Covid England: Priti Patel says police will punish lockdown flouters

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Covid England: Priti Patel says police will punish lockdown flouters

Priti Patel today warned police are ready to tackle people flouting lockdown rules amid claims ministers are planning a hard-hitting advertising campa

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Priti Patel today warned police are ready to tackle people flouting lockdown rules amid claims ministers are planning a hard-hitting advertising campaign.

After the coronavirus death toll hit a new daily record of 1,564, the Home Secretary said forces were seeing ‘dreadful’ breaches – with police breaking up several illegal raves last night including one held on a London roof-top. 

Officers in the capital were said to be ‘astounded’ after being called to break up a party at an industrial unit in Southwark last night, where they found at least 20 revellers on top of the building.

An illegal ‘house party’ of up to 100 people was also broken up by police in a Hertfordshire village, where music and alcohol were seized. 

The events were branded ‘completely unacceptable’ by police who issued Covid fines and made several arrests.

Appearing on ITV’s This Morning, Ms Patel said the government was not intending to make the lockdown tougher over the next few days – but she underlined that there will be harsher enforcement. 

The government is believed to be drawing up a new advertising push, with claims one draft slogan is ‘Don’t let a coffee cost a life’ – although No10 played down the idea the exact wording will be used. 

She said police were having to ‘break up some really dreadful situations where people are breaching the rules’.

‘It is important that we enforce these rules. Your viewers will see more police officers out and about,’ she said.

‘The rules are clear and the majority of the British public are following the rules.’

Pointing to the huge death toll yesterday, she said most people understood the need to ‘stop the spread of the virus’. 

‘The police will continue to issue fines and enforce against people who are flagrantly breaching the rules,’ she said. 

'Astounded' officers in the capital were called to break up a party of 20 people having a rave on a roof-top in Southwark, South East London

‘Astounded’ officers in the capital were called to break up a party of 20 people having a rave on a roof-top in Southwark, South East London

It comes as the UK recorded the highest Covid death toll since the start of the pandemic

It comes as the UK recorded the highest Covid death toll since the start of the pandemic

Priti Patel warned police are ready to tackle people flouting lockdown rules as she said they were seeing 'dreadful' breaches

Priti Patel warned police are ready to tackle people flouting lockdown rules as she said they were seeing ‘dreadful’ breaches

PM ‘delays tougher lockdown for England’ 

England could escape tougher lockdown measures for now after science chief Patrick Vallance suggested the current measures are ‘enough’ to control the mutant Covid strain and Neil Ferguson pointed to a ‘plateau’ in hospital admissions.

Boris Johnson is set to hold off tightening the rules despite soaring deaths and Nicola Sturgeon imposing extra curbs in Scotland, as experts welcomed a ‘flattening’ in the number of new infections.

After the UK recorded its deadliest toll yet with 1,564 victims, Sir Patrick warned last night that the UK is in for a ‘pretty grim period’ as deaths will not fall for ‘some weeks’ . 

But he also indicated that the case rate was more encouraging, with a run of four days of week-on-week falls.  

Sir Patrick said: ‘I think what we know now, which we didn’t know a few weeks ago, was would these sorts of restrictions be enough to bring this virus under control with the new variant? And the answer is yes, it looks like it is, and things are at least flattening off in some places, not everywhere.’

Professor Ferguson – whose modelling is reputed to have triggered the first lockdown in March – said this morning that the growth rate was slowing nationally, and in some NHS regions there were ‘signs of plateauing’.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘It looks like in London in particular and a couple of other regions in the South East and East of England, hospital admissions may even have plateaued, though it is hard to tell if they are coming down.

‘It has to be said this is not seen everywhere – both case numbers and hospital admissions are going up in many other areas, but overall at a national level we are seeing the rate of growth slow.’

The powerful Covid O Cabinet committee is due to meet today to consider the state of play, including signing off a travel ban from South America due to fears over an emerging super-strain in Brazil. However, it is not expected to ramp up the lockdown in England.

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Inspector Kio Bozorgi of Hertfordshire Police said: ‘This is completely unacceptable behaviour.

‘With daily deaths over 1000, there is no good excuse to be breaking the lockdown rules.’ 

The parties were held illegally during the national lockdown with restrictions requiring people to stay at home in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus. 

It comes as the UK recorded the highest Covid death toll since the start of the pandemic.     

