Full lockdown easing on June 21 could still cause a lot of damage, expert warns
A full easing of lockdown restrictions on June 21 could still cause “a lot of damage”, a Government scientific adviser has warned.
Professor Stephen Reicher a member of the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (Spi-B) which advises the Government, said the UK should be wary of “going backwards” as new cases of the virus continued to increase.
Prof Reicher also criticised the narrative of a “weak public” throughout the pandemic, saying people had been “held back by a Government that isn’t prepared to take action”.
Asked on Times Radio what he expected the Government to announce on Monday regarding final stage lockdown easing, he said: “I think we’ll hear a delay, because all the data now points that way.
We have a public that understands what needs to be done, is following the science and yet is held back by a Government that isn’t prepared to take action
“In a situation where things are getting worse we don’t know how much worse they’re going to get. We don’t know how many people are going to get seriously ill.
“There’s still a lot of damage that can be done, therefore it makes good sense to pause.”
Prof Reicher said the UK had previously failed to get “the basics” right and that more financial support was needed from the Government to help people self-isolate properly and afford to get tested.
Asked about the public willingness to continue with restrictions and social distancing measures beyond so-called freedom day, he continued: “The narrative throughout this pandemic is that the public is the problem, the public won’t wear it, the Government wants to do things (and) is held back by a weak public.
“In fact, the evidence throughout has shown us that people are prepared to do things, the public are following the science and are prepared to do the things that keep them and their communities safe.
“If you look at the polling now you will find a clear majority of people support the delay, and what’s more a large majority of people understand that even after we lift restrictions we’ll have to do sensible things in order to stop the spread of infection.
“The truth of this pandemic is not that we have a Government that wants to act, held back by a weak public.
“We have a public that understands what needs to be done, is following the science and yet is held back by a Government that isn’t prepared to take action.”
Prof Reicher added that more efforts should be made internationally to help end the crisis.
“One of the most important things is to make sure we make vaccines available to the whole world and that enough vaccines are being produced for the whole world,” he said.
“It is not enough to give away vaccines, the really important thing is to make other countries, poorer countries, able to produce their own vaccines through vaccine patent waivers and the Government is still blocking that.”