The government was grilled once again about when the country’s schools could reopen.
George Eustice, secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs, addressed the daily coronavirus press conference on Sunday.
When quizzed whether schools could be the first places to reopen as lockdown measures are eased, the minister failed to give a clear answer.
It comes after Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme this morning that it was ‘inconceivable’ that schools would re-open without measures in place to stop the spread of the disease.
He said the government would be led by scientists.
Pressed on the matter again this afternoon, Mr Eustice gave a similarly ambiguous answer.
Mr Eustice: “Mr Raab addressed this and stressed the importance that even as we consider steps going forward, it’s important in such a setting to have social distancing measures still in place.”
Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director of NHS England, added: “Scientifically there are a number of different approaches to keep the transmission levels below one. School closures is one of these measures.
“It is highly likely there will be a number of measures working together to keep that transmission below one, and the combination of measures which will work best.”
Mr Raab earlier said the public will have to get used to a ‘new normal’.
“We won’t just have this binary easing up of measures. We will end up moving to a new normal,” he said.
“We need to take a sure-footed step forward which protects life but also preserves our way of life.
“So we are very focused on doing the homework that can allow us to do that.”
General Secretary of the Association of School and College leaders, Geoff Barton, has said the earliest ‘realistic’ point schools could open would be June 1, the Mirror reports.
While Mr Raab did not give a possible date over schools reopening, he said it was “inconceivable” they could so without measures in place to stop the spread of the disease. But he did say ministers were looking to ease restrictions on outdoor activities.
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