After the UK recorded a further 1,564 victims yesterday, science chef Sir Patrick warned the UK is in for a ‘pretty grim period’ as deaths will not fall for ‘some weeks’. 

In London last night officers were called out to reports of loud music coming from the roof by disgusted residents. 

Many cheered the police on when they arrived to break up the illegal gathering on Pages Walk, Southwark. 

Officers found more than 20 people drinking, eating and playing music, leaving one officer ‘astounded’ at the rule-breaking.

Two people were arrested, including one individual on suspicion of carrying an offensive weapon, while another was arrested for suspected drug dealing. 

A further five people were handed fines for breaching Covid restrictions before the party was fully dispersed around 11.30pm. 

A similar event was also broken up in Herfordshire last night, where officers were called out to an address in South Mimms. 

Up to 100 people were said to have gathered at the home, which police suggested was rented accomodation. 

Police siezed alcohol and music equipment from the partygoers and one officer was injured while trying to break up the party, leading to an arrest. 

Covid fines were also handed out to the offenders breaching Covid rules. 

The gathering happened in the Hertsmere district which is currently the second worst-hit area in the county with 950 people testing positive in the last week, Hertforshire Live reports.  

The force’s Inspector Kio Bozorgi said: ‘This is completely unacceptable behaviour and I would like to reassure the community that action is being taken. Police have a variety of powers to their disposal which include powers of entry into premises to disrupt such activity.

‘With daily deaths over 1000, there is no good excuse to be breaking the lockdown rules. 

‘We all have a duty to protect our NHS and help save lives and I would like to take this opportunity to remind residents to do the right thing and respect the rules. 

‘Further enquiries will take place to establish the circumstances of this incident but I would like to remind you that renting accommodation in order to have a music event or gathering is not tolerated at this present time and lease holders found responsible will be prosecuted.’ 

Shoppers at Asda in Cape Hill, Smethwick, yesterday. People do not need to wear masks if they are covered by an exemption in the rules

People do not need to wear masks if they have an exemption under the rules

A seven-minute video captured at Asda in Cape Hill, Smethwick, yesterday included least 16 people not wearing masks – although people do not need to wear one if they have an exemption under the rules 

In London last night officers were called out to reports of loud music coming from the roof by disgusted residents

In London last night officers were called out to reports of loud music coming from the roof by disgusted residents

Officers found more than 20 people drinking, eating and playing music, leaving one officer 'astounded' at the rule-breaking

Officers found more than 20 people drinking, eating and playing music, leaving one officer ‘astounded’ at the rule-breaking

Two people were arrested, including one individual on suspicion of carrying an offensive weapon, while another was arrested for suspected drug dealing

Two people were arrested, including one individual on suspicion of carrying an offensive weapon, while another was arrested for suspected drug dealing

Police also broke up a gathering of up to 100 people in Blanche Lane, in the Hertfordshire village of South Mimms, last night

Police also broke up a gathering of up to 100 people in Blanche Lane, in the Hertfordshire village of South Mimms, last night

‘Outraged’ couple hit back at ‘ridiculous’ officer who fined them £60 for visiting wife’s mother in Welsh care home after police cancel penalty 

A couple have hit back at a police officer who fined them £60 for visiting the wife’s mother in a Welsh care home after the force cancelled their penalty.

Carol Richards, 68, and her husband David, 66, from Bridgend, travelled 10 miles to visit dementia sufferer Decima Minhinnick at Picton Court Care Home. 

They were reprimanded by police on the way back despite having received permission to see Ms Minhinnick and handed a £60 penalty.

South Wales Police have now rescinded the fine after reviewing the incident, following a public backlash to the growing war on shutdown flouters.

Speaking this morning, Mrs Richards described the incident as ‘ridiculous’, adding that she was left feeling ‘really upset’ and ‘outraged’. 

Carol Richards' mother, Decima Minhinnick, pictured at her 90th birthday party. Mrs Richards and her husband David travelled 10 miles to visit her at Picton Court Care Home

Carol Richards’ mother, Decima Minhinnick, pictured at her 90th birthday party. Mrs Richards and her husband David travelled 10 miles to visit her at Picton Court Care Home

Referring to the female police officer, she told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘I think she basically said it’s a non-essential visit.

