An overwhelming number of scientists and public health officials believe that the lifting of all legal COVID restrictions is reckless and dangerous. People do not have to die. An exit wave is not inevitable.
Local infection rates are nearing their January peak. While deaths and hospitalisations are currently below those levels, there is uncertainty on the numbers affected by Long COVID (likely 10 percent), or those who, despite being twice vaccinated, become seriously ill.
There is already a waiting list of hundreds to join a local LC support group. There is no plan for the CEV (clinically extremely vulnerable), and vaccine availability is increasingly patchy. The COVID-positive age profile is radically different – we are in unknown territory.
Local NHS services are under severe pressure. Waiting times at Gloucester Royal Accident and Emergency reached nine hours this week. Businesses and schools are severely affected, both by infections, and the need to isolate.
People are understandably frightened by the unravelling of government support and guidelines. Children and public-facing workers are guinea pigs in a massive public-health experiment that will result in avoidable death and long-term health issues.
While we all long for a return to normality, we believe that a gradual and phased approach, with clear rules and guidelines, is essential for the health and wellbeing of everyone across the Stroud constituency.
What our government is doing is reckless, offering the deceptive freedom of ‘personal choice’ when many of our friends and neighbours have none. You have called for the removal of all restrictions, and told concerned constituents that you ‘will not routinely’ wear a mask.
You say that we must ‘manage our own risk’. Yet mask-wearing does nothing for your own risk – but everything for other people.
We call on you to recognise the severity of the situation and the anxieties of the majority of people by: – calling on the government to halt the immediate lifting of all restrictions- doing everything in your power to ensure that masks remain mandatory in all public indoor locations- ensuring that meaningful financial support is available immediately for everyone having to isolate- working with local schools to ensure proper ventilation is in place for the autumn term.
We have made it so far. Let’s not risk plunging the country back into a tiered lockdown once again. We must continue to support the NHS, the clinically vulnerable, workers, businesses, schools and everyone whose health and livelihood is affected by the current situation.
Yes, we have to live with COVID – but we do not have to die from it.
Signed: Cllr Doina Cornell – Leader, Stroud District Council
Cllr John Bloxsom – Group leader, Gloucestershire County Council
Cllr Ashley Smith – Stroud District Council
Cllr Chris Brine – Stroud District Council
Cllr Colin Fryer – Stroud District Council
Cllr David Drew – Gloucestershire County Council
Cllr Helen Fenton – Stroud District Council
Cllr Jenny Miles – Stroud District Council
Cllr Jessie Hoskin – Stroud District Council
Cllr Laurie Davies – Stroud District Council
Cllr Mattie Ross – Stroud District Council
Cllr Natalie Bennett – Stroud District Council
Cllr Nigel Prenter – Stroud District Council
Cllr Paula Baker – Stroud District Council
Cllr Robin Layfield – Stroud District Council
Cllr Steve Robinson – Stroud District Council
GCCCllr Trevor Hall – Stroud District Council
Cllr Wendy Thomas, Gloucestershire County Council.
Readers are invited to sign the OPEN LETTER here: https://tinyurl.com/ye6a9dnh