With the Indian Covid variant around, should we be hugging our friends and family?

Please send your letters to letters@independent.co.uk

Tuesday 11 May 2021 16:37
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<p>Hugs are set to return in the UK from 17 May</p>

Hugs are set to return in the UK from 17 May

With the possibly more dangerous (and vaccine-resistant) Indian variant detected in the UK in April, goodness knows how prevalent the variant is at the moment.

I am absolutely shocked at how fast the Indian variant is spreading. It was belatedly classed as a "variant of concern" last week. If it's already embedded in the community, why oh why, then, is the government telling the country we can all hug our friends and family?

Why are indoor seats in pubs and restaurants set to open next Monday? Why are cinemas reopening? In short, what's going on? This variant is very worrying, and yet the government is positioning its head firmly in the sand once again. It beggars belief. 

Sebastian Monblat 

Sutton 

Women in charge

Keir Starmer's way of "taking responsibility" for not defeating the wallpaper king is odd – getting rid of Angela Rayner.

Everyone else has worked out that (with the honourable exception of Joe Biden) if you want balls in current politics, you need a woman in charge.

Amanda Baker

Edinburgh

Reform social care

The announcement in today’s Queen’s Speech of the government’s intention to bring forward reform of the social care sector is welcome. It’s now crucial that clear timescales are set out for making it happen.

The pandemic has exacerbated the challenges for the adult social care sector, which has been under-resourced and overstretched for decades.

This is a pivotal moment and the government must prioritise adult social care as the nation recovers from the pandemic. Adequate funding is an absolute priority as is system reform. 

Anchor Hanover is calling on the government to commit to a cap on individual care costs and to drive parity of esteem between social care and the NHS to help recruit and retain those with the necessary skills and frame of mind into the sector. It’s also crucial that the important role of specialist housing in enabling people to stay independent for longer is recognised in the legislation.

Our social care colleagues who have provided essential services to some of the most vulnerable in society throughout the pandemic must be recognised and, as a sector, we look forward to working with the government. Now is the time to begin implementing robust, sustainable, long-term funding and structural reform in social care; building the system which our nation deserves.

Jane Ashcroft CBE, chief executive of the not-for-profit provider of housing and care for older people Anchor Hanover

Violence towards women

At a time when many countries are trying to find ways of combating violence against women, Turkey is planning to pull out of the Istanbul Convention, the landmark treaty on combating violence against women.

The announcement in March sparked massive protests in Turkey and today, exactly 10 years after the signing of the convention, women around the world are calling on President Erdogan to reverse a decision: a decision that will put the safety, and even the lives, of millions of women and girls in a risk.

Their voices have been strengthened by strong condemnation of the decision to withdraw from world leaders including Joe Biden and European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen.

Turkey's withdrawal comes at a time when Covid-19 lockdowns have led to a spike in reports of violence with many women and girls trapped at home with their abusers or unable to easily access safety.

Turkey’s withdrawal is just the tip of a dangerous populist iceberg that uses backwards-looking misrepresentations of “family values” to roll back rights across Europe.

As MEP Terry Reintke said recently: “Autocrats are afraid of free and independent women. They’re afraid of societies where women can freely decide over their bodies and lives. They’re afraid of the strength of women’s and LGBTI movements that's why they hate the Istanbul Convention.”

Turkey’s withdrawal will come into force on 1 July, so we still have time to get President Erdogan to reconsider this dangerous decision.

Stefan Simanowitz

London

Reversing the damage

The loss of reliable memory associated with getting older has benefits. One can, for example, forget all the really nasty things the Tories have done to the people of this country and when the current administration promises to make changes for the better we forget that they are often only reversing some of the damage they caused in the past.

Like the recently announced plans to increase the number of police. Coupled with memory loss is confusion where we imagine things that have not happened. For example, I was surprised, but not shocked, to learn of the absence of a plan for social care in the Queen's speech. I must have imagined I heard Boris say prior to previous elections that they had a plan "ready to go" to fix social care once and for all. 

G Forward 

Stirling

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