Boris Johnson has told parents they should send primary-age children to school if they are open tomorrow as they are “safe” and the “risk to kids... is really very, very small indeed”.
The PM said he understood people’s concerns but said education is “a priority” whilst simultaneously not ruling out they could close if the situation in tier 4 areas does not improve.
Johnson also hinted that even stricter coronavirus restrictions could be introduced, saying: “It may be that we need to do things in the next few weeks that will be tougher in many parts of the country, I’m fully fully reconciled to that.”
He added: “What we are doing now is using the tiering system, which is a very tough system… and, alas, probably about to get tougher to keep things under control. But, we will review it.”
“And we have the prospect of vaccines coming down the track in their tens of millions. And that, I think, is something that should keep people going in what I predicted, back on your show in in October, will be a very bumpy period right now.
“It is bumpy and it’s going to be bumpy.”
Gavin Williamson confirmed on Friday that all London primary schools will remain shut to most pupils next week – rather than just those in certain boroughs as set out earlier in the week – but teaching unions say all schools should close for the next two weeks.
Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Johnson said: “Schools are safe. It is very, very important to stress that.
“The risk to kids, to young people is really very, very small indeed. The risk to staff is very small.
“I would advise all parents thinking about want to do, look at where your area is, overwhelmingly you’ll be in a part of the country where primary schools tomorrow will be open.”
Asked if primary schools would be closed if the situation did not improve in Tier 4 areas, Johnson added: “We have got to keep things under constant review.”
Also appearing on The Andrew Marr Show, Professor Sir Mark Walport, who is a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said it was “pretty clear” tougher restrictions were needed.
Asked if tier 4 was the former chief scientific adviser said: “It’s the Tier 4 restrictions, it’s obeying them.
“It is thinking about breaking essentially every possible route of transmission we possibly can.
“Those are the things that are absolutely necessary and it is pretty clear we’re going to need more.”