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I wouldn't meet indoors despite lockdown easing, says Sage scientist

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 17/05/2021 Gareth Davies
a woman standing in front of a store: Left to right Rebecca Mitchell, Rosie Delaney and Isobel Logan enter the Showtime Bar at 00:02 in Huddersfield - Danny Lawson/PA © Danny Lawson/PA Left to right Rebecca Mitchell, Rosie Delaney and Isobel Logan enter the Showtime Bar at 00:02 in Huddersfield - Danny Lawson/PA

A Sage scientist has said he would not meet indoors in spite of the Government's easing of lockdown measures meaning you can legally do so. 

Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust and a Government adviser, said that he would not meet indoors "at the moment".

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think it is reasonable to just be sensible about knowing where transmission is occurring, mostly indoors, mostly in larger gatherings indoors with lots of different people, different families, different communities, and I would just restrict that at the moment personally."

But he added: "I don't think it's unreasonable to lift the restrictions - we do need to lift the restrictions at some point, we've been in restrictions now for a very long time."

The further lifting of the lockdown restrictions means that from today: 

  1. Pubs and restaurants can open indoors
  2. Groups of six or two households can meet indoors and overnight stays are allowed
  3. You can hug someone not in your household
  4. Cinemas, theatres and museums can reopen
  5. Up to 30 people may meet outdoors
  6. Outdoor events allowed up to the lower of 4,000 attendees or 50 per cent capacity
  7. Social distancing and close physical contact with friends and family a matter of personal judgment
  8. No limit to attendees at funerals
  9. Up to 30 people can attend weddings and other life events
  10. Care home residents are allowed up to five named visitors
  11. Hotels, B&Bs, sport and gym classes may reopen
  12. Overseas holidays permitted to "green list" countries
  13. No face coverings required in secondary school classrooms
  14. In-person teaching permitted at universities

But Sir Jeremy warned that restrictions may have to be reversed if the new Indian variant "escapes" protection afforded to people by the Covid-19 vaccines.

"The new variant that has come, the B.167, is becoming dominant in parts of the UK," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"Yet vaccination across the country has been extraordinarily successful.

"I think we will see an increase of cases and infections over the coming weeks as some of the restrictions are lifted, but I think the key question is whether we have decoupled increased transmission and number of people who do get infected from the number of people that get ill and need to go into hospital or with long Covid.

"If we've decoupled them, then I think the country can cope with a marginal degree of an increase in transmission.

"So that is the key question and to be honest, we don't know that today and that is why I think a very careful lifting is reasonable, but we may have to reverse that if there is escape from the vaccine."

He added: "I just think we're at this point where we've lifted restrictions, and yet we don't have that full amount of information - I think it is reasonable to lift them today, but I do believe all of us need to be really, really careful."

Hugging is a 'high-risk procedure', says Nervtag scientist

Hugging is a "high-risk procedure", Professor Peter Openshaw said.

The professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, who is a member of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), told BBC Breakfast: "Some of us are quite happy not to be hugging and kissing many times on the cheek.

"This is a high-risk procedure, I would say in medical terms and I would certainly not be embracing people closely.

"I think you can greet people perfectly well at a distance with a smile and a kind word."

He added: "I think we must be extremely cautious.

"I think we're all in agreement that this is a moment when we need to be very cautious if we're going to preserve our freedoms going forward into the summer.

"The more cautious we are now, the more likely it is that we're going to be able to open up as we hope to over the summer."

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