The government has closed the schools.
It may be a while before we know what the law is here. In response to businessman Simon Dolan’s judicial review application which, bizarrely, may not be heard for a few months yet, the government has confirmed it did not direct closure of the schools. It says it only made ‘a request’.
That is a surprise to most people who listened to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Education on 18th March. Some may wonder if this will become an example in English dictionaries for the meaning of ‘duplicitous’.
In any event, we do know the government has power to order closures (under Part 1 of Schedule 16 to the Coronavirus Act 2020) but has chosen not to exercise that power. So why aren’t the schools opening?
It is, perhaps, that restrictions on ‘gathering’ of more than [30 in England or 2 households in Wales] were put and remain in place. Accordingly, gathering of thousands of protesters in Whitehall is unlawful and gatherings of classes of pupils is also, it would seem, unlawful. Despite this inconvenience, but the government has seemingly chosen to ignore the law on gathering law as if it didn’t exist for children of key workers.
This is a tangled web indeed.
- The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020, regulation 7
- The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020, regulation 8B
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