Coronavirus: ‘Tragedy’ many school pupils won’t be back until autumn – Chancellor Rishi Sunak

The chancellor has said it is a “tragedy” that many children will not be back in school until this autumn, in a blunt warning about the consequences of the lockdown for Britain’s health, society and economy.

Talking to Sky News at a John Lewis department store amid preparations for the easing of the lockdown, Rishi Sunak urged shoppers to return to the high street when general shops begin opening up in the coming weeks, saying the longer the economy was shut down for, the worse the implications.

Talking the day after the government’s school u-turn, in which plans for all England’s primary children to return for a month before the summer break were dropped, the chancellor said: “I personally think every day our children are not at school is a tragedy.”

Mr Sunak insisted the government was meeting its self-imposed five tests to reopen the economy, despite concerns from government scientists about the resurgence of the disease.

He added that he was “proud” of the government’s record in combating the disease – though he conceded that it had to “iterate” and change plans along the way.

The chancellor also addressed the protests in this country and the US over racism and police brutality, saying: “Of course racism exists… I understand people want change but it doesn’t happen with vandalism and violence. We have to take a moment to recognise the enormous progress that’s been made.”

Asked whether he had experience racism himself he said: “Absolutely, I have. It stings in a way that very few other things have.”

Talking about the reopening of general shops, which is due to begin on Monday, the chancellor said: “Last month we set out a clear plan to reopen our country slowly and today we’re at the next stage of that plan where next week we’ll be able to open shops again in our country.

“And that’s because we’ve met the five tests that we set out. I hope that when all these shops open people should have the confidence to know that they can go out again in safety. And that’s very important.”

— Sky News