The Government must do more to bring coronavirus infection rates down during the summer or further restrictions could be required by the autumn, a scientific adviser has warned.
Professor Steve Reicher, who advises the Government as part of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said reopening prematurely could allow cases to spike and force new restrictions to be imposed later on in the year, when conditions are more favourable to the spread of Covid-19.
“I want us to reopen, everybody wants us to reopen, but we want to reopen in a way that is safe, and in a way that sticks,” he told Sky News. “If you reopen prematurely and you allow the infections to spike, then it means we have to go back into restrictions, especially come the autumn, when all the favourable circumstances change; people go back to work and university in school, we move indoors.”
During summer, people spend more time outside and schools are closed, which hinders the spread of the disease. Prof Reicher, who sits on the Sage subcommittee on behavioural science, said this meant that the UK could make vital progress in driving down the spread of the virus.
“We’ve got to use the summer and we squandered it last year,” he said. “Last year at this stage infections were down below 1000. They’re still above 20,000 a day at the moment. We’ve got to use the summer in order to make sure we were in a good place come the autumn and we don’t suffer the same awful autumn, winter and spring that we did last year and early this year.”