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22nd February - Roadmap out of the pandemic, lifting of restrictions.

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Purple Orange

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Have some patience folk. Nobody likes this, but it’s nearly over - 7 more weeks. Personally I trust the plans informed by the epidemiologists rather than Daily Mail columnists and members of the Reform Party.
 
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duncanp

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Even Professor Pantsdown thinks there is a much reduced chance of a "third wave" later in the year, and that there shouldn't be another lockdown.


Even Professor Neil Ferguson is now optimistic that vaccines will squash the UK's third wave of Covid and life in Britain will 'feel a lot more normal by the summer'.

The SAGE adviser and Imperial College London epidemiologist, whose sobering death toll predictions led Britain into its first lockdown last year, said today that he expects the vaccine rollout to help keep the UK out of lockdown for good.

And even in the autumn and winter, when experts fear the virus will make a comeback like flu, he said the jabs appear to work so well they will hold it at bay.

Professor Ferguson, known as 'Professor Lockdown', said the ratio of cases to hospital admissions would be much lower next time around and it was unlikely there will be any danger of the NHS getting overwhelmed.

He admitted 'we do expect transmission' when society fully reopens in June but suggested vaccination should replace the need for lockdowns and the UK is 'in a very good position' to stick to plans for June 21.

Another member of SAGE, however, urged people not to get over-excited about Boris Johnson's claim that social distancing could be totally scrapped in summer.

Professor Stephen Reicher, a psychologist at St Andrews University, said 'things can change very rapidly' and that cases could spiral if people got complacent.

The next lockdown relaxation is due in less than two weeks' time on Monday, May 17, when people will be allowed to meet in large groups outdoors, small groups indoors, and indoor entertainment and international travel are expected to reopen.

Only one UK death from coronavirus was announced yesterday – the lowest since August.

Tory MPs seized on the tumbling death toll as yet another sign Covid has been stamped out in the UK and called for Mr Johnson to speed up his roadmap to normality.

Sir Robert Syms, Tory MP for Poole in Dorset, urged Boris Johnson to stick to his promise of following 'data not dates'. The PM has so far refused to budge in the face of repeated calls for more freedom.

'The period we had concerns about – but they are diminishing – is really late summer, early autumn,' Professor Ferguson said on BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

'If we’re going to see another wave of transmission, that’s where it would take place.

'But the data on the vaccines is getting ever more encouraging, particularly when you get new data that was released just over a week ago which showed even if you do get infected [after having a vaccine] you are less infectious.

'So that’s pushed our estimates of the scale of any autumn wave down.'

He said there was still a risk that a vaccine-resistant variant could come along and dent plans to return to life as normal.

Dangerous variants are more likely to emerge when there is widespread transmission – as there still is in many parts of the world, particularly India – and it may also be more likely when people are immune because the virus must evolve to survive.

Professor Ferguson said the South African variant is the closest thing to this right now but that jab still appear to work well against it.

Other advisers to SAGE last week published a study showing that Pfizer's jab protects well against the SA variant after people have had both doses.

Professor Ferguson said: 'The risk from variants, where vaccines are less effective is the major concern.

'That’s the one thing that could still lead to a very major third wave in the autumn.

'So I think it’s essential that we roll out booster doses which can protect against that as soon as we finish vaccinating the adult population which should finish by the summer...

'It's much better to be vaccinating people than shutting down the whole of society.

'So I think, with that one caveat, I am feeling fairly optimistic that we will be – not completely back to normal – but something that feels a lot more normal by the summer.'

MPs yesterday called again for Boris Johnson to end the UK's lockdown sooner and said the fact that only a single Covid death was announced was proof the national restrictions were no longer needed.

Despite the falling numbers and the huge success of the vaccine rollout, Britain is still not scheduled to open up fully for another seven weeks.

Ministers are even hinting that masks and forms of social distancing may continue past June 21.

And the list of quarantine-free destinations is likely to be very limited when the blanket ban on foreign travel ends later this month.

MP Robert Syms said: 'If you take the data rather than dates, infections, hospitalisations and deaths have fallen quite rapidly and there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that any of the unlocking has caused any sort of spike.

