Wednesday, 31 March 2021
Joint BARAC UK and DPAC Press Statement; immediate release - Coronavirus ; end of shielding
From today (31st March), disabled workers most at risk of catching and suffering long term impacts from Covid will have no legal protections against going into the workplace and putting their lives on the line as shielding comes to an end for those who are clinically extremely vulnerable.
The majority of those shielding have not had the second vaccine and therefore they are still extremely vulnerable.
We believe it is irresponsible and discriminatory to intersectional disabled people to end shielding at this time and that those most at risk need protections in place. Recent research demonstrates that those with existing conditions such as asthma and diabetes are more likely to get long covid and that long covid is leading to increasing numbers of people becoming disabled as a result. Middle aged women are the hardest hit by long covid. In addition black and minority ethnic people are disproportionately contracting covid. Six out of ten people dying from covid have been disabled, according to ONS data.
The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated existing discrimination and inequalities which have been amplified through over a decade of austerity. It is unacceptable for government to leave those most at risk unprotected and at risk of losing jobs. When disabled and black and minority ethnic people lose their jobs, it takes longer for them to find a new job because of existing discrimination in the labour market.
A spokesperson from DPAC said:
“The government has always prioritised profit above disabled people’s lives. They have calculated they can get away with this. Their scientific advisors have said there will be a third wave and at least another thirty thousand deaths. How many of those will be disabled workers? It is chilling to think what the motivations behind this could be.”
Zita Holbourne, National Chair of BARAC UK said:
"Black, Asian and minority ethnic people are up to three times more likely to contract and die of coronavirus and are more likely to work in precarious work with worsened terms, conditions and extremely low pay. Many work in frontline jobs. Lifting protection for those who are shielding is likely to lead to more black workers placed at risk or losing their jobs if it is unsafe for them to travel to workplaces and worse still, more deaths. Long covid is devastating lives and there needs to be urgent action by government to protect the jobs of all those who have long covid to ensure their jobs are protected and that there is no detriment to pay, pensions and benefits. The intersect between disability plus race, gender, sexual orientation and age cannot be ignored."