Kids are not to hug friends or go on play dates yet, says minister

Children still shouldn’t hug friends or have play dates at home, an education minister said, adding that everyone still has a role to play in stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

Vicky Ford urged restraint when Ant and Dec questioned her about children’s Covid-19 concerns, at an online school meeting.

The TV stars read out primary students’ questions about home learning, coronavirus testing, social distance, and whether Christmas is delayed as part of the special NSPCC event for thousands of families.

Ms. Ford, the British government’s secretary of children and families, said that children who follow the rules would help bring life back to normal as soon as possible.

Ms. Ford addressed the students today as part of the meeting and said, “If you’re in year six and going back to school this week, you’ve had the chance to see some of your teachers and friends again. however, it is still very important to stay safe and protected when you are in school.

That’s why we’re asking everyone to still keep some distance between each other, which means it’s better not to cuddle yet.

“We all still have a very important role in trying to stay safe and that means we have to keep a safe distance from people we don’t live with, so we don’t risk spreading the virus.

“So don’t hug your friends for a while and don’t let them walk around playing in your house.”

Her plea came after a ten-year-old girl asked how long it would take them to hug their friends and a seven-year-old boy asked when his friends could come over for a play date.

Dec read a comment from an 11-year-old boy who found it difficult to do schoolwork at home because his flat is “small and noisy” and his friends always ask him to play online games.

Ms. Ford said, “It is also very important to have fun and spend time with your friends. We all need to find ways to do that safely online, while it is not possible to see our friends in person.

“So when you’re done with your homework, it’s good to spend time chatting and playing games with your friends.”

The broadcast, which includes a performance by children’s author David Walliams, is part of the Speak Out Stay Safe of Meetings charity program, which normally takes place in elementary schools, but has now moved online to reach more students at home.

Figures from the NSPCC indicate that the charity’s Childline service has provided 6,938 counseling sessions to children and adolescents affected by the coronavirus since January.

The charity has held 2,593 counseling sessions with children concerned about abuse or neglect, an average of 370 weekly, over seven weeks of locking, which is an increase from about 60 a week compared to the months prior to lockdown.


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