Social restrictions could be kept in place in the UK for the rest of the year, it has been confirmed.
Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Adviser to the UK Government, told the public it was “wholly unrealistic” to expect life to return to normal soon.
Speaking as part of the Government’s daily briefing on the coronavirus crisis, Whitty said that “in the long run” the ideal way for life to return to normal would be via a “highly effective vaccine” for Covid-19, but said the chance of this becoming a reality within the next year was “incredibly small”.
“This disease is not going to be eradicated, it is not going to disappear,” he continued. “So we have to accept that we are working with a disease that we are going to be with globally… for the foreseeable future.”
While UK schools have been given a prospective reopening date of June 1, mass gatherings such as concerts or festivals and cramped commuting appear to be a more distant prospect.
Whitty continued: “In the long run, the exit from this is going to be one of two things, ideally. “A vaccine, and there are a variety of ways they can be deployed… or highly effective drugs so that people stop dying of this disease even if they catch it, or which can prevent this disease in vulnerable people.”
“So what we have to do is think very seriously about this: what is the best balance of measures that gives us the best public health outcome?”
“Larger gatherings – conferences, concerts, sporting events – when people say they’re going to reschedule this conference or graduation event for October 2020, I have no idea how they think that’s a plausible possibility, bioethicist and professor of healthcare management Zeke Emanuel said during a conference.
“I think those things will be the last to return,” he continued.
The UK has been in lockdown since the second half of March, with residents only allowed to leave their home for medical supplies, food shopping and one hour of exercise per day.