AN ANNOUNCEMENT by Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday was met with mixed reaction from all walks of life in Cumbria.

Education is set to reopen in the first step on the road out of lockdown.

The PM told lawmakers in a speech to the House of Commons: “All the evidence shows that classrooms are the best places for our children to be.

“Two weeks from today (Monday), pupils and students in all schools and further education settings can safely return to face to face teaching”

The move will be “supported by twice weekly testing of secondary school and college pupils.”

A spokesperson for Unite Community said: “In setting out his 'Roadmap' for exit from lockdown, Boris Johnson claimed decisions would be driven by 'data and not dates' in a sequence 'driven by evidence'. And yet he has set in stone the return of all 10 million children, teachers school staff on March 8th.

"He refuses to publish the scientific evidence because his own scientific advisors and school unions representing every level of education are calling for a phased return, rather than a 'big bang' return which will lead to another wave of infections.

“Not even the lax safety rules in workplaces are being applied to our school children, teachers and staff, who are being used as a battering ram to open up all workplaces while not vaccinating or protecting them.

“Fewer than half of workers are covered by legally-required published risk assessments. Their health and that of our children is being sacrificed on the altar of private profit for a wealthy few.

“Meanwhile £22bn is being wasted on a test and trace system that doesn’t work. Seven out of 10 people who should be self isolating can’t afford to on £96/week. People must be able to self-isolate on full pay, as in other countries.”

The PM also revealed that from March 8 the public can meet one other person outdoors for recreation, for example a coffee in the park.

Care Home residents will be able to nominate one regular indoor visitor but social distancing and PPE must be used.

From March 29, more socialising will be allowed including outdoor gatherings of up to six people from two households in private gardens. Outdoor sports will also recommence.

“Stay at home” will technically be lifted on March 29 but some restrictions will remain in play.

Beauty salons and hairdressers, non-essential shops and personal care services will reopen in step two, which the Prime Minister said would begin no earlier than April 12.

Gyms, libraries, museums and theme parks open in April.

Hospitality also reopens, initially with outdoor service only.

Step three begins on May 17 with up to 30 people meeting outside including pub and restaurant beer gardens. Wedding receptions, funerals and christenings will also return.

The final “irreversible” step will be removing all restrictions by June 21.

A spokesperson for the Sands Centre said: “We welcome today’s announcement from the Government that indoor events should be able to recommence this summer.

"We’re sure you will be as excited as we are to be back in the audience seeing shows and events as soon as it is safe to do so.

“We are now working with our promoters, producers and partners at Carlisle City Council to understand this latest announcement and how it will affect the management and attendance of indoor events in 2021.

“If you have already booked tickets we ask for your patience at this time. We will be in touch direct by email once we have mapped out a clear path ahead.”