THE absurdities of lockdown conditions, unnecessary panic and the liberation of wearing a face mask were the topics raised by columnists and contributors in the newspapers.

The Daily Mail

Sarah Vine asked why she is allowed to fly to Torremolinos 'in a tightly packed metal tube, breathing in other people’s fumes for the best part of three hours solid — but am prevented from sitting in an air-conditioned auditorium?'

"It’s not just illogical, it’s absurd," she said. "Especially given what’s at stake. Of all the things I miss about the old life, live culture is perhaps the greatest."

She said that, enjoyable as Netflix is, nothing beats the excitement of a live performance.

"There is an intimacy and honesty to live performance that screen pixels, however slick, can never quite match, a human connection that feels so very vital — particularly now it’s gone," she added. "There’s something else too, of course: If we don’t find a way — any way — of getting our venues open again and our audiences cheering, we risk turning our rich, cultural scene into a barren desert."

In order to try and help save the situation, Andrew Lloyd Webber staged an invitation only Beverley Knight concert in the London Palladium, she said, with 600 people in a 2,500 capacity venue, complete with one-way system, temperature checks and rows of seats sealed off.

It feels weird to be sitting alone, surrounded by empty chairs," she said. "I clap a bit and nod my head dutifully in time to the music — but feel stupid and exposed.

" Lloyd Webber’s message is clear: theatres cannot survive under these conditions. For any show to break even it has to run at least 70 per cent capacity. Today’s auditorium is at 30 per cent.

"If the Government doesn’t give theatres the same freedoms as restaurants, pubs, gyms, tattoo parlours and the rest, they may never re-open ... and Covid will have destroyed our culture."

The Daily Express

Frederick Forsyth said the Government is shuddering at the 'now unpreventable appearance of a penetrating and impartial assessment of the past seven months.'

"More peacocks and more reputations are sheltering behind the pretence that the Covid outbreak was skilfully handled," he said. "But the politicos are the tip of the iceberg and can claim they were only following the best advice, or, as they put it "following the science"."

He said the post-mortem report will reveal that people were conned into unnecessary panic, with mind-numbing propaganda and economic ruin by blitheringly incompetent administrators, bumbling quangos and "scientists" straight out of the annals of Mystic Meg.'

He said the unstoppable release of the report would lead to the fall of the 'hard rain' referred to by Dominic Cummings.

"It is an attempt to persuade the panic and the consequent frightened obedience to stupid rules to continue that lies behind the new "scientific predictions" of a massive autumn spike in Covid," he added. "Those analysts who were rebuffed early on, and who were proved to be right, are saying this will be mainly the annual seasonal winter flu wave. This has been a tragic but never nation-destroying phenomenon for many, many years. The chances are that these losses will be presented to us as Covid deaths - to preserve reputations on high."

The Independent

Caroline Harrap said the reaction to the mandatory wearing of face masks from yesterday in England was 'mixed at best'.

"As someone who is prone to the occasional bout of anxiety, I feared it would affect my ability to breathe (it doesn’t) or make myself understood (it won’t)," she said. "But then, in Morrisons the other day, something strange happened. As I strolled down the fruit and veg aisle, pondering my newfound anonymity, I felt a sudden sense of liberation rather than restriction."

Who could see if she bought two packs of fries, she said, when no one could actually see her?

"Hidden behind a mask, everyone is equal in the supermarket – regardless of their purchasing choices," she said.

And, on another level, she feels free to go about her business without being judged on her appearance by others, male or female.

"A bit like wearing a school uniform, I suppose, suddenly we are all starting from the same place," she said.

"Wearing a face mask is, as it turns out, a great leveller."