Mike Tildesley, an expert in infectious disease modeling who sits on a government scientific advisory committee, told the BBC that the country was at a “tricky phase” and said “mixed messaging” from ministers over face masks was a concern.
“I think it’s actually quite confusing for people to know what the right thing to do is,” he said.
Some business lobby groups took the same view. “Business leaders aren’t public health experts and cannot be expected to know how best to operate when confusing and sometimes contradictory advice is coming from official sources,” said Claire Walker, co-executive director of the British Chambers of Commerce.
“Without clear guidance, there could be real uncertainty on how companies should operate from July 19 and what they should be doing to keep staff and customers safe,” she added.
Others contend that the government is pursuing an unspoken strategy of “herd immunity,” allowing the virus to circulate through the population until enough people develop antibodies to depress its spread.
Britain has built immunity through its widespread deployment of vaccines. Sixty-six percent of the adult population in the United Kingdom has received two doses of a vaccine providing good levels of protection. Soaring rates of infection among young people, who tend to suffer less seriously, could eventually provide elevated rates of immunity.
“The idea of living with Covid has been in the British government for a very long time,” David King, a former chief scientific adviser to the government, said in an interview last week. “It’s the only way you can rationally explain what they’ve been doing.”