People want ‘normal way of life’ back after getting Covid jabs: Government adviser says it’s ‘not plausible’ to expect Britons to comply with major curbs once they’ve had both doses
- Sir John Bell said it is ‘not plausible’ to expect people to comply with curbs
- Oxford University’s regius professor of medicine warned MPs this morning
- He says people will want to return to a ‘normal way of life’ after vaccines
The public will not accept having to comply with draconian coronavirus restrictions once they have been vaccinated, a Government adviser warned today.
Professor Sir John Bell, who is a member of the Government’s vaccine taskforce, claimed it is ‘not plausible’ to expect people to abide by major curbs, such as a ban on attending football matches, if they have received both doses.
Speaking at the Commons Science and Technology Committee today, he told MPs that people want to get back to a ‘relatively normal way of life’ and steps need to be taken to allow that.
He said: ‘It’s not plausible to imagine a world where we vaccinate the whole country and everybody believes they are still in a place that we were in six months ago, it’s just not reasonable.
The public will not accept coronavirus restrictions continuing once they have been vaccinated, Oxford University’s regius professor of medicine Sir John Bell has warned
There are signs the UK’s coronavirus vaccine roll-out may be slowing after fewer than 280,000 doses were administered yesterday
‘I think we are going to have to allow people to adapt their behaviours appropriately if they have actually had the vaccine.’
Oxford University’s regius professor of medicine added: ‘It’s better to plan for that than to assume you can hold back the water with a dam, because you won’t be able to.
‘People will feel that they would like to get back to a relatively normal way of life and I suspect we are going to have to get used to that.’
Sir John warned that further mutations in the virus are likely in response to the rollout of the vaccination programme.
No10’s blueprint for escaping lockdown
The roadmap for easing lockdown will be unveiled on Monday, setting out the order in which rules will be lifted and the target dates.
Here’s what we know so far:
March 8 – Schools open;
End of March/start of April – non-essential shops reopen;
Early April – Sports such as golf and tennis resume; holiday lets and larger hotels reopen;
Early May – Pubs, bars and restaurants welcome customers, with a maximum of two households allowed to sit together indoors and the rule of six applying outside.
Early June – Rules for pubs and restaurants relaxed with the rule of six extended indoors;
July – Hospitality and domestic holiday industries can operate as normal – but still with social distancing.
So far most of the variants have been due to the virus evolving to be more effective in humans, having only recently crossed species, but that will change as coronavirus comes under pressure from the vaccines.
‘Most of the variants we have seen so far represent that kind of adaptation to a new species – it’s a bit like moving into a new apartment, you are shuffling the sofa around and making sure the TV is in the right place,’ he said.
‘What we will see between now and the end of the year is a number of variants which are driven by immunological selection, largely by the vaccines, and that will add another layer of complexity.’
He added that, while some variants have ‘quite profound resistance’ to existing immunity, it does appear that the existing vaccines are able to prevent severe disease.
‘We need to be conscious of the new variants, we need to be ready to make new vaccines if we need them, but I am pretty clear our existing vaccines are going to work to some extent,’ he said.
Despite the imposition of tougher border measures, including hotel quarantine, Sir John said it ‘will be impossible to completely prevent’ the importation of new variants.
It comes after Boris Johnson today suggested pubs, bars and restaurants will be the final parts of the UK economy allowed to fully reopen under his lockdown exit strategy as the PM faced a growing Tory backlash over the roadmap.
The Prime Minister said his plans, which he will unveil on Monday, will be ‘based firmly on a cautious and prudent approach’ to ease restrictions in ‘such a way as to be irreversible’.
It is thought the document will not allow the hospitality sector to get back to normal until July, a prospect which immediately sparked Conservative anger, with the PM under growing pressure from his backbenches to scrap restrictions as quickly as possible.
Mr Johnson appeared to confirm during a visit to a Welsh vaccination centre that punters face a long wait before they can take a typical trip to a bar or restaurant.
He pointed to the approach taken to easing lockdown last year and said ‘we opened up hospitality fully as one of the last things that we did because there is obviously an extra risk of transmission from hospitality’.
It is thought lockdown rules could be eased at four-weekly intervals after a ‘limited’ loosening at the Easter holiday, with the hospitality sector likely having to wait until early May for the green light to resume restricted trading.
But Tory MPs are adamant venues should be able to immediately resume trading on Covid-secure terms at Easter.