Professor Susan Michie said she believes restrictions should become routine
She said we never used to ‘collect dog poop in the park’, but learned to do it over time. It comes as the UK waits to see if the PM sticks to the roadmap and opens on June 21.
Social distancing and the wearing of face masks should remain forever, a SAGE scientist supporting the Communists said. Professor Susan Michie, of University College London, said she believes the drastic restrictions should be part of people’s daily routines. In an odd comparison, she said the British never used to wear seat belts in cars or ‘pick up dog poop in the park’, but have learned to do so over time. It comes as the country anxiously awaits to see if Boris Johnson sticks to his roadmap and kicks off ‘Freedom Day’ on June 21. The PM could implement a “mix and match” unlock, with face masks, homework and the rule of six indoors probably still mandatory. But in a boost for young couples, it was reported that the 30-guest cap for weddings could be suspended.
Professor Michie told Channel 5 News: “Vaccines are a really important part of controlling the pandemic, but it’s only part of it. “Test, trace and isolate the system, border controls are really essential. And the third thing is the behavior of people. “It’s social distancing behavior, when you’re indoors making sure there is good ventilation and good hand and surface hygiene. “We will have to maintain them for the long term and that will probably be good not only for Covid but for reducing other diseases at a time when the NHS is …” She was interrupted by presenter Claudia-Liza Armah who asked her, “When you say long term, what do you mean by that – how long?” Professor Michie replied: “I think forever, to some extent.” The host and the teacher laugh at the bizarre suggestion.
Later in the show, she was asked if she realistically believed that people could continue to live with masks and social distancing. She said: “I think there are a lot of different behaviors that we have changed in our lives. We now regularly wear seat belts, we were not used to them. “We now regularly collect dog poop in the park, which we weren’t used to doing. When people see that there is a threat and that there is something they can do to reduce it … themselves, their loved ones and their communities, which we now see during this last one year is that people do. “And I think we can just start doing routines. When we come out of the house we check that we have our phone, we have our keys, we have facial tissues, we have a face mask in case we need to use it. “It won’t be a big deal of the kind of changes we’re talking about and I think we also need to think about how we plan our cities, our transportation and our lifestyles. “Instead of going back to huge long hauls, have more local work centers where people don’t have to travel as much – good not only for your health, but also for the environment.”
Professor Michie, whose first husband was Andrew Murray, once a key adviser to Jeremy Corbyn, was a common sight on television during the crisis. She is a member of the British Communist Party and is said to be dedicated to establishing a new socialist order in the country. Nicknamed Stalin’s nanny when she was a student at Oxford, she is generally shy about her revolutionary politics. But just before the first lockdown last year, she responded to someone praising China’s extreme measures to tackle the coronavirus. She tweeted: “China has a socialist and collective system (regardless of people’s criticism) and not an individualistic, consumer-oriented, profit-oriented society badly damaged by 20 years of failed neoliberal economic policies. # Lessons learned.’ The Prime Minister said yesterday that “everyone can see cases and hospitalizations increase” and gave the strongest clue, but the much anticipated milestone will be pushed back. Top No10 scientists fear the mutant strain may be 60% more transmissible than the Kent version. And SAGE modelers fear this could trigger a “substantial” third wave – despite the fact that three-quarters of adults have been vaccinated.
Despite fears over plans for the final unlocking and intensifying calls to delay it by up to four weeks, ministers are hopeful they can relax some curbs from later this month. A senior Government source told the FT: ‘A mix-and-match approach is probably on the cards, given the limited number of levers left.’ Officials are working to find a solution that ‘pleases the PM’s instincts’, according to one minister. But the hybrid approach would be ‘very difficult’ to put in place. It could include lifting the current 30-person limit on weddings and receptions and allowing greater crowds to attend ceremonies. Bar mitzvahs and christenings are also set to be boosted under the proposals and while socially distanced tables would not be required, guests may be urged to be ‘cautious’ about contact with other households, reports the Times. Current guidelines suggest those attending bashes only participate in the first dance and wear masks at all times unless eating or drinking. But under the new rules, people will be advised to assess the risk of hugging others themselves.
A government source said: ‘It’s been tough on the sector. If you’ve got stadiums full of people, why can’t weddings go ahead with more than 30 people?’ Mr Johnson softened his lockdown-ending stance yesterday in Cornwall ahead of the G7 summit. He admitted there were now ‘arguments’ on both sides of the restrictions-easing debate. The PM repeated his pledge that No10 ‘will be driven by the data’. But just hours before his comments, top SAGE adviser ‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson dealt another blow to hopes of Freedom Day going ahead. The Imperial College London epidemiologist warned it would take up to another three weeks for scientists to get enough data to accurately work out how dangerous the Indian variant is and how bad the third wave will be. He added there was a risk of a ‘substantial third wave but we cannot be definitive about the scale of that’. The chance scientific advisers, ministers and Mr Johnson — who committed to following the science and ‘not dates’ — will sign off on June 21 without the most accurate modelling is slim. Britain recorded another 7,540 positive tests yesterday in the biggest week-on-week spike since February, with the mutant variant blamed for spiralling cases.