Nurseries are "Covid-secure", insists Priti Patel

7 January 2021, 10:00

By Fiona Jones

This is the moment that Home Secretary Priti Patel told Nick Ferrari that nurseries for tots are "Covid-safe."

She defended the PM's choice to keep early learning institutions open as Nick questioned her on the logic of the new lockdown restrictions.

"How is a nursery a safe environment, Home Secretary?" Nick asked, "Little children, understandably, have no respect or even knowledge of Covid restrictions. Explain to me how a nursery is a Covid secure premises."

Ms Patel responded: "They are Covid-secure because people who are running nurseries, they are not only practitioners in education but they are following public guidance on how to put in force coronavirus regulations.

"The areas and the settings that are open are all with the coronavirus measures in place...No parent will put their child in a situation where the environment is not compliant."

The Home Secretary said over the last year "every single setting", whether social, retail or in this case educational, has changed due to the pandemic.

Early Years Alliance chief Neil Leitch, who represents over 14,000 early years settings, responded: "They're certainly doing everything they possibly can to keep these environments safe.

"With all due respect to the home secretary, given that on one day we're told it's absolutely safe to keep primary schools open and 24 hours later there was a complete reversal, I think I'd rather get the reassurance based on evidence. That's what we've been asking for."

Mr Leitch told Nick early years educators are calling for mass testing and priority for vaccinations.

"The main reason we're being asked to open is because the home secretary knows we've been so appallingly treated that if many providers close their doors, whether that be a childminder or a nursery, they may well not reopen.

"I would suggest this is more political than anything else."

Read more: Nick Ferrari scrutinises Priti Patel over police crackdown on Covid breaches