EU chiefs hit out at Boris Johnsons Freedom Day unlocking: Big game of chance

Coronavirus: GP calls for daily figures to 'not be published'

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From tomorrow, social-distancing rules in England will come to an end but government guidelines advise face masks should still be worn in enclosed spaces such as in shops and on public transport. But European leaders urged the UK Government to keep some infection prevention measures in place from July 19.

Espen Nakstad, Assistant Director of the Norwegian Directorate of Health said the strategy was a “big game of chance” and “risky”.

He said: “As far as I know, there is a good proportion, also well-adult Britons, who have not been vaccinated, and who have refused.

“With a large wave of infections, many of them risk becoming seriously ill.”

The French Health Ministry headed up by Olivier Véran, is also concerned about Mr Johnson’s plans, and Mr Veran warned there would be a “fourth wave” due to a surge in cases from the Delta variant.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has also issued a firm reminder to Scots that “Freedom Day” applies to England only and expressed concern about the UK approach.

She tweeted: “As talk of ‘freedom day’ dominates, remember it applies to England only.

“We’re all desperate to be ‘free’ of Covid but can’t simply wish it away.

“Even though cases are falling in Scotland now, virus is still a threat.”

Ms Sturgeon shared an article from Scottish Government advisor Professor Mark Woolhouse.

Professor Woolhouse, who also advises the UK Government, said Boris Johnson’s plans for easing curbs were “naive” and could lead to a “large wave”.

But some UK experts have defended the reopening claiming the UK’s rollout programme will curb the spread of cases.

James Naismith, Professor of Structural Biology at the University of Oxford, said it was reasonable to assume that the number of cases will continue to rise and that the increase will accelerate after the further easing of restrictions.

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But he said: “We are doubling the number of cases every twelve to eighteen days.

“Fortunately, the vaccination will act as a brake.”

Paul Hunter, Professor of Medicine at the University of East Anglia said he believed this was the right window for restrictions to be lifted.

He said: “I think there are three windows where they could be lifted – now, in early September, or not until March or April of next year – and I believe now is the time when the risk factor is lowest.

“The balance between the benefits and disadvantages is much closer now than it would be in September, or later on.”

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick also defended England’s reopening on Monday, adding: “We will all need to exercise good judgement.

“We are moving from that time when the state told you what to do, things were mandated as a matter of law, to one which had to come at some point where we trusted people, we trusted businesses and organisations, and gave them the information they needed to make good judgments.”

As of 9am on Saturday, there had been a further 54,674 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK, the Government said.

A further 41 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Saturday, bringing the UK total to 128,683.

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