A group of scientists which advise the UK government over the handling of the coronavirus outbreak have warned against lifting restrictions as the coming weeks “may lead to a small surge of cases and deaths”.
Minutes from a meeting with members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) published on Tuesday warned there could be a rise in cases “of a similar scale to January 2021 after later stages” of the route out of lockdown, reports dpa news agency.
The warning was made despite the UK’s success with its vaccine rollout, which has seen more than 31.5 million people receive their first dose of the vaccine and 5.4 million receive both doses so far.
Scientists from the university Imperial College London said due to eligibility, vaccine hesitancy and the high transmissibility of the circulating Covid-19 variant, “vaccination alone will not be sufficient to keep the epidemic under control”.
They advised the best way for Britain to keep hospitalisations and deaths at a low level would mean keeping restrictions at stage two the planned easing beyond April 12, but it depends on people sticking to the rules.
Stage two allows for groups of six people to meet outdoors, non-essential retail to reopen, pubs and restaurants to reopen outdoors only, gyms and salons to reopen.
However, international travel is not allowed and events, such as plays and concerts, remain suspended.
England is due to enter stage two on April 12, while Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have already allowed some businesses to reopen.