Britain is facing a “very dangerous moment” with the easing of lockdown restrictions, the deputy chief medical officer has said after a growing number of experts questioned the relaxation of rules.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam called for people to show restraint as shutdown measures are eased in England from Monday.
He told the daily Downing Street press conference that the Government and the public had a “dual responsibility” to prevent a second wave of the virus, adding: “I believe this is also a very dangerous moment. We have to get this right.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced this week that from Monday in England, friends and family can meet in parks and gardens in socially distanced groups of six.
But as people flocked to beaches and beauty spots in the sweltering heat over the weekend, Professor Peter Horby, of the University of Oxford, joined scientists Sir Jeremy Farrar and Professor John Edmunds, all members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), to warn that ministers are taking risks.
Prof Van-Tam said scientific opinions “always vary to some extent”, and told the press conference that the lockdown easing must go “painstakingly” slowly.
He added: “This is a dual responsibility here of Government to go slowly and carefully and to take the advice from the scientists.
“Of the scientists, to watch this whole thing very closely over the next few weeks.
“And, of the public in general to actually follow the guidance.
“Don’t tear the pants out of it, and don’t go further than the guidance actually says.”
The comments came as Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced that elite sport events would begin again next week behind closed doors.