Sunday shows: Labour demands “roadmap” for reopening schools

Ridge on Sunday

Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds discussed the expected publication of a Covid-19 lockdown exit strategy. He called for a “roadmap” for the reopening of schools, but declared that it is “for the government to come up with the ideas”.

  • Asked about the progress made by the government: “I’m pleased the testing has been ramped up… but that in itself is not a strategy.”
  • On testing specifically: “The testing has to be increased further… We were talking about a quarter of a million tests a day sometime ago.”
  • On tracing: “It [testing] has to be linked, as you indicated in your question Sophy, to tracing… It is that testing and tracing that is going to be so important now in terms of easing the measures of the lockdown.”
  • On publishing an exit strategy: “It’s going to be important both to be open to the public… but also for our frontline services so that they can plan for the various scenarios.”
  • On the strategy: “We’ve been arguing for reopening of schools for some weeks… We’ve also been arguing for looking at the different sectors of our economy, which could see restrictions more likely to be lifted than others, and of course the testing and tracing strategy.”
  • On reopening schools: “We’re not asking for at the moment a precise date – what we’re simply asking for is a roadmap… It is for the government to come up with the ideas – we will then of course discuss them and hopefully find a consensus on what they are.”
  • Asked if the government should enforce use of a tracing app: “We’re willing to discuss different options for it… I think there are other matters we need to take into account here as well – not everybody has a smart phone… Secondly there are also issues around privacy and security.”
  • Asked if the Crown Prosecution Service is right to review all charges brought under the Covid-19 emergency legislation: “I think the CPS is sensible to do that because we are asking the police to police something that was completely new.”
  • On policing: “We must back our frontline police here – they’ve been asked to do this by us… By-and-large they have done an excellent job.”
  • Asked if free movement should continue after Brexit: “We will set out that detail in due course… We will always make the positive case for immigration.”
  • On concerns raised about Trevor Phillips’ involvement in the government’s BAME Covid-19 inquiry: “Keir Starmer is quite right to say that we should be engaging with those concerns.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps also appeared on the show and denied that the government had “failed by its own metric” when shown the government’s graph that suggests deaths in the UK are set to overtake Italy.

On the exit plan, he warned that it would be “over-egging” it to say that there is a date and a plan in place. He added that temperature checks on public transport is a “moot point” as people should not be going out if they feel unwell.

The Andrew Marr Show

Labour’s Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales, talked about the Welsh government plans for lifting restriction measures and its handling of testing.

  • On lifting lockdown measures: “My strong preference is that we agree a common set of measures, right across the UK, and we adopt a common timetable – so just as we went into lockdown on the same day and on the same terms, we’ll come out of it in the same way… I want to do it on a UK basis, and I still think that’s what we can achieve.”
  • On when schools in Wales can reopen: “Our advice from the trade unions and local authorities is that it will need three weeks as a minimum from the point that we decide to do that… So we are talking about the beginning of June there.” He said they were thinking about bringing back earlier children with special educational needs, particular year groups and those learning in Welsh who do not have Welsh spoken at home.
  • On public confidence: “You can open anything you like but if people don’t think it’s safe to go then there they’ll vote with their feet… [It is important that] as we begin to open up parts of the economy and society again, we have a new set of rules in place that demonstrates to the population that we’ve thought carefully about it… and that it is safe for them.”
  • On opening of schools: “I think of this in a phased way. We’re not going to have all the children in all the schools back on the same day.”
  • On care homes: “We are testing all care home staff and all care home residents where there is any coronavirus in that home.” He explained that the medical advice received by the Welsh government is being followed, and it does not recommend testing in care homes where there is no Covid-19.
  • On coronavirus entering care homes: “We test everybody who leaves hospital, and if you are tested as positive you don’t go to a care home in Wales.”
  • On abandoning the Welsh testing target of 5,000 tests a day: “It wasn’t a mistake. The feeling I had and the feeling reported to people on the frontline was that the number itself was a distraction. We have been focussed on the purpose and the point of a test.”
  • On face masks: “People are doing it, whatever our view is. Our advice is that it is of marginal utility, clinically, but in confidence terms people may well feel more confident to go out and do things if they are wearing a non-medical face covering. Not a mask that ends up competing with the NHS for masks, but simply covering your face.”

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