A year of lockdown: Newspaper front pages then and now

Rebecca Speare-Cole
·3-min read

Watch: COVID-19: A year on from lockdown, watershed moment brings some relief but this is far from over

Today marks one whole year since Boris Johnson plunged the UK into its first national coronavirus lockdown.

On 23 March last year the prime minister ordered the country to stay at home as COVID-19 deaths and cases numbers accelerated.

One year on, nearly 150,000 people in the UK have had COVID-19 recorded on their death certificate while unemployment rates have soared and the economy has been left in tatters.

To mark the anniversary, the Queen led a minute's silence to commemorate those who have lost their lives to the disease.

Read: The UK city that never came out of lockdown

Here we take a look at the front pages of national papers then and now.

Daily Mirror:

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The Mirror's front page headline on the morning of 23 March 2020 simply read: "Madness", published just hours before the PM announced the lockdown. .

Above it, the newspaper ran a paragraph saying that an 18-year-old had become the UK's youngest fatality and a "total lockdown" was coming if the public does not abide by social distancing advice.

One year later, the tabloid has splashed with fears of a third wave as Johnson reacts to yet another surge in cases across Europe as well as the EU's threat to stop vaccine exports.

The Sun:

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The Sun's front page was also dominated by the growing crisis one year ago today with the headline: "Stay home or face lockdown."

The newspaper also printed a graphic showing that the death toll had reached 281 and 5,683 cases had been reported — a small proportion of the 150,000 deaths and 4.3 million cases reported one year later.

Watch: Nation falls silent to remember COVID-19 victims

Today's headline in the Sun has marked one year since the first lockdown, referring to Johnson's statement 24 hours earlier in which he paid tribute to the UK's national spirit and gave a message of hope for the future.

Daily Mail:

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The Daily Mail also splashed with Johnson's warning to follow social distancing advice, going with the headline: "Obey the virus rules - or else".

One year on, the tabloid leads with the story that Brits who travel abroad for a vacation could be fined £5,000 until the end of June.

As the virus surges again in Europe, the Mail also points to expectations that France will be put on the travel "red list" with other countries set to follow.

Daily Express:

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On 23 March 2020, the Express led on the military being drafted in to help deliver food and medicine to 1.5 million vulnerable people.

It also included bullet points on Johnson's threat of lockdown and an 18-year-old becoming the youngest Brit to die from coronavirus thus far.

Today, just like the Mirror, the newspaper splashed with Johnson warning that Europe's third wave will also hit the UK despite its speedy vaccine rollout.

Watch: London Mayor Sadiq Khan reflect on year lockdown