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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Summertime blues

THE Government’s decision to delay final lockdown easing for four weeks will come as a relief to the millions of unvaccinated people fearful of the reports of rising COVID-19 infection and hospitalisation rates all over the country due to the spread of the Delta variant. All major anti-COVID restrictions will now end on 19th July unless a “far more dangerous” variant emerges.

Labour says the current crisis is, as usual, all down to Boris Johnson. Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds says the four-week delay was due to the Prime Minister’s border “negligence”. Calling the Delta variant “the Johnson variant”, Labour’s man argues that Johnson’s “refusal to take tough decisions has left Britain facing weeks more under restrictions”.

“The delay is happening because a new variant first identified overseas was allowed to take hold in this country. There is one reason and one reason only that this happened: lax border measures by Conservative ministers.

“They have allowed the Delta variant, first identified in India, to take hold here. Let’s call it what it is. Let’s put the blame where it should lie. In this country – it’s the Johnson variant.”

He’s certainly got a point. The failure of the Government to take speedy, firm measures to contain COVID-19 when it came to Britain last year is down to Johnson and his advisers, who clearly in beginning believed in the crackpot variation of the theory of ‘herd immunity’ that would have let the plague spread unhindered throughout the population at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives. The reluctance to close the borders to all but urgent travel undermined previous lock-downs. Let’s hope that the current stringent controls are not simply shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

Meanwhile, the teaching unions together with Unison, GMB and Unite – the big three of the TUC who also organise throughout the education sector – are calling for the reintroduction of face masks in secondary school classrooms and for students in communal areas. They also say that all pupils should be offered vaccines as soon as their use is approved for children, with schools given extra support so pupils can be vaccinated on-site.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady says: “We all want to beat this virus once and for all. But this announcement is a big setback for many workers and businesses – especially in the arts and hospitality sectors.

“The government must step up and provide urgent targeted support for these industries. We cannot afford for more companies to go to the wall, taking good jobs with them.

“The Chancellor also needs to announce now that he will extend furlough for as long as is needed, rather than cutting it off abruptly in three months’ time. Working people need this certainty now – not a rollercoaster approach to protecting livelihoods and when the government does remove restrictions, all workers must know their workplaces are COVID-Secure. The government must consult unions and employers on updated safety guidance for all types of workplace ahead of the final unlocking.”

The Tory leader heeded medical opinion and ignored the bleating of the tourist and entertainment industry as well as the selfish, profiteering demands from some of his backbenchers to end the lockdown on the original date of 21st June.

The SAGE and Independent SAGE panels of medical experts had both called for this extension. Johnson, on this occasion, has wisely taken their advice. We can only hope that the mass vaccination programme that is now stretching to the under 30s will finally stop the coronavirus plague in its tracks.