Liberty calls for urgent action to ensure second lockdown protects health and rights

Posted on 02 Nov 2020

  • Letter to Prime Minister makes 17 recommendations for new restrictions
  • Calls include guaranteed time limit on lockdown
  • Liberty also calls for support for low-income people

Liberty has today written to the Prime Minister setting out clear and urgent steps to ensure that the looming second lockdown in England protects public health, while safeguarding our rights.

The letter, sent this morning to the Prime Minister as well as key Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet members, comes in response to the announcement on 31 October that England will face a new lockdown from 5 November to halt the spread of coronavirus.

It sets out 17 policy recommendations including:

  • A clear ‘sunset clause’ in the law requiring new restrictions to end on Wednesday 2 December, so any extension must be properly scrutinised
  • Additional police enforcement powers should be minimal
  • All self-isolating workers should receive full sick pay, and ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ workers should receive full sick pay if they can’t work from home
  • People must not lose their homes
  • Local authorities must have the funding to maintain or enhance their social care provision
  • There must be funding to ensure homeless people can access safe and suitable accommodation, regardless of their immigration status.
  • Refuges and domestic violence services must have funding to meet increasing levels of need
  • Charging migrants for NHS services must stop, as well as data-sharing for immigration enforcement purposes, and the ‘no recourse to public funds’ rule should be suspended

Gracie Bradley, Liberty Interim Director, said: “We all want to protect our communities and loved ones, and Liberty has always supported proportionate measures to protect public health. But the failures of communication and policy of the past eight months have left public confidence low. This lack of confidence risks undermining compliance with public health measures, and if the Government continues to prioritise criminal sanctions over helping people comply, it will create a cycle that further erodes trust and seriously threatens both our rights and broader public health.

“There has been plenty of time for the Government to learn from its mistakes. The next lockdown must protect the most marginalised, and it must prioritise helping people through this distressing and difficult time, rather than threatening and criminalising them. By heeding the advice that comes from across the charity sector and public health experts, the Government can begin to regain confidence, and limit the damage to our health and our rights.”

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