Government must lockdown non-essential workplaces

I am receiving large numbers of queries from constituents being asked to go to work in non-essential occupations. The Government must take immediate action to lockdown non-essential workplaces.

Government guidance on staying at home and away from others can be found here. Guidance on businesses and premises to close and remain so until further notice can be found here.

My letter to the Business Secretary in full can be found below.

“Dear Alok

RE: Covid-19 and non-essential employment

Thank you for all that you’re doing in this unprecedented crisis.

I have recently been contacted by a number of constituents about the mixed messages they are receiving from employers and the Government regarding requirements to go to work in non-essential occupations.

Government advice is that as many of us as possible should be staying at home.  Indeed, in order to try and flatten the curve anyone who is not employed in an essential occupation should be staying at home.

My constituency houses a large number of distribution warehouses, many of which supply sports equipment, fashion and other non-essential products.  At present, many of these establishments are requiring all workers to attend, not providing protective equipment and, given the nature of the job when warehouses are at full capacity, social distancing measures are impossible to achieve. Many canteens also remain open with no social distancing measures being taken. 
In addition, these companies are not offering temporary furlough for staff to ensure that social distancing measures can be observed or applying for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.  Some have reported having to take annual or unpaid leave if they need to self-isolate.

Without stronger and clearer guidance and enforcement by Government, the measures announced by the Prime Minister on Monday evening will not achieve their stated aim of slowing the spread of coronavirus, saving lives and protecting our NHS.

Please take immediate action to lockdown non-essential workplaces, including warehouses supplying non-essential goods and construction work which is not either essential for 1) health and safety (e.g., to prevent buildings collapsing and train tracks failing) or 2) responding to the Covid-19 pandemic (i.e. constructing new medical facilities, testing facilities or distribution hubs for food).
I would be grateful for your response on this issue by the end of this week, in a reply that I can share with my constituents.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,


Debbie Abrahams MP
Member of Parliament for Oldham East and Saddleworth”

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