The new Government crackdown does not go far enough to curb surging coronavirus rates, a major medical trade union has warned.
People living in England were hit with a 10pm pub curfew, a return to working from home and harsher fines, among other rules, on Tuesday, while people in Scotland are banned from visiting each other’s homes from Friday – but the British Medical Association (BMA) has insisted more needs to be done to avoid a second peak.
The union said it was ‘encouraging’ that the Government is facing up to accelerating transmission rates but criticised Boris Johnson for taking late action and failing to cut the number of people allowed to gather indoors, as the UK records nearly 5,000 new cases in 24 hours.
Chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘The Prime Minister missed an opportunity today to revise the “rule of six” which, as currently interpreted, allows members of six different household to meet indoors whereas previously members of only two households could do so.
‘Data suggests that transmission between households is by far the biggest driver of infection and this should therefore be rectified at the earliest possible opportunity.’
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Adressing new face mask rules, he added: ‘The BMA has consistently argued that it was illogical for staff not to be required to wear facemasks in shops, pubs and restaurants as customers are, so we’re pleased to see this belatedly coming into force.
‘However, given that the infection is equally like to spread in all indoor settings, these rules should also apply to offices and other workplaces.’
The BMA has also criticised the Government for rushing workers back into the office and has called on ministers to help employers make workplaces Covid-secure when home working is not possible
Dr Nagpaul said medics also want the public to have easier access to coronavirus rates in their areas, as the prime minister warns ‘your mild cough could be someone else’s death knell’.
He said: ‘Members of the public want to do their bit to keep infection rates down – ministers must empower them with the information they need to take proactive action.
‘Not only would these additional measures pose no risk to the economy in the immediate term, they could be key to preventing further lockdowns and significant disruption to business and economic activity.’
He added: ‘Indeed, putting the right safeguards in place to minimise the risk of infection is crucial to providing people with the confidence they need to go out safely and boost the economy.’
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