According to Sir Keir Starmer, Boris Johnson must order schools to be closed in England as part of a new national lockdown.
The Labor leader said it was “tragically inevitable” that students would have to study from home in order to regain control of the coronavirus, protect the struggling health service and create breathing space for the use of millions of vaccines.
Sir Keir said the government will have to vaccinate two million people a week this month, which will double to four million a week in February.
Ahead of the prime minister’s address to the nation Monday night, Sir Keir said a March-style lockdown was needed, with a tougher message to stay home.
“The virus is out of control, anyone can see it,” he told the BBC. “The tiered system is clearly not working.”
He said lockdown measures are needed as soon as possible to “get the virus back under control, protect the NHS, which is on the verge of breaking in January, but critical to make room for the vaccine to roll out, and that has to be business critical ”.
The government’s “contract” with the public is to ensure that strict restrictions are followed to ensure that the vaccination program is completed as soon as possible.
“We have to be the first country to complete the vaccination program, that has to be the basic agreement.”
The new lockdown had to repeat the “Spirit of March,” he said during a series of interviews in his Westminster office.
“All you have to do now is go out into the street to see lots of people on the way. You see trains that are half full. We have to go back to where we were in March with very, very strong news about the stay at home.
“I fear school closings are now inevitable and must therefore be part of the national plan for further restrictions.”
Sir Keir suggested not to rule out Scotland’s example of a legally enforceable stay home order.
“I’m not saying no to that, I’m saying what comes before is the news and the government’s decision that this is the news – stay home.
“That worked in March.”
He told ITV News that it would take a martial spirit to deploy millions of doses of vaccine, including the government working with the opposition.
“This has to be a national mission,” he said. “It is one of the largest operations we have carried out since World War II. We all have to play our part.”
“I’ve offered my support to the government, I’m doing it again, and I think the government should get everyone because this is the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Sir Keir told Sky News that a delay in school closings could result in students being out of the classroom for longer.
“The longer we are late, the longer we will be constrained, the longer we will have to endure things like school closings,” he said.
When asked if he supports the Prime Minister’s assessment that the situation will improve by Easter, Sir Keir said, “The problem with the Prime Minister’s predictions is that they are almost always wrong.
“In the summer he hoped to be back to normal by November, then it was Christmas, now it’s Easter.
“The only thing I know is that if you delay action, you will prolong the torment.”
Sir Keir said 5 school closings should be accompanied by “a plan for working parents who will be affected. It has to have a plan for children to study at home and a plan for how to get them back open as soon as possible ”.