Professor Neil Ferguson, who advises the government as part of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), has said that he feels it is “quite likely” that all schools will reopen in England.
Speaking to Good Morning Britain, Professor Ferguson said he is “encouraged” by the government’s “cautious strategy” to date.
But he added, “The thing we don’t want to repeat is what has happened on previous occasions, namely relaxing too fast.”
Professor Gabriel Scally, president of the epidemiology and public health section at the Royal Society of Medicine, warned that the government needs a “strategic plan” for easing restrictions.
Professor Scally, who is also a member of Independent Sage, said cases must come down “consistently.”
He added, “We can’t repeat the mistakes that we made in the past by loosening restrictions in places where there still is a lot of circulating virus.”
Professor Ferguson said believes all schools in England will reopen on 8 March, but he cautioned, there will then need to be two or three weeks to look at how that affects case numbers.
He said, “The modelling we and other groups and universities in the UK have been doing would suggest there probably is leeway to reopen all schools. But of course that poses slightly more of a risk than just, for instance, reopening primary schools.”
He added, “My own overall judgment is we probably do have the headroom to reopen schools.”
Boris Johnson said, “Our children’s education is our number one priority, but then working forward, getting non-essential retail open as well and then, in due course as and when we can prudently, cautiously, of course we want to be opening hospitality as well.
“I will be trying to set out as much as I possibly can in as much detail as I can, always understanding that we have to be wary of the pattern of disease. We don’t want to be forced into any kind of retreat or reverse ferret.”