‘A ridiculous threat to our freedoms’

An elderly woman sits in a bus stop on Argyll Street as people are asked

An elderly woman sits in a bus stop on Argyll Street as people are asked to socially distance themselves amid the coronavirus outbreak on March 25, 2020 in Glasgow - Jeff J Mitchell/Getty
An elderly woman sits in a bus stop on Argyll Street as people are asked to socially distance themselves amid the coronavirus outbreak on March 25, 2020 in Glasgow – Jeff J Mitchell/Getty

The news that the shielding programme could be reintroduced for those most at risk from coronavirus has stirred plenty of backlash from Tory MPs and business leaders. 

Under the reported plans, anyone over 50 who is obese, overweight or in ill health could receive a letter in the autumn warning them they are at increased risk and advising them of steps to take to protect themselves. 

While Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has insisted that talk of extending shielding to over-50s is “just speculation”, Tory MPs and business leaders have already warned that the proposals risk damaging the economy and runs contrary to Boris Johnson’s plea to get workers back to the office.

Should shielding measures be extended to protect the vulnerable during the winter months or are the reported plans a step too far?

Read on to see what your fellow readers have had to say and then share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of this article.

‘I’m happy to play my part’

@Ian Stewart:

“This is what we should have done at the outset of the pandemic. I’m extremely vulnerable to Covid, and I’m happy to manage my interactions with society to avoid the virus.

“With decent support from employers (working from home) and retailers (online deliveries), it’s pretty easy – I miss the grandkids but it’ll be worth the personal sacrifice to see the economy kept open along with schools.”

‘Getting into the realms of ridiculous’

@Sharon Jagger:

“The more this nonsense goes on, the more people are just going to ignore the government. It’s absurd, illogical, impractical and too nannying.

“I agree with both Mrs Gove and Dame Morrissey. Allow people to take responsibility for themselves.

“When it was deemed necessary to lockdown to give the country a chance to ‘saddle up’ that was understandable. Now we’re getting into the realms of the ridiculous!”

‘It’s sensible, not ageist’

@Graham Barnes:

“Why is it not sensible to ask those most at risk to stay at home or do everything they can to minimise social contact? Note ask or advise, not demand or order.

“The alternative is making the same request to everyone, including the 90 per cent who are young, fit and at very little personal medical risk but who are at big economic risk.

“To those who say it is unfair or ageist, I am afraid this virus did not attend an anti-discrimination workshop.”

‘I should not be told to stay at home’

@Dorothea Beech:

“I am 71 years old with no comorbidities, working as a counsellor. I feel it is my decision whether I choose to work face-to-face. I am set up to work on zoom but acknowledge it’s limitations. I follow the other advice, hand washing, mask and social distancing. I do not think I should be told to stay at home.”

‘You cannot curtail my freedom’

@Robert Young:

“The Government has another thing coming if it thinks it can curtail my fundamental human rights because of my age.

“I will not have my rights removed in this undemocratic way so Boris better think again. The reaction is totally over the top, I am an adult (yes, over 50) and can make my own choices, and risk assessments. 

“The Government is being ridiculous even suggesting it can do such a crazy thing. It is my life and my fundamental freedom.”

‘The backlash will be extraordinary’ 

@Stanislaw Bielecki:

“If the Government tries to impose restrictions on the over-50s we will have a backlash, the likes of which will have never been seen before. This will not only be from the over-50s but also from businesses which will not want to lose some of their most experienced staff.”

‘I will live my life as I please’

@Andrew Smith:

“I am over 70, fit and healthy and my wife and I feel sure we had the virus starting before the lockdown. They are our lives. We are entitled to live them as we please.

“The State should get off our backs. It is bad enough having to support several other families that do not support themselves, and seem disinclined to do so. Our remaining years or decades are our business, not the State’s.”

‘Makes sense to me’

@Janet Warrior:

“It makes sense to me, and I have been at home since March, to continue shielding as I have the resources to do so. Quite what those who haven’t are supposed to do, I don’t know, and those vulnerable people who wish to take the risk should be able to do so.”

‘Heading in the right direction’

@Colin Pearson:

“This would be heading more in the right direction. We need to get somewhere whereby the Government says ‘here are the risks to people of your age group, health condition, ethnicity etc.’ Now, go and make your own decision about how to live your lives.

“I could even get on board with designated shopping times for the elderly, if it were to speed up the process for younger people.”

‘Everyone must make their own assessment of risk’

@C Maidment:

“We are in our 70s and have been ‘sensible’ particularly as retired medics who saw our local hospital go from 12 intensive care patients to 80 over about four weeks before rates fell right back down again. But that is not at all the same as being told you are not allowed to go out. But very aware we are on a fixed pension, we have really tried to go out and spend money in shops, pubs and restaurants during the summer.  

“Surely everyone must make their own assessment of risk based on their age and health and also their financial needs. I won’t whinge if I make my own decision and it backfires but I will certainly whinge if I’m not allowed to decide.

“Let schools get back to normal and don’t worry about an increase in positive tests among young people as long as there is no accompanying upswing in hospital admissions or deaths. As Janet Daily said a few weeks ago, ‘not in my name’.”

What do you think about plans to reintroduce the shielding programme? Let us know in the comments section below. 

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