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Newspaper headlines: Back-to-office ‘falls flat’ and a Strictly same-sex pair?

The Guardian says 37% of UK office workers have gone back to the workplace, compared with more than three-quarters in Germany, Italy and Spain.
A survey for the i newspaper has found that 60% of businesses believe staff should return by the end of this year – while only 42% of workers are of the same view, citing concerns about the health risks of using public transport.

More than 80% of both employers and employees see remote working becoming a core part of their operation.

The Daily Telegraph accuses the government of a “lacklustre campaign to reassure commuters” and warns that the country “is in danger of sleepwalking into economic catastrophe”.

The paper reveals that a record 500,000 under-25s are claiming benefits – almost double the figure before lockdown – which it says is causing growing concern about the economic impact of Covid-19 on the younger generation.

The columnists are quick to grade the government’s performances on their “first day of term” after the parliamentary recess.

Isabel Hardman of the Spectator says Education Secretary Gavin Williamson was castigated by opposition MPs after he “failed to hand his homework in on time”, giving them very late advance notice of his statement to the House. But she says he escaped a “public dressing down” from Conservative MPs, despite many being annoyed by his handling of the exams “fiasco”.
Huffpost UK suggests there “was clearly a whips operation to circle the wagons round the education secretary”, in contrast with Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s turn at the dispatch box. It says that, while Mr Hancock “largely had Tory backbench backing, there was an undercurrent of unease on his own side”.

Others speculate about how much longer Gavin Williamson might stay in his job.

For the Times’s Quentin Letts, Mr Williamson seemed to anticipate imminent punishment, standing “with shoulders hunched, as if expecting to be clanged over the head by a frying pan at any moment”.
Michael Deacon in the Daily Telegraph believes Boris Johnson is biding his time. He predicts Mr Williamson will “make the perfect ready-made scapegoat if the return to schools goes wrong”, rather than the prime minister having to sack a “shiny new education secretary”.
That’s a view shared by the Guardian’s John Crace, who sees Mr Williamson as the “classic useful idiot”. He adds: “Sack him now and there’s no-one but Boris left to take the hit.”

Upper class members of society, it says, would turn up their noses at careless kissing, homemade face masks and hugging their parents – preferring instead separate bedrooms, holidaying in Britain and paying for a new hospital wing.

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