End of Lockdown Unlikely to Bring an End to Face Masks and Work from Home Guidelines

Professor Anthony Harnden, the Deputy Chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), says that the unlocking of society will be a “gradual process” requiring a “cautious” approach – even if the June 21st date for the end of lockdown is met. He told BBC Breakfast (as quoted in WalesOnline):

Even if we do un-lockdown, if you are in a vulnerable position, particularly if you’ve not been vaccinated, you do need to carry on being cautious, even if the June 21st date goes ahead.

So I think we’ve all got used to living within boundaries at the moment and I think it’s not an all or none, I think it will be a gradual process even if the June 21st date goes ahead.

According to the Times, the Government is prioritising ending social distancing guidelines, but will likely leave guidance around masking and working from home in place.

The Treasury is prioritising the end of the “one metre plus” distancing rule and the “rule of six” indoors, which is viewed as crucial to supporting hospitality and retail and helping the economy to recover. Ministers also want to end rules that limit mass gatherings so that festivals, concerts and sporting events can go ahead…

In an attempt to reduce the spread of the virus, masks could still be required on public transport and in indoor public spaces. Guidance stating that people must work from home if they can may also remain in place. Boris Johnson is expected to make a decision on which restrictions can be lifted within the next fortnight.

For some Government advisers, even unlocking partially on June 21st would be going too far. According to SAGE member Professor Andrew Hayward, there is a “good argument” for delaying the end of lockdown until a “much higher proportion” of the population has been fully vaccinated (a sentiment recently echoed by Health Secretary Matt Hancock).

He told Today on BBC Radio 4: “It’s still going to be a few weeks yet until we’ve got all of the highly clinically vulnerable double-vaccinated and that will probably coincide with the plans to open up more fully. When we do open up more fully, instead of [cases of the Indian variant] doubling every week, it’s likely to double more frequently than that. I think there is a good argument for caution until we’ve got a much higher proportion double-vaccinated.”

The Times report is worth reading in full.

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