The government’s measures to deal with a second wave remain inadequate; it’s crucial the left pushes for serious action that puts safety first, argues Lucy Nichols
Sir Patrick Vallance and Chris Whitty have called for the British public to deal with steadily rising cases of Covid-19 ‘collectively’. If we do not take steps to slow down the spread of the coronavirus, they said, we could be seeing 50,000 new cases a day by October – at the moment we are seeing 6,000 new cases a day.
In a briefing on 21 September, the government’s chief scientific advisers also emphasized that new cases are being spread by people of every age group, and that there is a disproportionately high number of cases in London, as 17% of the city’s population has been infected at some point.
This briefing comes as the public await to hear from Boris Johnson, who is expected to announce whether London will be subject to a local lockdown, and whether pubs and restaurants will be subject to a curfew (amongst other things).
It is abundantly clear that whatever restrictions the government announces will be implemented far too late and will likely be wholly inadequate.
We have known about rising cases for weeks but, the Tories have still made the decision to reopen schools and workplaces, despite the very obvious risks involved. If the Conservatives were serious about stopping the spread of the coronavirus and saving lives, university campuses would not be opening up, and there would not be a government campaign to ‘save city centres’ by encouraging people to go back to work.
Instead, the narrative of personal responsibility has been pushed to the forefront. Once again it is the onus of the individual to stop the spread of the virus. The irony of such a harsh neoliberal government calling for collective responsibility is painful. This is especially true after three months of encouraging the general public to go to pubs, and giving us as much as 50% off at restaurants.
It is the Conservative government that was responsible for the many thousands of deaths during the first wave of the virus. Now that the second wave is here, the government is still responsible.
It is therefore crucial that the left pushes for serious, coordinated nationwide action and raises demands that put safety first. As the government puts workers (and their families) at risk by pursuing the push back to work, we urgently need trade unions to adopt a combative response. Nobody's life or health should be put at risk because of a narrow obsession with the pursuit of profit.
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