A senior British health official has warned that it’s too soon to talk about summer plans, predicting that some of the country’s coronavirus measures will likely stay in place until the entire adult population is vaccinated.
Dr. Susan Hopkins, Public Health England’s Covid-19 strategic response director, told Sky News that it was “difficult to say” what kind of rules might be in place in the coming months. However, she noted that when people go on holiday, they tend to “drop their guard a bit” and “mingle in groups.” Hopkins said that such gatherings would likely spread the virus and exacerbate the health crisis.
“So I think we are going to have to have some measures in place until the whole population is vaccinated, at least all of the adult population.”
Hopkins added that injecting every adult in the country may not even be enough to confidently lift restrictions. She claimed that more needs to be known about how the disease is transmitted before the government can “release everything” and allow people to “get back to life as it was.”
The UK is still focusing its vaccination drive on the elderly and healthcare workers, and there are currently no set plans for when the drug will become more widely available to the public. Around 13 million jabs have been administered so far, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock claiming that among 75- to 79-year-olds, uptake has been 96 percent.
Hopkins’ comments coincided with a report published in the Times, which claims that the government is considering a plan that would keep mandatory masks and social distancing rules in place until autumn.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said earlier this week that it’s “just too early” for people to begin making summer plans, asking the public to be “a little bit more patient” as the country attempts to navigate the health crisis.
The cautionary tone of the government has faced criticism from some lawmakers. Steve Baker, a Conservative MP and deputy chair of the Covid-19 Recovery Group, said that he worried that senior scientists were spreading “despair and despondency” by “floating untested hypotheses in the media,” adding that the practice “brings scientists square into the political domain.”
Another Tory MP, Charles Walker, quipped that it made little sense to deprive Britons of summer holidays now that “we’ve got vaccines coming out of our ears.”
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