Scientific adviser ‘concerned’ about scenes outside pubs and crowds in London after lockdown eased

Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation deputy chair urges public not to ‘go wild’

Zoe Tidman
Wednesday 14 April 2021 17:01
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Scientific adviser ‘concerned’ about crowds in London as lockdown eases

A government scientific adviser has said he is “concerned” over scenes at pubs and packed spaces seen in London after England further eased its lockdown restrictions.

Beer gardens were filled and shoppers flocked to high streets after the latest round of the government’s coronavirus restrictions were lifted, allowing pubgoers to drink outside and nonessential shops to reopen once again. 

Boris Johnson warned relaxing rules will “inevitably” lead to more coronavirus infections and deaths this week amid the lockdown easing.

Mr Johnson said on Tuesday that although vaccines had helped, lockdown restrictions had done "the bulk of the work" in reducing Covid-19 infections.

Asked about these comments on Wednesday, Professor Anthony Harnden from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said” "I think he’s probably concerned, as I am, about the scenes in London that we saw of people actually enjoying the outside, pubs and then the crowded spaces.”

The deputy chair of the group, which advises the government, said: "Of course what that will do is push infection rates up.”

He told BBC Breakfast: "Every time that we ‘unlockdown’, we push infection rates up, and the danger of pushing infection rates up is we get much more transmission in the community.”

Prof Harnden also told Good Morning Britain it has been “great” to be able to go to pub gardens and enjoy outside space this week - but urged people not to “go wild”.

"If we start going wild and completely ignore all the basic rules, then we will see more transmission and things like the South African variant will become more prevalent,” the government scientific adviser said.

After pubs were allowed to welcome back drinkers outside for the first time in months, images showed people packed onto tables and gathered in the streets of central London on the first night of reopening.

Attila Kulcsar, a media communications manager, said the crowds felt "like a return to the ‘real’ Soho of the 1990s".

Westminster City Council said it was aware of “isolated incidents of crowding”.

Mr Johnson urged the public to “behave responsibly” as the latest set of coronavirus restrictions eased to allow beer gardens, gyms, non-essential stores and hairdressers to reopen, as well as zoos and theme parks.

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