'Attack on health': Furious workers slam NSW Premier's Covid backflip

·4-min read

Hundreds of people have signed an open letter to the NSW Premier calling for a stricter lockdown and a return to the zero Covid strategy.

It's part of a new campaign called Lock Down to Zero - Health Before Profits, which will launch virtually on Facebook and Zoom on Friday night.

From health experts to Bunnings employees, the campaign has attracted a diverse range of followers who are furious with the Berejiklian Government's handling of the outbreak.

It follows a startling admission from Gladys Berejiklian that she’s given up on eliminating the virus, declaring NSW will have to “learn to live with Delta” and turning the focus towards vaccinations.

“Berejiklian wants us to die with the virus, that is what learning to live with the virus is,” campaign organiser Chloe Rafferty told Yahoo News.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian speaks to the media during a press conference to provide a COVID-19 update, in Sydney, Wednesday, August 18, 2021. Source: AAP
Gladys Berejiklian is under fire for abandoning the goal of returning to zero Covid cases in NSW. Source: AAP

Ms Rafferty described the policy shift as an “attack on health” and “political decision”.

“We need to put healthcare before the opening up of the economy. We have an opportunity to spare so much death and long term illness. We reject the argument that zero Covid is a thing of the past.”

Closing Bunnings among campaign’s demands

Ms Rafferty slammed the current Covid restrictions in NSW as a “mockdown”.

“More can be done to push for elimination and not just learn to live with it,” she said.

The campaign has listed a range of demands, including harsher business regulations, which health experts and retail workers have helped to develop.

Among these are limits on how many workers can be present on shop floors and enforcement of proper ventilation.

“We have known for a year and a half this is an airborne virus so making generally essential workplaces much safer should be a priority,” she said.

Bunnings Warehouse signage is displayed outside the store, operated by Westfarmers Ltd., in Melbourne, Australia on Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015. Source: Getty Images
Campaigners are calling for Bunnings to close and only offer click-and-collect services. Source: Getty Images

The campaign also believes many businesses, such as Bunnings and fast-food restaurants, should only be offering click-and-collect and delivery.

“We’ll be in some form of lockdown for a long time regardless, the question is whether it will be strengthened.”

‘Lock Down to Zero’ launching online

An anonymous Bunnings worker is among the list of panellists for the campaign’s official launch event on Friday.

They’re the author of a recent viral Red Flag article arguing for Bunnings to close.

“Many workers are unable to publicly talk about opposition to opening up,” Ms Rafferty said.

Dr Noor Bari, who has worked with infectious diseases throughout her career, will also be speaking.

A screenshot of Campaign launch event on Facebook. Source: Facebook
The 'Lock Down to Zero - Health Before Profits' campaign will launch online on Friday night. Source: Facebook.

Gladys doubles down on 'coexisting with Delta'

As NSW recorded another day of record Covid-19 cases, the Premier made it clear the state won’t continue living in a “bubble”.

"Every state is going to have to confront the prospect that once we accept that we can't live in our bubble forever," she told reporters. 

“Every state has to live with the fact that once you get to 80 per cent double doses and your population is allowed to live more freely, that the Delta variant will creep in, because we are so connected.

“These are the difficult decisions that our nation has to deal with, but to assume that forevermore there will be zero cases around Australia is, I think, an assumption nobody can really make at this stage, we do need to coexist with Delta.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also said on Thursday it has never been a goal of Australia to have zero cases of Covid in Australia.

"What we are seeking to achieve is cases minimised as far as possible, preferably to zero that are infectious in the community," the prime minister said.

"I think the premier is being very realistic about what the opportunity to do that in NSW is, given the status of the serious Delta outbreak that we are seeing there."

Berejiklian said as vaccination rates rise, the conversation will shift from the number of daily cases to how many people are in hospital.

“It's insidious and contagious, and that's why, in due course, we have to learn to live with it. And that's why New South Wales is on a pathway to making sure we get those vaccination rates up. To make sure that we have those opportunities to live life more freely.”

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