Government scientist gives instant reaction to Boris Johnson's lockdown easing

10 May 2021, 18:15

Govt scientist's instant reaction to PM's lockdown easing

By Fiona Jones

Dr Mike Tildesley, member of SAGE sub-group the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Modelling Group, gives his instant reaction as Boris Johnson confirms further lockdown easing.

Boris Johnson has confirmed some lockdown restrictions will be lifted from 17 May, including the indoor reopening of pubs, resumption of international travel and return of hugging.

Read more: Lockdown: PM confirms Covid restrictions to be lifted on 17 May - all you need to know

Speaking during the Downing Street coronavirus press briefing, the prime minister detailed the measures which will be lifted in Step Three of the government's roadmap out of lockdown.

His announcement came as the latest data revealed that infection rates are at their lowest level since September and deaths and hospitalisations are at their lowest level since last July.

Dr Mike told LBC's Tom Swarbrick, "It is very much a balance of risks. [With] any type of reopening, the risk is going to increase a little bit. But we are at a phase now where cases have been pretty low for a long time, we're reporting deaths that are on a par with August last year when we were at the lowest levels.

"So I think it's the right time to move to this phase of the roadmap."

PM confirms people can meet inside pubs from May 17

He caveated that this next phase needs to be monitored and several weeks after 17 May, scientists can see what impact this relaxation has had.

"My hope is we're on track, and if we do well with this opening hopefully we are on track for June 21 relaxation, so I'm cautiously optimistic at the moment," Dr Mike said.

Tom asked: "What's a cautious hug?"

Dr Mike said, "The way I interpret this is, we have to think about peoples' mental health and wellbeing...I'm not going to stop my children hugging their grandparents when it's legal, but I'm probably not going to go to the pub and go round hugging everyone.

"We need to remember there are some restrictions in place, we've got to not go mad."

Covid: Boris Johnson reveals changes to care home rules

Dr Mike Tildesley predicted that post-21 June, when all Covid restrictions will end, people will be "more cautious" and self-regulate their proximity to others.

"I think we should strive to get back to normality...but as I said, there's a big uncertainty," he said, "the variants of concern are a worry - my only hope is we can keep those out as long as possible so we can get back to normality and bide our time until we have booster vaccinations available to combat those."

The Prime Minister acknowledged that the easing of restrictions will continue to depend on four criteria: the successful vaccine rollout, decrease of hospitalisations and deaths, infection rates remaining low and new variants not overwhelming the country.

When questioned, he refused to confirm nor deny whether the lockdown in England will end earlier than or later than its 21 June date.

More Tom Swarbrick

See more More Tom Swarbrick

Susan Hall has dismissed Ed Miliband's claim that she would be an 'embarrassment' to Britain as the next London mayor.

Susan Hall dismisses as 'nonsense’ after Ed Miliband said she would be an ‘embarrassment’ as London Mayor

UK should prepare for 'something close to war', Nato's deputy tells LBC, amid warning members have 'neglected defence'

UK should prepare for 'something close to war', Nato's Deputy General tells LBC, as he warns Russia 'cannot be trusted'

Emma Webber (left) speaking to LBC

Mother of Nottingham attack victim Barnaby Webber blasts police ‘mistruths’ after force is put in special measures

Lord Harrington said there should be a cap on the number of asylum seekers the UK takes.

Former refugees minister Lord Harrington calls for a cap on the number of asylum seekers the UK takes

Mel Stride has backed the PM

Rishi Sunak has 'absolutely not' betrayed nation over Rwanda plan, insists minister after Braverman's attack on PM

Tom and caller

'Our family is there': Mother shares heartbreaking experience of being a British Jew during Israel-Hamas conflict

The ban will be brought into effect in months

'Children should be in the classroom to learn': Gillian Keegan orders 'blanket ban' of mobile phones in schools

Tributes have been paid to Elianne after she was stabbed to death in Croydon

Fellow pupil of schoolgirl stabbed to death in Croydon describes heartbreaking moment students were told of her killing

Scotland's first safe drug consumption space set to be openned

'Isn't this just decriminalising heroin?': Tom Swarbrick questions Labour MSP over first safe drug consumption room

The education secretary discusses educational reforms with Tom Swarbrick

Shadow education secretary says 'Building Schools for the Future Programme' would have prevented Raac crisis

Tom Swabrick

'Is it not completely mental?': Tom Swarbrick astonished as schools shut due to crumble-risk concrete before new term

Exam results

Equation sheets given to GCSE cohort in attempt lessen reduced grade inflation blow, schools minister says

Crime commentator on Adam Provan

Internal review of rapist ex-Met officer is the equivalent of 'marking your own homework', says crime commentator

Education Secretary discuss new Eton free schools on LBC

‘Bailed out by Eton’: Education Secretary discusses new free schools with Tom Swarbrick

Lucy Letby: We have to know what went so 'catastrophically wrong' says Tom Swarbrick

Lucy Letby: We have to know what went so 'catastrophically wrong' says Tom Swarbrick

Lord Edward Garnier has called for a public inquiry into Andrew Malkinson's case

Top lawyer blasts Andrew Malkinson rape case as the 'worst miscarriage of justice of the 21st century'