Covid pandemic has stripped paper off cracks in society – Archbishop

Tom Pilgrim, PA

The coronavirus pandemic has “stripped the paper off the cracks” in society and people need to have confidence the Government’s “road map” out of lockdown will be delivered, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

The Most Reverend Justin Welby said England’s most recent national restrictions had been “one of the most painful for the most people”, with the Covid-19 outbreak affecting schools, housing and health care.

He told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “The pandemic has stripped the paper off the cracks which we’ve covered up.”

Mr Welby said there was a “schools crisis”, with children either having missed a year of education or seen it disrupted.

He continued: “There’s a housing crisis which is being revealed in its full extent.

“The health service is desperately tired.

“There is a huge need for a clear road map and I’m sure the Government is working on that and will produce that.”

His comments come ahead of Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlining the Government’s “road map” for the easing of England’s lockdown restrictions on Monday.

Mr Welby told Sky: “A road map is a very important thing. It has to be one that we can be really confident about.”

He added: “This last lockdown has been one of the most painful for the most people.”

Mr Welby said a road map was needed that would “stop us going up and down”.

He said the “huge success” of the Covid vaccination programme “speaks to what we can do”.

He continued: “I think it needs to be secure and that we know it is going to be delivered so we can all move forward.”

The archbishop said he was “absolutely sure” the Government was right to prioritise the reopening of schools when lockdown measures are eased.

He added: “That is probably the most urgent thing, it’s been the most urgent thing right the way through.”

Mr Welby said the Church of England educates more than a million children in its schools and recalled a senior medical adviser telling him last year: “Whatever you do, do everything you can to keep the schools going because the damage to children’s mental health, their long-term education, is so serious.”

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