Prime minister Boris Johnson said he believes reopening schools is safe providing people keep washing their hands and follow social distancing rules.

Speaking today at the liaison committee, Johnson was asked about whether he could guarantee a phased reopening on June 1 was “absolutely safe and of minimal risk”.

The prime minister said: “We know we can do it in a safe, socially distanced way. We accept not everyone will go back.

“We do believe it’s safe provided everybody remembers the guidelines we’ve set out and everyone understands the crucial things you’ve got to do – particularly maintaining social distancing and washing your hands and social isolating with symptoms. Those are the crucial things you’ve got to do, they can’t be stressed often enough.”

However this seems to jar with government guidance for schools which accepts that younger pupils “cannot be expected” to follow social distancing rules.

Instead, the government’s plan is to keep pupils in smaller “bubbles” that don’t interact with other groups.

When asked about whether the plan is still for all primary pupils to return to school before the summer, he said: “We’d like to do it if we can – it depends on our national success of keeping the disease under control. We’ll continue to review in accordance with the scientific advice.”