The five key tests that must be met before lockdown measures are lifted and schools reopen
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Gavin Williamson said five tests must be met before schools can re-open, adding there are no plans to open them over the summer.
- Making sure the NHS has the ability to cope and confidence that it is able to provide sufficient critical care across the UK
- See a sustained and consistent fall in daily death rates to be confident the U is beyond the peak
- The rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels across the board
- Making sure that testing capacity and PPE are in hand with supply able to meet future demand
- Confident these changes will not risk a second peak in infections which would overwhelm the NHS
The minister said the coronavirus pandemic is at a stage where there are "an awful lot of questions" which people would love to have answers to.
Speaking at the daily Downing Street press briefing, Mr Williamson said: "People are anxious to know when we're going to relax restrictions, when schools are likely to be fully back and open again.
"Of course, I want nothing more than to see schools back, get them back to normal, make sure the children are sat around, learning, and experiencing the joy of being at school.
"But I can't give you a date. Because before we do, we need to meet five tests."
Mr Williamson said these tests include protecting the NHS's ability to cope, seeing the daily death rates come down, and having reliable data that shows the rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels.
He said there has to be confidence that testing capacity and PPE is being managed "with supply able to meet, not just today's demand, but future demand".
Mr Williamson said there also must be confidence that any changes do not risk a second peak of infections.
In a direct address to England's schoolchildren, Mr Williamson said: "To any young people watching, I wanted to say to you how sorry I am that you've had your education disrupted in this way.
"I know how hard it must be, and I'd like to thank you for making the adjustments that you've had to make.
"I know you will be missing your friends, your teachers, your lessons.
"I want you to know that you are such an important part of this fight too, and I cannot thank you enough for all that you are doing."
Mr Williamson was asked about schools opening over the summer and whether he thinks social distancing is feasible in them, and replied: "I think we recognise the challenges that anyone who's a parent of trying to instil social distancing in small children, and we have to understand really that sort of broad context."
He added: "There are currently no plans to have schools open over the summer period and we haven't been working on plans to have them open over the summer period."
Mr Williamson said he is looking closely at how other countries are re-opening their schooling systems.