Sinister: Minister Tells Pupils Not to Get ‘Too Carried Away with New Freedoms’

Britain's Education Secretary Gavin Williamson speaks during a virtual press conference inside 10 Downing Street in central London on February 24, 2021. (Photo by JOHN SIBLEY / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JOHN SIBLEY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
JOHN SIBLEY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Health Secretary Gavin Williamson has dampened the mood ahead of the new school year, saying that despite the impending relaxation of coronavirus restrictions, pupils should not get “too carried away” with their “new freedoms”.

Children, teachers, and other academic staff in England returning to school this week will no longer have to wear masks. Social distancing rules, such as ‘bubbles’ where children are forced to stay in fixed groups, have also been relaxed.

Writing in the Daily Mail on Monday, Mr Williamson said that while he was “absolutely delighted” that children could regain some semblance of normality after 18 months of restrictions, “it is important not to get too carried away with these new freedoms and throw caution to the wind” in the effort to fend off a potential ‘fourth wave’ of the Chinese virus.

It is not the first time a senior government minister sought to lower the spirits of Britons looking forward to the prospect of coming out of restrictions. Ahead of ‘Phase 3’ of the ending of lockdown in May, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told people to “exercise care and common sense” before hugging loved ones.

Ahead of Phase 4, the so-called Freedom Day on July 19th, the prime minister said that despite masks no longer being legally mandated in public spaces, people would be “expected” to continue wearing them.

Johnson’s greatest move to dispel merriment from liberated Britons, however, was on Freedom Day itself, when he announced that from late September, domestic vaccine passports would be needed to enter nightclubs.

Health Secretary Williamson also said that “school communities still need to follow Covid precautions, especially regular testing for pupils, families and staff.”

“But it is not just a matter for schools,” he said, continuing that “parents too have a responsibility to make sure that their children are tested regularly”, signalling that only superficially would school be returning to anything close to normal.

Some are already giving dire predictions that hundreds of schools will be forced to reintroduce restrictions within weeks, including teachers’ unions.

In recent months, lockdown sceptics have warned that the government could use the return of children to school, which is normally accompanied by a rise in viruses interacting with young populations, as a reason to reintroduce restrictions.

Brexit leader Nigel Farage said last month that with the new academic year, “infections will start to spread again”, continuing: “I would bet right now that we will be back in some form of lockdown by September or October.”

Likewise, Conservative MPs Mark Harper, chairman of the Covid Recovery Group (CRG) and the group’s deputy chairman Steve Baker have both warned that pandemic management measures could be back in place by Autumn or Winter.

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