Boris Johnson unveiled plans to return England "to normality" by Christmas, including hopes to bring an end to social distancing by November. Howev
Boris Johnson unveiled plans to return England “to normality” by Christmas, including hopes to bring an end to social distancing by November. However, on the same day, the Prime Minister’s own Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, called for social distancing measures to remain in place for some time longer. Professor Whitty was appearing before the House of Lords science and technology committee with Chief Scientific Officer, Sir Patrick Vallance, to discuss the balance of easing of restrictions with keeping the overall transmission of coronavirus low.
Professor Whitty told the committee: “There are some things we started right at the beginning which absolutely have to continue for a prolonged period of time: washing hands, isolation, household isolation.
“Then we’ve added to that things like contact tracing and, most recently, face coverings.
“There are issues around distancing, which have been varied but the reality is distancing remains an important part of this mix.
“How it’s interpreted in different environments has evolved, but it has not gone away.”
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He continued: “All of those need to continue for a long period of time.
“Things which have been removed are largely in the group of things which was around a different aim.
“They were not around isolating individuals, but was around trying to break contacts between individual households.
“Several of those have now been lifted, not all of them, and we’ve tried to do that in a phased way.”
Mr Johnson was also thwarted by Sir Patrick after he said he would scrap the advice for working from home from the start of August.
The Chief Scientific Officer told a Commons committee that working from home remained a “perfectly good option” and there was “absolutely no reason” to change the advice.
Other measures brought forward included giving local authorities in England new powers from Saturday to tackle coronavirus outbreaks.
Most remaining leisure centres will also be allowed to reopen on the same date.
Indoor performances with live audiences would also be allowed and trials would begin of larger gatherings in places like sports stadiums “with a view to a wider reopening in the autumn”.