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SAGE group warns it is not safe to relax social distancing rules across Britain

Published on 22/06/20 at 10:18am
Photo by Bernard Sharp

The Independent SAGE group has warned that it is not safe to relax social distancing rules for indoor settings, after the government’s expected proposal to reduce it to just 1 metre.

This government plan also comes with a push to make people wear masks more frequently, but the Chairman of SAGE, former Chief Scientific Adviser Sir David King, says the transmissions of the virus in the country is still too high, making it unsafe to reduce the distance of social distancing.

They maintain it will not be safe until there is evidence that the infections have dropped to far below 1,000 cases a day. SAGE also says the government is ignoring its advice, and that BAME communities and low paid workers will be put most at risk.

Sir David King said: “It is extremely concerning that the government appears to have decided to ignore the scientific advice of its own SAGE committee. That quite clearly says it is soon to reduce the distance from 2 metres to 1 mature. Independent SAGE has done its own review of the available evidence and we agree with SAGE’s conclusion. 

“The rate of infection is still far too high to consider this even with mitigating measures. There are more 1,000 new cases a day and still no functioning tracing system. It is vital that the government releases the evidence it has used to make this decision.”

This 1 metre rule has already been implemented in China, Denmark, Hong Kong, Singapore and Lithuania. The risk of infection is 13% at 1 metres but only 3% beyond this distance.

Beginning in the 1930’s, researchers found that droplets of liquid released by coughs or sneezes evaporate quickly or fell to the ground, but would land between 1 to 2 metres away. It is currently unknown if the virus can be transported through tiny particles in the air called aerosols, but if it can then 4 metres is estimated to be the safe distance so you don’t catch the virus from the flow of wind from someone’s sneeze, cough or breath.

The World Health Organization has also warned that England’s lockdown restrictions should not be lifted any further until the government has implemented an effective contact tracing system.

Conor Kavanagh

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