Brits given hugging advice ahead of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions easing

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People are still being told to take precautions when hugging others amid expectations of a further easing of England's Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

Professor Cath Noakes urged that hugs should be selective, short, and avoid face-to-face contact.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said the government wants to see "friendly contact" between people restored.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to confirm the easing of England's rules from May 17 with the next stage of the government's roadmap for lifting lockdown revealed, which could include advice that it is OK to hug friends and family again.

Under the next stage of the government's roadmap for lifting England's lockdown, people can meet in groups of up to 30 outdoors, while six people, or two households, can meet indoors.

People will also be allowed to stay overnight with those not in their household or bubble.

Pubs, restaurants, and other hospitality venues will be permitted to reopen indoors.

Prof Noakes, a member of the Sage (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies), that advises the government, said the risks of grandparents who are fully vaccinated hugging their grandchildren are likely to be low in most cases.

Speaking in a personal capacity, she said it would worry her "if we were advocating we could hug all of our friends every time we meet them again" as it would "perpetuate an awful lot of additional close contact that could spread the virus".

The expert even suggested people should wear masks when they hug.

She said: "The reality is that when you hug someone you are very close to them and we know the virus is in people's breath and you are very close to that breath at that moment.

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"I think don't hug too frequently, keep it short, try and avoid being face to face, so perhaps turn your face away slightly, and even wearing a mask could help."

Prof Noakes warned that, even after vaccination, someone could get infected and could transmit it to others while unaffected themselves.

She added: "So that's why we still need to be a bit cautious for a while yet. We've come a long way with this. The virus, although it's now very low prevalence, hasn't gone away."

More than 35 million people have received their first Covid-19 vaccination, with around half of those also receiving their second jab.

  • Lockdown
  • Coronavirus
  • Boris Johnson

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