Newspaper headlines: 'New hope' on Covid and 'year of the squeeze' – BBC

"Cut Isolation to Five Days" is the headline on the front of the Daily Mail, which says scientists have "lined up with MPs and business leaders" in urging Boris Johnson to reduce the length of time people in England who test positive for Covid need to quarantine.
The paper quotes an interview on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Tuesday with Professor Sir John Bell. Prof Bell suggested he would support the move, as long as people produced a negative lateral flow test first.
The Times says the prime minister is under pressure to act because NHS bosses fear staff absences caused by longer isolation periods will become a bigger problem than the number of patients being admitted to hospital with Covid.
But the i believes the guidance is unlikely to change in the near future.
According to the Daily Telegraph, some people with Covid in England are still receiving emails and text messages telling them to quarantine for 10 days.
Last week, the government advised that people could stop isolating after a week, if they received a negative lateral flow test on days six and seven. The Telegraph says the discrepancy risks "causing confusion", while Conservative MP David Jones claims those responsible for sending the messages are "trying to undermine decisions made by democratically accountable ministers".
The UK Health Security Agency – which handles the emails and texts – explains the legislation on the self isolation period remains 10 days but insists the guidance is "clear and widely communicated".
The Sun reports that pub landlords in England are gearing up for an "invasion" of revellers from Scotland and Wales, who are hoping to take advantage of looser Covid rules on New Year's Eve.
The Campaign for Pubs believes as many as 100,000 people could cross the borders into England to avoid strict social distancing measures and mandatory table service.
The Guardian says nightlife industry leaders in Wales are "hugely disappointed" about the trade they will lose, and they think it would be safer to let people enjoy themselves, with fewer restrictions, in their own communities.
Figures from Labour, shared with the Daily Mirror, suggest it will take 42 years for the Ministry of Defence to reach its recruiting targets for women in the Armed Forces. Just 12.7% of this year's intake were female, while ministers want to get to 30% by the end of the decade.
Labour tells the Mirror that, on current trends, the benchmark will not be hit until 2063 – accusing the government of a "women problem".
The MoD says targets are an "important tool but only a small part" of reforms aimed at diversifying the military.
And nearly all the papers have the story of a grey squirrel, which had to be put down yesterday after attacking at least 21 people in North Wales.
The Daily Express says residents in the town of Buckley "became too scared to leave their homes" during the rogue rodent's five-day rampage.
According to the Daily Star – which nicknames the animal "Han-squirrel Lecter" – children, pensioners and even family pets were among its victims. The RSPCA is advising people not to feed squirrels to prevent further incidents.
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