UK's Johnson hopes schools in England can reopen on March 8
LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson indicated Wednesday that the coronavirus lockdown in England will remain in place until at least March 8 as he ruled out any imminent return to school for most students.
In a statement to lawmakers, Johnson also confirmed new restrictions for travelers arriving in England from countries deemed to be high-risk. He said the U.K. 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 any hopes that students would return to classrooms after a mid-February school break, Johnson said the March 8 aspiration is based on progress on the vaccination front.
“The first sign of normality beginning to return should be pupils going back to their classrooms," he said.
England’s schools are currently closed to all students bar those deemed to be vulnerable and children of key workers, such as doctors and delivery drivers. Schools are also closed in the other nations of the U.K. — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Johnson said he hoped that by mid-February, much more will be known about the effect of vaccines in preventing hospital admissions and deaths, and the government plans to publish a plan for the “gradual and phased” easing of the lockdown in the week commencing Feb. 22.
“If we achieve our target of vaccinating everyone in the four most vulnerable groups with their first dose by Feb. 15, and every passing day sees more progress towards that goal, then those groups will have developed immunity from the virus about three weeks later, that is, by March 8," Johnson said.
Because the government has consistently said schools would be the first part of society to reopen from lockdown,...