‘But I sort of said then ‘we’ve been visiting my mum, we’ve been outside in a car park and I’ve been waving to her through the window’ and she said ‘well we’d all like to wave to our mothers through the window’. 

‘I thought my goodness, this is a bit ridiculous, I said ‘look, she’s got vascular dementia, she’s living in a care home, I’ve been outside, nobody and has been around and I’ve just been waving to her.’

‘But she wasn’t engaged with me, she just ordered me, and I started to feel really upset and also outraged.’ 

In a tweet posted yesterday, South Wales Police said: ‘Police in Porthcawl issued a fixed penalty notice to a man who had travelled from his home in Penyfai to visit a relative on Sunday (10 January).

‘The circumstances of the journey and the issuing of the fine have since been reviewed and the notice has been rescinded. The individual concerned has been notified.

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Releasing details of the incident, a spokesperson from Hertforshire Constabulary said in a statement: ‘Officers have received a number of reports this evening of a large gathering at an address in Blanche Lane, South Mimms. 

‘Officers are currently at the scene and issuing COVID fines. 

‘Music equipment and alcohol have been seized and a Section 35 dispersal order has been put in place.

‘A person has also been arrested after an officer was injured while dealing with the incident.’  

Concerning the event in London, a Metropolitan Police spokesperson said: ‘Police were called at around 22:25hrs on Wednesday, 13 January to reports of a group of people gathering at a location in Pages Walk, SE1. Officers attended.

‘A number of people were found inside a unit on an industrial estate. 

‘A small number of people were on the roof.

‘Five people were issued Fixed Penalty Notice fines for breaching Covid regulations.

‘Two people were arrested – one on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon, and one for obstruction and possession with intent to supply class A and B drugs. 

‘Both were taken into custody. The remainder of those present were dispersed by around 23:30hrs.’

In another sign of the concern about people’s behaviour, access to a beauty spot in Norfolk has been restricted. 

The coastal car park and access road at Horsey, a popular spot for watching seals, has been shut in a bid to deter visitors.

Five people from Hertfordshire, Northamptonshire and Essex have been fined for breaking lockdown regulations there over the past week.

Robin Buxton, from the Horsey Estate, said: ‘We all have a part to play in keeping people safe and following discussion with the police and council, we’re happy to close the car park to deter people from visiting.’ 

Despite her tough line on enforcement, Ms Patel seemed confused about coronavirus rules during her This Morning interview as she stressed the importance of exercising alone.

The guidance makes clear that in England someone is allowed to exercise outdoors with one other person from a different household.

Asked about the rules, Ms Patel told ITV’s This Morning: ‘The clarity is exercising on your own and not socialising.’

She added: ‘The point to make about any exercise – yes, it should be local, people exercise differently.

‘But exercise on your own and don’t use it for a social meeting.’

She said ‘cycling is fine, because you are on your own, you should not be cycling with other people’.

Ms Patel continued: ‘Running, exactly in the same way because you are on your own, walking on your own.’

England could escape tougher lockdown measures for now after science chief Patrick Vallance suggested the current measures are ‘enough’ to control the mutant Covid strain and Neil Ferguson pointed to a ‘plateau’ in hospital admissions.

Mr Johnson is set to hold off tightening the rules despite soaring deaths and Nicola Sturgeon imposing extra curbs in Scotland, as experts welcomed a ‘flattening’ in the number of new infections.

After the UK recorded its deadliest toll yet with 1,564 victims, Sir Patrick warned last night that the UK is in for a ‘pretty grim period’ as deaths will not fall for ‘some weeks’. 

But he also indicated that the case rate was more encouraging, with a run of four days of week-on-week falls.  

Sir Patrick said: ‘I think what we know now, which we didn’t know a few weeks ago, was would these sorts of restrictions be enough to bring this virus under control with the new variant? And the answer is yes, it looks like it is, and things are at least flattening off in some places, not everywhere.’

Professor Ferguson – whose modelling is reputed to have triggered the first lockdown in March – said this morning that the growth rate was slowing nationally, and in some NHS regions there were ‘signs of plateauing’.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘It looks like in London in particular and a couple of other regions in the South East and East of England, hospital admissions may even have plateaued, though it is hard to tell if they are coming down.

‘It has to be said this is not seen everywhere – both case numbers and hospital admissions are going up in many other areas, but overall at a national level we are seeing the rate of growth slow.’

