Hugging loved ones back and beach holidays by summer – as long as we 'don't take the mick', says health chief

BRITS could be hugging their loved ones and heading back to beaches by summer so long as they "don't take the mick," a health chief has said.

Dr Justin Varney said everyone should "stick to the rules" if they want hugs and holidays to go ahead, stressing the lock could be tightened yet.

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Fresh hope was sparked for British beach holidays last week, after it was revealed there has never been a Covid-19 outbreak linked to a crowded beach.

It means if the Government's roadmap goes to plan, Brits could be back on them from May 17 – the same preliminary date given for hugs.

Dr Varney, the National Strategic Advisor on Health for Public Health England, said "we all need to take responsibility for what happens next," adding that it's up to each of us whether we will see "a very free summer, or not".

He told Birmingham Live: "If we fail the tests for the first five weeks of relaxation (from March 8 to April 12) they will likely have to tighten things back up and wait another five weeks for the next phase.

"If we want to keep summer holidays, then keep sticking to the rules, tightly. It is the people taking the mick who will undermine this."

Dr Varney said hugs could also be back for everyone by summer – while the government hopes those who have been jabbed can hug again from May 17.

"My reading of the roadmap is that we need to hold on a bit longer to give hugs," he said.

"Until at least June, when many of the first nine priority groups will be fully vaccinated.

"We may start to see some new guidance emerge in late April and early May – by then large numbers of the most vulnerable people will have had a second dose and been protected for at least three weeks – that means they have pretty strong protection against catching Covid."

Boris Johnson's four step plan for easing the lockdown warns Brits to maintain social distancing in steps 1 and 2 but that they may be allowed to decide whether to hug friends and family under step 3 from May 17.

In the roadmap, Brits are told: "It will remain important for people to
consider the risks for themselves, taking into account whether they and those they meet have been vaccinated or are at greater risk."

This means that someone who has been vaccinated might make the decision that they are comfortable hugging a pal who has also already been jabbed.

It is hoped the country’s 54 million adults will be offered a jab by the end of July.

It is understood a review will be conducted in the coming months, looking at whether social distancing measures including wearing masks and stay 2 metres apart will continue to be used.

The roadmap released on Monday, states: "The Government will continually review the evidence of vaccine efficacy, including its impact on transmission.

"As soon as possible, and no later than Step 3, the Government will update its advice on social distancing between friends and family, including hugging.

"Until then, people should continue to keep their distance from anyone not in their household or support bubble, and keep up habits such as regular hand washing and letting in fresh air."

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