Brits call for end to outdoor drinking rules as weekly Covid deaths drop below 100 for first time since summer
A DOUBLE dose of good news on Covid brought plenty of cheer yesterday — but we’ll still have to sit in the cold outside pubs.
Prof Neil Ferguson, dubbed Professor Lockdown, eased third wave fears amid the fewest deaths since summer.
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The top Covid doom-monger — whose grim forecasts led to the first lockdown — gave an optimistic update as weekly deaths fell below 100 for the first time since summer and pub-goers called for a swift return to indoor drinking.
The scientist described the latest data as “very encouraging” and said Britain is now in a “very good position” to end lockdown next month.
He said any concerns about a third wave this autumn are “diminishing” — but warned variants could still set us back.
Prof Ferguson, from Imperial College, London, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “If we’re going to see another wave of transmission that’s where it would take place.
“But the data on the vaccines is getting ever more encouraging . . . so that has pushed our estimates of the scale of any potential autumn wave down.”
He also said he does not “see any prospect” of the NHS being overwhelmed by Covid.
And he even forecast that British families could holiday in Italy and France this summer if their Covid infection rates drop as low as the UK’s.
A little over two months ago his team predicted ending lockdown could trigger a killer third wave that could claim as many as 81,200 lives.
People in the UK are now more likely to die from an accident at home, such as a fall, than from the pandemic thanks to the jabs blitz.
Ninety-two UK Covid deaths were recorded in the past week — the first weekly toll below 100 since early September.
By contrast there are 115 deaths a week as a result of home accidents.
The data has raised hopes that indoor boozing will be allowed in pubs from May 17, as the Government plans.
But with two weeks of wintry weather forecast, customers want Boris Johnson to give the green light as soon as possible.
Dad-of-two Sean Carr, 51, said boozers should be allowed to keep punters out of the rain.
Sean, of Romford, East London, said: “With rates of Covid so low and efforts everyone has made with the vaccine, it’s time to let us back inside now.
“Trials with crowds inside, like at the snooker, show that it’s time for a full reopening.”
Pub bosses yesterday pleaded for no further delay.
THIRD FULLY JABBED
Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin said: “Everyone’s delighted that the Covid stats are moving in the right direction and the vaccination programme has been a resounding success.
“The whole country can’t wait for pubs to open. There is surely no impediment now.”
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of The British Beer & Pub Association, said: “Our recovery only begins when the restrictions are removed, so we hope the Prime Minister will stick to his roadmap.”
A third of adults (15.6 million) have now had both jabs.
Two-thirds of over-18s have had a single dose, with 34.7 million now covered.
With data showing a single jab cuts Covid infection risk by two-thirds and transmission by up to half, experts are increasingly hopeful the worst is over.
Dr Simon Clarke, of the University of Reading, said full-scale lockdowns should be a thing of the past.
He added: “It’s likely there will be a wave three of infections, not a wave of serious disease and death if the vaccines continue to work.”
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