Professor insists we will be 'back to normal by this time next year'

Professor Neil Ferguson insists we will be ‘back to normal by this time next year’ as he says he is ‘hopeful’ this will be the last lockdown

  • Professor Neil Hayward says he is hopeful lockdown could be lifted for good
  • Scientist known as ‘Professor Lockdown’ is hopeful schools can return in Feb
  • Says he is hopeful life will return to normal by this time next year  

The scientist whose modelling led to the first draconian restrictions said he is ‘hopeful’ this will be the final national lockdown.

Professor Neil Ferguson said the shutdown is likely to be lifted for good in the spring and restrictions on seeing friends and family outdoors could be eased by May.

The epidemiologist, dubbed Professor Lockdown, also said it should be safe to reopen schools next month and that life would be ‘back to normal certainly by this time next year’.

Professor Neil Ferguson, known as Professor Lockdown, is hopeful this is the last national lockdown 

‘The lockdown has really driven down cases quite fast… and that means in a month’s time, [when] the Prime Minister’s talked about potentially reopening schools, we might have some bandwidth to do that, at least primary schools,’ he said.

‘And if we continue to see a continued decline without large outbreaks, then perhaps starting to relax other aspects of society the following month.’

Professor Ferguson said that he hopes the nation will be under something ‘akin to Tier Two’ by May. This means shops, pubs and schools would be open and friends and families would be able to meet outdoors with the Rule of Six.

He told website Politico’s Westminster Insider podcast that if cases are ‘very low’ we could be back to Tier One restrictions by then – when you can mix indoors with other households.

However, Professor Ferguson acknowledged it will be ‘a bumpy road’ and called for a cautious approach.

He said: ‘I’m hopeful it will be the final lockdown, so long as we are relatively cautious in coming out of this lockdown.’ 

The scientist added: ‘My fervent hope is, certainly, by this time next year, we will be basically back to normal… without any significant degree of the current controls in place.’

Professor Ferguson led the team at Imperial College London which produced the computer-modelled research warning of 250,000 deaths from Covid-19 last March, prompting Boris Johnson to impose the first national lockdown.

The epidemiologist quit as a top Government adviser last May after it emerged that his girlfriend Antonia Staats had been visiting him at home.

The professor said he was hopeful the jab programme will control new variants and that Britain was unlikely to end up ‘back at square one’. He added: ‘I think it’s very unlikely we’ll get a strain emerging which can’t be vaccinated against.’

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