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UK lockdown on track to end on December 2 as country enters critical phase

England’s lockdown should end as planned on December 2 while harsh restrictions have proved successful, government scientists said today.Brits were sent into lockdown for the second time on November 1 in a desperate attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.And there are hopes that the drastic measures have been working, with the R rate –…

England’s lockdown should end as planned on December 2 while harsh restrictions have proved successful, government scientists said today.

Brits were sent into lockdown for the second time on November 1 in a desperate attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.

And there are hopes that the drastic measures have been working, with the R rate – which measures the average number of people a person with coronavirus infects – falling back below 1.

The crucial value is now estimated to be 0.9 across the country according to the Covid Symptom Study app while Sage’s most recent estimate, published on Friday, is that the R rate is somewhere between 1.1 and 1.3.

The Times today reported that the Tier 3 regional restrictions worked, cutting daily contact by a third.

John Edmunds, who led the study and works with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “The tier system did have some impact in reducing contact and especially Tier 3 had a very significant impact.

“Tier 3 restrictions reduced that by 1.5 contacts a day, which in the context of five daily contacts is a big change.”

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Sage members now hope the cases will start falling in the next week after 27,301 new infections were recorded yesterday.

This would then pave the way for the national lockdown to be lifted on December 2 as planned, with regions then going into Tiers according to their infection levels.

And while some areas may need to remain in the highest tier, others will be able to go back to Tier 2 restrictions, meaning that pubs, restaurants and gyms will be able to reopen.

One Sage scientist today warned the next two weeks would be crucial in the fight against coronavirus and getting out of lockdown.

Professor Susan Michie told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “For the next two weeks, everybody has to really get all their resolve together.”

She added that it was likely to be “very challenging”, saying it was ”partly because of the weather (and) partly because, I think, the promise of a vaccine may be making people feel complacent.

“But the vaccine is very unlikely to come in until the end of the year or beginning of next year and that’s going to make no difference to the current second wave.”

Government scientists have previously warned that the UK has “little to no scope” of relaxing social distancing rules for Christmas.

Their gloomy forecast, dated November 4, warns: “If England returns to the same application of the tiering system in place before November 5, then transmission will return to the same rate of increase as today.”

It comes after documents released last week suggested that Brits will have to sacrifice Christmas celebrations and make up for it during the country’s summer next year.

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The scientists said “planning a summer family get together could replace meeting at Christmas”.

They added Brits could also opt to “self quarantine” over New Year if they want to spend the festive season with family.

They recommended giving youngsters free Netflix subscriptions or mobile phone data to encourage them to comply.

The second wave of the pandemic in the UK could also mean Christmas is cancelled across Europe.

Asked at a press conference on Thursday whether people could begin buying train tickets to travel home at Christmas, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said it was “a bit too early to say”.

“The pressure on our hospitals has intensified enormously,” he said.

“It would be irresponsible to soften the lockdown now. The gains are fragile.”

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He said that one person was being hospitalised with the virus somewhere in France every 30 seconds.

In Germany, health minister Jens Spahn said it was “too early to tell” whether measures introduced at the start of this month would be enough to prevent a further spike in cases.

This story originally appeared on The Sun and has been reproduced here with permission

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