Social Distancing and Wearing Masks Could Last ‘Years’, Says Govt Scientist

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 23: A Commuters wearing a face protection mask travels on the underground on March 23, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has spread to at least 182 countries, claiming over 10,000 lives and infecting hundreds of thousands more. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)
Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Wearing masks and social distancing could go on for “years”, says Public Health England’s chief of immunisation.

Dr Mary Ramsey claimed on Sunday that social distancing and other practices like wearing a face-covering would go on for “quite a long period of time”.

“People have got used to those lower-level restrictions now, and people can live with them, and the economy can still go on with those less severe restrictions in place.

“So I think certainly for a few years, at least until other parts of the world are as well vaccinated as we are, and the numbers have come down everywhere, that is when we may be able to go very gradually back to a more normal situation,” Dr Ramsey said, according to the BBC.

“We have to look very carefully before any of these restrictions are lifted,” she added.

Last month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a “roadmap” for coming out of lockdown, starting with schools reopening on March 8th and progressing through different phases until a complete reopening in the summer.

While Prime Minister Johnson said he hoped lockdown could end by June 21st, he would make no promises to commit to that date.

Professor Jeremy Brown, a member of the government’s Joint Committee on Vaccine and Immunisation (JCVI) claimed on Sky News on Sunday that “there will be a wave of infections crossing the country” if all restrictions are completely lifted too soon.

Brown also said that “some degree of social distancing or protection is going to be required” until at least July, or infections will rise.

The United Kingdom has administered at least one dose of vaccine to half of its adult population and is on track to vaccinate all adults by the end of July.

In December, England’s deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan Van-Tam, said that even if vaccinated, wearing masks and frequent use of hand sanitiser could become habits that people maintain “for years”, and it “may be a good thing if they do”.

The following month Van-Tam’s superior, Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty, said there could be another lockdown next Christmas, and that “we might have to bring a few [restrictions] in next winter, for example. That is possible because winter will benefit the virus.”

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