Last month (July 2021), we at Disability Partnership Calderdale were co-signatories of a letter raising concerns about the safety of disabled people and local precautions after national COVID deregulation on 19th July. The letter was sent to several leading local politicians. We’ve received a reply from Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, which you can read below. We’re still awaiting a reply from Calderdale Council.
Tracy Brabin’s Reply
Thank you for contacting me about the use of face masks as restrictions are eased.
I recognise that the pandemic has been incredibly hard for our West Yorkshire communities – no more so than for the vulnerable and for people who have tragically lost loved ones. This is why I am urging people across the region to wear a face mask on all our public transport networks.
This is why I mandated the use of face coverings across bus stations in West Yorkshire. Whilst I would like to go further to include buses and trains, we are doing what is in our power.
I have been consistently clear with Government – they have the power to mandate face masks across all transport networks and I would support them to make that decision as restrictions lift. While the vaccination roll out is impressive, we still have further to go with infections across West Yorkshire still high.
We have come so far. Let’s stick together, support each other so places like West Yorkshire can recover and thrive.
Once again thank you for contacting me about this issue, I want to assure you that I will continue follow this closely.
Mayor of West Yorkshire
The original letter is below
Sent: 15 July 2021 12:09
Subject: Disabled people and local precautions after national COVID deregulation – urgent
Tracy Brabin, Mayor, West Yorkshire Combined Authority
Tim Swift, Leader, Calderdale Council
Jane Scullion, Deputy Leader, Calderdale Council
When national restrictions are removed on 19th July, as many disabled people remain vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19 despite double vaccination, the Public Sector Equality Duty requires that accommodations are made so that such people can continue to go about their daily lives, and are not excluded from public services due to COVID risk during the current outbreak with alarmingly high, and rising, community infection rates. And now rising daily death rates too.
Over 20% of the 57 million UK adult population are disabled, including neurodivergent people and those with learning disabilities and mental health conditions. Even if all of those 11.4 million adults are double vaccinated and 95% protected, that leaves more than 570,000 disabled adults unprotected against severe illness and death from Covid-19. Add to that number those who are unable to have the vaccination, or in whom the vaccination is ineffective due to underlying health conditions. Also add the one million disabled children without vaccine protection. Finally add the fact that 60% of Covid related deaths in the UK have been among disabled people.
We have many reports already from disabled and clinically vulnerable Calderdale residents that they will become more housebound and isolated when all restrictions are lifted, as essential daily activities such as shopping and using public transport will be less safe when other people are not wearing masks or social distancing. There are also many reports in the national press in the past week of the expected negative impact on disabled people’s mobility, socialisation and mental health from 19th July.
We ask that WYCA and its constituent Local Authorities:
- require mask wearing (except for exemptions) – and social distancing where possible – on all public transport in the region, as has already been announced for London
- take swift action to improve ventilation on all public transport
- provide all public services, including social care services and education, in as safe a way as possible with attention to social distancing, ventilation and Personal Protective Equipment
- work with local business organisations to maintain where possible social distancing and requirement for face coverings in shops, hairdressers etc.
- encourage the continuation of optional working from home, which will enable many disabled people to keep their jobs
Although we realise that enforcement of such measures would not be possible, Local Government directives or regulations would influence many people’s behaviour, and so help to keep Yorkshire as safe and inclusive as possible despite lack of national regulations. This would also help to restrict general infection levels and thereby keep more people in work instead of self-isolating due to Covid contact.
We thank you in anticipation of your co-operation.
From member organisations of Calderdale Covid-19 Disability Advisory Group:
June Eaton, for Hebden Bridge Disability Access Forum
Malcolm Kielty MBE, Secretary Disability Partnership Calderdale
Katie Clarke Accessible Calderdale Disability Access Forum
Jonny Richardson Glenn, Chief Officer Healthy Minds, Calderdale