Sanwar Ali: UK coronavirus lockdown announcement and immigrants

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson address to the nation on COVID-19

Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street

By Sanwar Ali:

On the evening of Sunday 10 May 2020 Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined first steps to bring the UK out of the coronavirus lockdown.  This could potentially help UK visa migrants financially as it seems that more people are being encouraged to return to work. 

However, people on UK visas could disproportionately end up taking more risks, as they are more likely to be in occupations that put them at greater risk of catching coronavirus.  Also, recent statistics show that blacks and South Asians (over represented in health care roles) are more likely to die from coronavirus than whites. 

Boris Johnson had the following to say:

"This is not the time simply to end the lockdown this week. Instead we are taking the first careful steps to modify our measures."

The statements from Boris Johnson have been criticised for being a bit vague and perhaps contradictory in places.

We include an analysis of changes below:

People who cannot work from home encouraged to return to work

It seems that some people are being encouraged to travel to work instead of working from home.  However, people are also being encouraged to avoid using public transport. Presumably to avoid traffic jams you will need to travel to work at different times.  Boris Johnson suggested construction and manufacturing as the types of industries where people should be encouraged to return to work. 

The British Safety Council said migrant workers were more likely to be involved in the gig economy and were more “vulnerable” and more likely to face unsafe employment practices.   Also migrant workers are more likely to face greater risks as they are more likely to work in frontline healthcare roles.

UK quarantine on people arriving by air for fourteen days

It seems likely that there will be a quarantine for people arriving from almost every Country into the UK apparently for fourteen days.  This would not affect people arriving from France or the Republic of Ireland.  It is not clear exactly when this will start.  Boris Johnson had the following to say:

"I am serving notice that it will soon be the time – with transmission significantly lower – to impose quarantine on people coming into this country by air," he said.

This will cause further serious problems for the airline industry.  In addition, it will cause problems for many when bringing in overseas workers say on Tier 2 visas.  However, at the moment you cannot obtain a UK visa from overseas anyway.

Other coronavirus lockdown rules

You can from Wednesday 13 May 2020 take unlimited exercise outside, and enjoy parks and public spaces without having to exercise.  In addition, the advice is to avoid public transport if possible and keep 2m distance away from others.

Primary School pupils may be able to return to school by 1 June, and more shops may open.   Hospitality business and certain public places may reopen from 1 July.  However, this is uncertain.

People from ethnic minorities disproportionately dying from coronavirus

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that people from ethnic minority backgrounds are "disproportionately" dying with coronavirus.

Public Health England are already undertaking a review.  Labour has also announced a review to be led by Baroness Doreen Lawrence. 

Prof Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, has said that while the evidence is not conclusive,

"it is absolutely critical that we find out which groups are most at risk".

Below is a brief analysis of the situation:

  • Black people are four times more likely than white people to die of coronavirus.
  • Bangladeshi and Pakistani males are 1.8 times more likely to die from Covid-19 than white males. Females 1.6 times more than white females.
  • For Chinese and those from mixed ethnic groups the mortality rate is similar to that for white people.

The Office of National Statistic had the following to say:

“These results show that the difference between ethnic groups in Covid-19 mortality is partly a result of socio-economic disadvantage and other circumstances, but a remaining part of the difference has not yet been explained…”

Coronavirus in the UK

As of 10 May 2020 UK coronavirus cases reached 219,183, with the death toll at 31,855, which may be the highest in Europe.  The actual number of cases may be far higher than this.  However, as countries record deaths related to COVID-19 differently it can be difficult to compare different Countries. London and the Midlands have been hardest hit by the virus in the UK.

Latest coronavirus updates, visa and immigration restrictions

For the latest updates on the coronavirus, plus details of visa and immigration restrictions worldwide, check Workpermit.com’s news feed to stay informed.

To apply for a UK visa extension amid the coronavirus pandemic, see this recent Workpermit.com news report.

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