Expert warns we should not 'rush' into lifting lockdown early

A senior government academic adviser has warned that “Freedom Day” should not be postponed until July 5th.

An announcement from the Prime Minister is expected tomorrow when all Covid restrictions in England can be lifted.

The rules were originally supposed to be lifted this month, but have been postponed to July 19 due to the spread of the Delta variant of the virus.

Professor Sir Peter Horby, chairman of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), says “encouraging” Covid data suggests that restrictions in England could indeed be relaxed by July 19 – but not sooner

The member of the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE) told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “We always have to be guided by the data, not the data.

“So we’re watching it very carefully, and there will be a lot of analysis of the data up to that date to make sure we’re okay with this release.

“Right now the data is encouraging that we can do that. But we have to make sure that we follow the data. “

He said he would not bring forward the date on which the restrictions were being relaxed, adding that it was “very reasonable” to postpone the previous target date of June 21 by four weeks.

“I think we shouldn’t rush anything, we really want to make sure that we can lift all restrictions and not have to backtrack at all,” he added.

Sir Peter said the way out of the pandemic would be “a bumpy road” with “twists and turns”.

He said, “We’ve seen Sydney reinstate lockdown measures, we’ve seen Israel reintroduce masks, we’ve seen the alpha variant, and now we’ve seen the delta variant, and how many letters are there in the alphabet? We shall see many more.

“So we have to expect that it will be a bumpy road and that there will be corners and twists that we don’t want to see.”

He added, “One of the questions is, how far can this virus change … what is the virus’s plastic envelope? Can that really change forever? Will it settle down somehow? It will probably calm down, I think. “

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