By CBSBoston.com Staff

BOSTON (CBS) — Massachusetts is rolling back some coronavirus restrictions on Monday. But with the United Kingdom COVID variant in the state, two local doctors say now is not the time to let our guards down.

With hospitalizations and the percent of positive cases headed in the right direction, Gov. Charlie Baker is lifting the 9:30 p.m. curfew for some businesses and ending the overnight stay-at-home advisory.

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The UK variant, sometimes called B.1.1.7, “spreads much faster than what we’ve been seeing so far,” said UMass Memorial Medical Center epidemiologist Dr. Richard Ellison. “We have to worry that in two weeks, it can begin to cause everything to reverse and have case counts go up again.”

He said, “I think if you’re going to make any changes, you want to make minor changes at this point. Not to really relax things a lot. We know the virus is here, the variant is here.”

Dr. Abraar Karan, an internal medicine physician at Brigham & Women’s & Harvard Medical School, agrees.

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“The surges very much can come back, especially when we ease up on restrictions and now, with more transmissible variants like B.1.1.7, which is circulating throughout the United States, we’re even more concerned about that,” said Karan.

He doesn’t see the eased restrictions making a large impact, though, “mostly because we didn’t expect that a large majority of cases and transmission were necessarily happening post-9:30 at some of these venues.”

The state’s 25% capacity limit is still in place until at least Feb. 8.

Karan said that’s important, but “it really only takes two people for transmission to occur and the more people that are there, the higher chance there is for an actual outbreak to happen. So the same transmission dynamics hold and the same high-risk places are high risk.”

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According to Ellison, it appears hospitalizations peaked in the first week of January.

CBSBoston.com Staff