SCHOOLS will be closed until at least March 8, with other restrictions eased after then as the UK's third national coronavirus lockdown will continue for at least another month.

Boris Johnson has confirmed that pupils will not be able to return to the classroom until March at the earliest. 

The Prime Minister told the House of Commons that a review into the current lockdown rules would be published when Parliament resumed in the week of February 22. 

He said: “The first sign of normality beginning to return should be pupils going back to their classrooms. I know how parents and teachers need as much certainty as possible including two weeks’ notice of the return of face-to-face teaching.

“So I must inform the House that for the reasons I have outlined it will not be possible to reopen schools immediately after the February half-term. But I know how frustrating that will be for pupils and teachers who want nothing more than to get back to the classroom.

“And for parents and for carers who spent so many months juggling their day jobs, not only with home schooling but meeting the myriad other demands of their children from breakfast until bedtime.”

A final decision on the reopening date will depend on meeting vaccination targets, and keeping the infection and death rates below where the government would expect, and schools will get two weeks' notice. 

The economic and social restrictions, keeping non-essential businesses, leisure facilities, and hospitality closed will be lifted after children have returned to school. 

As remote learning continues, the government will continue to provide free school meals for the eligible children not in school, including food parcels and the national voucher scheme. 

The government will also provide a programme of catch-up over the next financial year, putting £300m funding aside for tutoring, with summer schools and catch-up schemes also set to be developed. 

Alongside the update, Mr Johnson also announced new border restrictions for the UK, banning all travel from 22 countries where new variants have been spotted including South Africa, Portugal and South American nations.

Ten days of quarrantine will be mandatory for travellers who cannot be refused entry, such as UK nationals. Anyone entering the country from these locations will be transported to a government-provided accommodation to complete the quarantine. 

The Prime Minister also reminded people that going on holiday was illegal under the current restrictions.

He said: “I want to make clear that under the stay at home regulations, it is illegal to leave home to travel abroad for leisure purposes and we will enforce this at ports and airports by asking people why they are leaving and instructing them to return home if they do not have a valid reason to travel."

More to follow.