Scientists advising the Government have said lockdown should not be lifted too quickly after Tory lockdown-sceptics called for a complete removal of restrictions by the end of May.
Professor Graham Medley, chairman of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M), said ministers should “make decisions dependent on the circumstances, rather than being driven by a calendar of wanting to do things.”
He was backed by Dr Mike Tildesley, also from Spi-M, who said there needed to be a gradual easing out of lockdown to prevent a resurgence of cases and the need to implement tighter controls.
It comes after former health secretary Jeremy Hunt told the Guardian that ministers should take a cautious approach to lifting the lockdown so that new coronavirus cases can be driven down to 1,000 a day.
There are more concerns about the potential of fully reopening schools as the GMB Union called for an urgent meeting with the Education Secretary after it emerged that guidance for schools had been changed to allow mixing between ‘bubbles’.
The newly updated guidelines ‘Restricting attendance during the national lockdown: schools, February 2021’ states: “All teachers and other staff can operate across different groups”
Since the New Year Lockdown with schools opening to all key workers and vulnerable children it has been the school support staff who have predominately remained in the classrooms undertaking face-to-face contact with pupils.
Rehana Azam, National Secretary of GMB Union said: “All guidance up to now has sought to prevent the mixing of bubbles in schools. If you have school support staff moving from one group of pupils to another, you’re essentially turning them into super spreaders.
“This policy change is completely ill-judged and has potential to be extremely dangerous. We want to see the science behind it. The Secretary of State needs to urgently meet with schools’ unions and explain why this change has been made.
“Despite headlines to the contrary, schools are not closed. Across the country thousands and thousands of children of key workers and in vulnerable categories are in school every day – far more than in the first lockdown last March.
“In many areas it’s school support staff who are the ones physically present, it’s completely unacceptable to change any rules that would make those workers – and the children and families they’re responsible for less safe.”