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Lockdown easing plans put CEV people back in jeopardy

06 July 2021

Psychology experts, health professionals and Disabled People’s Organisations are expressing grave concerns about the Prime Minister’s announcement that the majority of remaining COVID-19 regulations are set to end in England on 19 July.

The wearing of face coverings will no longer be legally required, distancing rules will be removed, and the rule of six inside private homes will also go. Work from home guidance will be revoked and limits on the number of people allowed at sporting events and in entertainment venues will be abolished.

Boris Johnson said his aim is to: “move from a universal government diktat to relying on people’s personal responsibility”, with the only remaining regulation being the requirement to isolate after testing positive for Covid-19, plus restrictions on international travel and mandatory social distancing at airports and other ports.

DR UK’s CEO Kamran Mallick said: “On 5 July last year, in full lockdown, there were 517 new cases of Covid and 19 deaths. On 5 July this year, there were 27,334 cases of Covid and nine deaths.

“Only two-thirds of over 18s have been fully vaccinated. Nearly 18 million adults in this country have yet to be vaccinated. 14 million under 18s cannot yet be vaccinated. That’s 32 million people, just under half the population, not yet fully vaccinated.

“The Prime Minister seems to have forgotten that many people do not recover as well as he did from Covid, with many going on to develop Long Covid, with ongoing fit-to-drop exhaustion, chronic pain, and brain fog.

“Plans to remove the compulsory behaviours which keep the public safe effectively reframes the disease as a post-vaccine slight sniffle. This is unequivocally not the case. Disabled people, and people with compromised immune systems, those formerly known as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) people, will be faced with the choice of shielding under their own determination with no support, or facing increased risk of infection by going out in wider society.

“The CEV list had around four million people on it. Add in people in vaccination group six and the number of people vulnerable to the virus, even with vaccines, is swollen by millions more.

“The Government has once again dismissed the lives and voices of millions of Disabled people with plans for the reckless removing of safety measures. We have learnt that for the vast majority of people, it is no hardship to distance in public spaces, and to wear a mask, a practice which in many Asian countries is standard during non-pandemic times.

“These planned moves feel very much as though they have been made with no thought for those who stand to lose the most if they contract a virus which is still very much present in our midst.”

Professor Stephen Reicher, who sits on the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (Spi-B) which advises government, warned that the announcement risks causing “huge damage primarily to young people because they're the ones that aren't vaccinated”.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, British Medical Association council chair said the proposals were “incredibly concerning”, and Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer said that the lifting of all restrictions at once is “reckless”.