Schools in England will not reopen before 8 March, UK’s PM Johnson says

British PM Boris Johnson indicated on Wednesday that the coronavirus lockdown in England will remain in place until at least 8 March as he ruled out any imminent return to school for most students, AP reported.

In a statement to lawmakers, Johnson also confirmed new restrictions for travelers arriving in England from countries where the government thinks there is a risk of known variants of the coronavirus. He said the UK remains in a “perilous situation” with more than 37,000 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, nearly double the number during the country’s previous peak in April.

While dashing hopes of a return to classrooms after a mid-February school break, Johnson cautioned that the March 8 target is an aspiration dependent on progress on the vaccination front and ongoing reductions in the prevalence of the virus in the community. He said a “roadmap” for the “gradual and phased” easing of the lockdown will be unveiled in the week starting 22 February.

England’s schools are closed to all students bar those deemed to be vulnerable and children of key workers, such as doctors and delivery drivers. The same applies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Johnson said he hoped that by 15 February, the four most vulnerable groups, including those over the age of 70 and nursing home residents, will have gotten a first vaccine jab that would give them a level of immunity within three weeks.

Johnson also confirmed plans for a 10-day quarantine in hotels or other government-provided accommodation in England for anyone arriving from 22 hotspot countries, including South Africa, Portugal and all in South America. He added that anyone leaving England will be asked the reasons behind their trip and will be instructed to go home if they do not have a valid reason.

On Tuesday, the UK became the fifth country to record more than 100,000 coronavirus-related deaths.

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