FACE masks and social distancing could be in place for a decade as Brits are warned that Covid measures could become the “new norm”.
Former supreme court judge Lord Sumption has warned that restrictions put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus could last as long as rationing did in Britain after the Second World War.
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Speaking on the Sketch Notes on a Pandemic podcast hosted by Sunday Express journalists, he said it was “politically unrealistic” to expect the Government to backtrack on social controls anytime soon.
Britons had started to take comfort in restrictions because they made them feel safe, he said.
He went on to draw parallels with the continuation of wartime food rationing after the last war.
“People were in favour of that because they were in favour of social control,” he said.
It comes as:
Lord Sumption said eventually Brits got sick of the post-wartime food rationing, and predicted the same would happen with social distancing measures.
Earlier this year ‘professor lockdown’ warned Brits may still need to wear masks and social distance in 2022 due to new Covid variants.
Professor Neil Ferguson, whose early modelling played a key role in the UK’s first national lockdown, said restrictions could be in place well beyond this summer despite the UK’s vaccine rollout.
The epidemiologist said the current vaccine rollout will have a “very major effect on deaths” but another will be needed in the autumn to “deal with new variants”.
Speaking of the nation’s jab progress, he told Sky News last month: “It’s not going to allow us to go back to normal – certainly not until the autumn.”
Prof Ferguson added: “There will be new things we can’t predict precisely, like the waning of immunity, like new variants coming up, which means there will be some residual need to maintain some social distancing, mask wearing, probably for much of this year.”
The top scientist, who stepped down from his Government role last year after breaking Covid rules, added some measures could still be in place in 2022 but things might start to look ‘more normal’ by next year.
He said: “Maybe there will still be mask-wearing for mass gatherings and things like that but I very much doubt we will be anything like where we are now.”
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Upon publishing its blueprint on February 22, the Government admitted social distancing is “difficult and damaging for businesses” and, as a result, it is important to “return to as near to normal as quickly as possible”.
Its official roadmap document states that ahead of Step 4 – which would come into play on June 21 at the earliest – the Government will “complete a review of social distancing measures and other long-term measures that have been put in place to limit transmission”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson refused to rule out social distancing measures, like mask wearing and the one-metre rule, carrying on well into the future.