The powerful Covid O Cabinet committee is due to meet today to consider the state of play, including signing off a travel ban from South America due to fears over an emerging super-strain in Brazil. However, it is not expected to ramp up the lockdown in England.

Priti Patel said this morning that the Government is not bringing in new social distancing restrictions ‘today or tomorrow’. 

In a series of appearances yesterday, Mr Johnson refused to rule out extra measures, but hailed ‘early’ signs that coronavirus is coming back under control.  

Ministers accused of leaving UK at risk by delaying border rules 

Ministers were accused of creating ‘utter chaos’ and leaving the UK at ‘serious risk’ today as new rules requiring arrivals to have tested negative for coronavirus were delayed.

The border rules were announced last week and had been due to come into force tomorrow, with travellers needing to have been screened within the previous 72 hours.

However, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced late last night that is being pushed back to Monday to give people ‘time to prepare’ – although he managed to tweet an emoji suggesting the date was January 17 rather than 18.  

MPs voiced fury at the shambles, which means thousands of people will come into the UK without checks and others have spent money on tests unnecessarily. 

The confusion deepened as Nicola Sturgeon’s deputy insisted Scotland has already put the rules in place before the deadline. 

Meanwhile, ministers will today consider imposing a complete ban on flights and visitors for the whole of South America to combat a worrying new Brazil variant. This would mirror beefed-up restrictions brought in for South Africa due to its mutant Covid.

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The PM insisted the measures in England were being kept ‘under constant review’ as Labour demanded to know why they were looser than last spring despite cases being higher. 

He warned that the NHS was at ‘substantial risk’ of being swamped, and the ‘only way’ of protecting it was to follow the ‘current rules’. 

But despite the mounting death toll, Mr Johnson sounded a notably optimistic tone about the emerging impact of the restrictions. 

He said the country was ‘now starting to see the beginnings of some signs’ that the crackdown was having an effect in parts of the country, while stressing it was ‘early days’ and urged people to ‘keep their discipline’. 

MailOnline analysis suggests the outbreak in England may have started slowing before the blanket lockdown on January 4, with infection numbers peaking in the worst-hit regions at the start of the year. The tide appears to have turned in parts of the country experiencing the worst outbreaks – London, the South East and the East of England – in the first week of 2021, with cases coming down since then. 

Coronavirus hospital admissions have also started to fall in London and the South East, although the numbers of patients are still rising on wards after surging above the peaks recorded in the first wave. 

Ms Patel said earlier this week that a minority of the public were ‘putting the health of the nation at risk’ as she backed a tougher police approach to lockdown rules.

Speaking at a Downing Street press briefing on Tuesday, she said officers are moving more quickly to issuing fines where people are clearly breaching coronavirus regulations, with nearly 45,000 fixed penalty notices issued across the UK since March.

Chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council Martin Hewitt said that more officers will be out on dedicated patrols to deal with rule breakers,

He gave examples of recent breaches including another party in Hertfordahire where more than 40 people had each paid £30 each for a ticket to a boat party. 

A minibus full of people from different households was also caught travelling from Cheltenham to Wales for a walk.  

DIY schooling: Furious parents claim teachers are only using Zoom to do the register and read stories, or sending links to pre-recorded lessons with some resorting to hiring nannies to help them as they try to WFH 

Furious parents have hit out at online lessons for children working from home, with some claiming teachers are only doing the register and reading stories over Zoom. 

The outcry comes after Education Secretary Gavin Williamson admitted yesterday children could stay home until after the February half-term.

Mr Williamson stressed he wants ‘schools to be closed for the shortest period of time available’ but warned classrooms could continue to be shut in ‘areas of particular need’ – even after lockdown starts to be eased. 

His comments drew ire with appalled parents slamming the standard of teaching their children are receiving online.

Some said they had been forced to teach their children themselves despite also working from home.

Others revealed how their children’s teachers are appearing over Zoom to take classes while teaching assistants are left to teach the children of key workers still attending school. 

One parent, who has three children including a daughter aged ten and two sons aged five and three, told MailOnline: ‘The lessons for my five year old are a joke. The teacher just arranges a 15 minute call in the morning, where they just run through the register and then a 15 minute story in the afternoon. 

