BPS responds to announcement that all remaining Covid legal restrictions in England will be scrapped.
The BPS has warned that the decision could have a damaging impact on the mental health of those who are clinically vulnerable and could widen health inequalities.
Responding to the Prime Minister’s statement that all remaining Covid-19 legal restrictions in England, including mandatory self-isolation after a positive test, will be lifted from 24 February, Julia Faulconbridge, of the BPS' Division of Clinical Psychology, said:
“We do have some concerns about the government’s decision to end the mandatory self-isolation period after a positive test due to the negative mental health impact this could have on those who are clinically vulnerable. Removing this, along with access to universal free rapid testing from 1 April, could increase worry and anxiety amongst the clinically vulnerable, and widen existing health inequalities amongst those whose friends, family and colleagues cannot afford to take tests before contact.
“For many who are clinically extremely vulnerable Covid still poses a serious health risk, so we need a plan from government that clearly sets out how we can protect those who will continue to be most at risk from Covid. We must protect against the most vulnerable in our society from feeling that they have no choice but to return to shielding, limiting their social contacts, interactions and living less full lives than those who are not clinically vulnerable.
“We are also concerned that the removal of all restrictions could have a disproportionate impact on those from lower socio-economic groups and other pre-determining factors which make them more vulnerable to catching Covid, such as ethnicity, age, mental illness and having a learning disability.
“Living with Covid does not mean consigning groups of our society to living in isolation, and it does not mean we have to put vulnerable people at risk of damage to their physical and mental health. Collective responsibility and coming together as society has been what has seen us through this pandemic so far, we must look to these values now and ensure no-one is left behind in the wish to declare the pandemic ‘over’.”