'It didn’t happen when schools reopened and hasn’t as a result of shops reopening. We need to push the Government to get on with it. A lot of normal life could be returned.'

Tory former minister David Jones said the Government should now consider bringing forward the June 21 target.

He added: 'Lots of hospitality businesses desperately need to recommence full trading and lots of livelihoods depend on it.'

A further 1,649 confirmed cases of coronavirus were reported yesterday – down 20 per cent in seven days.

The solitary death took the seven-day total to 105 – down 35 per cent on the week before.

Mr Johnson refused to budge but struck a positive note yesterday, saying that the lockdown easing roadmap was on course, with almost all social distancing rules likely to be scrapped from June 21.

He said: 'We have got a good chance of being able to dispense with the one-metre plus from June 21.

'That is still dependent on the data, we can’t say it categorically yet, we have got to look at the epidemiology as we progress. But that’s what it feels like to me right now.'
 

roversfan2001

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You know there's a difference between suggesting another lockdown could occur and actually wanting another lockdown to occur. Yes?
Look at the stats - another lockdown isn't happening. The lockdown ship has well and truly sailed. From personal experience, everyone I know that has suggested that we will need a fourth lockdown would gain from it. I've seen nothing to change my view that the only people suggesting that one could happen are suggesting it out of hope more than fear.
 

Dent

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Have some patience folk. Nobody likes this, but it’s nearly over - 7 more weeks. Personally I trust the plans informed by the epidemiologists rather than Daily Mail columnists and members of the Reform Party.

No one's patience is infinite, nor should it be. We have been told to "have some patience" for well over a year now, is it any surprise that many people's patience has run out after so long?

"7 more weeks" is hardly "nearly over", it's an awful long time to wait for basic freedom, particularly after being kept waiting for so long already.
 

quantinghome

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Because we don't need to? The vulnerable have been vaccinated, that's all we needed to do. There's no benefit to keeping restrictions until everyone has been vaccinated. The number of deaths prevented will be absolutely miniscule.
I agree - let's lift restrictions once the priority groups (i.e. over 50s) are fully vaccinated.
 

Purple Orange

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No one's patience is infinite, nor should it be. We have been told to "have some patience" for well over a year now, is it any surprise that many people's patience has run out after so long?

"7 more weeks" is hardly "nearly over", it's an awful long time to wait for basic freedom, particularly after being kept waiting for so long already.
Relative to the last 14 months, 7 weeks is a very short time. I’m taking comfort from the fact that the vaccination program is going well and we are moving through the various gateways. There is no suggestion that those plans should change and by 21st June we should be out of this.
 

DustyBin

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No one's patience is infinite, nor should it be. We have been told to "have some patience" for well over a year now, is it any surprise that many people's patience has run out after so long?

"7 more weeks" is hardly "nearly over", it's an awful long time to wait for basic freedom, particularly after being kept waiting for so long already.

Agreed. Whilst we are now getting close, it’s completely wrong to think that these restrictions don’t come with a cost; everyday they are causing serious damage to the economy, our society and individuals. Again, I appreciate that seven more weeks doesn’t seem a long time in the grand scheme of things but we shouldn’t wait that long just because “that was the plan” or “it won’t do any harm” as it certainly will.
 

roversfan2001

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I agree - let's lift restrictions once the priority groups (i.e. over 50s) are fully vaccinated.
The second dose is more to provide long-term immunity rather than extra short-term immunity. Given all over 50s were offered a first dose by April 13th, allow 3 weeks after that date to allow immunity to build up and restrictions should all go by...today! Why wait another 7+ weeks?
 

Dent

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Relative to the last 14 months, 7 weeks is a very short time.

It's an awful long time relative to the things that matter in life, such as how long someone's overdraft can last without any income, how long someone can survive without food or shelter because they are unable to earn a living, how long they can wait to see loves ones etc. It's not "relative to" the last 14 months anyway, it is on top of the last 14 months.
 

