Authorities’s lockdown-lifting ‘gamble’ is ‘totally reckless’, say DPOs – Incapacity Information Service

Disability organizations have expressed “great concern” about the government’s “completely reckless” decision to lift most of the remaining COVID-19 rules in England from July 19th.

The move from “rules and regulations” to “guidance and common sense” – although final confirmation won’t come until Monday (July 12) – has taken place despite the sharp rise in the number of new infections across the country.

Starting July 19, all social distancing guidelines will be removed in almost all environments, including the legal requirement to wear face coverings.

Legal requirements for businesses are lifted, while restrictions on attending concerts, theater and sporting events are lifted.

The new health and social affairs minister Sajid Javid also said it was “no longer necessary to work from home”.

But disability organizations (DPOs) and disabled activists this week shared their shock and anger with the Disability News Service over the decision to lift a number of public health restrictions.

They said moving was a gamble on the lives of disabled people.

Mark Baggley, manager of the Choices and Rights Disability Coalition in Hull, said his organization was “shocked at how all security is being swept away in one dramatic move.”

He said, “We know that many disabled people have been very careful since some restrictions were lifted and many have not yet gone out to social events.

“It has been scientifically proven that wearing masks can prevent the virus from being transmitted from person to person and has given many disabled people a certain degree of security when going out, be it in their leisure time or at work.

“It seems that ‘following the science’ is no longer a government policy and now ‘a certain number of deaths is acceptable’.”

He added, “We all want life to return to some sort of normal, but the current way forward is a game of chance where the dice have been rolled and the lives of disabled people is the risk.”

Dominic Ellison, executive director of the West of England Center for Inclusive Living, said the UK government is again throwing itself into populist action without considering the impact on disabled people.

He said, “Everyone, including disabled people, wants society to open up again, but giving up all protective measures in time to meet an arbitrary date is completely reckless.

“Making it a personal decision whether individuals continue to take simple precautionary measures to protect others deprives many disabled and clinically vulnerable people of all aspects of choice – society is opened to non-disabled people and disabled people are confined to their second-class shielding, without the legal protection and support for their shielding. “

He added: “We are pleading with the government to honor its previous commitments to partner with disability organizations to develop a safer and more inclusive way out of the lockdown as we reorganize to live with the ongoing threat of COVID-19.” . “

Svetlana Kotova, director of campaigns and justice at Inclusion London, said the government’s announcement “came as a shock” to many disabled people and would “endanger many people, including millions of clinically vulnerable people”.

She said the lives of disabled people and other marginalized groups were treated as “acceptable collateral damage in exchange for the roadmap to freedom”.

She said, “Although the vaccination program has been successful, there are still many people, including younger disabled people, who have not been fully vaccinated.

“If all restrictions are lifted when COVID cases are rising so rapidly, these younger disabled people will be forced to return to work, others will be at greater risk of contracting COVID-19, and many people will be at risk exposed to long-term COVID-19 infection.

“Some people cannot be medically vaccinated, others who are immunocompromised may not benefit as much from the vaccination options available.

“Removing all restrictions without recognizing the additional difficulties some disabled people face and providing support is wrong. There is a risk that people will be further marginalized and isolated. “

Professor Peter Beresford, co-chair of Shaping Our Lives, said the government’s response during the pandemic has been dominated by political concerns, the need to protect the economy and minimizing government interference, and has focused on “individual responsibility”.

He said: “The results of this approach have been disastrous in terms of death rate and suffering, public costs and economic losses.

“The recent decision to lift all restrictions in the context of soaring infection rates and an incomplete vaccination program points to the same terrifying thinking and the possibility of as yet unquantifiable risks and harm.”

He added: “We all, especially the most exposed, are at the mercy of the most irresponsible political leaders in modern British history.”

Kamran Mallick, chief executive officer of Disability Rights UK, said the government’s strategy “effectively regards the disease as a mild post-vaccination runny nose” when it “clearly does not”.

He said, “Disabled people and people with compromised immune systems formerly known as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) people will be faced with the choice of shielding at their discretion without assistance or being at increased risk of infection by walking in the.” broader society.

“The government has again dismissed the lives and voices of disabled people with plans to ruthlessly lift security measures.

“We have learned that for the vast majority of people it is not a problem to distance themselves in public spaces and to wear a mask, a practice that is standard in many Asian countries in times without a pandemic.

“These planned steps look and feel a lot like people without thinking about those who will lose the most if they contract a virus that is still present in our midst.”

DR UK said it was seeking “urgent clarification” from the Minister of Education on how schools can protect CEV students – especially those in mainstream schools – without impacting their education after announcing that entire classes will need to be isolated if a single student is involved in that the class tests would end positive for COVID-19 from the beginning of the fall semester.

Linda Burnip, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts, said, “What some call ‘Freedom Day’ means many more months for many disabled people locked in their homes trying to stay safe from COVID.

“As the number of cases continues to rise sharply across the country, it seems particularly stupid to suddenly end the lockdown and lift all security measures – even for the Tories.”

She said a major concern is disabled workers who may now be forced into jobs without protection.

The Disability Union, whose members are disabled people and carers, said the prime minister’s remarks and plans did nothing to allay the concerns of disabled people and urged the government to engage in dialogue with disabled people and carers.

A union spokesman said: “For too long, disabled people and carers have concluded that the damage must be collateral as the system appears to have ignored their concerns and their voice.”

Disabled activist Esther Leighton said the government’s announcement would mean “People at highest risk will have to have even more limited lives without the support of government programs to back it up, while those at least at risk will have to relax even more Enjoy the rules ”. .

She said, “It will increase the risk especially for people who need help from others.

“Mask exemptions have always existed and must remain, but saying that others don’t have to wear them in public places puts some people’s discomfort above the freedom, wellbeing, and health of others.

“I am surprised that anyone who is not exempted cares so much about masks that they are willing to increase the risk for others and the whole country by not wearing them.”

The disabled colleague Natalya Dell also described the government’s plans as “ruthless”.

She said, “I am a deaf person who cannot hear lip reading or masked speakers.

“I also have difficulty wearing a mask for long periods of time because it affects my eyesight, which makes my dizziness worse.

“However, I have worn a mask indoors for the past 16 months and have minimized the number of times I leave my house because I don’t want to endanger myself or others.

“I’m sick of deaf people being used as an excuse to remove the mask requirement from people who clearly have not cared about the rights and needs of deaf and hard of hearing people in general and will continue to ignore them.”

A spokesman for Bristol Reclaiming Independent Living (BRIL) said Javid’s statement that it was no longer necessary to work from home and the lifting of legal requirements for businesses was “a total disregard for the rights and well-being of the disabled and chronically ill People and “their families”.

The BRIL spokesman added, “The government’s priorities are clearly not the security or future of our communities, but only the profit margins of private companies run by their friends.

“Javid admits that COVID cases will increase due to government action, but they don’t seem to care.

“There is no thought about the impact on clinically vulnerable people or the many thousands of newly disabled people with long-term COVID.”

Waltraud Pospischil, a BRIL member, said: “We need to ensure that, after the restrictions are lifted, the UK recognizes contributions from people with disabilities who need flexibility to work from home, rather than work and pay-related contributions puts pressure on those who prefer to continue shielding or avoid social contacts in order to take care of their health. “

Another BRIL member, Val Stansfield, said: “I am concerned that July 19th is too early.

“Even though many are double or single jabbed, anyone can catch or broadcast it.

“We are told that people will get sick and die, the delta variant is common, but we have to learn to live with it. Live yes, but don’t give him a free hand to let off steam. “

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