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SAGE member slams Sadiq Khan’s ‘disingenuous’ argument on London’s COVID-19 restrictions

Sadiq Khan accused of ‘disingenuous’ argument by SAGE member

Professor Callum Semple told BBC News that schools are considered to be essential and should be prioritised ahead of keeping venues for social mixing open. He also criticised Sadiq Khan’s statement that bars in London will have to close when London is moved to Tier 3, adding that bars in the capital city should already be closed unless they serve meals and function as a restaurant. 

Mr Semple said: “We have made a very important political decision that schools need to be kept open because we cannot throw away a generation of broadcasters, lawyers, politicians who are in the making, they need to be educated and ready to take up the mantle in years to come.

“Schools are considered to be essential, it should not be perceived that schools are the only place where this is happening.

“We do know that social mixing is the biggest cause and household mixing is the next biggest cause.

“A decision has been made to prioritise schools so that leaves you with the other aspects to change.” 

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He continued: “Sadiq Khan is clearly putting the economic interests of London to the forefront and that is quite right that is what he is responsible for but there always has to be a decision made.

“You could close the schools and keep the economy open or you could keep the schools open and restrict some aspects of the economy.

“He mentioned bars, well the bars should be closed anyway in Tier 2 unless they are actually serving meals and functioning as restaurants.

“So to be fair, I think the argument was a bit disingenuous.”

London: Barclay says lockdown ‘damaging' for businesses

On Tuesday morning,  a UK Government minister told BBC Breakfast that he understood the decision to move England’s capital city into the highest level of coronavirus measures will be hugely damaging for businesses that are forced to close as a result.

Stephen Barclay added that this decision will allow schools and non-essential retail to remain open in London. 

The Conservative MP said: “It is damaging for those businesses that have taken huge steps to be Covid secure and particularly at this time as it is a crucial time for many in the hospitality industry.

“That is why as a Government we have taken the very comprehensive measures we have so far.

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“We are borrowing under the OBR forecast £394billion this year and we have spent on the OBR forecast £280billion around Covid response.

“We have got measures for furlough, support for the self-employed, the business rates support, a whole range of measures to help businesses through this difficult period.  

“I absolutely recognise that this is hugely damaging for businesses, but the reality is that the infection rate has increased very rapidly in London and the southeast.

“That is why we have had to take the additional measure we have while at the same time keeping schools open and ensuring that non-essential retail is able to continue.”

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