Rush to relax lockdown threatens public health, warns CIEH

The Chartered Institute for Environmental Health (CIEH) has raised serious concerns that the Government’s dash to lift lockdown for businesses could damage public health and risk a second spike.


Recent reports have suggested that the Government is moving towards reducing the social distancing guidance from two metres to one metre, relaxing planning regulations to allow pubs and restaurants to reopen outside, and allowing more businesses to open quicker than initially planned.

This is despite some scientists warning that the R number is still too high in places to consider relaxing lockdown guidance.

CIEH also questions the Government’s approach to engagement with industry and key stakeholders in drafting new guidance for businesses.

The Government has fallen into a pattern of releasing draft guidance for consultation late on Thursday or Friday evenings and demanding immediate responses over the weekend, without any transparency about the range of stakeholders being consulted.

‘Working Safely’ draft guidance for both the hospitality industry and the beauty industry was circulated for stakeholder response at the end of the working week with detailed responses requested during and over the weekend.

Debbie Wood, Executive Director for Membership and External Affairs at CIEH said: “The Government’s rush to lift lockdown for some businesses could risk a public health storm. We are not yet out of the woods in fully controlling the virus, and the Government’s track and tracing system is far from complete.

“Lifting lockdown so quickly for some businesses is a recipe for a potential second spike.

“We have become increasingly concerned by the Government’s pattern of behaviour in consulting industry on their plans. Releasing draft guidance in the evenings and at the end of the working week, with a demand for stakeholder responses over the weekend, strongly suggests that they are deliberately limiting engagement.

“Many organisations simply don’t have the resources to meet such arbitrary deadlines. There is also no transparency about which organisations are even involved in the consultation process.

“We appreciate the need to get the economy up and running again but these are people’s lives being put at risk. There simply must be proper scrutiny and opportunity for all key stakeholders to actively engage.”

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