Published: 06:00, 01 July 2020
Saturday's re-opening of pubs will be "a recipe for disaster", according to a top behavioural scientist.
Richard Scase, a professor at the University of Kent, has issued a grave condemnation ahead of the lockdown easing this weekend.
Pubs, bars and restaurants have been shut since March 16 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but will welcome guests on Saturday alongside museums and art galleries.
The academic welcomed the latter, but believes it is too soon for drinking establishments to open their doors again - a view he claims is shared by many in his field.
He said: "Like lots of medics and behavioural scientists, I have lots of concerns about what's going to happen this weekend.
"I don't think I'm the only behavioural scientist to say that to ease or end the lockdown on a Saturday is a misjudgement, I think it should've been announced in the middle of the week rather than the weekend.
"This great celebration people are talking about coming up this weekend, what with the opening of pubs and restaurants, I think is a recipe for disaster."
On the whole, though criticising the delay in implementing the lockdown initially, Professor Scase believes the government effort has been "incredibly successful" despite the sometimes confusing messaging.
The emeritus professor of organisational behaviour believes a vast majority of the UK population have been socially responsible, but did note that younger people - believing they will not suffer the same degree of symptoms as the older population - have been less abiding of the regulations.
His greatest fear is that social distancing in many drinking establishments will be "impossible" due to space constraints.
He said: "The virus has not gone away, it's still there as the Prime Minister has pointed out on a number of occasions and to have this great opening - this great celebration - is very irresponsible and I think puts on the agenda to an increasing extent the potential of a second wave in a few weeks time.
"Certainly the pubs I go into there's no way social distancing rules can be enforced by the bar staff - it's just impossible.
"That I think is very, very worrying whereas the opening of museums and art galleries, that can be controlled and managed but I think bars and restaurants is a totally different matter altogether."