New Covid measures do not go far enough, British Medical Association says

The latest measures imposed by the Government to curb the spread of coronavirus do not go far enough to avoid a second peak, a major medical trade union has warned.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said it was “encouraging” that the Government is facing up to the accelerating transmission rate, but said more needs to be done.

It criticised ministers for hurrying staff back to offices as infection rates were rising and for failing to make it mandatory for retail and hospitality staff to wear face coverings.

Chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: “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.”

Dr Nagpaul called on the Government to do more to help employers make workplaces Covid-secure when home working is not possible, and to cut the number of people permitted to meet indoors.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

The BMA also wants to see the public given more information about infection rates in their areas, making it as easy to look up as the weather or pollen count.

“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,” Dr Nagpaul said.

“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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