MPs welcome ease on lockdown – but warn of fears over barbecues

Dr Dan Poulter said outdoor meetings should be safe. Picture: PAUL GEATER

Dr Dan Poulter said outdoor meetings should be safe. Picture: PAUL GEATER - Credit: Archant

Enjoy meeting family members or friends from Monday – but be very careful if you’re planning a barbecue or picnic with them. That was the advice from Suffolk MP and hospital doctor Dan Poulter.

The Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP said that the decision to relax the rules so up to six people could meet up anywhere outdoors – so long as they observe social distancing rules between different households – made sense.

He said: “All the evidence suggests that if you are outside, it is quite difficult for the virus to spread if you keep the social distancing rules (two metres). That means it is quite safe for family members to meet outside, in a garden or wherever.

“However if you are eating together, for instance having a barbecue, you have to be very careful about handling plates and glasses and passing them to each other – that is a very easy way to spread the virus. If you’re eating together you do have to keep washing your hands every time you pass a plate!”

He felt that it was right to make small adjustments to the lockdown rules – but said it would need to be carefully monitored to ensure there was no danger of the number of cases increasing.

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Ipswich MP Tom Hunt agreed that it was right to ease restrictions – he is hoping to visit his father for the first time since the lockdown began at the end of March.

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And he felt it was right that people should be encouraged to use their common sense when meeting up with family and friends. “I think we have to trust people to do the right thing and accept the advice,” he said.

“The important point to make is that this advice is there to protect ourselves and our loved ones. If you disregard the advice, you are putting at risk yourself and the people you care most about.”

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The MPs’ comments came as three members of the government’s SAGE committee voiced fears that politicians were easing lockdown restrictions too soon, because the daily number of new cases was still too high – and the new track and trace system to monitor new outbreaks of the virus had not been proved.

Professor John Edmunds, Sir Jeremy Farrar and Professor Peter Horby all warned that with 8,000 new cases a day and the ‘R’ number (the rate of infection) near one, it was too early to consider measures like more people meeting up and reopening non-essential shops.

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