PUBS in England could have to shut in order for schools to reopen, a pandemic expert said as concern turned to a rise in infections among young people.

Professor Graham Medley, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said UK Government ministers may have to consider closing pubs in order for lessons to start again next month.

Boris Johnson has previously pledged that both primary and secondary schools will return in September "with full attendance".

But, following chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty's prediction that the country is "near the limit" for opening up society following the coronavirus lockdown, Medley said a "trade off" might have to be made to ensure full-time education could resume.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon confirms Scottish pupils will return to school full time

In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon confirmed this week that pupils will return full time from August 11. She said her government’s more cautious approach to easing lockdown was a result of prioritising getting pupils back in the classroom

The First Minister said there was a “moral imperative” to restart education safely as soon as possible. She added there will be no further changes to restrictions until schools go back in a fortnight.

Medley's warning came as the Prime Minister announced a slow down of England's lockdown easing, with planned relaxations for the leisure and beauty sectors delayed after a rise in Covid-19 cases was recorded.

Asked whether pubs could have to shut for schools to reopen, Medley, chairman of the Sage sub-group on pandemic modelling, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think that's quite possible.

"I think we're in a situation whereby most people think that opening schools is a priority for the health and wellbeing of children and that when we do that we are going to reconnect lots of households.

"And so actually, closing some of the other networks, some of the other activities may well be required to enable us to open schools.

"It might come down to a question of which do you trade off against each other and then that's a matter of prioritising, do we think pubs are more important than schools?"

Meanwhile, businesses expecting to reopen in England have been told to keep their shutters down, despite the furlough scheme preventing job losses starting to wind down today.

Bowling alleys and other leisure venues had been scheduled to welcome customers today for the first time since the March lockdown was brought in, while

The Prime Minister delayed the measures for at least a fortnight, just as employers start paying National Insurance and pension contributions for furloughed staff, before having to contribute to their salaries next month.

Johnson told a Downing Street press conference yesterday he needed to "squeeze the brake pedal" on easing restrictions amid signs Covid-19's prevalence in the community was rising for the first time since May.

Medley, a London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine academic, said the increase in positive diagnoses was mainly among young people.

"The age distribution of infections has changed, it has moved down into younger age groups and so it is likely we won't see that increase in hospital admissions related to infection in the same way we did in March," he told the BBC.

"But the big fear is the virus just gets out of control and we end up in a situation where there is so much virus that it inevitably spills out into all sections of the population."

The news came after local lockdown measures were announced this week for parts of the north-west of England and areas of west Yorkshire, banning people from different households meeting indoors or in gardens following a spike in virus cases.

The Scottish Government called on residents to avoid travelling to the areas affected.