Anneliese Dodds has said that the past 48 hours have “presented a confused picture” and called on the government to state “unequivocally” that those with Covid-19 symptoms must self-isolate at home with their household.
In a letter sent to Rishi Sunak this afternoon, the Shadow Chancellor expressed her concern that “recent developments suggest that clarity around public health messaging may no longer constitute a key government priority”.
Dodds emphasised the impact of people not complying with the measures, and has asked that the Chancellor share details of the government’s modelling on the impact on incomes, business solvency and economic activity from:
- Delays to reopening different sectors as a result of a potential increase in the R value; and
- Ineffective introduction of the ‘test, track and protect’ system involving reduced compliance with the ‘protect’ – or isolate – element, leading to continued transmission and the risk of additional lockdowns.
The Oxford East MP wrote that the country is facing the deepest recession in 300 years and highlighted the “additional economic impact of measures being undermined and the contraction being unnecessarily prolonged”.
Below is the full text of the letter sent to Sunak this afternoon.
Until a vaccine or effective treatments are found, any sustained return to more normal levels of economic activity is dependent on an effective ‘test, track and protect’ regime. This includes of course the measures announced at the weekend for a phased return in retail.
The ‘test, track and protect’ regime will fail to prevent an additional surge in Covid-19 cases if people in contact with those infected do not properly isolate themselves and those sharing a household with them.
In addition, measures to enable limited re-openings remain, according to your government’s plan, contingent on the ‘R’ reducing over time, which again is dependent on those infected with Covid-19 self-isolating, as well as those sharing their household.
I am deeply concerned that the last 48 hours have presented a confused picture around what those with suspected Covid-19 should do, and those sharing households with them. Your government must swiftly remedy this by stating unequivocally that those with Covid-19 must self-isolate at home, with the rest of their household. However recent developments suggest that clarity around public health messaging may no longer constitute a key government priority.
I would therefore be grateful if you could please indicate to me what modelling Her Majesty’s Treasury has undertaken, if any, of the impact on a) population incomes, b) business solvency and c) levels of UK economic activity of:
- A delay in the dates intimated by the Prime Minister for the reopening of different sectors, due to a potential increase in the ‘R’ statistic; and
- Ineffective introduction of ‘test, track and protect’ involving reduced compliance with the ‘protect’ (isolate) element, leading to continued population transmission of Covid-19 and the risk of additional lockdowns, either nationally, regionally or locally (as highlighted by a number of members of the SAGE advisory group on behavioural science).
Either of these eventualities would be catastrophic for the health of UK citizens, which must be our overriding concern. However, in the midst of the fastest and deepest recession our country has faced for 300 years, caused by necessary measures to contain the spread of Covid-19, any Chancellor must surely be concerned about the additional economic impact of those measures being undermined and the contraction being unnecessarily prolonged.
I look forward to your response.
Anneliese Dodds MP