‘My daughter can be more focused due to her age but again the teacher is only directly speaking to them for 15 minutes in the morning then 15 minutes in the afternoon. It feels as though they can just do what they want and do not care how it affects the parents and children.’ 

Mariam Jasat

Mariam Jasat

Another parent, Mariam Jasat, told MailOnline: ” am currently working full time from home and have four boys. One at nursery and 3 home schooled. It’s hell!’

Parents have hit out at the quality of online education their children are getting during lockdown. One parent, who wished to remain anonymous, said his daughter is only getting a register before being left alone

Parents have hit out at the quality of online education their children are getting during lockdown. One parent, who wished to remain anonymous, said his daughter is only getting a register before being left alone

Mother Zoe Brunswick said she had to hire a nanny to support her children so she and her husband could also continue working

Mother Zoe Brunswick said she had to hire a nanny to support her children so she and her husband could also continue working

Zoe Brunswick said she had to get a nanny to support her children: ‘We have two young children, one aged 5 and one aged 9. My eldest has additional learning needs after a recent diagnosis of autism and ADHD. I am a HR director for a multinational company employing over 5500 employees and my husband is the director and sole employee of his own business, which requires him to be out on sites. 

‘We are not classed as key workers so have no access to school and have had to resort to hiring a part time nanny (at our own cost) to support with the demands coming out in terms of school work. 

‘Our youngest can’t read so needs supervision on any tasks set and our eldest requires support to stay focused, so we either let them both fall behind or try to find a solution that allows us to continue with our demanding jobs. It’s a no win situation.’

Another parent added: ‘I really want to know how it’s expected that we also teach. Our child is 7 years old. We are sent a word document with a lot of school work and links to a couple of pre-recorded 15 minute “lessons”. 

‘That is the sum total of what is being offered to us and our child. It’s then up to us to teach the lessons, answer any questions, engage in talk tasks, motivate and nurture – against work deadlines and back to back calls. 

‘No child that age can self-teach, and there is zero interaction with the teacher beyond getting back comments from work submitted the day before. There’s no opportunity to discuss, ask questions, seek support. A subject is rattled off (if we are lucky) in 15 minutes and that’s it. What happens if they don’t understand?? By the time the comments come back the next day, the 15 minute lesson is forgotten.

‘It is ludicrous that anyone would think that this is in anyway acceptable.

‘The stress of it all – on family, working and schooling is devastating. And nothing is being done – and worse than that, there’s no recognition of this situation at all. Working parents have been abandoned.’

Mother Caroline Irving said: ‘I’m struggling to work at home full time while supervising my child in year 8. They have constant questions on the work and demands and it’s very stressful not being able to give 100% to either. 

‘We need to campaign to get all schools open after half term. Our children are missing so much. It’s not just about learning. It’s their friends, sport, clubs, school meals and exams.

‘It can be difficult fitting round the video lessons. Lunch is at 12.40pm and I often don’t have time to eat myself as I’m preparing my child’s lunch and I could have a Zoom call at 1pm.’ 

Another parent said: ‘I want to point out the the primary school my children attend are sending an email every day to us as working parents, with work that they want us to teach our two children aged seven and eight.

Mother Caroline Irving said: 'I'm struggling to work at home full time while supervising my child in year 8. They have constant questions on the work and demands and it's very stressful not being able to give 100% to either'

Mother Caroline Irving said: ‘I’m struggling to work at home full time while supervising my child in year 8. They have constant questions on the work and demands and it’s very stressful not being able to give 100% to either’

Parents spoke about their struggles to keep their own work going while helping their children

Parents spoke about their struggles to keep their own work going while helping their children

‘The school are classing this as remote learning. In the first lockdown the school did the same thing and never once in a four month period bothered to call our children to see if they where ok.

‘They didn’t ask to see the completed work at any time during this period. When questioned about providing zoom lessons we where told there is safeguarding issues.

‘Move on nine months and lock down three and we have the same situation, emails requesting us as parents to teach the lessons. However this time they are at least asking to provide evidence the work is being completed. 

‘Still no zoom lessons and no direct communication from the teachers.’ 

Mother Mariam Jasat added: ‘I am currently working full time from home and have four boys. One at nursery and 3 home schooled. It’s hell!’

