Boris Johnson warns lockdown lifting does not mean life is going back to normal
Lifting England’s coronavirus lockdown could have “devastating” consequences, a doctors’ union has warned. The British Medical Association said ending legal restrictions on masks and other measures would allow Covid-19 to “re-tighten its grip” because many people have still not been fully vaccinated.
The comments came after Boris Johnson announced that legal requirements for social distancing and wearing would end on 19 July in England, even as he urged people to continue to observe the practices and admitted the pandemic was not over.
The PM was accused of sending “mixed messages”.
Meanwhile, analysis by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies found that up to 200 people were likely to die per day in a summer wave of the virus.
Government should be more comforting in its approach, sociologist says
Robert Dingwall, professor of sociology at Nottingham Trent University, has said it will take people a significant period to conquer the fear and anxiety that Covid-19 has caused.
“It’s going to take some time for those to subside as people get used to Covid as an endemic infection that sits in the background, that doesn’t really represent the sort of catastrophic threat that it might have presented when it first appeared last spring,” he told Sky News.
He added: “I think the government needs to make a much more conscious shift towards positive messaging – the message that Covid is now generally a mild illness, that it rarely requires people to go to hospital, that this is something that we can get on with our lives with (it) in the background, and that almost every situation that you might find yourself in carries with it a minimal risk of picking up infection.
“I think we need to concentrate on pressing the message about safety, rather than pressing the message about risk.”
Jon Sharman13 July 2021 09:20
Retail sales grow at record pace as restrictions ease and shoppers flock back to stores
Retail sales grew at a record pace in the past three months as lockdown restrictions eased and shoppers returned to high streets, according to the latest industry data.
Total sales rose 10.4 per cent in the three months to June, the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) monitor showed.
The research also indicated that the recovery gathered further pace in June, which saw a 13.1 per cent increase in spending, writes Ben Chapman.
Jon Sharman13 July 2021 09:11
Up to 2,000 hospital admissions per day likely in summer, Sage warns
Sage member Professor Graham Medley said that between 1,000 and 2,000 hospital admissions per day day are “likely” due to a wave of Covid-19 infections as restrictions ease.
The chairman of the Sage modelling subgroup Spi-M told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme there was uncertainty in the predictions because people’s behaviour after 19 July is “unknowable”.
Jon Sharman13 July 2021 08:53
Leading government adviser warns making face masks voluntary ‘won’t do any good’
A key government adviser has attacked the decision to make mask-wearing voluntary even in crowded spaces, warning it “probably won’t do any good”, writes Rob Merrick.
Graham Medley, who chairs the SPI-M modelling group, said the Covid-fighting benefits would be lost if 30 per cent of people now refuse to put on face coverings.
“There is evidence to suggest that it does good, but only if everybody does it,” Professor Medley warned.
Jon Sharman13 July 2021 08:43
Government needs concerted information campaign on its ‘advisory’ anti-Covid measures, expert says
There must be more education for the English public around Covid-19 risks and wearing face masks now that lockdown rules will be lifted, according to a psychologist.
Boris Johnson confirmed last night that most mandatory coronavirus restrictions in England would end next week.
John Drury, a social psychologist from the University of Sussex – and member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (Spi-B) – told LBC: “The government talks about the word ‘advisory’, but at the very least, there needs to be a concerted programme of public engagement, I mean we don’t really see that.
“Where is the communication, the dialogue, the education?
“They need to explain and talk to people about how masks work, that they work, that they are one of the most important mitigations that may protect others.”
He added: “The point about personal responsibility is interesting – it’s always been the case that personal responsibility has been stressed, but there was a publication from Spi-B recently that said that needs to be backed up with capacity.
“You need to support people with education: How can they make risk assessments? Do they know the different risks indoors and outdoors. And where is that to backup that personal responsibility?”
Prof Drury said that “to drop legal enforcement does send a very strong signal, because when it is legally enforced it tells us that it’s very important”.
Jon Sharman13 July 2021 08:39
Recap: What Boris Johnson said yesterday
Boris Johnson has been accused of sending “mixed messages” after confirming the end of lockdown restrictions in England next Monday while urging people not to indulge in “a great jubilee of freedom from any kind of caution and restraint”, writes Andrew Woodcock.
In an announcement which was far from the long-anticipated declaration of “Freedom Day”, Mr Johnson cautioned that life cannot simply go back to normal on 19 July, warning: “This pandemic is not over.”
While legal requirements on the use of face-coverings and social distancing will be lifted, people will be expected to keep using them in enclosed public spaces, such as on buses and trains.
And while the government is dropping instructions to work from home where possible, Mr Johnson said he did not expect a rush back to the office on Monday, calling for a “gradual return to work” over the summer.
