The new coronavirus measures announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not prevent a second wave of infections without a proper test and trace system, the Green Party has warned.
Sian Berry, Green Party co-leader and Mayor of London candidate, has responded to the government’s tightening of restrictions to contain the spread of the virus.
Berry has said the government must also stop “blaming the public” for not understanding its confusing communication around the virus and instead work on making guidance much clearer.
Announced yesterday, England’s latest restrictions include early closures of pubs and restaurants, working from home if possible, customers and workers wearing masks whilst in shops, a ban on indoor sports and adults not being allowed to socialise in groups larger than six.
This comes after numbers increasing at a worrying rate; the latest R number is 1.1-1.4 with 4,926 new cases confirmed in the UK yesterday (22 September). Johnson has refused to rule out a second national lockdown if the rate of infections continues to rise.
Berry said: “The new measures simply do not go far enough to stop a second wave of coronavirus. As we’ve said since very early on in this pandemic, the only way to ensure people are kept as safe as possible from this deadly disease is an effective test and trace system, run by those with local expertise and with appropriate government funding.
“We already know that people do not want large private companies running test and trace, and it is now clear they are unable to provide the service necessary to keep people safe.
“The government has now totally lost the trust of the public. Not only has it failed on its promise to deliver a reliable test and trace system, but it has also completely mishandled the communication around its guidance.
“Blaming the public for not understanding the confusing and contradictory messaging is not going to solve anything and makes restrictions much less effective. The government should instead be doing all it can to make its guidance as clear and concise as possible.”
Berry has previously criticised the government’s lifting the nationwide lockdown too early without a clear exit strategy in place. The Green Party recommended a ‘community shield’ to be in place prior to lockdown being lifted. It advocated for the building of local community protection schemes to reduce the spread of the virus.
Green Party councillor Andy Fewings also blamed the government’s weak track and trace system for the shambolic nature of the announcement of local lockdowns in the north of England at the end of July and called on the government to take responsibility for its failings.
The Green Party also uncovered a coronavirus testing ‘postcode lottery’ in August showing that in some areas people are having to wait up to 45 hours to receive their test results, nearly double the 24-hour target set by Johnson.