Boris Johnson would close pubs before schools in severe local lockdowns

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

National priority: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said there was a 'moral duty' to get children back into classrooms in September
National priority: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said there was a 'moral duty' to get children back into classrooms in September

Related tags Government Coronavirus Pubco + head office Legislation

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has labelled getting children back in schools “a moral duty” amid suggestions that he would force the closure of pubs, restaurants and shops ahead of shutting schools in the event of severe local spikes in coronavirus cases.

Reports in The Independent ​come after Downing Street sources said Johnson would sooner close pubs, restaurants and shops than schools shut again after concerns for the safety and wellbeing of children provided in the classroom and their educational future.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday​, the Prime Minister said getting all pupils back into classrooms in September was the “national priority”.

“This pandemic isn’t over and the last thing any of us can afford to do is become complacent," he wrote.

“But now we know enough to reopen schools to all pupils safely, we have a moral duty to do so.”

No blanket approach

This follows housing secretary Robert Jenrick denying the Government had plans to close pubs and restaurants in order for schools to fully reopen​ in September after suggestions from Government scientists.

England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty said “trade-offs” may be necessary as we approach the limits of what we can do to open up society while managing the spread of the virus at a Downing Street news conference with the Prime Minister on Friday 31 July.

Jenrick told Times Radio​: “We don’t want to do anything that is a blanket approach across the country.

“You’re right to say reopening schools and getting our children back into the classroom with that direct face-to-face contact with their teachers will be a priority for the Government when we have to make those tough choices."

Targeted action

Jenrick added: “Our strategy is to manage this in a localised way with targeted action as we have done in Leicester, as we are doing now in the north west.

“We will follow the data and look at options if we have to but that approach is the way we restrict in certain areas – it is difficult for those who live there but it provides greater freedom for the rest of the country, for businesses to reopen and for people to get on with their daily lives, and that has to be the way forward if we can.”

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