How can schools return if social distancing continues, Nick Ferrari asks Minister

23 April 2020, 08:47 | Updated: 23 April 2020, 08:50

By Adrian Sherling

Yesterday, the Chief Medical Officer revealed that social distancing guidelines will have to last for the rest of the year. So will schools even go back in 2020, Nick Ferrari asked a Cabinet Minister.

In the Downing Street press conference, Professor Chris Whitty said: “We have to be very realistic. If people are hoping it’s suddenly going to move from where we are in lockdown to where suddenly into everything is gone, that is a wholly unrealistic expectation.

"We are going to have to do a lot of things for really quite a long period of time, the question is what is the best package and this is what we’re trying to work out. If you release more on one area, you have to keep on board more of another area so there’s a proper trade-off and this is what ministers are having to consider."

Nick put to Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis that, if social distancing guidelines are maintained, surely that means schools cannot go back until at least January.

Nick Ferrari spoke to Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis
Nick Ferrari spoke to Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis. Picture: LBC

Mr Lewis responded: "I think we have to look at the advice as we come to it. It's dangerous to jump a bit ahead of ourselves.

"Chris Whitty is saying that some form of distancing, some form of guidance will stay in place.

"We've got to be cautious about how we do this. Even today, we're seeing shops like B&Q open a few more stores as they learn how to run their stores while following social distancing."

Nick pointed out that school children aren't going to respect social distancing, so how could they open?

Mr Lewis said: "That is asking me to get a bit ahead of ourselves. When we get to the point where the medical and scientific advice says we can start to look at how we ease social distancing, the Department of Education will assess that.

"But the most important thing at the moment - we're not at that point. We're still at the point where we have to follow those guidelines and the best way we can save lives is to stay at home where you can."

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