Statement on the Government’s expansion of the shielding scheme to factor Race and Class
Finally, following 9 months of tireless work with our incredible partners, the Government recognise ethnicity as a Covid-19 risk factor. While the problem isn’t solved, it means tens of thousands of people from BME communities will be prioritised for the vaccine and statutory sick pay.
This announcement is a watershed moment, signalling a recognition that Class and Race impacts your vulnerability to Covid-19.
The Runnymede Trust has repeatedly called on ethnicity to be treated as a risk factor in the Government’s response to the Covid-19 crisis and safeguarding measures to be implemented as a result. This is a welcomed step, but it should have happened months ago when it was also urgently needed.
By pulling together a trifecta of risk factors – ethnicity, social deprivation and body mass index – we offer a greatly expanded group of vulnerable people far higher levels of protection.
Remembering that around half of this group has already been vaccinated, the rest of this expanded cohort will also see their priority on the vaccine waiting list rise.
As importantly, the expanded availability of Statutory Sick Pay will go a long way to ensuring exposure to Covid is dramatically reduced for those among the new shielding group who, as front line and key workers, often come from Black and minority ethnic communities.
It is time now for the Government to take a step further to ensure that BME communities are protected and taking the vaccine. This means ensuring that vaccines are delivered by trusted public health professionals at the heart of the community. We also encourage the government to launch more pop-up vaccination centres and to deploy mobile vaccine units that can literally take the Covid jab to the doorsteps of our most vulnerable.
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