UK coronavirus live: low-risk options for reopening schools revealed in advice to government | Politics
UK death toll rises by 351 to 36,393
Publication of schools advice reveals low-risk options provided to government
The Sage group of scientific advisors modelled a range of scenarios for school reopenings, including low-risk options for pupils attending on alternate weeks, before the government settled on a June 1 reopening plan, according to papers published on Friday.
The papers of scientific advice prepared for Sage and its subcommittees also reveal high levels of uncertainty around different scenarios for school reopenings and over the likelihood of transmission of Covid-19 virus by children of different ages.
One of the most recent papers, discussing the effects of increasing school attendance on transmission, concludes: “There is substantial uncertainty, with the relative contribution of school openings being driven also by the relative susceptibility and infectivity of children of different ages compared to adults, as well as the extent to which social distancing is or is not sustained in the wider population.”
Collectively, the scientific advice does little to assuage fears among parents and teachers over the potential risks to reopening schools to reception, year one and year two year groups as soon as 1 June, as pledged by Boris Johnson earlier this month. Yesterday the governments of both Scotland and Northern Ireland announced that schools in those countries would not return until after the summer holidays.
Lockdown changes being eased in London ahead of other parts of the country was hinted at by Downing Street today.
Focus on the capital comes as Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick announced that he and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, will co-chair a London Transition Board on how the city might ease its way out of the lockdown process.
The capital reported no new Covid-19 cases in a 24 hours period this week. The prime minister’s official spokesman said that the government had already been clear that some parts of the country could see measures lifted ahead of others.
He said: “What is clear in the plans is that as we are able to gather more data and have better surveillance of the rate of infection in different parts of the country, then we will be able to potentially lift measures quicker in some parts of the country than in others. And equally we will be able to put the breaks on while not having to do so in other parts.”
London is the first region in the country to have an official recovery board however No 10 said they are in regular contact with regional mayors on how they will respond to the easing of lockdown.
Johnson could meet Trump at G7 next month
Boris Johnson could go to see Donald Trump for the G7 summit, which will take place at the White House next month.
At a briefing at Downing Street, reporters were told:
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, has urged Johnson to give Trump “a bit of encouragement” to think about the importance of following scientific advice on the coronavirus pandemic if he does visit.
Asked by the Guardian about reports from Friday’s Downing Street media briefing that the prime minister could visit Trump, Sturgeon said it was not her role to tell Johnson what he should ask the president, but said Trump’s leadership on the pandemic had been worrying.
“I think all of us, and I say this not just as a leader of a government, I say this as a citizen, would like to see the president of the United States, in his demeanour and public utterances around the dealing with this virus, be just a little bit more responsible in the messages he is giving.
“We laugh sometimes about previous comments about disinfectant and some of the comments he has made recently about testing but it is so important that leaders – we all make mistakes, we all get things wrong, all of us – that we give clear advice and messages to people and we try to base that on the best knowledge, science and information we’ve got.
“And that’s a responsibility for leaders at the best of times but it’s such an important responsibility at times like this, so perhaps a bit of encouragement to think about the importance of that would not go amiss.”
London could emerge from lockdown earlier than rest of UK
Nicola Sturgeon has said people will be able to travel longer distances to see their parents or children as long as they do not go indoors, as she clarified the new Scottish lockdown rules coming into force later next week.
The first minister told Friday’s daily coronavirus media briefing the updated guidelines, which come into force on 28 May in Scotland, did not mean family members were barred from travelling more than five miles from home to meet close family. Even that five miles limit was “a guide” she said.
Many commentators and social media users were surprised and irritated on Thursday the new rules appeared to rule out any visits to see elderly parents, even while it allowed people to play golf or host barbeques from next week.
Sturgeon urged Scots to “exercise good judgement” about where they travelled and who they met, but insisted that meeting people – including parents – outwith their immediate household could only happen outdoors.
She said people should avoid popping into their parents’ home to use the toilet after a long drive. “You risk leaving the virus on surfaces inside the house, and that’s a risk we don’t want you to take,” she said.
Sturgeon cautioned that the looser lockdown rules would not be in force this bank holiday weekend, and urged people not to flood to beaches, parks and beauty spots. “You have all been magnificent so far but please stick with it for the next few days, so we can begin the journey back to normality,” she said.
Scotland coronavirus death toll rises by 24
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