The BMA is calling on the Westminster Government to produce ‘clear and consistent’ guidance for the public following concerning images showing packed beaches on the south coast this week.
In an open letter to Matt Hancock today1, BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul says the BMA has ‘grave concerns’ over the Government’s failure to provide clarity for tourists and tourism providers with lockdown restrictions on overnight stays set to be eased on 4 July.
Urging the Government to ‘take responsibility’ and ensure the public know exactly what is safe, and what is not safe to do, Dr Nagpaul writes: “Given the summer season and many months of a strict lockdown, it is understandable that people will want to travel to tourist areas in the UK for a break and relaxation."
However, Dr Nagpaul says it is ‘imperative’ that there is absolute clarity on public health measures that must be adhered to in order to minimise the spread of infection, as ways of life that have been on hold start to resume.
Dr Nagpaul also warns that Covid-19 still poses a serious risk to the public and also the NHS with significant levels of the virus still circulating in the population. He writes: “It is vital that in easing the lockdown, all efforts must be made to mitigate against further spread and outbreaks, and at worst a second spike which could overwhelm the NHS should it coincide with the winter months.”
The letter comes as the BMA issued its own advice for holidaymakers and tourism operators2 in the absence of any current official Government guidance.
Dr Nagpaul writes: “The BMA has today published ‘tourism in the time of COVID-19’, as attached, setting out our principles for a responsible ‘new normal’ for travel to tourist areas within the country. However, it is also recognised that tourism within England should only be encouraged if it is undertaken with the suppression of viral transmission as a key safety principle, and we have grave concerns that the UK Government has not been clear or consistent in its instructions to the public on this point.”
Dr Nagpaul concludes: “Whilst it is right that the Government says people should be ‘trusted to continue acting responsibly’, this should not confer the weight of responsibility on their shoulders.
“The Government must take responsibility to issue clear and consistent communication of the guidance on what is, and is not, safe to do as well as put in place all necessary measures in order to ensure public safety.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a trade union and professional association representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.
1. Full letter here.
2. More information here.
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