Socialist Worker

Three-tier lockdown system is not enough to contain coronavirus

by Isabel Ringrose
Issue No. 2726

Boris Johnson unveiling his three-tier lockdown plan on Monday

Boris Johnson unveiling his three-tier lockdown plan on Monday (Pic: Number 10/Flickr)


Boris Johnson announced a new three-tier lockdown system for England on Monday in his latest attempt to control the virus.

The new system will bring in three categories with different levels of restrictions.

“Very high risk” means pubs, bars, gyms and casinos must shut, while in “high risk” areas indoor mixing between households is banned. “Medium risk” places stay under current national restrictions.

And there’s a fourth tier in preparation of “very high risk plus” for when the figures worsen, as they surely will, in some areas.

Regions will be shunted from one tier to another based on little or no evidence.

The government is not “following the science” as it often claims. Three weeks ago the Sage committee of experts warned of a “very large epidemic with catastrophic consequences”.

Johnson and his cabinet did not implement the measures they advised.

And shutting pubs won’t work when there’s no action in universities, schools and many workplaces.

Infections will spiral if students remain crammed into cramped accommodation and universities resist online teaching.

Schools need more funds and more staff. Workers need stronger rights to refuse unsafe conditions.

You can’t have an effective health strategy that works without also transforming the support package for workers and unemployed people.

Instead of cutting back on the furlough scheme, it should be extended.

How will soaring joblessness, increased poverty and evictions help curb coronavirus?

Symptoms

How will workers with symptoms of the virus feel confident to stay away from work when they can’t afford to survive on the less than £100 a week sick benefit?

The new restrictions follow weeks of measures that have utterly failed to keep infection rates low.

Many working class people are rightly furious.

For more than six months the Tories have ruined every chance they’ve had at managing coronavirus.

They locked down too late, allowed the virus to kill over 18,000 people in care homes and left the NHS without crucial equipment and staff.

They wasted the summer urging people to get back to work and lifting restrictions when they should have been preparing for the next wave.

Test and trace is a privatised mess. Figures from last week showed that in England it had suffered its worst ever week for the proportion of contacts it manages to successfully track down.

Last weekend the number of coronavirus admissions to hospitals rose to a higher level than they were in March, when the nationwide lockdown was announced.

Johnson stressed, “This package depends on public support.”

For any sort of lockdown to be successful it must put health and workers first. But this clashes with the Tories’ unrelenting prioritisation of profit.

The Tories cannot be trusted with our lives.


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