Zero Covid will take to the streets this Saturday 13th March to demand both a zero Covid strategy and social justice.
There is a callousness creeping into public life that should be of concern to everyone. The government’s own Sage advisers have warned of a further 30 000 deaths this Spring, and yet Johnson is continuing with his reckless ‘roadmap’ regardless. This week 10 million people are being forced into overcrowded and poorly ventilated spaces in which the coronavirus will spread like wildfire.
It is now quite common for Tory politicians to blithely assure us that not only must we learn to live with the virus, but we must also passively accept an annual death toll from it as well. In this context, Keir Starmer’s acquiescence to everything the Tory government wants to fling at us is all the more appalling. It isn’t surprising that Labour is now trailing so badly in the opinion polls given the lack of serious opposition to Johnson’s Covid strategy.
Independent Sage have set out a sustainable suppression strategy for keeping society open safely, which contrasts starkly with the government’s irresponsible roadmap. The Indie Sage strategy rests on five pillars: vaccination for the entire population (including children, once approved) in the expectation of regular boosters in the future as required; widespread testing (including, where appropriate, testing of asymptomatic cases) as part of a test, trace and isolate system rooted in local communities and organized through local public health bodies; a comprehensive resource package, which would enable people from all sections of the community to self-isolate; accreditation as “Covid secure space” of all public spaces (schools, hospitality, workplaces etc.) through a robust system of guidance, support, regulation and inspection, to ensure that they meet Covid safety standards (spatial distancing, ventilation, enhanced hygiene etc.);and effective public health controls at all ports of entry, with limits on international travel.
The proposed comprehensive resource package is a crucial part of this strategy. We now know that a key factor in the high death rates in deprived and ethnic minority communities is that insecure and low paid workers are forced to continue working in order to make ends meet, and to avoid losing their jobs, even when they have clear symptoms of the disease. This is just one indication that we haven’t all been ‘in it together’ over Covid.
The latest recommendation by the Department of Health, that a 1% pay rise for NHS staff is the most the country can afford, is an outrageous slap in the face to the heroes who have worked tirelessly for the past year to keep us safe from Covid, with many giving up their lives in the process. To try and excuse this calumny on the grounds that a pay freeze is being imposed on the rest of the public sector adds further insult to injury.
The astronomical deficit for 2020 is entirely the fault of Rishi Sunak and the rest of the Boris Johnson government. Their decision to prioritise corporate profit over public health is the sole cause of the current parlous state of the public finances. If instead they had implemented a zero Covid strategy, as many other countries have done, we wouldn’t be in this mess at all.
Working class people have suffered the brunt of this catastrophe, both economically and in lost lives and long term health impacts, while the corporate elite has gorged itself on generous government contracts and subsidies. The rich have not only stayed relatively safe over the past year, they have further enriched themselves, in some cases to an obscene extent. They should now pay for the crisis that their greed has engendered.
We know exactly what the government should be doing to resolve this crisis, and to resolve it fairly. And we also know that, left to its own volition, it will do precisely none of those things. That’s why Zero Covid, the campaign to beat the pandemic, is holding a Day of Action on Saturday 13th March, to demand a zero Covid strategy and social justice.
Throughout England and Wales campaigners will be unfurling banners and holding up homemade placards, focusing on the slogans: 130 000 Dead. Whose death is acceptable? End the Social Murder! Zero Covid Now!
The new regulations in England mean that we are now allowed to meet up with one other person for recreation or exercise. We are asking everyone to make sure that on 13th March they have a placard or banner with them when they do so! Some will be taking their daily exercise near their MP’s office. Others will be outside hospitals or in other public spaces. Those who are self isolating or shielding, or for any other reason don’t want to leave their home, can also take part. We are asking everyone to hold a placard at their window or front door and get someone to take a photo. Perhaps bang a dustbin lid to draw attention! Send photos to firstname.lastname@example.org, preferably before 2pm.
If you would like to be put in touch with Zero Covid campaigners in your area, email email@example.com
There will be online activity as part of the day of action as well. An online rally from 3pm till 4.30pm will include some great speakers (including Louise Regan of the National Education Union, Hector Wesley of Black Activists Rising against Cuts and Dr John Lister of Keep our NHS Public) as well as displays of photos and video clips from the outdoor protests, and of course opportunities for participative discussion. You can register for the online rally here: https://rebrand.ly/day-of-action-13-3-21. The launch rally of Zero Covid Scotland, where different regulations apply, will be taking place on the same day from 10am till 2pm, which you can register for here: /2021/02/26/zero-covid-scotland-launch-conference-on-13-march/.
Those who think that an elimination strategy is no longer viable or necessary are being duped by a callous and cynical establishment. Allowing the virus to spread freely is a dangerous and irresponsible approach which increases the risk of mutations and therefore threatens to undermine the entire vaccination program. Join us on 13th March to demand an urgent change of direction by the UK government. End the social murder. Zero covid now!
Republished from Labour Outlook