Lockdown Wales to Save Lives and Protect the NHS

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The rise in covid-19 cases, hospitalisations and deaths has created a national emergency. Welsh Government must recognise the gravity of this emergency and take urgent additional steps to reverse this rise, to save lives, and to protect the Welsh NHS from being overwhelmed. We need an integrated response to eliminate the virus.

1.  Wales is behind other parts of the UK in vaccinations, putting the lives of vulnerable people at risk. Welsh Government must mobilise resources to accelerate the vaccination programme.

2.  Education is vital but household mixing in schools, colleges and universities has spread the virus. Reopening too soon will put lives and our NHS at risk, and undermine the message on social distancing. Educational institutions should be closed until covid-19 cases fall, staff have been vaccinated, and effective mass testing of students is in place. Remote learning must be supported, especially for those with limited home resources.

3.  Wales has used the public sector to trace covid-19 cases but reliance on UK Government private testing has been ineffective. Welsh Government should demand match-funding to manage testing itself. Practical support must be provided for those who should self-isolate but who often find it difficult to do so.

4.  Some Welsh employers have sought to protect employees through social distancing and hygiene measures. Unions and workers have obliged others to act. But many workplaces remain unsafe, and current legislation to enforce health and safety has proved inadequate. Welsh Government should introduce certification, backed by frequent unannounced inspections and significant penalties for rule infringement or false declaration.

5.  Some important measures, such as improved sick pay to enable people to stay home, are not under the control of Welsh Government. Financial support from the UK Treasury for Welsh public health measures is essential, as is income protection for individuals and local businesses. We urge Welsh Government to take every opportunity to press the UK Government to act to save lives and livelihoods, and to provide the resources to enable Wales to play its part.