Even Keir Starmer is not averse to the Boris factor when referring to “circuit breakers” (Keir Starmer urges PM to impose ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown on England, 13 October). A mini-lockdown that leaves schools open defeats the whole strategy. Pre-summer, we saw images of classrooms with tiny groups of students socially distancing and wearing masks. Unfortunately, the reality is quite different: up to 30 students in a poorly ventilated room with no social distancing, existing in a bubble of over 100 students.
The current strategy from ministers is to prevent community transmission, but they are forgetting the elephant in the room. At the heart of all communities, you have schools. It is no surprise that Covid cases increased as schools and colleges returned from the summer break. Students do not socially distance or stay in year-group bubbles as they commute to and from school. Once home, they mix with siblings and parents. This is where community transmission takes place.
A circuit breaker needs to cut out all possible transmission routes. Common sense suggests that schools should be included in the plan. Ministers talk about disadvantaged children and loss of life chances, but Covid-19 can take on a much more destructive path if strategies to mitigate the virus are not robust.
• In March, the government ignored the advice from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) to lock down early and, as a result, tens of thousands died needlessly. In September, it seems they’ve done it again, only this time we get the minutes, albeit when it’s too late (Covid: ministers ignored Sage advice to impose lockdown or face catastrophe, 13 October). How many thousands will die as a result, and will this band of incompetent Brexit loyalists be held to account?
One reason why they ignored it is found in the minutes from the Sage meeting on 21 September: “All university and college teaching to be online unless face-to-face teaching is absolutely essential.” If this had been implemented, accommodation fees would have to be refunded to any student who asked. And then universities could rightly have claimed this from the government. They’re only interested in one thing. Shameful.
• The failure of No 10 to divide the northern mayors, and their inability to strike a deal with willing regional leaders, shows just how naive this administration is (Ministers and north of England leaders clash over further Covid restrictions, 14 October). They don’t even understand the strategy decided so cleverly by Thatcher: devolve responsibility so as to distribute blame for failure but centralise credit for success. The result of this political incompetence is a consolidating power base in the north, and a clear reminder even to Conservative local authorities that Whitehall is simply incapable of managing complex and multifaceted social and economic challenges. Subsidiarisation of policy is an issue that overwhelms party affiliation. This clearly marks out the battleground for the new politics and how the next election will be shaped: a realignment of local versus central democracy and economics.
Prof Saville Kushner
• Surely the time has come for a national lockdown, or circuit breaker, to get Covid-19 back under control, with Sage saying such action will save 8,000 lives. Of course, a lockdown will be an admission that sending schools and universities back at the same time was a huge error of judgment, but only a fool would not have seen this outcome. Now is the time to save lives. Further unnecessary deaths will damage families, the economy and the country.
Cllr Robert Knowles
Conservative, Waverley borough council