RULE breakers, red tape and a smart lockdown were the topics discussed by columnists and contributors in the newspapers.

The Daily Mail

Jan Moir enjoyed the first lockdown, she said, ensconced in her Jan-bubble in the sunny evenings, little imagining it would last much beyond Easter.

“Now, it’s just a daily exasperation because even at this moment of maximum peril, some people still don’t think the rules apply to them,” she said. “A woman in my neighbourhood threw a party for more than 100 people on New Year’s Eve, and is now facing a £10,000 fine for her troubles.”

She said people had had 10 months to understand the rules and they still choose to break them.

“ There is a kind of war between the young and the old; the smart and the stupid; the liberal and the blinkered,” she added. “Still, I have made myself a resolution just to somehow get through this third lockdown with good cheer, despite everything. Will you join me? At a distance, of course.”

The Daily Express

Leo McKinstry described the national vaccination programme as a shining light of hope but said the roll out lacked urgency.

“Local pharmacists, who have expertise in immunisation, say their offers to help have been met by “silence”,” he said. “Similarly, 40,000 retired doctors and nurses have volunteered to return to the NHS since the pandemic began, yet too many find their applications are strangled by red tape.”

He said volunteers had to provide 21 piece of documentation to prove their training, many of which had nothing to do with medicine.

“This nonsense, so typical of modern corporate Britain, should have no part in the mortal fight against the Covid virus. Instead of putting up barriers, the Government should be mobilising our national resources in our defence.”

The Guardian

Alex Crozier, a Covid-19 research scientist, warned those on low incomes and key workers were being hardest hit, often unable to work from home or isolate.

“Affluent communities with adequate housing and sick pay provisions are given socioeconomic immunity, while the burden is shifted on to the networks of the working class,” he said. “It is protection for some, and pandemic for others. By not enabling the financially vulnerable to self-isolate, we have repeatedly exacerbated social inequities and the disasters of the pandemic.”

He said key workers must be guaranteed social and income protection and support was needed for zero-hours contract workers so they can afford to follow isolation rules.

“This current blanket lockdown approach fails to address what is really driving the pandemic, and is merely the focused protection of the middle classes,” he said.

“To make this lockdown a smart lockdown, the government must support key workers and self-isolation. This tale of two pandemics has gone on far too long.”