Sage advisor warns government ‘current restrictions do not go far enough’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson scans his NHS Coronavirus App at Uxbridge Library earlier this week. (PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson scans his NHS Coronavirus App at Uxbridge Library earlier this week. (PA)

One of the government’s top scientific advisers has warned that the current social distancing measures aren’t enough to halt a second wave of coronavirus.

Sir Jeremy Farrar, a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), said the government had been “too slow” to act in the initial stages of the pandemic.

He added that the recent decision to impose a 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants “do not go far enough to reduce transmission”.

“It is for politicians to make these very tough decisions, but public trust, confidence and understanding are critical to effective public health – and at the moment that trust is fragile and fracturing,” Sir Jeremy wrote in The Times.

Sir Jeremy Farrar criticised the government's response. (Getty)
Sir Jeremy Farrar criticised the government’s response. (Getty)

“These will be difficult months for us all. It is natural to hope this may be all over by Christmas.

“It will not, but I hope we can get transmission to levels that allow those who are away from home, whether for work, study or other reasons, to have an opportunity to return during holiday periods.”

It comes as culture secretary Oliver Dowden insisted there was “definitely science” behind the 10pm curfew for hospitality venues on Sunday.

Read more: Coronavirus R rate rises again as cases spike by 60% in a week

He told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show: “There is definitely science behind it, that’s why we’re requiring people to be seated in pubs and restaurants, so that stops the flow of them to and from the bar.

“We are reducing the closing times to stop people staying later and drinking. And the point about all of this is that everyone has their part to play. If we all play by the rules, we can ensure that there are not further, more draconian restrictions.”

On theatres not reopening, he said: “Against this backdrop of rapidly rising infections, much as I would like to contemplate further easements we can’t do it at this stage.

“We are working intensively with all of the arts sector and theatres to see how we can mitigate risks so that we can go down that path – but we have had to stall on that path, given where we are with the rapidly rising infections.”

He later told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday that people must stick to the current coronavirus rules to avoid further restrictions.

The cabinet minister added: “The key thing now is that people stick to the existing rules that we have, they observe the ‘rule of six’, ‘hands, face and space’ – people wash their hands, make sure they wear face coverings, particularly indoors, and observe social distancing.

“If we do all of those things, we can keep the virus under control, keep our economy open and avoid further restrictions.

“It really is in the power of everyone watching this show to make sure they abide by those rules and prevent further draconian restrictions.”

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