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It is. We are now, more or less, at the absolute limit of how much we can reopen society without re-emerging the coronavirus.
This perception at the heart of the government is more than postponing the opening of the bowling alleys, it will define our lives in the coming months – and probably until we have the vaccine.
I am sorry to tell parents, but the biggest question mark now lies in the reopening of schools.
In the past two weeks, the number of confirmed infections has started to increase again.
And the Office of National Statistics, which is regularly testing families in England, estimates that there are about 4,200 new infections a day, compared with 2,800 a week ago.
For the first time since May, we are having to deal with an increasing number of cases.
This is not a return to the height of the epidemic in March, when there were about 100,000 infections a day, but it is telling.
All the restrictions that we facilitate increase the capacity for the spread of the coronavirus, and the government’s scientific consultants have always warned that there was not much room for maneuver to lift restrictions and still remove them.
The increase in infections is a warning that we are exceeding the limits of lifting the blockade.
Of course, we are not a New Zealand, where life is almost back to normal after its “zero-Covid” strategy.
Professor Chris Whitty, the UK’s leading medical advisor, said: “I think what we are seeing with the ONS data and other data is that we are probably close to the limit or what we can do in terms of opening up society.
“So what this potentially means is that if we want to do more things in the future, we may have to do less other things.”
School children are currently on summer holidays, but we are only a few weeks from the beginning of the semester. Schools are expected to reopen fully in England in September and in Scotland from 11 August.
If current rules are leading to an increase in cases, can we also open schools? That has been the concern of scientists since the blockade began to increase.
Or, if we want to open schools, do we have to close something else like bars?
Whitty said these would be “difficult exchanges”, but it was important to be “realistic”.
“The idea that we can open everything up and keep the virus under control is clearly wrong,” said Whitty.
The fact that cases are increasing in the height of summer is also a concern. Exactly what will happen in winter is uncertain, but experience with other viruses suggests that the coronavirus will also find it easier to spread.
A government consultant told me that “we can go out a lot in the summer”. It may be necessary to restrict the restrictions as the seasons change.
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