The Prime Minister has been accused of trying to “have his cake and eat it” by scientists who have criticised his roadmap in lifting the lockdown.
Boris Jonson said on Sunday in a speech to the nation that people can go to work if they cannot work from home.
Scientists have slammed the PM saying he has “abandoned” the policy of being guided by the scientific community.
Dr Stephen Griffin, Associate Professor in the School of Medicine at the University of Leeds, said on Sunday evening, “I am deeply concerned by the confusing message from the government this evening.
“It feels as though the ethos that advice from the scientific community should guide policy has been abandoned.”
Dr Griffin added, “We cannot and should not attempt to second guess this pandemic.
“It is essential that we obtain a clear understanding of community spread via efficient and widespread testing before any of the measures announced this evening stand a chance of success.”
Richard Horton, editor of medical journal The Lancet who is a fierce critic of the governments’ handling over the outbreak, said that his speech demonstrates the UK is only half way through the lockdown.
Horton said, “My interpretation of Boris Johnson this evening: the pandemic of Covid-19 in the UK is much more serious than we have been led to believe.
“Johnson was unusually serious, fists clenched, no jokes about squashing sombreros.
“The switch to “stay alert” is an act of appeasement to those in his party who don’t understand how serious this disease is (remember, Boris Johnson does).
“Be clear about what he said, we are Level 4 in his new alert system, and that’s after 7 weeks of lockdown. Not good at all.”
He added, “The most telling clue that the UK is in serious trouble was his statement that bars/restaurants will remain closed until July. That’s 7 weeks.
“In other words, we are only halfway through lockdown. That is well beyond predictions in other countries for the lockdown time needed.”
Professor Jonathan Ball, Professor of Molecular Virology at the University of Nottingham, said, “I think the reality is, this is a statement driven almost entirely by an economic agenda and in truth lacks clarity in terms of future control of the virus epidemic.
“Recognition of the importance of infection control through extensive testing and effective contact tracing was a welcome statement, but I am not convinced that the systems are really in place to do this. Hopefully clarity will emerge over the next few days.”
Dr Michael Head, Senior Research Fellow in Global Health at the University of Southampton said the PMs new “Stay Alert’ messaging is “ambiguous and lacks clarity.”
Professor Dame Til Wykes DBE, Vice Dean Psychology and Systems Sciences at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London, said the new message is confusing.
Professor Wykes added, “We need clear rules and messages that are concise, clear and accurate. This is just short.
“It is clearly a message written by a communications committee and was never tested in a focus group or with behavioural scientists. A woolly message will hinder not promote the next phase of this lockdown.”
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