UK

‘Follow the rules if you want students home for Christmas’, says culture secretary

University students will be able to return home to their families for Christmas if the public sticks to the new COVID-19 restrictions and helps bring the virus under control, the culture secretary has told Sky News.

Appearing on Sophy Ridge On Sunday, Oliver Dowden said: "I want students to be able to go home for Christmas and if we all pull together and observe these new rules, we follow the guidance, then we should be able to get to a point where that should be possible."

He accused Labour of playing party politics following a letter sent by the shadow education secretary calling for action to be taken on the issue of the impact of coronavirus outbreaks on students who returned to universities this month.

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"I don't think it's helpful at this stage three months away to speculate," said the cabinet minister.

"We have announced a range of measures. We are constantly keeping this situation under review, taking the necessary measures to keep the virus under control.

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"All of that is designed to ensure that we keep the virus under control in a way that will enable people to continue to live their lives as normally as possible in this situation."

Mr Dowden added: "The thing we should be focusing on now is ensuring that we actually take these measures and abide by them."

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Sky's political correspondent Rob Powell said it is "hardly a cast iron guarantee that many students will want to hear".

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Labour's Kate Green has written to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson calling for "urgent clarity and reassurance" on the matter.

The party wants to see testing provision put in place to ensure students can be home over the festive period.

It comes after 1,700 students at Manchester Metropolitan University were told to stay in their rooms for two weeks after 127 tested positive for the coronavirus.

Across the UK, at least 32 universities have confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 510 cases have been identified among students and staff since campuses reopened, according to data collected by Sky News up to 25 September.

Shadow culture secretary Jo Stevens told Sophy Ridge On Sunday: "We have to put safety and public health first obviously, but we have said, Labour has said, wRead More – Source