ChrisC

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It's absolutely bonkers and pointless that these ridiculous over the top damaging hassly restrictions are still continuing, and won't even be properly gone by 21st June it seems. Social distancing to be scrapped. Great! About bloody time! Though still one way systems and perspex screens/dividers still to be kept in shops, pubs, etc! What an earth is the point in keeping those! And face masks still to be worn in shops, cinemas, theatres, on public transport, etc. Again what an earth is the point? All these restrictions need to be scrapped completely by 21st June!
BJ has declared that there’s ‘a good chance’ of dispensing with the social distancing rules from 21st June. Yet at the same time others are suggesting that mask wearing may have to continue after this date.

Great news for the hospitality and entertainment industries if social distancing does go as social distancing puts such limits on their capacity and makes them financially unviable. I just hope that the compulsory aspect of the whole lot goes including mask wearing, one way systems and perspex screens and leave it all to individual personal choice.

When I visit London later this summer I can certainly see instances where I might choose to wear a mask if travelling on a crowded tube train. However, when I use the local bus from my village, it is absolute nonsense to have to wear a mask when there are never more than half a dozen people on board.
 

Purple Orange

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It's an awful long time relative to the things that matter in life, such as how long someone's overdraft can last without any income, how long someone can survive without food or shelter because they are unable to earn a living, how long they can wait to see loves ones etc. It's not "relative to" the last 14 months anyway, it is on top of the last 14 months.

In many ways it’s not as hard as 7 weeks as it currently stands. On May 17th we should be gong back to the rule of 6 and being able to go indoors to pubs etc.
 

cuccir

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BJ has declared that there’s ‘a good chance’ of dispensing with the social distancing rules from 21st June. Yet at the same time others are suggesting that mask wearing may have to continue after this date.

The word 'yet' is not required here. If there's "a good chance" of dispending with them after 21st June, then there's clearly "a small chance" of not.

From personal experience, everyone I know that has suggested that we will need a fourth lockdown would gain from it. I've seen nothing to change my view that the only people suggesting that one could happen are suggesting it out of hope more than fear.
Why would anyone want more lockdown? The idea that there are people out there who don't understand that lockdowns are painful, destructive and damaging is I think a false one.
 

Cdd89

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On May 17th we should be gong back to the rule of 6 and being able to go indoors to pubs etc.
That is little comfort to the business owners who are being starved of revenue by these restrictions though. And highlights the inherent selfishness of some (not necessarily you by the way!) pushing for restrictions for longer than is necessary (as long as we can have a nice time, and more space is nice anyway, who cares about the businesses that serve us…)
 

brad465

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Have some patience folk. Nobody likes this, but it’s nearly over - 7 more weeks. Personally I trust the plans informed by the epidemiologists rather than Daily Mail columnists and members of the Reform Party.
I would agree if absolutely everything goes on June 21st. However masks and social distancing are not guaranteed to go with the June 21st easements; if they do go at the same time, brilliant, but if not then June 21st is not when this is all over.
 

bramling

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Completely agree, I made a thread a while back about covid and "human exceptionalism", where I believe that our covid response has been "human exceptionalism gone mad", primarily in response to trying to save as many lives from covid and, "beat this virus" (because we're "exceptional"). It maddens me how it's dangerous to talk about death in certain ways, even though it is inevitable, and I believe our failure to acknowledge this as a society is holding back progress.

As unfortunate as this is, our best hope is the collateral damage coming up of more deaths from other causes that have been ignored because of covid brings home the reality that, even if we save a life from one cause, nature will only get us another way instead.

The latest form of exceptionalism has to be the obsession about new variants and trying to contain and/or shut them out, despite the fact viral mutations are well known in virology and every year we change and reissue flu vaccines because of them, and contingency to do this for covid has already been announced by vaccine producers.

On the subject of deaths being ignored, on Thursday the ONS releases the next quarter of alcohol-related deaths, that means data for the whole of 2020 is available. This is significant because when Q3 was released, this data was well reported as alcohol deaths being at a record high, so one dreads to think how high Q4 of 2020 was, which contained lockdown 2 and a Christmas like no other (in a bad way).

Completely agree. The taboo over having a rational discussion about death is very negative in a number of ways. Another example is the way some people will not discuss death arrangements, wills and the like with their close family, which if the unforeseen happens can then cause a massive amount of additional heartache for loved ones at a time when they need it least.

It’s amazing how many people, especially younger people, simply don’t write a will, simply because they don’t want to think about the prospect of death. I simply don’t get the rationale behind such an attitude.

as long as we can have a nice time ... who cares

For some people this sums up the past 15 months...
 

