Exclusion zones outside schools an ‘option’ to tackle ‘vicious lies’ spread by anti-vaxxers, Sajid Javid says

‘These people are doing so much damage,’ health secretary says

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Monday 25 October 2021 07:53

Exclusion zones outside schools are an option to prevent “idiot” anti-vaxxers spreading “vicious lies” to children, Sajid Javid has said.

The health secretary’s comments came after Priti Patel said it was “completely unacceptable” for people to be intimidating and harassing children, teachers and parents outside the school gates.

Earlier this month the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) said that 79 per cent of schools surveyed had been targeted by anti-vaxxers.

After Sir Keir Starmer proposed exclusion zones outside schools, Mr Javid said: “There are options, in terms of whether it’s an exclusion zone or potential action, I think it’s got to be done at local level, with local police.”

Addressing a recent incident, the cabinet minister told Sky News: “These people are doing so much damage.

“First of all here you have three children that are injured, actually physically injured, and that’s heart-breaking to see, children going about what they should be doing, going to school every day, and you’ve got frankly these idiots outside their school spreading vicious lies. It is becoming a growing problem as time goes by.”

Speaking over the weekend, Sir Keir said it was “sickening” that those against vaccinations were demonstrating at schools gates, as his party urged the government to allow councils to use exclusion orders.

“Labour believes the law around public spaces protection orders (PSPOs) urgently needs to be updated so that local authorities can rapidly create exclusion zones for anti-vax protests outside of schools.”

PSOPs have previously been used to deter protestors outside abortion clinics, but gaining permission to impose one takes time and significant consultation, and Labour is calling on the government to expedite the process.

Elsewhere, Mr Javid also said he was “leaning towards” compulsory vaccines for NHS staff after a public consultation on the issue closed last week.

Mr Javid declined to say when the move would come in to force, saying “it will take some time to get it through Parliament” and he would then want to give people time to come forward to get their jab.

But he added: “I don’t want to put a timeframe on it but it wouldn’t be months and months.”

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