‘Stay at home’ messaging will also formally change to instructions to ‘stay local’, although people will still be asked to work from home where possible.
Face masks and social distancing measures could still be needed for years to come, Public Health England’s (PHE) head of immunisation has suggested.
Appearing on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show today, Dr Mary Ramsay described how ‘lower-level’ Covid restrictions would be required globally until the world had been vaccinated against the virus.
Asked how long she expected the measures to continue post-lockdown, she replied: ‘I think we are talking about quite a long period of time.
‘We may eventually get back to a much more normal situation but I think people have got used to those lower-level restrictions now and I think people can live with them and the economy can still go on with those restrictions, 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’s when we may be able to go very gradually back to a more normal situation.’
Dr Ramsay also noted that the return of mass events after Covid restrictions end will be monitored ‘very carefully’, with clear instructions about what is and is not allowed.
Her words come as Professor Jeremy Brown, who is part of the Joint Committee on Vaccine and Immunisation, stated that ‘some degree’ of social distancing restrictions would have to remain in place until at least July.
Prof Brown told Sky’s Sophy Ridge: ‘If you completely lift all restrictions, there will be a wave of infections crossing the country.
‘Those that are not protected – at this point in time are still vulnerable, they will get infections, and they will probably end up in hospital and die.’
Under the Government’s current roadmap, all legal limits on social contact will be removed in England no earlier than June 21 this year.
At present, the next stage of removing restrictions involves allowing two households, or groups of up to six people, to meet up outside from March 29. Outdoor sports facilities will also be allowed to reopen, with people able to take part in formally organised sports.
The Government’s ‘stay at home’ messaging will also formally change to instructions to ‘stay local’, although people will still be asked to continue to work from home where possible.