The Welsh government have announced that most lockdown measures will be extended for another three weeks although excercise will be allowed more than once a day and garden centres can reopen.
Dr Andrew Freedman, Reader in Infectious Diseases & Honorary Consultant Physician, Cardiff University School of Medicine, said:
“Although we had all hoped that it might be possible for a more substantial relaxation of the lockdown restrictions at this stage, it is clear that the daily level of new infections is still too high and the R value too close to 1 to allow that to happen safely. We are clearly past the peak of this first wave, but a more major easing of the social distancing rules now would risk a large second wave a few weeks down the line, with increasing hospital admissions and deaths.
“It seems unlikely that these minor measures announced today by the First Minister for Wales will have any significant detrimental effect on the rate of new infections. We know that the risk of the infection being transmitted is much lower outdoors so exercising more than once a day should not pose a risk.
“I would expect similar measures to be announced by the other UK nations.”
Prof Keith Neal, Emeritus Professor of the Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases, University of Nottingham, said:
“The relaxing of exercise rules is to be welcomed as outside activities pose very little, if any, risk of new infections. It is disappointing that other forms of leisure and exercise have not been included to improve people’s physical and mental health. The evidence against other leisure activities not being allowed where social distancing can be maintained easily should be published to justify this decision. This particularly applies to fishing and sunbathing in a park.
“Recycling centres have already reopened in England and the nature of these sites intrinsically allows social distancing if site specific measures are put in place.
“Garden centres have always been near the top of the list for re-opening. Zoos are also large open spaces which would readily allow even more social distancing and it is a pity there has not been more consistency.
“If libraries can open, presumably with social distancing, it is difficult to see why shops of similar sizes can’t also reopen.
“The decision to maintain most of the lockdown is warranted but given more evidence on the analyses of lockdowns across Europe and lifting in many countries we need to see the evidence on why these decisions have been made and this will maintain confidence in following the science.
“The different UK administrations say they want to work and stay in line and keep the messaging consistent but announcing different measures or the same measures 2 days early needs to be justified and explained.
“Given the epidemic is really a series of multiple epidemics across the UK it is likely one size does not fit all and therefore different approaches are warranted. This particularly applies to various smaller islands around the UK, rural vs cities and also Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to work as one body.”
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