Independent SAGE statement on the new UK Government COVID Measures announced on 22nd September
- We welcome the four nations agreement on a strategy aimed at “suppressing the virus to the lowest possible level and keeping it there”.
- We further welcome that new measures were announced by the Prime Minister in order to bring the current infection levels down. In particular we note the recognition that action must be taken to limit exposure in places of work and of leisure as well as at home and also that ensuring workplaces/leisure spaces are safe must be backed by a firm legal and inspection framework.
- We are concerned, however, that many of these measures are insufficient to bring about the desired reduction in infections. In particular the 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants has no scientific rationale and is little more than a token gesture.
- We are particularly concerned that there was no mention of how to build a functional find, test, trace, isolate and support system built on local NHS and Public health structures, employing local contract tracers. Such a system is key to dealing with the pandemic.
- We regret that the approach to securing public adherence was rooted in blaming the public for the rise in infections and threatening harsher punishments rather than recognizing the difficulties people have and offering them support to do what is required.
- We further believe that a ‘blame’ approach distracts from the need for a comprehensive public information campaign to explain both why new measures against COVID are required and also precisely what people are expected to do.