Pubs ‘may need to shut’ to allow schools to reopen

Pubs in England may need to close to allow schools to reopen next month, a scientist advising the government has said.

Prof Graham Medley, of the infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, told said in an interview on the BBC that there may need to be a “trade-off”, with the re-opening of schools seen as a “priority” for children’s wellbeing.

It came after England’s chief medical officer said yesterday, the country was “near the limit” of opening up society.

On Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the further easing of the lockdown would be delayed.

Measures due to come in this weekend, including the reopening of casinos, bowling alleys, skating rinks and some other close-contact services, as well as the return of indoor performances and pilots of large gatherings in sports venues and conference centres, would be postponed for 2 weeks at least, the PM said.

The expansion of wedding receptions to allow up to 30 people to attend, was also put on hold.

Mr Johnson told Friday’s Downing Street press conference that he needed to “squeeze the brake pedal” on easing restrictions, following a rise in coronavirus cases in the country.

While, Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England, warned the nation had “probably reached near the limit or the limits” of what can be done to reopen society, meaning trade-offs may be needed to allow pupils to return to classrooms next month as planned.

Mr Johnson has previously said that all schools in England will return in September “with full attendance”.

Asked whether restrictions of other activities may be needed to allow schools to reopen as planned, Prof Medley said: “I think that’s quite possible.

“I think we’re in a situation whereby most people think that opening schools is a priority for the health and wellbeing of children and that when we do that we are going to reconnect lots of households.

“And so actually, closing some of the other networks, some of the other activities may well be required to enable us to open schools.

“It might come down to a question of which do you trade-off against each other, and then that’s a matter of prioritising. Do we think pubs are more important than schools?”

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