No blanket ban on elderly people leaving home after lockdown

Screen grab of Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a media briefing in Downing Street, on coronavir

Screen grab of Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a media briefing in Downing Street, on coronavirus. Picture: PA Video - Credit: PA

Reports that a blanket ban could be imposed on the elderly leaving home when lockdown is eased have been dismissed by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

Mr Hancock was commenting after doctors’ leaders said excluding any section of the population from lockdown easing based solely on age would be “discriminatory”.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, British Medical Association (BMA) council chairman, said a “blanket ban” would be “unacceptable”.

He added: “Any proposal to impose stricter social distancing for those at higher risk - essentially quarantining - based solely on age would be both unethical and illegal”.

After the Sunday Times reported the BMA’s call under the headline ‘Set free healthy over-seventies, say doctors’, Mr Hancock tweeted: “We have strongly advised all over 70s to follow social distancing measures.

“However, there is no blanket ban, and the suggestion that the clinically vulnerable “include ‘people aged 70 or older regardless of medical conditions’” is wrong and deeply misleading.”

That prompted some on social media to point to advice published on the Government website on Friday which includes the words: “Clinically vulnerable people are those who are: aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)....”

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When contacted the Department of Health and Social Care said the over 70s “are not included in the most at risk group (extremely clinically vulnerable), who have been told to isolate for 12 weeks”.

NHS England’s national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said on Friday that officials will be studying whether stricter measures will or will not have to continue to apply to the elderly when the lockdown is eased.

Any proposal to include the elderly in continuing restrictions regardless of their state of health is likely to trigger fierce resistance.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that a quarter of people in north Norfolk are aged 70 and over - the highest percentage in England and Wales.

Neighbourhoods in Cromer and Downham Market have the biggest share of older people in Norfolk, with more than 40pc aged over 70.

Broadland, West Norfolk and Breckland are also among the top 50 places in the country with the oldest population.

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