‘Test and trace has failed’: Green councillor responds to North lockdown

"The government has to take responsibility for its own failings, including its increasingly mixed and confusing messages and a test and trace system that is clearly not fit for purpose.” Green Party councillor Andy Fewings speaks out over the government’s decision to introduce new lockdown measures in parts of northern England with three hours notice, on the eve of Eid.

Waiting in line social distancing
Waiting in line social distancing

Image: Luis Arroyo

Emma Love

The UK Government has announced new lockdown measures in parts of northern England, banning separate households from meeting at home just hours before the beginning of Eid celebrations.

The decision followed an increase in transmissions in the area, and came into force at midnight, however, the public was given only three hours notice of the change, which was announced on Twitter just after 9pm last night (30 July).

Councillor Andy Fewings, leader of the Green Party Group on Burnley Council, said: "Test and trace has failed. Announcing major new lockdown measures on Twitter with less than three hours' notice on the night before Eid is shambolic to say the least, while placing the blame on individuals is nothing short of unforgivable.

"The government has to take responsibility for its own failings, including its increasingly mixed and confusing messages and a test and trace system that is clearly not fit for purpose.

"The government must stop blaming communities and start transferring money and responsibility to the local public health teams who are already in place with the necessary expertise and trust within their communities to deliver an effective and transparent test and trace system."

Alongside limitations on indoor household meetings, people in Greater Manchester, east Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire will also no longer be able to go to hospitality venues with members of other households.

The Green Party has consistently called for caution when lifting lockdown measures –  in April, Co-leader Sian Berry pressed for lockdown to be maintained until the virus could be effectively contained. Earlier that month, the party released a report encouraging contact tracing and the building of a network of local community protection schemes before lifting lockdown, rejecting the government’s ‘fatalist’ approach to controlling the virus.

After the release of the government’s strategy ‘Our Plan to Rebuild’ in May, Green Peer Natalie Bennett criticised the effectiveness of coronavirus testing methods, with the swab test being described by users as “deeply unpleasant”, possibly discouraging some from testing, and often being administered at home by a person potentially impaired by illness.

The party also raised concerns over the new Joint Biosecurity Centre, which is set to play a major role in the implementation of local lockdowns. Co-leader Jonathan Bartley expressed concerns over civil liberties, data protection and scientific expertise in a letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock in May, pressing for the body to be held to a “politically accountable” process.