UK Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, has said that schools have no reopening date as the coronavirus lockdown continues in Britain.
His cabinet colleague, Michael Gove, said earlier today (April 19) that newspaper reports of a return date were not true.
Williamson was speaking at the daily Downing Street coronavirus briefing for the first time.
The campaign manager for Boris Johnson’s successful bid for the Conservative Party leadership said: “People are anxious to know when we’re going to relax restrictions, when schools are likely to be fully back and open again.
“Of course, I want nothing more than to see schools back, get them back to normal, make sure the children are sat around, learning, and experiencing the joy of being at school.
“But I can’t give you a date.”
Williamson thanked everybody for observing the lockdown and for “all the sacrifices you have made and continued to make,” saying it is the “surest way to protect the NHS and save lives.”
He confirmed that the total number of deaths of those in the UK hospitalised with coronavirus had reached 16,060.
“We must not forget that behind every single statistic there is a heart-breaking story,” he added.
He repeated the five tests set out by the government before they can relax the restrictions.
They include death and infection rates going down, as proper testing and the full supply of PPE to make sure that any changes would not cause a second peak of Covid-19 cases.
Deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries said people should be congratulated on maintaining social distancing measures by not using public transport in the UK.
She acknowledged a “little blip” over Easter but said the country was now back to “normal pandemic level.”
Williamson was asked about reports that stocks of PPE – such as gowns and masks – were run down ahead of the coronavirus outbreak.
He responded by saying that there had been an “enormous effort” to find PPE “right around the globe” – and they have been working hard “from the first moment.”