The Government’s Coronavirus Action Plan published today setting out the next phase of the lockdown raises more questions than answers.
Even after the Prime Minister’s attempt to clarify last night’s pre-recorded speech in his statement to the Commons today, it is clear we are still a long way away from lucidity. My inbox shows many of you are none the wiser either.
People weren’t even sure if they were expected to go to work today, with 12 hours’ notice, before they’d even seen the guidance and now we know the Government would like those of us who can’t work from home (in England only) to attend work, if they can, on Wednesday.
But we still don’t know what safety provisions businesses are meant to put in place for employees returning to work or how people who can attend work can do so if thy have children at home to look after.
Which is all the more worrying when put into the context of ONS data also published today revealing men in low-skilled jobs are four times more likely to die from the virus compared to men in professional occupations, while women working as carers are twice as likely to die compared to those in professional and technical roles who are more likely to be able to work from home.
People need to know the provisions are in place for them to return to work safely and it’s not clear that is the case which will inevitably put people at risk.
We don’t know how police are meant to enforce these provisions where people are being given unclear advice.
And we don’t know when or if the government will be publishing the medical and scientific advice that has informed its decisions to relax the lockdown – a move that was not agreed with Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland who are sticking with the original advice to Stay At Home.
The ‘stay alert’ advice is full of contradictions. You can hire a nanny or a cleaner to come into your home but not a member of your family.
Our priority is protecting the public’s health and saving lives. That is why I support the lockdown and again support the restrictions staying in place at this time.
However, the Government needs to be honest with the public about the challenges ahead and much clearer in its messaging. We are in this for the long haul. It is imperative that the government is properly planning for what happens next and properly supporting our NHS and social care services.
Those questions – and many more – need answering if the public is going to have confidence in what happens next.