The Prime Minister has announced today that he is “optimistic” over his plan to ease lockdown, and has hinted that the hospitality sector will open after non-essential retail.
Boris Johnson said, “Our children’s education is our number one priority, but then working forward, getting non-essential retail open as well and then, in due course as and when we can prudently, cautiously, of course we want to be opening hospitality as well.
“I will be trying to set out as much as I possibly can in as much detail as I can, always understanding that we have to be wary of the pattern of disease. We don’t want to be forced into any kind of retreat or reverse ferret.”
The Prime Minister added, “I’m optimistic, I won’t hide it from you. I’m optimistic, but we have to be cautious.”
Johnson will outline his easing of the lockdown plan on 22 February, and he is expected to announce the reopening of schools for 8 March.
Professor Neil Ferguson, who is part of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG), told Politico, “The lockdown has really driven down cases quite fast.
“They’re basically halving about every 17 days at the moment or so, and that means in a month’s time, the prime minister’s talked about potentially reopening schools, we might have some bandwidth to do that, at least primary schools.”
Easter plans could be ruined as a government source warned it is “too early” to think about holidays, as infection levels must come down first.
Professor Steven Riley, a member of the SPI-M modelling group has warned that the UK could see a third wave if the lockdown were to be lifted too early.
Professor Riley told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, “No vaccine is perfect. We are certainly going to be in the situation where we can allow more infection in the community but there is a limit.
“I think scientists are genuinely worried. We don’t want to show that it is an excellent but not perfect vaccine by having another large wave in the UK.
“Nearly 20% of the UK population is 65-years-old or older. If you do some simple back of the envelope (calculations) for a vaccine that is very good but not perfect, there is the potential for another really substantial wave.
“That is not where we want to go in the short term
“If for some reason we were to choose to just pretend it wasn’t here any more, then there is the potential to go back to a wave that is a similar size to the one that we are in now.”