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Tue, 20 October 2020

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EXCL MPs demand urgent PPE for transport workers following 26 coronavirus deaths

EXCL MPs demand urgent PPE for transport workers following 26 coronavirus deaths

At least 26 members of TfL staff have reportedly died after contracting coronavirus (PA)

3 min read

A cross-party group of MPs has written to ministers and the Mayor of London urging them to ensure protective equipment is provided to transport workers as the UK eyes an end to lockdown.

They warn there have been too many reports of employees “taking matters into their own hands” by making themselves face masks and disinfecting buses and carriages themselves.

Last month, Transport for London (TfL) confirmed at least 26 members of staff had died after contracting coronavirus.

Public transport is still operating on a reduced timetable, both in the capital and nationwide, for use by NHS staff and other key workers. 

Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson, Sarah Olney, who co-ordinated the letter, told PoliticsHome: “The Coronavirus crisis is an unprecedented threat. 

“No one should have to fear that their livelihood could put them at death's door, but sadly across the country that is a reality for many transport workers. They deserve better.”

She added: “Liberal Democrats are therefore calling on the Government to renew guidelines and urgently upscale PPE for all transport workers, who are doing their job to keep our NHS going, in preparation for exiting the government enforced lockdown.”

Her warning comes as the UK is set to relax some lockdown measures following a TV address by the Prime Minister on Sunday.

Boris Johnson has hinted some of those changes could take effect as early as Monday, potentially allowing many Brits to leave their homes more often. 

Siobhan Benita, the Lib Dem candidate for London Mayor, said it was “desperately sad” so many transport workers had lost their lives in London, and many more have been left feeling “anxious and unsafe”.

“No one should have to fear that their livelihood could put them at death's door, but sadly across the country that is a reality for many transport workers." - Sarah Olney MP

"As the Government increases its stock of PPE, transport workers must be next in line for protective equipment”, she told PoliticsHome.

“And the Mayor must ensure that guidelines are being enforced at all levels, including by bus operating companies, where there have been widespread reports of failings.”

Signatories of the letter include Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem and Green Party MPs, and comes as the Government has faced a backlash for failing to supply enough PPE for frontline workers, especially those in health and social care sectors. 

Speaking in the Commons on Wednesday, the PM said he was “enraged” by the shortages, adding the ministers are “engaged in a massive plan to ramp up domestic supply”. 

He also said announced plans to ramp up coronavirus testing to 200,000 a day by the end of May, despite having missed the current 100,000 daily goal for the fourth day in a row. 

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