Newspaper headlines: UK 'plans for the worst' amid coronavirus outbreak

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Coronavirus, and in particular, the government's response to the outbreak dominates the front pages.

"Whitehall plans for the worst" is the main headline on the front of the Sunday Times. A source involved in contingency plans is quoted as saying that "experts" believe 100,000 people could die from coronavirus across the UK - a figure that was not reportedly challenged by Downing Street.

The paper says that ministers are considering delaying GCSE and A-Level exams, giving "special consideration" grades to pupils affected by the virus and releasing thousands of low-risk prisoners should there be a shortage of jail staff.

The Observer describes the measures being considered by the government as "drastic". The paper highlights how courts could be forced to use telephone and video links to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

It adds that ministers are also considering lifting controls on when delivery vans can operate and easing restrictions on driver hours in a bid to prevent any food shortages.

"I will not let the virus cripple the economy" is the vow from the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, on the front of the Sunday Telegraph.

As he prepares to deliver his first budget later this week, he tells the paper of plans to allow companies additional time to pay tax if staff were unable to work and shoppers were not spending "in the normal way".

Mr Sunak also warns that the economy would suffer a "supply shock" if "lots of people" were off because of coronavirus.

The Sunday Mirror reports that the country's 430,000 civil servants could be forced to work from home if the UK falls into what is described as the "clutches of a pandemic".

And the Sun on Sunday says that the England football team's friendlies against Italy and Denmark will be called off because of the virus.

But as part of an attempt by Number 10 to purvey a sense of calm, the Sunday Express reveals Boris Johnson attended yesterday's England versus Wales Six Nations rugby match - to demonstrate he doesn't want to become "draconian" about cancelling mass gatherings.

"The Queen will not spark public panic" is the headline on page six of the Mail on Sunday, as the paper considers the impact the virus could have on the royal family.

A senior Buckingham Palace source is quoted as saying the Queen is "keeping calm and carrying on".

The 93-year-old monarch is reportedly understood to not want to cancel any engagements and will only change her schedule when she receives "compelling advice to the contrary".

Should the situation worsen though, the Queen will reportedly be forced to cancel summer garden parties and will relocate to Sandringham or Balmoral.

Commentary from Sarah Baxter in the Sunday Times urges the UK and its leaders not to turn a "tragedy into a crisis" and draws comparisons with President George W Bush's response to the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

With the US at a standstill and people concerned about terrorists on every street corner, Mr Bush urged told the nation to go and "enjoy life".

His rallying cry worked, with the economy bouncing back and the Dow Jones regaining its 9/11 level within a month.

Image source, Reuters

Away from coverage of the coronavirus, the Sunday Telegraph has spoken to someone described as a senior civil servant about the culture at Whitehall, following accusations of bullying against Priti Patel.

The mandarin - who was interviewed anonymously - said they had witnessed officials "openly undermining" Ms Patel in meetings and that while she had appeared "frustrated" they never saw what could be classed as bullying.

Writing in the Sun on Sunday, the former Conservative leader, Sir Iain Duncan Smith says the accusations against the home secretary should not be confused with "strong, determined leadership" making "legitimate demands".

Sir Iain suggests that the problem may be that the civil service got used to "running government without much direction" during the Parliamentary "civil war" over Brexit.

He adds that the Tories' victory in December's general election may have ultimately come as a "rude awakening" to parts of Whitehall.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex received a standing ovation as they took their seats at the Royal Albert Hall

Many front pages feature images of a smiling Duke and Duchess of Sussex as they attended the Mountbatten Festival of Music - one of their final events as working royals.

"A royal finale" is the caption accompanying the picture on the front of the Sunday Telegraph.

The Sunday People describes the couple - with a nod to the colour of their outfits - as "reddy to go".

And finally, researchers believe they have found Britain's most cancelled train.

Analysis published in the Sunday Times shows the 07:13 Harrogate to Leeds has been cancelled twenty-eight times since new timetables were introduced in December.

An evening service between Liverpool Lime Street and Preston was second, with a morning service between Peterborough and Ipswich third.