Tuesday, 19 Oct 2021

Pensioners face travel ban under coronavirus recommendations from Brussels agency

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said travel restrictions will need to be enforced to protect the most vulnerable groups even after lockdowns are lifted. Dr Andrea Ammon, the ECDC’s director, said European countries will have to factor in “clear risk groups” when developing exit strategies from their measures. She told MEPs: “There are clear risk groups that are more affected and more likely to die.

“People who have a higher risk should not travel if the virus is still around.”

The European Commission has said it will use the ECDC’s medical advise while devising its own plans to restart the bloc after the pandemic.

Ranking countries’ performance by their death tolls isn’t reliable method, according to Dr Ammon.

She added: “There was a suggestion countries should be classified regarding their death toll.

“Given the low confidence we have on whether the deaths that are collected are really complete I would really think this is not a very reliable approach to classifying countries.”

The warning comes after the Government was urged not to tell elderly people to remain under lockdown longer than the rest of the population.

Former Tory ministers said most over-70s would flout the rules if they were ordered to remain under “house arrest”.

Ex-chancellor Ken Clarke said: “There’s a danger if they go too cautiously that everybody over the age of 70 will be advised that they have got to remain in self-imposed house arrest for the next year or two.

“I know very few people of my age who will put up with that.”

Another former chancellor Lord Lamont said pensioners feel like the lockdown has separated them from their loved ones.

He said: “When we do get to the stage eventually of lifting restrictions, may I urge the Government not to discriminate against the elderly… and not to treat the elderly as a single category.

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“Many of the elderly continue to work. This group feels acutely the separation from loved ones.

“They are conscious of their own vulnerability and perfectly sensible and don’t need the threat of law to protect them.”

Health minister Lord Bethell said coronavirus was the “discriminator”, not the Government.

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He said: “The political context in Britain is based on rule by consent. We are not an authoritarian state.

“It is the virus which is a discriminator not the Government. The clinical assessment of risk for many older people, particularly those with medical conditions, is very, very high.

“The Government will be guided by clinical advice, although the effect of safeguarding and lockdown on the elderly is fully understood and we will put in as many mitigation measures as we can.”

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