Yesterday in the House of Commons, Boris Johnson announced the biggest easing of the lockdown in England to date.
Pubs, restaurants, museums and cinemas have been given the green light to open their doors again from July 4, and the Government is reducing the two metre social distancing rule to ‘one metre plus’ will help them get back into business more smoothly.
The Prime Minister said Downing Street does ‘not believe there is currently a risk of a second peak of infections that might overwhelm the NHS’. But last month the UK’s chief scientific adviser gave some alarming statistics about the risk of transmission at one metre away.
He told the Health and Social Care Committee that ‘a minute at two metres contact is about the same risk at six seconds at one metre’. He added: ‘That gives you some idea of why the two metres becomes important. The risk at one metre is about 10 to 30 times higher than the risk at two metres, so the distancing is an important part of this’.
However by one metre plus, Downing Street means that certain ‘mitigations’ which Johnson said would be ‘broadly equivalent’ to being two metres apart. These measures include wearing face masks or using protective screens.
The Government has previously said face coverings are ‘marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure’ and that evidence suggests they do not protect the wearer but other people around them. The UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has previously advised against dropping the two metre rule and has warned of risk of Downing Street’s message becoming blurred.
But late last month Sir Patrick said: ‘We’ve not said it’s two metres or nothing. This is the scientific evidence that explains why two metres is a distance beyond which things are safer.
‘And we’ve also laid out what the sort of things are that reduce those risks. So for example, being back to back or side to side, and in some cases wearing face coverings, in some cases looking at ventilation. We don’t make policy, we give science advice. From that policy decisions can be made.’
It comes after an open letter from health experts to all UK political parties warned of a ‘real risk’ of a second wave of Covid-19 infections and called for an urgent review to make sure the Government is prepared.
This morning former chief scientific adviser Sir David King said easing the lockdown is ‘extraordinarily risky’ and called on the the UK to focus on getting rid of coronavirus before the winter.
He told Sky News: ‘We know that the winter is a likely period when the virus takes off again, we must therefore aim to completely get rid of the virus from this country before the winter.
‘If we move too quickly which is what I think is being proposed here, the risk of running into a second wave becomes very significant.
‘We have done such a good job in this country, we the public, in staying at home, if we could only be a little more patient. We still see 1,000, at least, new cases a day in this country.
‘I don’t think there’s anyone who can believe from the scientific point of view, that this is a wise move.’
TotalNews.uk has contacted the Department for Health and Social Care for comment.
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