Letters: Covid - 'Freedom Day'
- Credit: Haringey Council
'Freedom' - but we must still get the jab
Joanne McCartney, London Assembly member for Enfield & Haringey, writes:
An army of NHS nurses, GPs and volunteers have worked tirelessly to deliver over nine million first and second jabs to Londoners. This is a remarkable achievement.
But with social distancing and restrictions set to ease almost completely and the Delta variant surging, we still need to ensure that as many people are protected as possible.
At the time of writing this, 54.9% of Enfield residents and 38.3% of Haringey residents have had both doses of the vaccine. Like all other London boroughs, we have not yet reached the government’s target of having two thirds of the population double-jabbed by July 19.
At the start of the pandemic, the capital was put on the back foot by supply issues, and vaccine hesitancy continues to be a problem. We also have a younger population than the rest of the country, so many Londoners have had to wait longer to access their jabs.
The good news is that local authorities and NHS London have pulled out all the stops in recent months to make significant progress in addressing the vaccination gap.
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This will be driven forward in the weeks ahead, and I am urging all Londoners to come forward and get their jabs if they have not done so already. This is what stands between us and safely getting back to normality.
Paddy Lillis, general secretary, Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) writes:
The government should not be weakening safety measures in shops at the same time as opening up other venues. There is no reason why requirements to wear face coverings and maintain social distancing in busy public areas like shops cannot continue.
Retailers may be able to attempt to enforce their own face covering policies, but in the absence of a legal requirement, as has already been highlighted by the British Retail Consortium, this is likely to result in further significant increases in abuse, threats and violence towards retail workers.
Wearing a face covering in crowded public areas like shops is not merely a personal choice, it is an important measure to help protect workers who have no option but to interact with large numbers of people as a part of their job. We would welcome the opportunity to work with the government and employers, as we did during the first lockdown, to develop comprehensive guidance for retail.
Many retail workers are at a greater risk of catching the virus and bringing it home to their families. Supermarket workers and delivery drivers have worked throughout the pandemic to keep the country supplied with essentials. These key workers must be valued, respected and protected.