Friday, 5 Mar 2021

New lockdown rules around social distancing and face masks explained

Earlier today Boris Johnson announced his roadmap for easing out of lockdown, but when will social distancing and mask-wearing end?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson today promised the easing of lockdown from March 8. From this date, we will have five-week phased intervals of restrictions being lifted.

The plan hopes to see schools reopening from March 8, and then everything from pubs, cinemas, and even nightclubs open again by June.

Social distancing and mask-wearing wasn’t mentioned, but Mr Johnson did say that he hoped England would return to something close to normal life no earlier than June 21.

Bu others believe face masks and social distancing need to be tools we use for a long time.

With the vaccine rollout recently reaching 17million people receiving the first jab, many are starting to wonder when they can take off the mask.

The government’s top scientific advisors warned there must be no more than 10,000 Britons infected on any given day.

This is equivalent to 1,000 cases per day, any more runs of the risk of new variants spawning.

A Whitehall insider said, 'The thinking is that social distancing will need to be in place for a long time to come. It has repercussions for the scale of any reopening. Restaurants, pubs, and offices will all need to be Covid-secure.'

  • When can I meet friends and family? What new lockdown roadmap means for socialising

Recently, SAGE experts suggested that mask-wearing and social distancing could remain in place ‘forever’ because Coronavirus will become endemic.

Tory backbenchers have resisted this idea, with MP Marcus Fysh calling it "highly unrealistic".

He warned that the government should stick to the hospitalisation and death criteria "in order to preserve the confidence that people have in the process".

He said: "There are people that are hanging on for dear life in economic terms at the moment, who need us to get back to normal. The whole point of vaccinating is so normal life can operate. If we don't get back to that soon there has not been any point in the vaccinations.

The Prime Minister’s announcement today follows SAGE expert Professor John Edmunds's suggestion on ITV that most social curbs could be in place "forever".

  • What time is Boris Johnson’s lockdown announcement? Everything you need to know

Tory MP Steve Baker told MailOnline that SAGE was "floating untested hypotheses in the media' which risked spreading 'despair and despondency", adding: "Doing so is not science. It is the death of science."

Metrics now show that Britain is past the peak of the crisis, with cases and deaths no dropping a quarter week on week.

Hopes of normality returning have relied on the vaccine rollout, which has now seen 17million people receiving the first dose.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that uptake of the vaccine was "far, far higher" than expected with more than 90% of people in the top priority group coming forward.

  • UK's route out of lockdown month-by-month: What is open and when

Scientists now believe that coronavirus will now be an endemic disease that countries will have to battle with every winter.

However, SAGE’s Professor Edmunds believes that Britain will 'be more or less free’ of lockdown measures by the end of the year.

All restrictions are dependent on case numbers and deaths, the more these go down, the more restrictions will be lifted.

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