Manchester City Council

Covid 7 - To Work or not to Work

15 June 2020

Monday 15th June is a significant date in the Coronavirus era as for the first time for three months "non-essential" shops begin to reopen. Far more people will be travelling to work, and although Monday (apart from bank holidays) isn't a big shopping day, some people will be shopping, and for a big chunk of the population, this will increase anxiety about the potential for a spike in the number of cases of Covid-19.

This shouldn't happen as long as we are all sensible and take suitable precautions.

For anybody using public transport, wearing a mouth and nose face covering is now compulsory. This doesn't mean a surgical mask and could be something as simple as a scarf - though a bit hot for scarves at the moment. It isn't supposed to protect the wearer, rather it is to protect other passengers from the wearer. Of course, if we all do it, then we are all protecting each other, including ourselves. Surely that can't be too difficult.

The City Council has been busy in the City centre, and district centres, increasing the amount of pedestrian space, particularly around transport interchanges, so that workers and shoppers can move around relatively freely and still maintain social distancing. The evidence is that in any case the chances of infection outdoors are much lower than indoors, and just walking past somebody, even at less than 2m, carries minimal risk. 

There are still many who argue that this is all to soon, the R number is too high, and we should stay at home. It's still the case that those who can work from home, should work from home, but for millions that is impossible. Again the evidence shows that our economy is contracting at an unprecedented rate. That means job losses and increased deprivation. Deprivation kills.

I suspect we are already well past the point where economic recession is going to cause many more premature deaths than Covid-19 has. Not only premature deaths, but also a massive reduction in healthy life expectancy. Nobody really knows where the balance lies between lockdown and getting back to work,  but my feeling is that we now need to be doing everything we can to get the economy going again - not to put lives at risk but to save lives. At the same time we need to be careful, take precautions and stay safe.

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The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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