A top government minister has refused to guarantee that university students can return home for Christmas if coronavirus infections are not reduced.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the nation must adhere to the latest Covid-19 restrictions to prevent the virus from spreading further and to prevent even stricter measures.
He said to Sky, “I really want the students to be able to go home for Christmas. If we all pull ourselves together and adhere to these new rules, if we follow the instructions, then we can get to a point where this should be possible. “
The Cabinet Secretary told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday, “The most important thing now is that people stick to the existing rules that we have. They obey the ‘rule of six’, ‘hands, face and space’ – people wash their hands. Make sure they wear face covering, especially indoors, and watch out for social distancing.
“If we do all of these things, we can keep the virus under control, keep our economy open, and avoid further restrictions. It really is in the power of everyone who watches this show to make sure they abide by these rules and prevent further draconian restrictions. “
He added: “No man is an island in this respect: each person has to take on his own responsibility, as this in turn affects everyone else.
“And the government is assuming its responsibility both in terms of following the right rules and in ensuring massive amounts of PPE equipment, which means a huge increase in testing capacity.”
Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green has written to Secretary of Education Gavin Williamson requesting “urgent clarity and confirmation” on the matter.
Labor would like testing regulations to be put in place to ensure students can be at home during the holiday season.
It comes after 1,700 Manchester Metropolitan University students were ordered to stay in their rooms for two weeks after 127 tested positive for the coronavirus.
Jo Stevens, secretary for shadow culture, added: “We have to put safety and public health first, of course, but we said Labor said we think students need to go home for Christmas and for them to do so we track and isolate an effective test, system in place. “
She told Sky: “For example, Cardiff University in my constituency tests every single student and their staff upon arrival on campus. Gavin Williamson should speak to the universities to make sure they all can and to build support for it. “