Johnson hints at U-turn amid reports of change in school face covering advice

Boris Johnson has hinted that guidance which says face coverings are not required for schoolchildren in England could be changed amid reports that a U-turn has already been agreed by the Government.

It follows growing pressure on ministers to review the guidance from teaching unions, while Holyrood confirmed secondary school pupils in Scotland will be required to wear face coverings in between lessons from Monday.

According to reports by the Tes, both Public Health England and the Department for Education (DfE) have signed off on a policy that wearing face masks will be near-mandatory in communal areas of secondary schools.

High school pupils
High school pupils

Citing sources, the publication said that the announcement could come as soon as Tuesday afternoon.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Johnson told reporters that the Government will “look at the changing medical evidence as we go on”, adding: “If we need to change the advice then of course we will.”

Asked why ministers were ignoring World Health Organisation (WHO) advice that children aged over 12 should wear masks, he said: “The overwhelming priority is to get all pupils into school.

“And I think that the schools, the teachers, they’ve all done a fantastic job of getting ready and the risk to children’s health, the risk to children’s wellbeing from not being in school, is far greater than the risk from Covid.

“If there are things we have to do to vary the advice on medical grounds, we will, of course, do that.

“But as the chief medical officer, all our scientific advisers, have said, schools are safe.”