SAGE expert warns England should not ‘rush’ to lift lockdown rules early on July 5

A leading government science adviser has warned that “Freedom Day” should not be brought forward to July 5.

An announcement is expected tomorrow from the Prime Minister on when all Covid restrictions can be lifted in England.

The rules were originally scheduled to be lifted this month, but have been postponed to July 19 due to the spread of the Delta variant of the virus, will be the warning that could be brought forward by two weeks if all goes well.

Professor Sir Peter Horby, chairman of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), says ‘encouraging’ data from Covid suggests restrictions in England could indeed be relaxed by July 19 – but no more early

The member of the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE) told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “We must always be guided by data, not dates.

“So we’re monitoring it very carefully and there will be a lot of data analysis coming up by that date, to make sure we’re comfortable with this release.

“At the moment, the data encourages us to do this. But we have to make sure that we are tracking the data.

He said he would not bring forward the date for easing the restrictions, adding that it had been “very wise” to delay the previous target date of June 21 by four weeks.

“I don’t think we should rush into anything, we really want to make sure that we can lift all the restrictions and not have to back down at all,” he added.

Sir Peter said the exit from the pandemic would be “a bumpy road” with “twists and turns”.

He said: “We’ve seen Sydney reintroduce lockdowns, we’ve seen Israel reintroduce masks, we’ve seen the Alpha variant and now we’ve seen the Delta variant and how many letters are in the alphabet? We will see many more.

“So we have to expect it to be a bumpy road and there will be some twists and turns that we don’t want to see.”

He added: “One of the questions is how far can this virus change… what is the plastic envelope of the virus? Can he really continue to change forever? Will it get better? It’ll probably work out, I think.

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