The government’s plans to relax nearly all COVID-19 mitigation on the 19 July have been labelled ‘incredibly concerning’ by the British Medical Association (BMA).

Yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out the government’s plans to lift COVID-19 restrictions in England, in a “move away from legal restrictions”.

If the plans are approved, from 19 July a number of social distancing rules will be relaxed, with no limits on social contact, no legal requirements on face coverings and the one-metre plus rule to be removed except in some settings.

In response, BMA council chair Chaand Nagpaul said the plans are “incredibly concerning” and show a “clear disconnect” between the government plans and the data and views of the scientific community and medical profession.

“While admittedly the link between hospitalisations and deaths has weakened, it has not been broken and we now have twice as many people in hospital and on ventilators compared to a month ago.  Even modest rises in patients being admitted to hospital will undermine our ability to treat the record 5 million patients waiting for treatment,” said Nagpaul.

The BMA is urging the government to reconsider its current plans for relaxing almost all COVID-19 restrictions.

In particular, the doctors' union said the continued mandatory wearing of facemasks in enclosed indoor public settings should remain following the 19 July.

“Ultimately, the government has a duty to protect people’s health and this announcement today falls very short of that. It also fails to protect our health service and give the NHS and its staff the safeguards it needs,” added Nagpaul.