The British Medical Association (BMA) has released a plan advising how England should go about coming out of the national lockdown on December 2nd.
According to doctors, the exit from lockdown needs to be carefully thought through and monitored to avoid a “surge” in COVID-19 outbreaks, which could overrun the NHS.
The government has said they will decide next week on the specific guidelines and rules which will allow England to exit lockdown as safely as possible. These considerations will partly depend on how much pressure hospitals and healthcare facilities are under.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said that he and ministers are looking to a “significant easing” of the current COVID-19 rules and restrictions.
Susan Hopkins, Public Health England medical director and NHS Test and Trace chief medical adviser, has said the government should seriously consider “strengthening” the three-tier system, brought into place in October.
The BMA has laid out procedures and measures which are intended to keep the virus under control. In these steps, they propose an increase in oversight and budget for Test and Trace, implementing a two household rule to replace the “rule of six,” prohibiting travel between areas in different tiers, and implementing stricter rules for workplaces and public spaces to ensure they are safe.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, Chair of the Council for the BMA, told the BBC the government needs to learn from their mistakes from exiting the first lockdown. He said, "It is unthinkable that we make the same mistakes again."
“This time, the impact will be far worse."
Dr Nagpaul expressed concerns surrounding the potential fast relaxation of the rules. He believes that encouraging people to dine out and go to pubs was one of the mistakes made by the government coming out of the first lockdown.
Professor Neil Ferguson agrees and told BBC Radio 4 the reopening of pubs and restaurants would likely lead to an increase in infections. He raised concerns about whether hospitality venues would reopen for this reason.
Prof Ferguson said about the reopening of hospitality, "I suspect we can't [reopen], but the decision may be made to do so anyhow on the basis that any increase will be slow and may be able to be counteracted later."