Prince Charles has warned that up to one million young people in Britain may need “urgent help” to protect their futures from the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic, as politicians debated whether to keep British university students from returning home for Christmas.
The Prince of Wales said the social and economic crisis created by the coronavirus is reminiscent of the upheavals of the 1970s, when youth unemployment was one of the pressing issues facing British society.
“There has never been a time as uniquely challenging as the present, when the pandemic has left perhaps another million young people needing urgent help to protect their futures,” he wrote in the Sunday Telegraph. “The task ahead is unquestionably vast, but it is not insurmountable.”
Young people have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic, even though they are less likely to become seriously ill. The closure of schools during the spring coronavirus lockdown cancelled national achievement tests in Britain and threw university admissions into disarray. First-year students have had to forego social events seen as a rite of passage at the start of their college careers, and the job prospects for graduates look bleak as unemployment rises.
Britain already has Europe’s worst death toll from the pandemic, with about 42,000 confirmed deaths. But scientists who are urging more restrictive measures are being challenged by critics fearing further damage to the economy.