A local epidemiologist is cautioning against relaxing attitudes and restrictions when it comes to the pandemic. In an interview with GBH All Things Considered host Arun Rath, Dr. William Hanage of Harvard University's T.H. Chan School of Public Health said that with the Baker administration easing capacity limits at businesses this week, cases of the virus will likely surge again in Massachusetts.

"This reopening is going to provide more contacts," Hanage said, "which means that those cases are going to go up again."

Hanage's warning echoes those of other public health experts who have criticized the Baker administration's decision to relax business restrictions, including at restaurants, which can now operate at full capacity. Among those calling on states to proceed with caution is CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who previously led the infectious diseases division at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Hanage also said that while Massachusetts is doing well compared to other states at administering the first dose of vaccines, it's lagging on the second dose. That's a problem that could diminish as supplies of Johnson & Johnson's newly approved one-dose vaccine become available. Hanage added that while a growing proportion of older Massachusetts residents are getting vaccinated, younger residents remain at risk.

"It's not necessarily the case that once you've managed to vaccinate and protect the most vulnerable people, then you are able to just relax," Hanage said, "because if you have a lot of transmission among younger people, then you can get quite a lot of disease."

On the issue of school reopenings, though, Hanage suggested that students can be brought back safely. Boston Public Schools are resuming in-class learning for students from kindergarten through third grade this week, and the Baker administration is pushing for all elementary school students to be back in the classroom by the end of April.

"I think that the lessons that we've learned over the last few months is that you can, with good infection control and good mitigation, manage to really limit the opportunities for transmission within the schools," Hanage said.

While the state's coronavirus numbers are better than they were earlier in the winter, Hanage said, the numbers have plateaued in recent weeks. The potential for an uptick in cases remains — particularly as businesses take advantage of looser restrictions and welcome a greater number of customers.

"Once we start giving the virus more opportunities to transmit, it's going to take them," he said.