Restaurants and pubs will not be required to close again when schools reopen in September, the Housing Secretary has confirmed.

Speaking on yesterday’s (2 August) Times Radio programme, Robert Jenrick said that whilst getting children back to school after summer will be a priority for the Government, “we don’t have any plans” to close hospitality spaces as part of possible new restrictions to keep the infection rate down.

He also dismissed the suggestion of another nationwide lockdown, explaining that the Government doesn’t “want to do anything that is a blanket approach across the country.”

“Our strategy is to manage this in a localised way with targeted action as we’ve done in Leicester, as we’re doing now in the North West,” he said.

“We will follow the data and look at options if we have to, but that approach is the way we restrict in certain areas. It is difficult for those who live there but it provides greater freedom for the rest of the country, for businesses to reopen and for people to get on with their daily lives, and that has to be the way forward if we can.”

Jenrick’s reassurances follow concerning comments from Professor Graham Medley, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), who said there may have to be a “trade-off” between schools reopening and other activities.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme this weekend, Medley said that the country is “in a situation whereby most people think opening schools is a priority for the health and wellbeing of children and when we do that, we are going to reconnect lots of households.

“And so actually, closing some of the other networks, some of the other activities, may well be required to enable us to open schools.

“It might come down to a question of which do you trade off against each other, and then that’s a matter of prioritising. Do we think pubs are more important than schools?”

Although Medley’s comments received a lot of coverage over the weekend, UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls has said that “there has been no signal from Government linking pubs and the reopening of schools, only a reassurance from Robert Jenrick that there are no such plans.

“This is not an either/or situation and the Government is well aware of the substantial financial and economic impacts a re-closing of venues would incur, inevitably resulting in permanent closures and significant job losses.”