UK Schools Are Closing From Friday And Exams To Be Scrapped, Boris Johnson Announces
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Schools in England will close on Friday as the country's coronavirus lockdown continues.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the news on Wednesday as part of his daily press briefings on the health crisis.
He announced schools will be closing until further notice. This will apply to all pupils, apart from children of key workers.
"To slow the spread of the virus, we judge now is the right moment to do this," he said.
England follows Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland who had already announced their plans to close schools "by Friday" earlier in the day.
The PM explained that schools will need to make provisions for the children of key workers - such as those who work in the NHS, other public health sectors or supermarket workers - so they can continue going to work.
He added the government was making provisions for free school meals and vouchers for children eligible.
Boris also added that exams would not be going ahead as planned in May and June, though he urged the government would "make sure pupils get the qualifications they need and deserve for their academic career".
Boris had hinted at his plans for England's schools during PMQs on Wednesday, saying: "Of course we will do everything we can to remove burdens on schools and Ofsted is one in particular we can address.
"The house should expect further decisions to be taken imminently on schools and how to make sure we square the circle of making sure we stop the spread of the disease but also making sure we relieve, as much as we can, pressure on our NHS."
Latest government figures put the UK death toll at 104, with the majority of victims having underlying health conditions. The Department of Health has reported 2,626 confirmed cases as of Wednesday, although the true number is understood to be much higher.
It comes after the government unveiled a raft of measures to help those impacted financially by the coronavirus lockdown, including small businesses, renters and homeowners who can no longer afford mortgage repayments due to being out of work.
In a news conference on Monday, Boris urged people to work from home and avoid going out to bars and pubs in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus.
He said: "It is now clear that the peak of the epidemic is coming, faster in some parts of the country than in others. It looks as though London is a few weeks ahead."
He emphasised that the government, as of this week, will no longer support mass gatherings involving emergency workers and all 'non essential' contact should be stopped, including catching up with friends for drinks.
However, the government will not close places such as bars and restaurants. Despite having the power to do so the government feels this isn't necessary just yet.
The PM added: "Now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel."
He added that people with serious health conditions should isolate themselves for 12 weeks.
Stressing that London is a few weeks ahead in terms of the spread of the virus, he added that Londoners "must pay special attention to what we are saying about avoiding non-essential travel."
The government's chief scientific advisor, Patrick Vallance, reiterated that these sorts of closures "need to be done at the right time in the right way, at the right stage of the outbreak."