Government statements on Covid and return to schools expected this afternoon


Statements about covid-19 and about the return to education next month will be made in the House of Commons this afternoon.

Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock will make a statement on Covid-19, expected at 2.30pm (UPDATE- this now looks likely to be later). MPs will also consider public health statutory instruments relating to coronavirus.

This will be followed by a statement from Education Secretary Gavin Williamson on education return in January.

The statements will be live streamed from the House.

A covid data briefing is also due to be streamed this morning.


The covid update from Matt Hancock is expected to reveal the results of the latest tier review and it is thought some areas of the country will move up to Tier 4. Rumours of another national lockdown, or so called Tier 5 measures, are also likely to be addressed.

Thanet, along with the rest of Kent, is currently in Tier 4.

Before Christmas government announced secondary students would have staggered returns to school  as covid testing takes place.

Secondary-age pupils are being prioritised for testing in response to the recent high rates of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

In these schools with secondary-age pupils, vulnerable children, the children of critical workers and pupils in exam year groups (primarily years 11 and 13) are expected to return to school first with other years returning the week after.

But the new, more virulent strain of covid is raising fears of increased infections for both students and staff.

Military personnel are on standby to support secondary schools and colleges to roll out COVID-19 testing to students and staff.

Some 1,500 UK Armed Forces personnel are being made available to support the roll out. The majority of personnel will form local response teams, providing support and phone advice to institutions needing guidance on the testing process and set-up of the facilities.

This will be done mostly through webinars and individual meetings, but teams will also be on standby to deploy at short notice to provide in-person support if needed.

However, calls have been made from the Independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies and teaching unions to keep schools closed until February to limit spread of the virus. This is expected to be addressed by Gavin Williamson.