Boris Johnson 'under pressure from experts to keep social distancing'

Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance ‘are pressuring Boris Johnson to keep social distancing rules for ANOTHER year’

  • Government’s top scientific advisers said to want social distancing to continue
  • Professor Whitty and Sir Patrick said to be putting pressure on Boris Johnson
  • No10 said today that the PM ‘takes a range of advice from medical professionals’

Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance are putting pressure on Boris Johnson to keep social distancing rules in place for another year, it was claimed today. 

The Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Scientific Adviser are said to be in active discussions with the Prime Minister over whether restrictions should be kept for the long term. 

Downing Street said in response to the claim that the PM ‘takes a range of advice from experts’.   

Boris Johnson, pictured during a visit to an AstraZeneca facility in Macclesfield today, is reportedly under pressure from experts to keep social distancing rules in place

Sir Patrick Vallance and Professor Chris Whitty are both said to be pushing the PM to keep social distancing rules in place for another year

A senior source told Sky News that there is a ‘debate’ between Prof Whitty, Sir Patrick and Mr Johnson on how to keep infections low as lockdown rules are eased.

The two experts reportedly believe that social distancing should be retained for 12 months while the premier is opposed to such a move. 

A senior government figure told the broadcaster: ‘He [the PM] wants to get life back to normal. 

‘So he’s prepared to go for the certification and do it for livelihoods. If you allow pubs and restaurants to reopen at 40% capacity, they’ll go bust anyway, so part of the debate behind closed doors is whether to drop social distancing in return for passports. That’s part of the battle now.’

Asked if Prof Whitty and Sir Patrick are putting pressure on Mr Johnson on the issue, the PM’s Official Spokesman said: ‘As we have said before, the Prime Minister takes a range of advice from experts and those medical professionals. 

‘We have set out our plan in the roadmap and you have got what the Prime Minister said yesterday about not seeing any evidence or data yet that means we need to move away from any timings in the roadmap. 

‘But as we move through, not just the roadmap but later on into the year, of course we will keep the latest scientific evidence and medical data under review.’

Ministers yesterday raised the prospect of some social distancing and working from home rules remaining in place after lockdown is supposed to officially end in June. 

The initial findings of a new Government review said the ‘extent of any relaxation’ of measures in place since January will be linked to the success of the vaccine rollout and a final decision on Covid passports.

Hopes had been high that the June 21 date given as the official end of lockdown would see a lifting of all remaining social distancing measures across England.  

But the document said: ‘The review is looking at key baseline measures, including how and when to safely lift or amend the 1m+ rule and related COVID-secure measures, as well as guidance on working from home.

‘It is also looking at what guidance can be provided to enable individuals to take informed personal choices. 

‘The conclusion will depend on the latest data and evidence on the state of the pandemic and the impact of vaccine effectiveness, as the country progresses through the roadmap.

‘As set out above, the extent of any relaxation in social distancing measures is linked to the questions being explored by the COVID-Status Certification Review including whether COVID-status certification can enable changes to social distancing.’ 

Senior SAGE sources said yesterday that while vaccines prevent the vast majority of people from falling ill and dying from coronavirus, they ‘are not good enough’ to see all curbs lifted ‘without a big epidemic’.

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