Sunday shows: Labour on schools reopening and lockdown easing

Ridge on Sunday

Steve Reed, Labour’s communities spokesperson, discussed the reopening of schools due to take place tomorrow and said the government had “wasted time” in developing the test, track and isolate system.

  • On easing lockdown restrictions: “Labour supports the lockdown easing but it’s critically important that as that happens it’s done in the safest way that it possibly can be.”
  • Asked if Labour supports schools reopening tomorrow: “Where it’s possible to open schools, then absolutely we want to see schools open… In some communities up to a third of children are not getting any education at all.”
  • On some areas reopening schools and others not: “We don’t have a single rate of infection for this disease… The way to deal with that is to set clear national standards that everybody can understand but allow flexibility on how those are applied in particular localities.”
  • On the differences between areas: “If you try to apply one-size-fits-all when the circumstances are so different in different parts of the country, you’ll put children and their families at risk.”
  • On the test and trace system: “The government has, in my opinion, wasted time on getting this program right. Just on Friday last week, with four working days until Boris Johnson’s deadline… local authority leaders were told they were going to have to take a lead on this.”
  • On what is needed: “We need to see better data sharing, so that local authorities know exactly who needs to be contacted and asked to isolate. Local authorities are saying they need more powers to enforce local lockdowns.”
  • On further support: “Where there are people who for reasons of their own personal income are less likely to self-isolate… there needs to be financial support to help them self-isolate.”
  • On public confidence: “These are all things the government can fix very, very quickly if they choose to, and it’s essential that is done if you’re going to have public confidence and an effective and robust contact tracing system.”

Joint general secretary of the National Education Union Mary Bousted also appeared on the show. She argued for the reopening of schools to be pushed back to June 15th and said the summer holidays should not be cancelled.

  • On the reopening of schools: “Tomorrow is too soon and we have made that argument for a number of weeks now.”
  • On the government’s approach: “The government simply did not give enough time to plan… The government’s plans on reopening schools, since they were first produced on 12th May, have been changed 41 times.”
  • On staff: “We are asking them – without personal protective equipment and without social distancing – to go into schools at a time when the rate fo infection is still the fifth highest incidence in the world.”
  • On pushing back reopening: “If you keep the lockdown measures in place for two more weeks and open schools on June 15th, then the rate of infection in children will have halved… We think that is safer.”
  • Asked if summer holidays should be cancelled: “No, the summer holidays shouldn’t be cancelled because teachers have been working flat-out to provide education for children from home.”
  • But she also said: “What should happen is – and we do support this – to have clubs and activities on a voluntary basis for those children to meet together and to socialise.”

Dominic Raab discussed the easing of lockdown restrictions. He argued that the government had made “steady progress” in bringing down the rate of transmission. The Foreign Secretary said: “We can’t just stay in lockdown forever – we’ve got to transition.”

Nicola Sturgeon was asked about the crisis care homes, and said: “It’s often put to me that the death rate for care homes in Scotland is higher than it is in England and I just don’t believe that.” She said there was a “question of under-reporting in England”.

The Andrew Marr Show

Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds discussed restrictions being lifted, economic measures, Rosie Duffield’s resignation and schools reopening.

  • On whether Labour supports the unlocking: “That decision has been made much riskier because of what seems like a lack of preparedness, particularly around test track and isolate… And around the public health messaging, which really ought to be crystal clear.”
  • Pointed out that 250,000 tests a day, an app, and other tests set by Labour have not been achieved: “Party political debate over some of these issues is not relevant now. What is relevant is getting those problems fixed and doing it urgently.“
  • On whether Labour backs the furlough scheme ending in October: “I don’t support the approach that we’ve seen from government, which is adopting a one-size-fits-all approach to every sector of our economy.. I’ve called on the Chancellor to release the information he’s basing these decision on.”
  • On Rosie Duffield’s resignation: “She was absolutely right to resign. Clearly she wasn’t right to have broken the rules, quite the opposite, and it’s absolutely correct that she has immediately taken responsibility for that as I understand it.”
  • On whether she is still worried about sending her children to reopened schools: “It’s very interesting being a woman in politics. I know this question has been asked of men as well. Actually my children aren’t at the stage where they would be in those year groups anyway.”
  • On schools, she added: “It is really important now that we enable people to take the right decisions around this. If individual schools feel that they are not ready, that they are given the support so they can get ready. If individual parents don’t feel that it is safe for their children, that they’re not put in a difficult position because of that.”

Dominic Raab also appeared on Marr. He reiterated that we are “transitioning from Level 4 to Level 3” on the coronavirus alert system. The Foreign Secretary also made clear: “What we really want to avoid is a re-entering of the lockdown.”

He confirmed that the government would reimpose measures on specific areas with worse infection rates, and agreed with the example of Greater Manchester. Its mayor, Andy Burnham, has called this plan a “recipe for chaos”.

Raab said: “If there’s any uptick in one particular locality, we’ve got the ability to take targeted measures, and that’s why the test and tracing system will help us… We will target specific settings or particular regions or geographic areas, yes.”

Asked how many people had been “traced” following the launch of NHS Test and Trace on Thursday, he replied: “I don’t have the exact figures.”

Raab confirmed that the UK is proposing to offer residency rights to 2.9m people from Hong Kong, though added: “You’re not going to get all of those people – a fraction of them would actually come to the UK.”

On George Floyd and Trump’s tweet (“When the looting starts, the shooting starts”), Raab said he was keeping to “self-imposed guidance not to comment on what President Trump says”. He added: “We want to see America come back together, not tear itself apart over this. That is a very distressing and upsetting case.”

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