May 17 easing: What UEA virus expert will and won't be doing

Drinkers will be allowed back indoors in pubs.

Drinkers will be allowed back indoors in pubs. - Credit: PA

With the next phase of lockdown easing going ahead on Monday, May 17, several freedoms are due to be restored.

Whether it is sitting inside the pub with a pint, watching a film at the cinema or sharing a hug with a close friend, the latest phase of the government's roadmap promised to bring further tastes of freedom and normality to the region.

But with uncertainty around a new variant of the virus and everybody being different, not everyone will feel comfortable going at the same pace.

Prof Paul Hunter, from the UEA, has encouraged people to donate to the WHO's Covid-19 Response Fund

Prof Paul Hunter, from the UEA, has encouraged people to donate to the WHO's Covid-19 Response Fund - Credit: UEA

With this in mind, we asked University of East Anglia medical professor Paul Hunter what approach he would be taking.

Pubs, restaurants and cafés

"I have already visited restaurants and sat outside and I think I will continue going once I can sit indoors. Clearly there is always going to be some anxiety to begin with but I do think I will be fine with it.

"I think I will generally choose quieter times of day and won't feel comfortable going into a pub that is heaving but will feel comfortable overall."

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Cinema/indoor entertainment

 "Personally, I don't have any plans to go to the cinema to begin with - I think that's the kind of thing I would leave a few weeks and see how things go. If in a few weeks time things look the same I would certainly consider it, but it is still a little unclear what the impact of the Indian variant will be.


"I will certainly feel comfortable hugging my grandchildren, which I can't wait to do. However, I don't think I will be going around hugging strangers in the street - and not just for fear of arrest."

Overnight stays/entertaining

"I have no problems having close family members like my grandchildren stay over. I definitely won't be planning any large dinner parties just yet, though.

Does he support the May 17 easing?

"A few days ago, I would have felt very comfortable with it and even now I would not argue against it.

"However, with the Indian variant, it is not quite an easy decision as we do not quite know as much about it as we like.

"There has been an increase in cases, but it is too soon really to say whether these cases are the people who have returned from India. We will know more about it and how infectious it is over here and the impact it will have in the coming days."