Jon Sharman13 July 2021 08:20
Coronavirus summer wave could lead to hundreds of daily deaths within weeks, officials warn
Lifting the final corornavirus restrictions will pile pressure on the NHS, England’s chief medical officer has warned, as government officials said a summer wave of Covid may lead to hundreds of daily deaths within weeks, writes Shaun Lintern.
Speaking at Downing Street as Boris Johnson confirmed plans to lift restrictions from next Monday, Chris Whitty said the suggestion of no pressure on the NHS was “not fully realistic”.
At the same time, modelling for the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), shows that ending restrictions could lead to between 1,000 and 2,000 hospital admissions a day within weeks, with up to 200 deaths daily now thought to be likely.
Jon Sharman13 July 2021 08:01
Lockdown lifting ‘potentially devastating’, says BMA
The British Medical Association (BMA) has warned of “potentially devastating consequences” after Boris Johnson confirmed that most mandatory coronavirus restrictions would end on 19 July.
At a press conference, the PM admitted the pandemic “is not over” and appealed to people to proceed with caution.
At the same time, he said postponing the easing of restrictions into the autumn would risk reopening at a time when schools are back from their summer holidays and people were spending more time indoors as the weather turns cold.
However Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the BMA council chair, accused the government reneging on its promise to be led by the data and the impact of Covid-19 on the NHS.
He said ending legal restrictions while many people had not been fully vaccinated would allow the virus to “retighten its grip”, driving up infections and hospital admissions and putting more lives at risk.
“It’s irresponsible – and frankly perilous – that the government has decided to press ahead with plans to lift the remaining Covid-19 restrictions on 19 July,” he said.
“The BMA has repeatedly warned of the rapidly rising infection rate and the crippling impact that Covid-related hospitalisations continue to have on the NHS, not only pushing staff to the brink of collapse but also driving up already lengthy waiting times for elective care.
“The prime minister repeatedly emphasised the importance of a slow and cautious approach, but in reality the government is throwing caution to the wind by scrapping all regulations in one fell swoop – with potentially devastating consequences.”
Jon Sharman13 July 2021 07:58
England’s lockdown ending gives mixed message, WHO expert suggests
It is too soon to speak about a big shift toward freedom and relaxation despite the UK’s success in rolling out Covid-19 vaccines, a WHO expert has warned.
Dr David Nabarro suggested “urging caution” while lifting lockdown rules could be construed as mixed messaging.
He told Radio 4’s Today programme the “pandemic is advancing ferociously around the world” and that “I don’t think we’ve anywhere near got through the worst of it”.
Asked about Boris Johnson’s shift to asking people to take personal responsibility during the pandemic, he said: “All this doesn’t quite fit with the position that was taken by Britain, along with other nations, some months ago when there was a real effort to try to prevent large numbers of people getting the disease, partly because of the risk of death and partly because of the recognition of the risk of long Covid.
“It’s necessary to be unequivocal on this particular challenge. What does urging caution mean? It’s important that everybody knows the best possible advice on how to prevent themselves being infected.
“I accept that vaccination has changed the nature of the equation in the UK but quite honestly from any point of view it’s too early to be talking about massive relaxation or freedom when the outbreak curve is on such a sharp ascent.”
Pressed on whether he thought official lockdown restrictions should continue, Dr Nabarro said he wanted governments around the world to “level with” their citizens about the realities of coronavirus, and help them decide “how they’re going to co-exist with this virus”.
He said: “But they can’t do it on their own. They have to be very strongly supported by a government that acts in the interest of its people.
“Yes, relax, but don’t have these mixed messages about what’s going on. This dangerous virus hasn’t gone away, it’s variants are coming back and are threatening those who have already been vaccinated – we have to take it seriously.”
Dr Nabarro also said there was great interest around the world in how Britain was approaching the virus, saying countries looked to the UK for examples of “high-quality decision-making” on public health.
Every government has to take Covid-19 “super-seriously”, he said, as he urged people to continue to try to mitigate its spread.
Countries also need public health systems in place to effectively detect and isolate new cases, he added.
Jon Sharman13 July 2021 07:52
India says no laxity in Covid protocol ahead of Parliament session
Om Birla, speaker of India’s lower house of Parliament, has said that there will be no laxity in following Covid-19 protocol during the Parliament session which is scheduled to begin on 19 July and go on till 13 August.
Members who have taken even one dose of Covid-19 vaccine will not be required to undertake an RT-PCR test. Mr Birla said that arrangements will be made to ensure members are sitting at an appropriate distance from each other.
It will be the first time that both the houses will sit simultaneously since the pandemic began last year.
Akshita Jain13 July 2021 07:09