It looks like the long awaited ‘freedom’in the UK is only set to last a matter of weeks as Government scientists warn that restrictions may need to return.
Nearly all the remaining restrictions in England are to be lifted on July 19 Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced. However, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) who claim that life may never return completely to normal, say that lockdown restrictions would need to reimposed for much longer if a variant that threatens immunity should arrive.
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The Mail Online reports: The Prime Minister signalled a ‘big bang’ end to lockdown on July 19, saying it was now or never for a return to normality, as he acknowledged the pandemic was ‘far from over’ and that daily Covid cases could top 50,000 by ‘Freedom Day’ in a fortnight.
He claimed further delay would run the risk of trying to reopen in autumn or winter when ‘the virus has an edge’.
And in a downbeat assessment, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said that even if hospitalisations and deaths remained low, there were major risks in letting cases surge.
The group warned that should a ‘variant of concern’ arrive that threatened immunity, lockdown restrictions would need to reimposed for much longer.
In newly-released documents which advised on controlling the virus long-term, Sage warned that some ‘baseline measures’ may have to stay, with ‘sustained behavioural change’ necessary.
And at a sombre Downing Street press conference, Mr Johnson warned against going ‘demob happy’ at the ending of most coronavirus restrictions on July 19.
And he toned down previous pledges that the path out of lockdown would be ‘irreversible’ – with restrictions potentially returning. A final decision on whether to press ahead on July 19 will be taken at the start of next week but seems almost certain to be approved.
Mr Johnson said the vaccine programme was continuing to be a success and retaining restrictions would ‘inevitably take their toll on people’s lives and livelihoods – on people’s health and mental health’.
Dropping the curbs will mean the end of all legal limits on socialising, which have wrecked family gatherings for 16 months, and the scrapping of social distancing rules that have hobbled pubs, restaurants and the arts.
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