All But Essential Services And Production Should Close And Social Distancing Protocols Should Be Escalated

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The government must also move to secure incomes for the population, support essential workers and protect the elderly and vulnerable

Urgent cross border co-ordination and all Ireland approach to preventing spread of COVID-19

In a statement today on behalf of People Before Profit, Richard Boyd Barrett TD has called on the governments North and South to move immediately to close everything except essential services, production and shops providing necessities.

Deputy Boyd Barrett said while it was critical that essential services and supplies were maintained, everything else that could be done to slow and reduce and the transmission of Covid 19 should now be done, including the closure of non-essential workplaces, retail, pubs and restaurants.

Deputy Boyd Barrett also called for public announcements urging greater social distancing to be escalated.

Deputy Boyd Barrett said that to win public support for such extraordinary measures, the government must guarantee incomes for all workers, the self-employed, social welfare recipients, pensioners and others who might suffer essential income loss.

Deputy Boyd Barrett finally called for special measures to reassure and protect the elderly, vulnerable, people with disabilities and the public’s mental health.

Richard Boyd Barrett TD said:

“The time has come for the government, North and South, to significantly escalate the measures it is taking to protect public health and slow down the transmission of Covid 19. Taking a different approach to the virus North and South is ludicrous.

“Having consulted with a number of medical professionals, scientists and mathematicians, and following discussions with workers concerned about their workplaces, there now seems to be an unanswerable case for closing down all but essential workplaces, shops, and venues,  where people gather in numbers and in close contact, if we are to effectively reduce Covid 19 transmission rates and thus protect public health and the capacity of the health services to cope.

“It’s particularly important that pubs, clubs and restaurants close down as large numbers of people were gathering in many such venues over the last number of days and if this continues it will completely undermine the effectiveness of other closures and social distancing measures that people are being asked to undertake.

“The lesson from Italy seems clear at this point, that partial closures and social distancing measures were not effective in slowing transmission and that maximum measures should be taken as early as possible.

“However, it is critical that essential services and supplies continue and that workers who deliver those essential services and supplies are supported in every way.

“It is equally critical that if many people will now have to cease work and stay at home, the government must immediately put in place extraordinary measures to guarantee people’s incomes and to reassure and support the elderly, vulnerable and those whose mental health may be affected by the current situation.

Public information channels should also be significantly enhanced to ensure the public get the best advice and support they need to protect their health and welfare.”

People Before Profit MLA for West Belfast Gerry Carroll added:

“Where measures have been taken to close schools and further education campuses in the South, the Stormont Executive have been disgracefully slow to act. By tailing Boris Johnson’s reckless plans for herd immunity, little has been done in the North to prevent the spread of COVID-19. People Before Profit are calling, once again, for immediate cross border cooperation, which is more than a talking shop, and which moves to shut down non-essential services across the island.”