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Schools in England won't reopen till March: UK PM Johnson

Schools in England will not be able to reopen after the half-term break next month, but there is hope that they can resume from early March, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday.

Johnson told lawmakers in the House of Commons (lower house of the British parliament) that he acknowledged parents' frustration with school closure and hopes to begin reopening England's schools from March 8.

A firm decision would be taken in the week of February 22, after the spring half-term, which is the date the British government had originally hoped schools would reopen, he added.

The March 8 date was based on the thinking that if the National Health Service (NHS) is successful in vaccinating the four most vulnerable groups by mid-February, he noted, adding that there was no enough data yet to decide when to end the current lockdown.

His government hopes other lockdown restrictions could begin to be gradually eased at some point after schools reopen, but pupils returning to class would be the "first sign of normality", the prime minister said.

Johnson said teachers in the top nine priority groups would be vaccinated as a "matter of priority".

More than 6.8 million people in Britain have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, the latest official figures showed.

Britain is on track to deliver a first dose to 15 million of the most vulnerable by mid-February and to offer all adults their first dose by autumn, according to British vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi.

England is currently under the third national lockdown since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country. Similar restriction measures are also in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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