“To which extent we will see spikes or worse will depend on our collective behaviour.
“It will be critical to realise that none of the easing steps will mean that the pandemic would be over.
“We will have to follow the governmental ‘Hands, Face, Space, Fresh air’ advice for the foreseeable future.
“If we see a rise in COVID-19 infections, this means that we are not cautious enough and have to do better, in particular, if we do not want further restrictions.”
Professor Michaelis added: “All [lockdown easing] steps have their risks, but I think that the final removal of all formal restrictions will be the most challenging one.
“This is not a signal that COVID-19 would be a thing of the past. Even if we get COVID-19 control in the UK, the pandemic is still rampaging around the globe.
“Numbers are increasing in many parts of Europe and the rest of the world. It will take years until a significant proportion of the world population will be vaccinated.
“Hence, there will be a risk of COVID-19 reintroduction for the foreseeable future.
“This includes the introduction of new variants that can bypass immune protection provided by current vaccines and previous infections.
“In this context, we also do not know how long immune protection from vaccines or previous infections will last.
“Thus, the removal of all formal restrictions does not mean that we can go back to our pre-pandemic normal.
“We will have to learn to live in a way in a way that minimises COVID-19 spreads, also when there are no formal rules.
“We need to be able to identify and avoid situations associated with a high risk of COVID-19 transmission.
“The question should not be ‘What am I allowed to do?” but ‘What is a reasonable thing to do?”
“If we had been able to do this as individuals and society from the beginning, we would not have needed any lockdowns in the first place.”