Social distancing and masks on public transport 'here to stay' after June 21 Freedom Day amid lockdown lift delay fears

FACE masks and social distancing could remain in place after "Freedom Day" on June 21 amid fears lockdown lifting may be delayed.

The government may reportedly also backtrack on encouraging Brits to return to work as the UK grapples with the new Indian variant.

đŸ”” Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest updates

One source told the I it would be "irresponsible" to relax the rules too quickly on June 21 as it could lead to another "full lockdown in autumn".

They added: "While many businesses would have been hoping to operate at full capacity in a few weeks’ time it is better than they can operate at reduced capacity rather than being shut down completely again if we hit another peak.”

Officials are now understood to be planning to keep rules surrounding face masks on public transport in place.

Social distancing could also still be forced on Brits after Freedom Day in a bid to keep rising Covid cases at bay.

Experts have previously said face masks could become the "new norm", with Professor Lockdown claiming they may be around until next year due to new Covid variants.

And Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King's College London, said social distancing measures and masks may be kept far beyond current lockdown measures.

Dominic Raab also last month hinted face masks and social distancing could remain in place until after lockdown lifts.

Boris Johnson is battling to keep his pledge to lift the rules completely on June 21 – the final phase of his roadmap.

But cases of the Indian variant of the virus have surged – with infections rising 50 per cent in a week.

Data suggests the mutation is twice as likely to cause hospitalisation, leaving this month's Freedom Day hanging in the balance.

The Sun revealed today how a secret plan is being worked on to delay lockdown lifting by two weeks.

Ministers and officials are working on contingency plans to move “Freedom Day” to next month, as well as retaining distancing and limits on fans in stadiums – potentially plunging the Euros into chaos.

It comes after a Public Health England report showed people who tested positive for the Indian variant – also known as the Delta variant – were at 161 per cent more risk of needing hospital treatment within 14 days.

And experts warned the Indian Covid mutation could be 100 per cent more infectious than the Kent variant, which caused the country to lockdown in January.

 

The "Nepal variant" found in Britain – a mutated version of the Indian variant ripping through the country – has also sparked concern.

And the crucial R rate is also as high as 1.2 according to Sage — meaning the virus is up again.

Dr Adam Kucharski, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, today warned the Indian variant could see a "big number" of people admitted to hospital.

He BBC Radio 4's Today programme there were a "number of concerning signs" following early evidence that first dose vaccines are not as effective against the new strain.

Dr Kucharski, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M) Government advisory panel, added: "I think it is particularly this increase in transmission that is potentially going to cause us considerable problems.

"We are getting estimates now firming up that we are looking at something potentially 40-60 per cent more transmissible than the B.117, the Kent variant that was dominant.

"And that means that infections are going to really come at us quite fast and we are seeing that in the cases now."

Brits will be told about the government's decision on easing restrictions on June 14.

A Government source insisted: “We always knew that cases would go up as we unlocked at each stage, but the crucial question is whether this then results in hospitalisations, or whether vaccines are providing the protection we need.

“We’ll have to watch the data closely over the next week before making a final decision, as we have done at each step.”  

    Source: Read Full Article