Daily deaths are still high, causing some scientists to fear the lockdown is being lifted too quickly. But how early is too early?

On Monday June 1, the government eased the lockdown rules. In England, groups of up to six people can now meet outdoors or in private gardens, those classified as clinically “extremely vulnerable” can now go outdoors, competitive sport is set to resume and, as planned, some primary schools in England have reopened for some children. (Rules in Wales, Scotland and Northern Island vary slightly – decisions for easing lockdown rests with each national government.)

After a week where the government found itself mired in the Dominic Cummings scandal, easing the lockdown has provided a welcome distraction for beleaguered politicians. But independent scientists have criticised the government for neglecting to follow its own guidelines laid out by Boris Johnson on May 10, arguing that the UK is leaving lockdown too early. But how early is too early?

The lockdown’s easing has been received with some consternation. The Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) said the new rules, including allowing groups of up to six people to meet outdoors and in private gardens, were “not supported by the science”. Professor John Edmunds, a member of the UK’s SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) committee, expressed concern over the change and the high number of cases still being reported – 8,000 new infections per day in England alone between May 11 and May 24.