Tier shake-up in 24 hours: Boris calls meeting tonight to decide on Tier 5 areas & schools | UK | News (Reports)

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The Prime Minister will chair the meeting at 6pm on Tuesday as coronavirus cases continue to shoot up. He will discuss whether schools should remain closed for longer than the Christmas break in areas where Covid rates are particularly high.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock will make a statement on coronavirus tiers on Wednesday, Mr Johnson’s spokesman said. 

No10 refused to comment on whether the reopening of schools would be discussed at tonight’s meeting.

A spokesman referred back to comments made by Michael Gove on Monday. 

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, the Cabinet Minister said it remained the Government’s “intention” to bring pupils back into classrooms next week, following their holiday.

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Mr Gove added: “We are confident that we will be able to get schools back in good order.

“Our plan and our timetable is there, and we are working with teachers to deliver it.”

Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of the Government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), issued the warning.

He said if schools were reopened in January, “increased, strict restrictions” would be needed in other areas of society to balance the risk.

READ MORE: School closures: Huge blunder in new Tier 4 laws

“A 50 percent increase in transmissibility means that the previous levels of restrictions that worked before won’t work now, and so Tier 4 restrictions are likely to be necessary or even higher than that.

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“I think we’re really looking at a situation where we’re moving into near-lockdown, but we’ve got to learn the lessons from the first lockdown.”

He is a professor of infectious diseases epidemiology at University College London.

NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens has warned that doctors and nurses are “back in the eye of the storm”.

Sir Simon said: “Many of us have lost family, friends, colleagues and – at a time of year when we would normally be celebrating – a lot of people are understandably feeling anxious, frustrated and tired.

“And now, again, we are back in the eye of the storm with a second wave of coronavirus sweeping Europe and, indeed, this country.”

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Pressure is continuing to mount on the Government to delay further the reopening of secondary schools in January amid concerns about their contribution to rising cases.

Two teaching unions have warned that allowing students to return will put them at risk of catching the new variants of Covid-19.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), welcomed the Government’s plans for soldiers to offer remote support for testing in schools.

But he warned the plan is unlikely to be enough to keep infection rates down.

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