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Independents' Day

GPs to demonstrate at Number 10 tomorrow against pubs reopening

Doctors in Unite, led by Tower Hamlets GP Dr Jackie Applebee, will be protesting in front of 10 Downing Street on Tuesday against next Saturday’s lockdown easing.

The group believes that the Government plans to open up ‘indoor spaces’, including pubs and restaurants, from next weekend are ‘too risky’.

The doctors argue that people gathering in indoors spaces with poor ventilation comes with a high risk of the virus spreading, and they are warning that the new ’one metre plus’ rule will ‘fail to protect the public’.

Dr Applebee, who chairs Doctors in Unite, said: ’Covid-19 is an indoor disease. This is plain from a number of outbreaks, like in the meat and poultry processing plants, choirs, restaurants and the deaths of London bus drivers.

‘These highlight the dangers of spread in enclosed spaces. We also know that chefs and shopworkers have higher death rates than average and it is likely that hospitality workers will also be at risk.’

According to Dr Applebee, the Government ‘seems determined to continue to ignore’ knowledge learned about Covid-19 spreading in crowns, enclosed spaces and via close contact.

’We need a strategy to eliminate the virus and unless and until the government develops one there will be many more unnecessary deaths from this dreadful virus,’ she said.

Dr Jonathon Fluxman, Doctors in Unite member and retired GP currently working in the Covid Clinical Assessment Service (CCAS), added: ’The press has reported that a number of bars in Florida have had to shut down again recently due to outbreaks of Covid-19; in one case a group of 15 friends were infected after a night out at one bar.

’Government guidance on ventilation, which states “doors and windows should be opened frequently where possible”, is completely inadequate. Many establishments will simply not be able to provide proper ventilation and relying on fans or air conditioning will circulate the same virus-laden air. Indoor toilets with electric hand driers also add to the risk.

’Lots of people in an indoor space for several hours, talking and laughing, and drinking alcohol is a recipe for disaster.’

The group of doctors within the union is also drafting a letter to the Government asking it to clarify the strategy to eliminate the virus as ’to date the existence of any such plans are not evident’.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the significant easing of the lockdown in England last week, saying the Government does ‘not believe there is currently a risk’ of a second Covid-19 spike overwhelming the NHS.

It comes as the BMA has called for the public to be required to wear face coverings ‘as a matter of course’, and especially indoors, as social distancing rules are eased.

Doctors in Unite are medically qualified members of Unite the Union who work in all sections of the NHS across the UK. They will unveil a banner at Number 10 Downing Street at 12 noon tomorrow (30 June).

Readers' comments (7)

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  • Alcohol unifies suffering, addiction, violence and this virus. I suggest no GP consults a FF on Mon-Wed while hungover/partying patients shed their viruses over your door handles. Hold firm regardless of the economists 'vision'.

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  • We have to admit we simply don't know. Dr Applebee and colleagues are going on gut feeling only. I don't envy the Government having to make these decisions - after all we do need a functioning economy if we are to have an NHS that does what we want it to. What is clear is that we won't know who's right until months or years have passed. Yes, it may save lives to lock down everyone, hard, until there's a vaccine, but there are some unacceptable results of that too.

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  • ok to fly abroad and sit in a pub there, take or bring back covid, but not go the pub in the uk - hmmm, can anyone explain the logic behind all of this please?

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  • Very important point being made by Drs Applebee, Fluxman and other members of Doctors in Unite. The government official strategy of living with the virus until a vaccine or effective treatment comes along is unravelling in places like Leicester, with many more to to come. Also impressive to see busy clinicians prepared to find time in their crowded day to make prominent visual statement on public health policy given all the other pressures with which they have to contend. True patient advocacy.

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  • I can't agree. Life has to go on. The Lockdown will cripple our economy for a generation. Children need to get back to school. Pubs and restaurants need to open. People need to stop being paid to sit at home. The vulnerable need to be protected. The rest of us need to get on with it.

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  • Totes agree Merlin.

    The country needs to get back to work. The harms of lockdown are vast, both on individual mental health, abnormal child social decelopment.

    The govt will never reintroduce full national lockdown, however bad the second spike is.

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