We now have gone weeks with out seeing family and friends, with out college, holidays and even having the ability to go to work.
On 10 Might, Boris Johnson is anticipated to deal with lockdown measures, though individuals ought to “not anticipate huge modifications.”
So what will be lifted and when?
Why can’t we simply raise lockdown?
This virus stays massively contagious. Earlier than lockdown, one contaminated particular person handed it onto no less than three others on common (the so referred to as R-number).
And fewer than 5% of the UK inhabitants is estimated to have been contaminated. Or to place that one other manner – greater than 63 million are nonetheless weak.
If we simply raise the lockdown, then one other explosive outbreak is inevitable.
Is there any wiggle room?
The objective of lockdown has been to chop infections by round 70% to power the R-number beneath one (the purpose at which the outbreak begins to say no). That has been achieved.
Nevertheless, it’s only just under one.
“There isn’t a lot wiggle room,” a supply inside the authorities’s science advisers instructed me, including the nation “can’t make an enormous variety of modifications”.
One set of modelling suggests opening colleges – and nothing else – can be sufficient to nearly tip us again into rising circumstances.
What’s going to ‘take a look at, monitor, hint’ obtain?
The intention is to create extra “wiggle room” – you establish circumstances after which carry out speedy contact tracing and put these in danger in quarantine.
This technique, additionally referred to as “search and destroy”, will probably be supported by a voluntary smartphone app which is able to assist establish contacts.
The extra efficiently that is completed, the extra it would cut back the power of the virus to unfold and the extra restrictions will be lifted on day-to-day life.
“For the time being you want, on common, a 60-70% discount in social interactions to cease the outbreak growing,” mentioned Dr Kucharski.
“If we are able to get that all the way down to 30% that offers you much more to play with.”
However even this isn’t life as regular and different measures would nonetheless be wanted to maintain the illness in test.
“It’s a extra average model of the place we are actually,” mentioned Dr Kucharski.
- When will the outbreak finish and life get again to regular?
- How does contact tracing work and is my information secure?
What about defending these in danger?
One other technique proposed by some is “enhanced shielding”.
As a substitute of attempting to suppress the coronavirus throughout each part of society, you could possibly as an alternative intention to cease it fully for essentially the most weak.
Prof Mark Woolhouse, from the College of Edinburgh, mentioned: “Very crudely, for 80% of us who usually are not weak it is a nasty virus, nevertheless it wouldn’t overwhelm the healthcare system and it wouldn’t lock down society.
“If we actually bolster that shielding, make a really sturdy defend certainly, then it buys you much more room and it could imply you possibly can calm down some measures completely.”
That will imply all workers hospitals, care houses or anybody visiting these deemed weak being commonly examined to make sure they’re away from the virus. Ideally, antibody assessments would show they’re resistant to it.
The hazard is, having extra virus circulating locally may put these “shields” underneath intense strain.
Which lockdown measures could possibly be lifted?
Some restrictions are much less dangerous when it comes to spreading the virus.
“Primarily we’ve obtained lots of not excellent choices – it received’t be sooner or later and every little thing will change, however issues may open up,” Dr Adam Kucharski, from the London College of Hygiene and Tropical Drugs, instructed the BBC.
Dr Kucharski argues lifting totally different restrictions will be put into three broad classes: These with low, average and substantial danger of accelerating transmission of the virus.
Low danger consists of exercising outside, which has been restricted in some international locations.
Wales has already introduced that from 11 Might, individuals will probably be in a position in a position to train greater than as soon as a day.
Average danger would come with letting some non-essential retailers re-open or having occasional gatherings with individuals outdoors the family.
Substantial will increase may come from lifting recommendation to earn a living from home, reopening colleges or isolating sick individuals and quarantining households.
“I feel the order issues went in will probably be mirrored within the order issues will probably be lifted,” he says.
There stays a nervousness inside the scientific recommendation to authorities about lifting restrictions in areas, like pubs, whose complete objective is to deliver individuals collectively.
And there may be an rising query round main colleges as younger kids, some research recommend, can’t be contaminated as simply.
When may restrictions be lifted?
There’s a determination about how far we go along with suppressing the virus now we’ve handed the height.
We may drive ranges down as little as potential. That can significantly restrict the power of the virus to bounce again in a second wave and make testing and get in touch with tracing extra prone to be efficient. The trade-off is sustaining the lockdown for longer.
Or we may exit lockdown now and settle for having a better variety of circumstances, which creates its personal issues.
What may shift the steadiness?
The most important factor that might come alongside is a vaccine, as immunising individuals would imply there was no want for any social distancing measures. That’s considered greater than a 12 months away.
Failing that, the idea of herd immunity might kick in when round 70% of the inhabitants have been contaminated and the virus can now not trigger giant outbreaks.
Efficient medicine would additionally make an enormous distinction if they might cease Covid-19 progressing from a cough or fever right into a critical illness needing intensive care.
We would get nearer to normality, or no less than normality for some, within the months to return. However we’re all nonetheless on this for the lengthy haul.
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