The UK Government response is like a car skidding uncontrollably towards a brick wall

Hazards Campaign – News Release,

22nd September 2020 (No embargo)

At this week’s Hazards Campaign Thursday zoom ‘Where are the sirens?’, Janet Newsham chair of the Hazards Campaign will say “‘Applying the brakes?’ This is like the horrific images of the tsunami relentlessly and effortlessly swamping the beach town properties engulfing everything and anyone in their way . Or a car skidding uncontrollably towards the brick wall with the inevitable deadly consequences.  Brakes applied too little too late.  Warning sirens were not pressed before the wave of death swamps the population.” (1)

Early in May the Hazards Campaign said ‘there is no conflict between economic recovery and health because a healthy economic recovery requires healthy workers and people’, but to achieve it then we warned there should be no easing of the lock-down until seven preconditions were met.(2)  These preconditions remain just as valid today.  This Government has learnt no lessons from the deaths, disabilities, and ill health it has failed to control.

Some individuals and workplaces have taken precautions over and above what has been announced by Government.  Whilst others following Government mixed messaging, have carried on their business and put lives at risk without any caution.  It has led to workplace, school and community clusters.  Clusters that have led to the deaths of workers and increased the infection rate in local communities.

Our Government has been the sheep dragged kicking and screaming towards measures that will save some lives, but their sights have been firmly and continue to be firmly on the target of keeping the economy going and the result will be devastating financially for many businesses who will see extended economic disruption as our communities are awash with the virus.

In June, the Hazards Campaign challenged the Government’s easing of conditions that workers would be safe to return to workplaces under.  When the Government reduced the 2m distance to 1m or hardly any physical distancing between workers, we challenged this based on the scientific evidence available.  It was clear that there needed to be a precautionary approach to physical distancing, as aerosols were a far greater transmission risk of spreading the virus, especially inside buildings. (3)  We also called on the Government to adopt a zero Covid-19 policy. (4)

‘Staying Alert! what a nonsense.  Our Government hasn’t been alert to any of the advice until much of it is too late.  They locked down too late, they didn’t lock down all non-essential businesses.  Too preoccupied with the economy they went on to release the lock down again too early, they forced children back to unsafe schools and then workers back to unsafe workplaces.  They have blamed young people and families for spreading the virus, when their messages of go back to the pub, eat out and return to public transport and unsafe workplaces should have been the real focus of concern and stringent action.’

At the beginning of August the Hazards Campaign warned about the risks in schools and that it would drive up Covid-19 cases if the Government ignored the outbreak risks. (5) Then at the end of August we again challenged the Governments failure to acknowledge and act on workplace cluster warnings by forcing children back to school so that parents could return to work and as a consequence workplace cluster outbreaks were increasing. (6)

The Hazards Campaign followed that up with a joint report with the scientist group Independent Sage and called for ‘No workers to return to workplaces unless Covid safety plans are in place’. (7)
All these warnings and predictions about what would happen if they were ignored are unfortunately being proved right.  The Government has chosen to carry on regardless.

As the science has firmly moved from better hygiene to aerosol risks, the Government has been silent, even complicit in their lack of instruction to workplaces to ensure that the transmission of the virus in aerosols is controlled via low occupation, better ventilation and face mask/PPE wearing.  While Independent Sage and Hazards Campaign document of three weeks ago said that workplaces (which include schools, pubs, cafes etc) all workplaces needed to be Covid-safe and certified before opening, the Government ignored such advice.

Throughout the pandemic the Hazards Campaign have argued that a precautionary approach was needed to ensure the control of the transmission of the virus, that the Government had to break the cycle of transmission with full lock down of non-essential business and that they needed to follow a Zero-Covid strategy.

‘We have proof now that we need that Zero-Covid strategy,  we need Covid-safe workplaces and we need a fresh Government with their eyes wide open to proper defence of the population and away from a knee jerked, back of the fag packet after a pint down the local pub analysis and inaction.’

Notes to editors:

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