Purple Orange

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That is little comfort to the business owners who are being starved of revenue by these restrictions though. And highlights the inherent selfishness of some (not necessarily you by the way!) pushing for restrictions for longer than is necessary (as long as we can have a nice time, and more space is nice anyway, who cares about the businesses that serve us…)

I don’t think people are wanting to throw businesses under the bus like that. And it’s not selfish to want a cautious and safe approach.
 

roversfan2001

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Why would anyone want more lockdown? The idea that there are people out there who don't understand that lockdowns are painful, destructive and damaging is I think a false one.
A lot of people are sheltered from the full effects of restrictions, most commonly by the furlough scheme. If they're given the option of working for 100% of their wage or not working and still getting 80% of their wage, a worrying number of people prefer the latter - ignoring the wider consequences.
 

bramling

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A lot of people are sheltered from the full effects of restrictions, most commonly by the furlough scheme. If they're given the option of working for 100% of their wage or not working and still getting 80% of their wage, a worrying number of people prefer the latter - ignoring the wider consequences.

I suspect if we didn’t have furlough attitudes would have been very different. Furlough should never have lasted anything like as long as it has.
 

Dent

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I don’t think people are wanting to throw businesses under the bus like that. And it’s not selfish to want a cautious and safe approach.

This "cautions and safe approach" is destroying people's livelihoods, tearing families apart and trashing people's social lives and recreation. This is not "cautions and safe", it is recklessly trampling over all those things.
 

Cdd89

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I don’t think people are wanting to throw businesses under the bus like that. And it’s not selfish to want a cautious and safe approach.
Absolutely, some people wanting longer restrictions are doing so for non selfish reasons.

But equally many of the benefits of the June easing are biased toward businesses and the wider economy rather than individuals. Focusing on what we can do (as you inadvertently did in your post) is likely to lead to those considerations being viewed as secondary. I am very pleased pubs have been around for outdoor dining over these five weeks, but they are mostly not making a profit, they are just holding out for things to improve.

If I were being selfish, I’d be happy for the Rule of 6 and social distancing to remain indefinitely as I don’t do anything impacted by it, indeed in many ways it’s beneficial (who doesn’t like quieter restaurants?). In terms of my personal lifestyle all inconvenience is over as of two weeks’ time. As such I would not trust my own judgment as to how much hardship is caused by such a measure. If others interested in prolonged restrictions are being honest they should think the same.
 

cuccir

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A lot of people are sheltered from the full effects of restrictions, most commonly by the furlough scheme. If they're given the option of working for 100% of their wage or not working and still getting 80% of their wage, a worrying number of people prefer the latter - ignoring the wider consequences.
Is it worrying that people prefer furlough? My sister cleans pubs for a living. She's not overly excited about returning to work in May and why would she want to go back to doing that rather than being paid to not? I'd be more worried if she suddenly wanted to go to work.

But preferring not working doesn't make people prefer lockdown. Of course there'll always be some but most people (my sister included, as an aside) see the damage it's also doing themselves, their friends, their family...
 

35B

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I suspect if we didn’t have furlough attitudes would have been very different. Furlough should never have lasted anything like as long as it has.
Furlough has lasted because it had become necessary as a means of support to those whose jobs were otherwise disappearing as a result of government policy. While government policy has included lockdown, furlough has been part of the package, and would never have been removed without lockdowns going. Ease lockdown, and furlough will follow - as is the government's current plan.
 

Dent

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But equally many of the benefits of the June easing are biased toward businesses and the wider economy rather than individuals. Focusing on what we can do (as you inadvertently did in your post) is likely to lead to those considerations being viewed as secondary.

You are forgetting that "businesses and the wider economy" are not something separate to individuals, they consist of individuals. A functional economy is necessary for individuals to be able to earn a living to pay for the things they need to stay alive.
 

