“Government actions have exacerbated the public health crisis and fostered conditions for the virus to spread.”
Amy Smith writes on how her CLP – Halifax CLP – passed a motion supporting the Socialist Campaign Goup Statement on Zero Covid
At the end of September, Halifax CLP passed a motion supporting the ‘essence’ of the recent statement issued by the Socialist Campaign Group, which calls on the government to adopt a zero covid strategy and sets out concrete proposals to protect both public health and the economy.
A zero covid strategy seeks to defeat the virus, as demonstrated by China, Vietnam and New Zealand. It is a strategy that puts people’s lives ahead of profit and does not rely on ‘herd immunity.’
It is the only effective way to deal with the pandemic, and the government must do this whilst committing to extensive economic support for workers and businesses.
The government does not have this virus under control as demonstrated by the rapid climb in the number of daily confirmed cases which exceeds the first peak from earlier this year (see the Our World in Data graph). It shows that even with belated partial lockdown measures the UK was able to sharply reduce the number of cases and deaths.
However, government actions have exacerbated the public health crisis and fostered conditions for the virus to spread. Instead of keeping learning online and extending the furlough scheme, the government rushed to re-opening pubs and restaurants, forcing children, teachers and students back to schools and university campuses leading to multiple outbreaks across the country.
Treating the virus lightly is not an option when the long-term consequences of infection are unclear. Furthermore, additional precautions have to be in place to safeguard the most at risk and susceptible communities to the virus which are Black and Asian people, disabled people and the poorest communities.
The Government’s current approach to the crisis, comprising local lockdowns and short-term guidance, is also detrimental to the economy in the longer term. This approach harms businesses and workers by creating uncertainty and maintaining situations where people are forced to go out to work for fear of losing income, even when they are showing signs of the virus. As the SCG stated: “Reducing the virus to minimal levels is not in contradiction to economic recovery. It is the precondition for economic recovery.”
A zero covid strategy must include a commitment to protect workers’ jobs and incomes. Unemployment is expected to skyrocket in the coming months, as the Government withdraws the furlough scheme.
There are also around 6 million people now on Universal Credit, double the number of claimants from before March 2020. Withdrawing the furlough scheme and thereby placing those people on Universal Credit is not a sensible economic response to this crisis compared to continuing the furlough scheme: according to the Resolution Foundation people claiming universal credit have lost about 47% of their income, compared to those furloughed who typically lost 9%.
We also need further immediate measures such as higher statutory sick pay for all.
A zero covid strategy will protect more lives, as evidenced by its successful implementation in countries such as China, Vietnam and New Zealand, and ultimately protect the economy.
We urge sister CLPs to adopt this motion supporting a zero covid strategy.