Masks and Social Distancing “Could Last Years”, Says Public Health England Official

Masks and social distancing could remain in the UK for several years after lockdown – “at least until other parts of the world are as well vaccinated as we are”, according to a Public Health England official. The BBC has the story.

People may need to wear face coverings and socially distance for several years until we return to normality, a leading epidemiologist has predicted.

Mary Ramsay, the head of immunisation at Public Health England, said basic measures could be in place until other countries successfully roll out jabs.

She also said a return of big spectator events required careful monitoring and clear instructions about staying safe. …

Dr Ramsay said restrictions such as face coverings in crowded places and social distancing had become accepted by many and still allowed the economy to function.

She said “people have got used to those lower-level restrictions now, and people can live with them, and the economy can still go on with those less severe restrictions in place”.

“So I think certainly for a few years, at least until other parts of the world are as well vaccinated as we are, and the numbers have come down everywhere, that is when we may be able to go very gradually back to a more normal situation,” she added.

Warning it was “very important that we do not relax too quickly”, Dr Ramsay said any circulating virus would inevitably pick on those who are vulnerable. 

“We have to look very carefully before any of these restrictions are lifted,” she said. …

A group of Government scientific advisers said last month that “maintaining a baseline of policies which reduce transmission” will be necessary for some time to come.

Those experts said these could include continuing test-and-trace, self-isolation, and public messaging that encourages “voluntary actions to reduce risks”.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: A record number of people have been vaccinated in the UK for the third day running. But what’s the point of the vaccine if it’s not going to allow us to return to normality?

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