials including anti-bacterial wipes and long-life milk.

A number of papers use editorial comment columns to call for calm. The Sun, for instance, urges its readers to follow the example set by the Queen – who the paper says is “clearly not cowed by coronavirus”.

It also suggests that UK follows the lead of countries who have dealt with the virus well by simply pulling together.

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Most festivals and venues say it is “business as usual”, despite ongoing concern about a widespread outbreak according to the Guardian.

The paper has spoken to organisers of Glastonbury – who have said they are still planning and preparing for the event in sixteen weeks time. Bookings at the Barbican in London are reportedly also “holding up”.

In contrast, a report in the Daily Mail suggests that the Italian city of Florence has “morphed into a ghost town”.

Its reporter Matthew Bell was met by an “eerie silence” on a visit to the famous Uffizi gallery and spoke to a taxi driver who was now waiting two hours between jobs.

There is an upbeat assessment following the decision to close schools until the middle of the month in Italy in a letter to Corriere della Sera. Cristina Bottino, a teacher, writes that teachers have “put their trust in technology” and been able to run virtual classes and record video lessons.

She goes on to say that seven or eight years ago and without current technology “closed schools would have meant silent schools”.

She concludes by saying although many pupils will not complete the curriculum, they will have learned vital lessons in terms of humanity and cooperation.

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Away from coverage of the virus, there is -widespread focus on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s final events as working royals.

“Harry and Meg’s final salute”, is the Daily Mirror’s take, as it claims that the military is to be “central” to their new charitable organisation. The couple will reportedly attempt to deal with issues such as medical care and homelessness for veterans and injured personnel.

“The final bow,” is the headline on the front of the i. In a column by Stefano Hatfield, he says Meghan will be missed because she has “genuine star power” and is able to reach different audiences.

Elsewhere, the Financial Times reports that Britain’s biggest mental health provider, the Priory Group, is to be sold for almost £1bn. Its portfolio includes a clinic in south-west London, which is the location of choice for the “rich and famous” to treat their drugs, alcohol and sex addictions.

The Daily Mail has obtained figures which reveal a man with 66 points on his driving licence is still allowed out on the road.

The paper says he is one of a number of drivers to be spared a ban by magistrates – under a loophole which allows for courts to consider whether revoking a licence would cause “exceptional hardship”.

The road safety charity Brake has called for a review of the system. The Magistrates Association has said the process for determining such circumstances is “robust”.

“Poopascooped it” is the Daily Star’s take on events at Crufts on Sunday night. The paper says crowds at the NEC in Birmingham were left “in stitches” after this year’s best in show was caught short on her victory lap.

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