Robert Dingwall, Professor of Sociology and Director of IGBiS at the University of Nottingham and part of the Government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG), appeared on yesterday’s episode of BBC Newsnight. On Monday, coronavirus lockdown restrictions were eased in England to allow groups of six to meet outdoors.
Host Katie Razzall asked Prof. Dingwall if people flocking outdoors on Monday and Tuesday would lead to a spike in cases, which he disagreed.
After being shown footage of students enjoying sunny weather in a park in Nottingham, he said: “I think there’s been this tendency in cities like Nottingham with a large student population to set students and residents against each other.
“I mean there are points of friction obviously and nobody is going to defend all the behaviour that went on in the parks.
“But we had a warm evening, we had the official relaxation of restrictions, we had what is common consensus a very low risk environment and we had a lot of people spontaneously decide to go out in the evening.
“And I think the civic leaders would have done much better to have welcomed this and to endorse it as step on the road towards the restoration of some kind of normality.”
READ MORE: Nottingham forced to shut two parks after ‘appalling scenes’
Last year, MPs and officials attacked beach-goers across the south of England as the first coronavirus lockdown came to an end.
But Prof Mark Woolhouse, epidemiologist at Edinburgh University and member of the government’s SPI-M committee, said in February there was no major risk of transmission.
He told MPs: “Over the summer we were treated to all this on the television news, pictures of crowded beaches, and there was an outcry about this.
“There were no outbreaks linked to public beaches. There’s never been a COVID-19 outbreak linked to a beach, ever, anywhere in the world, to the best of my knowledge.”
Dr Müge Çevik, a lecturer in infectious diseases and medical virology at the University of St Andrews, also said at the time: “We have known for some time that only about 10 percent of transmission events are linked to outdoor activities.
“Even those events generally involve either prolonged close contact or a mixture of indoor and outdoor time.”
When lifting restrictions on Monday as part of the roadmap out of lockdown, Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people to be careful.
At a Downing Street press conference, he said: “I must stress that it is only because of months of sacrifice and effort that we can take this small step to freedom today. And we must proceed with caution.
The UK has rolled out 35,014,074 doses as of yesterday.
Yesterday also saw another 4,052 cases and 43 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test.
In total, there have been 4,345,788 cases and 126,713 deaths in the UK.