// Boris Johnson urged to introduce strict & enforceable closure of all non-essential workplaces
// This includes non-essential retailers with warehouses & online delivery continuing to operate during lockdown
// Several fashion retailers, such as Next & TK Maxx, have suspended their online services
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been urged to introduce strict and enforceable closure of all non-essential workplaces, such as fashion retailers with warehouses and online delivery services.
In a letter to the PM, shadow employment rights secretary Rachael Maskell said many workers in non-essential industries were continuing to work despite the coronavirus crisis.
Maskell said she had received thousands of examples of people turning up to work in unsafe environments, where there was no personal protective equipment, little or no hygiene facilities or appropriate deep cleaning, and in many cases no social distancing.
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All UK shops selling non-essential goods were ordered to close by the government, but there are concerns that businesses such as those with call centres, factories and warehouses are continuing to operate.
Several major fashion retailers, such as Next and TK Maxx, have taken the step to suspend their online delivery service while other retailers continue to operate theirs to help mitigate the financial impact of their physical stores being shut.
Earlier this month, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a package of measures to support workers and businesses, including the launch of a job retention scheme with HMRC paying 80 per cent wages for workforces who are retained while not working.
In her letter, Maskell wrote: “I have received thousands of examples of workers continuing to work in non-essential industries.
“Workers have reported the unsafe environments that they are working in where there is no appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment), often little or no hygiene facilities or appropriate deep cleaning, and in the vast majority of examples, no social distancing practices.
“As a result of this, workers are not only being exposed to the risk of infection, but risk spreading coronavirus too.”
Maskell also outlined the risk of workers who are made to attend work having to use crowded public transport, risking further spread of the disease.
“NHS staff, GPs, community pharmacists, food retail staff and all in essential public-facing roles are continuing to work without the necessary PPE, thus putting their health at risk,” she added.
“I have already written to the Business Secretary (Alok Sharma) to call for this to be addressed, including for a national manufacturing effort to scale up the production and distribution of PPE, and yet this situation continues.
“We know that the escalation of coronavirus is stretching vital NHS resources, however the thousands of examples of bad employment is just compounding the risk we all face.
“I urge you to introduce strict and enforceable closure of all non-essential workplaces, ensuring that all workers’ lives are protected until it is safe for business to resume according to safe working practices.
“Labour would support such measures being implemented with immediate effect with adequate resourcing of measures to monitor and enforce this safety regime.”
with PA Wires