‘The main issue is the boys have four Teams calls a day. They all have their own device thankfully but often get stuck or can’t get into their calls or have technical issues. I often have back to back calls, many where my camera is on and they’ll either run into the room I’m working in asking for help or hover near my desk which isn’t ideal.

‘It’s super challenging working and focussing on my tasks whilst also checking that the boys are getting on with their work and understand it and not pretending to work and actually sat there playing games!

‘When the nurseries were shut, I was on a call, and my 4 year old ran into the room shouting “I need a poo”! Thankfully I was on mute!’ 

Another parent hit out at schools forcing teaching assistants to teach the children of key workers while teachers work from Zoom. 

Gavin Williamson today suggested that schools in hotspot areas could remain closed beyond the February half-term

Gavin Williamson today suggested that schools in hotspot areas could remain closed beyond the February half-term

They said: ‘Parents at my local academy Primary school are being conned. All lessons in school are being taught by classroom assistants (TA’s). 

‘A teacher in school who has been providing online lessons (in an empty classroom), then dismisses the class at the end of the day so the parents believe the children have been taught by them instead of the TA. 

‘The TA’s are stressed teaching whilst the teachers are mainly able to work from home. In normal times teachers would plan in PPA time or in their own time, but they are able to do this at home during the teaching day. It seems very unfair on both the children and the teaching assistants.

‘The TA’s are also teaching vulnerable children as well as Key Worker children. These children are vulnerable for a reason often not disclosed to the TA’s.

‘Most teachers have a degree and further qualifications often taking 4years but TA’s have not had such in depth training and are now being pushed to their limits by both the demands of the curriculum and some of the children in school. Academies in particular use them as teachers as they are much cheaper than a fully qualified experienced teacher.

‘Teachers who have their own children being educated either at home online or in school are particularly concerned by what is occurring in academies at the moment.’

Kirsty Brotherthon said:’My 7 year old son who loves attending school is struggling with home online learning. We are currently using the ‘SeeSaw’ app and it is proving difficult to use as the app is intermittent. 

‘Personally, my son finds it easier using a pen and paper, the app is so hard for a 7 year old to use. I also don’t think the work provided is up to scratch. He has started making excuses up and true everything in his power to get out of home learning.

‘It is also seriously effecting his mental health and behaviour. He is usually such a happy child, but due to him not attending school, this is now not the case.

‘I am deeply concerned and pray for the schools to open soon.’

The Government is hoping a majority of pupils will be able to return to classrooms soon after the first review of the national lockdown on February 15. 

MPs on the Education Select Committee yesterday also demanded a guarantee ‘signed in blood’ from Mr Williamson that schools will reopen as soon as possible. 

Meanwhile, the Education Secretary also declined to guarantee that nurseries will continue to be allowed to open as he would only go so far as to say he had ‘no intention’ to close them. 

The Government used a so-called contingency framework before lockdown which allowed ministers to move primary schools in coronavirus hotspots to remote learning. 

Mr Williamson said the framework will be used again when lockdown is eased in an apparent admission that some schools could remain shut potentially long into the future.  

He told MPs: ‘We already have the sort of set scheme in terms of contingency framework. 

‘Obviously as I have said many times before I want schools to be closed for the shortest period of time available. 

‘But the contingency framework would be sort of sat there to sort of continue if there [are] areas of particular need where we had to have school settings continued to remain closed, it would be through the contingency framework that they would remain closed.’ 

Robert Halfon, the Tory chairman of the committee, said he wanted a commitment to reopen schools as soon as possible, and ideally after the February half-term, ‘signed in blood’ by Mr Williamson. 

Mr Halfon also pushed the Education Secretary on whether nurseries in England will be allowed to stay open.   

Mr Williamson said: ‘Nurseries, we always, Mr Chairman, I am very much like you, I always want to see all education settings open all of the time.

‘I always want to ensure that every child is in a position to be able to go to school and as you will be aware, transmissibility among those who are most youngest is actually the very lowest compared to all of the settings. 

‘So when you are in a position to be able to keep part of the education sector in terms of early years, I believe it was the right decision to make because so many families really rely on that nursery provision.

‘But most importantly, those early years are so important…’

Mr Halfon then interrupted and pushed Mr Williamson for a guarantee that nurseries will be allowed to stay open. 

Mr Williamson replied: ‘The advice that we have had is that we can keep early years settings open and there is no intention to close them and we have not received any contrary advice to that.’   

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