Life WON’T return to normal on June 21 because Covid vaccines aren’t good enough, SAGE warns – but opening shops and pub gardens next week will not pile pressure on the NHS as Boris gets set to unveil next step in lockdown-easing plans tonight

Life will not go back to normal this summer even if Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown goes to plan, the Government’s top scientific advisers warned today.

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

All legal limits on social contact were to be abolished by June 21 as part of the final stage of the Prime Minister’s four-step route out of the crisis. It was hoped that festivals, sports events and nightclubs would reopen and that families and friends could reunite in large numbers after that date for the first time since winter 2020.

However, No10’s experts claimed today that ‘baseline measures’, including some form of social distancing and masks, would need to remain in place until this time next year. They said they are ‘reasonably confident’ that coronavirus will be manageable by then. 

The AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines reduce Covid deaths by about 90 per cent, but there are fears high infection rates could see the virus spill into the small number of vulnerable people who haven’t been jabbed or for whom the vaccines don’t work.  

Despite the pessimistic comments, Mr Johnson is set to announce the country is on track for the second stage of his lockdown easing plans on April 12, which will see shops, gyms, hairdressers and beer gardens reopen again. 

Cases and deaths are their lowest levels in six months and more than half of the adult population has been vaccinated with at least one dose of the jabs. 

Papers released by SAGE today show the expert group is confident next week’s lockdown-easing measures will not pile pressure on the NHS, even if there is a slight uptick in infections, because of the success of the jab rollout.

But the advisory panel is less optimistic about future stages of the roadmap, adding that it is ‘highly likely that there will be a further resurgence in hospitalisations and deaths’.

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