Both the Westminster and Holyrood administrations have spent the last week imposing and reimposing new and old measures to stave off rising numbers of coronavirus cases. Figures released yesterday (10 September 2020) revealed 3,539 new cases in one day, the highest figure since 17 May.
Despite England, Scotland and Wales having the worst rates of COVID-19 deaths in Europe, the different administrations, especially Johnson and Sturgeon, have been competing to demonstrate that they are the ‘most competent’.
According to UK government statistics at least 360,000 people in Britain are thought to have contracted COVID-19 although this is viewed as a low estimate with the real figure thought to be substantially higher. Contradicting statistics put out by Number 10, many experts estimate that well over 65,000 have now died from COVID-19 across Britain.
Cases in Britain have now been rising steeply for at least a fortnight. The ‘R number’ for the whole country is estimated as 1 – 1.2 by the UK government, with Scotland being higher at 1.1 and 1.5. The R number is the average number of people an infected person will pass the disease on to. If it’s below one then the spread of the disease has been falling.
Boris Johnson’s Tory cabinet was quick to blame the youth. Hapless Health Secretary Matt Hancock laid the fault for rising infections with young people not following social distancing guidelines on BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat and declared “Don’t kill your gran by catching coronavirus and then passing it on“. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also alluded to a failure to observe restrictions being the reason for the rising cases in Scotland.
From this Monday new restrictions or the ‘Rule of 6’, will be in place across England, meaning that all gatherings, indoor and outdoor, are restricted to no more than six people. Scotland and Wales followed suit but have excluded children under 12 from the requirement.
Michael Gove confirmed today that no such exception would be made in England. The government’s timing led to the Police Federation issuing a call to avoid a “party weekend” before the restrictions set in on Monday.
Many local lockdowns have been imposed across different parts of the country in recent weeks most significantly across the Central Belt of Scotland where people are no longer allowed to meet in their own homes. Pubs and restaurant visits are confusingly however still allowed.
The disjointed and confusing move to impose the restrictions differently across the different parts of the country over the last week have mirrored the farcical travel corridor changes which were imposed the week before. In chaotic scenes, after a week of speculation, travellers from Scotland and Wales were told last Thursday evening they had to be back home before midnight on Saturday or they would have to quarantine for a fortnight. English holidaymakers surprisingly avoided the change only for it to be imposed as of this Saturday.
YCL General Secretary Johnnie Hunter told Challenge, “The response of the Tory and SNP administrations has been nothing short of shambolic. We have been grappling with this pandemic since the beginning of the year but their incompetence only seems to grow.”
“For Tory and SNP ministers to blame working people and especially the youth for rising COVID-19 numbers is insulting. Who is governing the country? It seems they’re in charge when the headlines and good and helpless when they’re not,” he added.
“There has been no mention of the confusing messaging across Britain. It appears that in all parts of our island the main criteria for what’s safe is whether money is being spent. If there’s a till or a contactless payment option, then COVID-19 is of course less of a risk apparently. No one disputes that we need to protect jobs and the economy while saving lives but the British establishment is failing at both.”
“The confusing mesh of restrictions over the past few weeks have typified this incompetence. As ever working people are the hardest hit by these new restrictions and travel corridors. We’re the least likely to be able to work from home, the least likely to be able to cancel travel plans at the drop of a hat, the least likely to be able to avoid congregating with more than 6 people at a time.”
The YCL General Secretary concluded, “As we approach the winter and the possibility of a second spike what working people in Britain need is clarity. We don’t care about the petty vanity competition between the Tories and SNP. We have the most deaths in Europe. They’re both losing. Communists are calling for a clear, timetabled and scientifically backed plan on how we protect the country and the economy through the winter and into the spring, to defeat this virus as we move towards a vaccine.”
Challenge News Desk