NorthOxonian

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I would agree if absolutely everything goes on June 21st. However masks and social distancing are not guaranteed to go with the June 21st easements; if they do go at the same time, brilliant, but if not then June 21st is not when this is all over.
To be honest, I'm less concerned about it being seven weeks (I realise it's hard for a lot of businesses but it is only seven weeks), and more concerned about longer term measures that some of these scientists seem to want to become permanent. I wouldn't be happy if they brought the planned changes on June 21st forward by two or three weeks but as a sop to the overly cautious said they'd keep masks around for much longer, for example.
 

roversfan2001

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Is it worrying that people prefer furlough? My sister cleans pubs for a living. She's not overly excited about returning to work in May and why would she want to go back to doing that rather than being paid to not? I'd be more worried if she suddenly wanted to go to work.

But preferring not working doesn't make people prefer lockdown. Of course there'll always be some but most people (my sister included, as an aside) see the damage it's also doing themselves, their friends, their family...
It's worrying because these people completely fail to take into account the wider impacts. For a lot of people on furlough, there likely won't be a job for them to go back to at the end of all this as businesses and industries adapt to a changing economy.

Obviously not wanting to go to work is fairly common but given a choice between 'going to work and earning money to spend on going to the pub/cinema/football/on holiday etc.' and 'don't go to work and earn a little bit less money but have nothing to do all day' I'd hope that people chose the former option. I'd quite like to be able to live an enjoyable and fulfilling life but I suppose some people have different pastimes to me and therefore aren't as badly affected by restrictions as others.

Furlough has lasted because it had become necessary as a means of support to those whose jobs were otherwise disappearing as a result of government policy. While government policy has included lockdown, furlough has been part of the package, and would never have been removed without lockdowns going. Ease lockdown, and furlough will follow - as is the government's current plan.
I agree that furlough has been necessary due to the restrictions put in place. But the restrictions shouldn't really be in place in the first place, and people are essentially being bribed with furlough to agree to the restrictions.
 

35B

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Absolutely, some people wanting longer restrictions are doing so for non selfish reasons.

But equally many of the benefits of the June easing are biased toward businesses and the wider economy rather than individuals. Focusing on what we can do (as you inadvertently did in your post) is likely to lead to those considerations being viewed as secondary. I am very pleased pubs have been around for outdoor dining over these five weeks, but they are mostly not making a profit, they are just holding out for things to improve.

If I were being selfish, I’d be happy for the Rule of 6 and social distancing to remain indefinitely as I don’t do anything impacted by it, indeed in many ways it’s beneficial (who doesn’t like quieter restaurants?). In terms of my personal lifestyle all inconvenience is over as of two weeks’ time. As such I would not trust my own judgment as to how much hardship is caused by such a measure. If others interested in prolonged restrictions are being honest they should think the same.
Well said. But the reverse also applies. Last year, the view was that it was all over, and growing case numbers were ignored or dismissed as we hoped/believed that everything was fine. When restrictions and lockdown were reintroduced, more damage was done as businesses incurred costs without being able to generate the revenue to cover them. Considering that trade-off, I'm of the view that a cautious reopening is a reasonable approach when seeking certainty rather than assuming the best case. All possible courses of action involve balances of risk and harm, and that includes immediate reopening; I want those who say it's a one way street to be right, but their analysis seems to start with the desired outcome, not the means - which makes me uncomfortable. My view is that I'd rather wait 5 more weeks and bank on that confidence, than be over-optimistic and then see a reversal. Others' views will undoubtedly differ.
 

quantinghome

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Completely agree. The taboo over having a rational discussion about death is very negative in a number of ways. Another example is the way some people will not discuss death arrangements, wills and the like with their close family, which if the unforeseen happens can then cause a massive amount of additional heartache for loved ones at a time when they need it least.
I'm fine with have a rational discussion. But some on here (not yourself) seem to be coming straight out of Dr. Strangelove - "10, 20 million deaths - tops!"
 

nlogax

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I've seen nothing to change my view that the only people suggesting that one could happen are suggesting it out of hope more than fear.
Widen your conversational circle. Even friends of mine who were supportive of lockdowns last year have absolutely had enough.
 

Dent

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I'm fine with have a rational discussion. But some on here (not yourself) seem to be coming straight out of Dr. Strangelove - "10, 20 million deaths - tops!"

Who said that? It sounds like a strawman to me, which is not helpful to the rational discussion you claim to be "fine with".
 
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