Coronavirus: Leading epidemiologist Rod Jackson says opening primary schools will be 'super-spreading event', should stay close until 2022

A leading epidemiologist says the Prime Minister's penciled-in decision to open primary schools is the wrong one, saying the environment could be 'super-spreading' since kids aged five to 11 are unvaccinated. 

Rod Jackson, who is an epidemiologist at the University of Auckland feels primary schools should stay with remote learning for the rest of the year, otherwise we could see case numbers skyrocket. However he did have a different opinion for hospitality. 

'Retail done properly is probably not so much of a risk but I wouldn't be opening primary schools until next year until we got them vaccinated,'' Jackson told the AM Show on Monday.

"We need to get the vast majority of eligible people vaccinated and we can't wait till the five to 11-year-olds get the go ahead to get vaccinated because schools are a super-spreading setting. 

"If you look just across in Australia and New South Wales alone, I think 69 schools had to close during their July/August outbreak so I think we need to get up much higher."  

Jackson compared hospitality outside to friends going around to someone's place and meeting outside which is allowed under the current alert level rules in Auckland. 

"Hospitality outside, I don't think that is unreasonable," he says. "Personally I'm a supporter of hospitality outside. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the government have contrasting opinions about hospitality and primary schools.

Primary schools are penciled in to open next Monday, November 15, but the PM who appeared on the AM Show on Monday said that education minister Chris Hipkins would share information on Wednesday about the re-opening but hinted their plan was to open up in 2021. 

Ardern said no announcements were planned to do with hospitality when the Government announces Auckland alert level decision on Monday afternoon. 

"What we are considering today is that next step down which is retail re-opening, larger groups being able to meet and most hospitality businesses, that wouldn't be a particularly viable level of operation for them," Ardern told the AM Show.