Boris Johnson’s scientific adviser to the government said going to the beach would be one of the safest things to do once the lock is relaxed.
Professor Mark Woolhouse – an epidemiologist advising Downing Street through Sage’s subgroup Spi-M – said there was “very little evidence of outdoor transmission” from the coronavirus.
Addressing a committee of MPs on Wednesday, the expert suggested that beach trips should not be considered one of the risky mass gatherings that would not be sure to start again this summer.
“There have been no outbreaks of epidemics associated with crowded beaches,” said Prof. Woolhouse. “Never before in the world has there been an outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic associated with the beach, as far as I know.”
He told the Science and Technology Committee: “So I think we need to understand where the risks are and which ones are not [the prime minister] I can do it as safely as possible. “
He added: “Again, there was evidence from March and April that the virus was not transmitted well outdoors. There was very, very little evidence that any outdoor transmission was happening in the UK. “
Several police forces and local authorities begged people to stay away from beaches during the summer and fall of 2020, after it became difficult to maintain social distance in crowded public spaces.
However, prof. Woolhouse told lawmakers the beaches were safe. He said some other mass gatherings – such as horse races – were more risky because they did not involve social distancing and were full of “squeezed points” like travel and refreshments.
The epidemiologist also argued that the success of the vaccination program means the government could consider “unlocking the curbs” earlier.
“If you’re driven by data, not dates, you should now look at earlier unlocking because the data is so good,” he said.
A professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh also claimed that the government was slow to establish schools and allow outdoor activities after the first lock.
“I think we could probably have thought about reopening schools much earlier in the first lock,” he said. “The other thing, quite clearly, is outdoor activities.
“Those two things, I think, could have been relaxed sooner in the first lock.”
Asked whether schools should be closed during the current blockade, he told the board: “Children themselves have a very low risk of this infection.
“We now also have good evidence that teachers and other school staff are not at increased risk of Covid-19 compared to other working professions.”