14:02, April 29 148 0 theguardian.com

2020-04-29 14:02:04
We over-70s will fight for our lockdown liberty

I write to join Salley Vickers (Letters, 26 April), who wrote to protest against proposals to “protect” the over-70s against coronavirus by obliging them to remain in self-isolation possibly for as long as another 12 months. This is both an infringement on liberty and an insult against a massive group of able-bodied, hard-working people who are making important contributions to society. Like many others, I want to urge the government to abandon the idea of age discrimination in the fight to bring the pandemic under control. Any attempt to impose self-isolation on a specific age group needs to be resisted, and if necessary fought through the courts.

I understand that there is a view that older people deserve protection and should be spared any possible risk of infection by staying home and being supplied by friends and volunteers for their needs. But this is not for me. I belong to the over-70s who are physically and mentally fit, continue to lead active working lives, need the stimulus of real, not virtual social gatherings, and who look forward to theatres and concerts when they reopen. I also want to be free to travel again, and generally enjoy life.

I live on my own. For me, the imposition of self-isolation for any length of time – in plain words, being caged in – would be tantamount to a living death. That is why I applaud and join the growing number of people who are protesting against moves to separate the over-70s from their families and fellow citizens, and why I hope that many more will make themselves heard, and if necessary join in seeking legal action to restrain the authorities.

Hella Pick

London

May I express solidarity with Salley Vickers? The idiocy of this random cut-off is even more evident if expressed as year of birth, rather than age. Let’s compare a non-smoker and moderate drinker, born November 1947, with an officially approved body mass index, a career record of useful contribution to society, who is doing pro bono work that is currently frozen, to an overweight individual, born June 1964, who’s never done a day’s useful work in his life and has been demonstrably reckless with his own health and that of others. Now let’s decide which is the better bet for early release.

And yes, Salley, stereotyping of a protected group does smell like unlawful discrimination, and is worth a legal challenge. Bring it on.

Sally Phillips

London

At last someone articulates the true outcome of government policy, which has been obvious to many of us for weeks (John Harris: Coronavirus has deepened prejudice against older people, 27 April).

For years many former social services directors carried bruises from government ministers, health colleagues and others because older people were not being discharged from hospitals quickly enough. Usually because loss of their independence and premature admission to a care home for the rest of their life was not their choice. Or because funding to local authorities or places were just not available. Or there was dispute about a person’s health condition.

Come Covid-19, everything changes. Funding becomes instantly available. Everyone possible must be discharged as quickly as possible, with or without being tested for Covid-19 and the results known. Care homes are the obvious instant “solution”. So what happens? Discharged older people infect inadequately protected care home staff and existing residents. Both die.

Was this not foreseeable? Did it not matter? Indeed, might it have been a policy consequence of a government interested only in avoiding NHS political embarrassment?

Brian Parrott

Former director of social services, Ipswich, Suffolk

I am 73. Until March, I had a business (paying tax on profits), now closed. I was active in my community. I cared for grandchildren. I am not unusual among my age group.

Comfortable retirement at 55 or 60 is long gone. Policy has forced a “post-retirement” age group to keep working, willing or not. Are we now to be viewed as a danger to society, our very existence a drag on the NHS? To be told to stay out of public view?

Governments long ago washed their hands of citizens needing care due to disability, chronic illness or age-related decline. Is this group now widened to over all over-70s, or perhaps even over-65s (Older people could face extended coronavirus lockdown, Lords hears, 23 April)?

This is not about protecting the over-70s. It is discarding us as useless and troublesome because we might need more NHS support than younger people.

I for one would not obey any recommendation or legal injunction to stay indoors 24 hours a day. I will continue to use my judgment and intelligence – qualities which our prime minister so patently lacked in going to an international rugby match on 7 March and boasting of shaking hands at a coronavirus hospital a few days before.

Nina Anstee

London

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