Responding to the new restrictions announced by the Prime Minister today, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said:
“The Prime Minister has finally recognised that existing rules were too confusing, and today’s announcement needs to mark a turning point in the Government’s approach to communication – ending months of inconsistent public advice.
“And after seeing the worrying surge in cases over the last week, it’s only right that these new restrictions and wider measures to enforce adherence among the public are put in place to help reduce the further spread of Covid-19.
“As the pandemic has gone on, there has been little attempt to clarify conflicting messages and this must end. Take working arrangements, for example - employees are still being encouraged back into offices – which increases travel and contact with others – rather than providing more support to ensure people can work from home. Rules on where face coverings should be worn continue to be inconsistent, too.
“It now seems illogical, with infections remaining above 2,500 a day, to delay the new measures around social gatherings until after the weekend, when people will want to meet up, and risk spreading the virus further.
“The Government has also outlined an ambitious mass testing programme – but it’s unclear how this will operate based on the huge problems we’ve seen with lab capacity. And the notion of opening up society based on negative tests of those without symptoms needs to be approached with caution – both because of the high rate of ‘false negatives’ and the potential to miss those who are incubating the virus.
“It’s now vital that the Government delivers on today’s announcements and ensures the new restrictions are adhered to, to prevent further spread. Without this, we risk not only a second wave, but also an influx of pressure on the health service and potentially, going right back to where we started.”
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.