A LEADING York Union has called for nurseries in the city to close. The York Trade Union Congress (TUC) has called on York council to follow other councils and close nurseries to everyone except vulnerable and key worker children. But York council said it didn't have the powers to close nurseries or early years settings, adding that it will work with the sector as national guidance evolves. A spokesman for the TUC said: "This age group is least able to socially distance and children often need close physical contact with staff. The latest Office for National Statistics report demonstrates this, showing a significant decrease in Covid transmission rates for pupils in all year groups during the Christmas holidays. "Keeping nurseries open is, therefore, a serious risk to the health of nursery staff, pupils, their families and the wider community, particularly in the light of the high transmissibility of the newest Covid-19 variant. " Other councils, including Brighton & Hove Council, have closed nurseries to all but vulnerable and keyworkers’ children to help reduce the spread of the disease. They are actively lobbying the government to provide extra funding. "York council must do the same. It should also lobby the government for a drastic improvement to benefit levels and the furlough scheme. Parents of nursery-age children must not face a choice between childcare and health." Maxine Squire, Assistant Director Education and Skills for York Council, said: "We know this is an incredibly difficult time for our early year's settings and we are overwhelmed by the response and support we’ve seen across all our early year's settings. "We know that by children continuing to attend their usual early years setting over the coming weeks will enable them to keep their regular routine, see friends and have a positive learning experience. “Early years settings have worked very hard to put in place all necessary measures to prevent the spread of infection and have updated their risk assessments to take account of the new variant of the virus. “As a council, we do not have the power to close nurseries or early years settings. We have very robust tried and tested measures in place to respond to any outbreaks quickly which have meant we have been able to keep settings open in York. We will continue to work with them over the coming weeks and months as national guidance evolves. “We have also reiterated key messages to settings and through our wider communications about how it is vitally important that parents don’t send their children to early years setting if they are showing any symptoms of coronavirus, such as a high temperature; or any other childhood illness. “We continue to press the government for increased funding and business support and priority vaccinations. We know that the sector organisations who represent the early year's settings are also doing similar.”