Ex-Sheffield MP urges government not to treat over-70s differently when lockdown is eased

Former Sheffield MP David Blunkett has urged the government not to instruct people over 70 to follow different rules when lockdown measures are eased, warning that treating them differently would be ‘absurd’.

Tuesday, 28th April 2020, 5:18 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th April 2020, 5:18 pm

Lord Blunkett, aged 72, said he did not think there should ever be ‘blanket discrimination against anybody’ and compared lifting measures only for younger people to discriminating against ethnic minorities because of their perceived higher risk from coronavirus.

“I think that an arbitrary line that says when you're over 70 somehow you're going to be treated entirely differently to the rest of the population is as absurd as if we said because we know people with an African or Afro-Caribbean background are more susceptible to the virus we should somehow discriminate against them,” he told BBC Radio 4's World At One programme.

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Former Sheffield MP David Blunkett

“It would be considered to be a total outrage, and quite rightly, and I don't think that should be any the less a precept for those of us who have reached 70.

“As well as the individuals paying the price of being discriminated against, society will pay a price as well because we are all aware that stimulus, that activity, that social interaction staves off the worst features of old age.

“We'll have a real price down the line because more people will become in need of and susceptible to social care.”

The Government is yet to announce its plan on how to ease the current measures, but those over 70 are currently urged to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures.

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Lord Blunkett said there should be a ‘more sophisticated approach’ which does not have a cut-off at 70, but that has a ‘clear understanding’ that those with underlying health conditions take extra care.

He suggested there should also be a ‘much more nuanced approach’ to unlocking the measures, taken over six weeks with people continuing to isolate themselves from people who are not in their immediate circle.

The government is next set to review lockdown measures on May 7.