The Tories are risking tens of thousands of lives by refusing to consider any new measures to deal with the rising number of Covid-19 cases.
But what should be the alternative? There are basic measures that any government should implement immediately.
School pupils’ return to classrooms in August and September and university students going back to campuses have fuelled the sharp rise.
Young people get infected, and then they can pass the disease on to older people they mix with.
So at the very least schools should enforce mask wearing and social distancing to reduce contamination.
The NEU union is right to demand adequate ventilation systems, cuts in workload, more workers and real support for staff sick or suffering long Covid.
Close contacts of anyone testing positive should immediately isolate.
And if there are large numbers of cases in a school or area then the affected schools should close until the spike has been overcome. Ultimately teachers should be given the authority to leave work, send pupils home or collectively
shut schools in the face of surging cases.
If this happens teachers, pupils or parents must not be made to pay. Parents should be able to isolate with their children and still receive full sick pay, support and free school meals if needed.
But to make conditions as safe as possible we must demand more. Some measures beyond the Tories’ plan have been used in Scotland and Wales. But they did not go far enough.
Sick pay must be guaranteed for all. Often key workers who work in crowded spaces such as cleaners, nurses, health assistants and delivery drivers are on poverty pay.
An unpaid sick day for some is completely unthinkable.
Not being able to afford to stay home if showing Covid symptoms forces people to risk spreading the illness to workmates and others.
Adequate testing systems in care homes, schools and other public areas must be available on demand. This would allow groups of people to isolate efficiently and quickly if needed.
And anyone who can work from home should immediately be told to do so.
But the Tories—with the blood of tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths on their hands—reject these basic measures.
They claim that schools will remain open to defend children’s vital education and development. But they don’t really care about that.
For the Tory party, keeping children out of school, let alone closing schools, means taking parents out of the workplaces. That’s the number one concern, keeping profits flowing.