By BBC News
The Guardian leads with the photo which it says shows Boris Johnson, his wife and 17 staff members in the garden at Downing Street, during lockdown in May last year. The paper says the wine, cheese, and lack of social distancing raise fresh questions about No 10's insistence it was a "work meeting". According to the Guardian, when the photo was taken, social mixing between households was limited to two people meeting outdoors, at least two metres apart. The paper says No 10 maintains that people drinking at work was not against regulations.
There is plenty of discussion elsewhere about the pressures on Mr Johnson to introduce more Covid restrictions in England before Christmas. The Times says the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is one of at least 10 cabinet ministers who are resisting calls from scientific advisers worried about the impact of the Omicron variant on hospital admissions. It reports that a third of the cabinet have questioned the accuracy of the modelling used by scientists. The Times understands that Mr Sunak wants the information to be clearer before the government makes a decision that could cost the economy billions.
The Daily Telegraph agrees there is strong cabinet opposition to tougher measures, but it says the prime minister might urge the public to limit social mixing, without legal enforcement. According to the paper, that is one of three options drawn up by officials to slow the spread of omicron. The Telegraph says a second option would mandate curbs on household mixing, see the return of social distancing, and force pubs and restaurants to close at 8pm. The third option is said to be a return to full lockdown. The Telegraph says it has been told one cabinet minister would resign if that happened.
According to the Sun, the prime minister is "under massive pressure" from what it calls "gloomy scientists" to bring in fresh curbs – including in pubs – despite hitting one million vaccinations a day. The i reports that Christmas restrictions "hang in the balance", but says No 10 remains hopeful that people being cautious and the break-up of schools will slow down the rising number of Covid infections.
The Daily Mirror says Mr Johnson is holding urgent meetings later with scientists and his team to discuss further measures to tackle Omicron. The headline calls it "D-Day for Christmas". The Metro's word play on the new variant sums up the mood as "OMI-nous".
There is a warning in the Daily Mail that any attempts to toughen the rules could provoke Tory MPs into trying to oust Boris Johnson as party leader. It also reports that curbs on mixing indoors in England could be announced "within days". Its headline is the plea: "Don't Ruin Our Christmas Again, Boris."
Several papers have pictures of Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who is now in charge of negotiations with the EU after the resignation of Lord Frost. The Financial Times says some Euro-sceptic MPs fear the government will now "capitulate" on post-Brexit arrangements. The Times adds that her new role is seen by her allies as "a big consolidation of power", but that others in government think she has been handed a "poisoned chalice" that could ultimately end any leadership challenge. She appears to have the backing of the Daily Express in her new role – it says "in Liz we Truss".
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