The UK is at a “sensitive moment” as it eases coronavirus restrictions, the country’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Sunday, adding that not all scientists will agree with the government’s decisions.
England is relaxing some restrictions from Monday, including allowing groups of up to six people to meet in outdoor settings.
Schools will also begin to reopen to some pupils, and extremely vulnerable people who have been “shielding” — staying at home at all times and avoiding any face-to-face contact — have been told they can go outdoors again from Monday.
“If we had a second peak in the virus, we would end up back in lockdown and that would be bad for public health reasons but also for the economy,” Raab told Sky News on Sunday.
“So we’re taking measures now which are based on both on the public health considerations, but they’re also crucial for the economy. But it’s true to say — the scientists do not always agree.
“In fact that’s not what we want. We don’t want them all to agree. We want them to test the evidence. That’s the way we get better advice from them.”
Raab said that if new restrictions were needed to control a second outbreak, the government had the capacity to “target very carefully” different localities or situations.
Prominent scientists have voiced skepticism in recent days about the steps the government is taking.
“The announcement of relaxed measures for those most at risk from severe Covid-19, the shielders, seems to lack any obvious rationale other than to add to an ongoing ‘good news’ narrative that appears to have little grounding in reality,” Dr. Stephen Griffin, Associate Professor in the School of Medicine, University of Leeds, told the UK’s Science Media Centre.
Professor Sally Bloomfield, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, warned that relaxing several measures at the same time was risky.
“If the situation deteriorates it will be impossible to know which measures need to be re-imposed and we will just have to go back to lockdown,” she told the Science Media Centre.
“This does not look like gently lifting the lid — and from what I have seen these past three days, I fear that our desire to socialize means that the critical nature of our situation is being forgotten.”