BuDS feels that the Government has tonight once again announced ‘too little, too late’. While England will enter a partial lockdown from Thursday 5 November, childcare, schools, colleges and universities will stay open, and shielding will NOT be re-started. People who cannot work from home will still be expected to travel to work. While non-essential shops, pubs, restaurants and entertainment venues will at last be closed, keeping education settings open will mean massive mixing together of people which will inevitably continue to spread the virus. BuDS fears that the Government has once again missed the chance to take the decisive action which is needed.
For older people and higher risk people (those who are clinically more likely to die or be seriously ill if they catch Covid-19), the Government’s failure to reintroduce shielding is very bad news indeed. Older and higher-risk people are the people who will be filling hospital beds. For the Government not to protect them from Covid-19 is morally horrible and also not sensible if they really wish to protect the NHS. BuDS has been advising older and higher risk people since 1 October to self-isolate as much as possible and we continue to urge them to do this. Start immediately, if you have not already done so.
To get a full breakdown of the Prime Minister’s statement, use this link: https://buds.org.uk/summary-of-points-made-at-the-prime-ministers-lockdown-briefing-31-10-20/
WHY IS THERE GOING TO BE ANOTHER LOCKDOWN?
In short, to protect the NHS and the health of everyone, both Covid and non-Covid patients. The number of people being taken into hospital with Covid-19 is increasing very quickly in all parts of England. If something isn’t done, the NHS will run out of acute hospital and ventilator beds for all ill people (not just Covid patients) in the next three weeks. The only sure way to quickly stop the number of people in hospital going up is a lockdown to stop people meeting each other and passing on the virus.
Since the first lockdown was lifted in the summer, the Government has tried to stop people giving each other the virus by encouraging them to wash their hands, socially distance and wear face masks while going about pretty much their normal life. Even when areas were placed into ‘high’ or ‘very high’ restrictions, those restrictions were not really very severe – pubs, for example, only closed in a few very high areas and restaurants stayed open everywhere.
This ‘business as usual’ approach has now spectacularly failed (as scientists predicted at the time) and so the Government now has no choice but to use a national lockdown instead. But even now, the Government has imposed only a ‘budget lockdown’ – nurseries, childcare, schools, colleges and universities will stay open and people will still be mixing with each other to do that. This may mean that the lockdown fails to do its job of reducing people going into hospital and a tougher lockdown might be needed in a couple of weeks. Time will tell.
WHAT WILL THE LOCKDOWN MEAN?
The lockdown will start on 5 November and end on 3 December. During the lockdown, people will not be able to leave their homes by law except to go to work (if they can’t work at home), attend or take pupils to school, college or university, essential shopping, medical appointments, to exercise, or carry out volunteer or caring duties. Pubs, bars, restaurants and entertainment venues will be closed by law and only essential shops, like food and hardware, will be allowed to open.
Remember, if you (or someone you care for) need to go out a lot to exercise because of your disability, you can get a free police-approved Letter of Authority from BuDS establishing your legal right to do so. E-mail [email protected] to apply.
WHAT ABOUT SHIELDING?
The Government have said they will NOT officially introduce shielding, which is where people who were extremely likely to be seriously ill from Covid-19 were told to stay at home and helped by the Government and councils to manage, such as with shopping, prescriptions and free food parcels. Instead, the Government has said that the 2.2 million people who are ‘extremely clinically vulnerable’ should just ‘minimise their contacts with people outside their household as much as possible’ and not to go to work, even if you can’t work at home. BuDS utterly condemns this failure to protect the most vulnerable people in society. The Government cannot expect millions of people to lock themselves up without offering them any help.
On 1 October, BuDS advised older people (those aged over 50) and anyone previously told to shield to start self-isolating as much as possible. We say this again today – if you are an older person or a former shielder, STOP meeting people who might give you the virus, and STOP going out. Ask others such as the RVS volunteers (0808 196 3646, 8 am – 8 pm) or local voluntary groups to do your shopping and collect your prescriptions. In Bucks, your parish or town council will be able to signpost you to your local group.
If you are an older parent or your household contains someone who was shielding, we strongly recommend that you immediately talk to the school about your children being educated at home during the lockdown, if they are not already. Most schools will be happy to do this, and others will usually do so when argued with. Contact BuDS if you need help with a Bucks school. For older people and shielders, carrying on as usual with children going in and out of school or college is not sensible now that the pandemic is so dangerous and, if you have young people at university, you should not see them during the lockdown.
MORE TO COME
BuDS will continue to work flat out to give you more information and advice during and beyond the lockdown, and we will be boosting-up our lockdown support projects like the BuDDies scheme. Please ask any questions in comments below and we will try to answer them as quickly as we can. We are here for you.