Covid Liberation Day, the pandemic’s effect on diversity in the arts and foreign travel were the issues raised by columnists and contributors in the newspapers.

The Daily Mail

Dan Wootton said June 21st is Liberation Day, ‘whether the Government wants to accept it or not.’

“The talk coming from ministers of continued social distancing and mask enforcement in the middle of summer in an almost fully vaccinated country would not just be scientific madness, it would rip to shreds the fabric of British society,” he said. “We have had to watch as comparable democracies like the US get back to normal life, with its economy starting to fire, travel reopened, and social distancing and mask mandates axed altogether for those who have been jabbed.”

He said the emphasis must now be on individual choice.

“If you want to wear a mask, of course go right ahead. If you don’t want to hug your loved ones in fear of picking up germs, that’s your call. I’ll only judge you a little bit.”

The Independent

Hannah Yelin, senior lecturer in Media and Culture at Oxford Brookes University, said the arts sector was among the worst hit by the pandemic.

“It’s also had a detrimental impact on efforts to improve diversity in the creative industries – a sector which has up until recently been hard to break into without the right connections and finances,” she said. “Pre-Covid, 90 per cent of trainees moved on to full-time work after placements. Since Covid, 85 per cent of trainees are unsure they’ll be employed after an internship or know they won’t be. “

She said we were at a critical point and need to look at how to rebuild better.

“Mentoring schemes are one way to nurture talent who lack the guidance and knowledge of unwritten rules that come from being well-connected. As we rebuild, we must broaden. As we heal after surviving the year, rich, diverse, collective creativity and freedom of expression will help us really live.”

The Scotsman

The newspaper’s leader column said that for much of the crisis, Nicola Sturgeon had adopted a more cautious approach than Boris Johnson, with lockdown restrictions that were tougher or lasted longer than those in the rest of the UK.

“There are good reasons to treat overseas travel on a “four nations” basis, not least the ease with which any tougher restrictions in Scotland could be circumvented,” it said. “If people fly from Liverpool and Manchester, instead of Glasgow and Edinburgh, all that will do is increase the amount of mixing the restrictions are designed to reduce.

“While the virus does remain a threat, the vaccination of those most at risk means that the focus should now increasingly be on rescuing the economy and certainly not being different simply for the sake of it.”