UK Health Expert Predicts Social Distancing for the ‘Next Few Years’

HYDE, ENGLAND - JULY 16: Pupils queue to enter the canteen at Longdendale High School on July 16, 2020 in Hyde, England. The Government plan to spend GBP 1 billion to help pupils catch up with their education before September after spending months out of school during the coronavirus lockdown. …
Anthony Devlin/Getty Images

A leading health expert in Britain has warned that government restrictions on large public gatherings will have to be in place for the “next few years” because of the Chinese coronavirus.

Professor Tim Spector of King’s College London said that he cannot foresee Britons being free to attend music festivals or large weddings in the coming years.

“I think we need to get used to that and that will allow us to do the things we really want to do more easily and more readily,” Prof Spector told Times Radio, adding that he “can’t see us suddenly having another Cheltenham Festival with no regulations again”.

“I can’t see us having massive weddings with people coming from all over the world, I think for the next few years those days are gone,” he warned.

Professor Spector, who invented the Zoe COVID Symptom Study, went on to say that preventative measures such as social distancing, wearing of masks, and handwashing should be kept in place as they “don’t cost really anything to do”.

While the United Kingdom has massively outpaced the European Union in its vaccine rollout — vaccinating some 12 million Britons so far — health officials have downplayed the idea of fully lifting lockdown measures.

The remarks from Professor Spector echo predictions expressed by England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam, who said in January that he believes people will “choose” to wear masks forever.

Van-Tam went on to say that annual coronavirus vaccinations will likely become the norm, as the virus “is likely to be with us probably for the foreseeable future”.

The British government did come out against the implementation of vaccine passports on Sunday. The nation’s vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that such a scheme would be “discriminatory” and that it is currently unclear how effective inoculations will be in reducing the rate of transmission.

However, Zahawi had previously predicted that British businesses would require immunity passports for their customers, and the government has funded a “trial” run of a smartphone application that could serve as a model for such a passport.

On Sunday, the vaccine minister said: “That’s not how we do things. We do them by consent.” Mr Zahawi went on to suggest that Britons could talk to their personal doctors to receive proof of vaccination if they need it to travel to another country.

Countries in the European Union have already announced their intentions to implement a vaccination passport scheme, with Denmark set to become the first country to introduce a government-backed programme by the end of this month.

Appearing on the same BBC Sunday show, the Labour Party’s Shadow Business Secretary, former party leader Ed Miliband, warned that vaccine passports might become “necessary”, backing up calls from former prime minister Tony Blair, who has long championed the idea.

The civil liberties advocacy group Big Brother Watch reacted by warning that “The only possible reason vaccine passports would be ‘necessary’ is to deny rights to people without a vaccine.”

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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