Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Builders feel 'angry and unprotected' as they continue to turn up at sites on first day of UK-wide coronavirus lockdown

Builders across the UK have said they feel 'angry and unprotected' as they continued working on busy construction sites on the first day of the nationwide coronavirus lockdown.
The government has come under pressure to urgently clarify who it counts as a 'key worker' after Britons woke up in a state of confusion over who is permitted to leave home.
Many construction workers are operating in environments where social distancing is impossible, leaving them fearful of spreading the deadly disease which has killed 335 and infected over 6,000.
Labourers on lunch break at a building site in Battersea, London, were even pictured squeezed around canteen tables just inches from each other.

Some said they felt compelled to come in for fear of losing their jobs, with one telling MailOnline: 'It's mad that we have to carry on as normal while everyone at the office sits at home.'
As well as builders, non-essential delivery drivers were also on the roads today, with high street chains John Lewis, H&M, Debenhams and Boux Avenue all maintaining normal services.
Last night in his historic address to the nation, Boris Johnson ordered the public to stay at home unless travelling to work was 'absolutely necessary'.  

It was wrapped into an emergency package of draconian measures to keep people indoors to stem the tide of coronavirus infection, which threatens to overwhelm the NHS.
But the wriggle room left by the Prime Minister over exactly who was allowed to travel was seized upon by many workers who continued to commute to their jobs this morning. 
Responding to claims that details of the lockdown were 'murky', Michael Gove, the minister for the cabinet office, said: 'It is the case that construction should continue on sites.
'People should obviously exercise sensitivity and common sense and follow social distancing measures. But construction sites carried out in the open air can continue'.
Yet images from the first day of lockdown showed construction staff huddling together on sites, brazenly flouting social distancing guidelines.
And Nicola Sturgeon and Sadiq Khan fanned further confusion when they advised construction workers to stay at home. 
The call for Downing Street to clear up the confusion came as: 
  • Britain was placed under new draconian measures which to keep people indoors, including allowing outside exercise only once a day, social gatherings of more than two people banned, and non-essential travel prohibited, with police handed powers to slap offenders with fines; 
  • Londoners continued to cram into packed Tube carriages during this morning's rush-hour, with union chiefs calling on Sadiq Khan to get a grip of the capital's public transport; 
  • The Mayor of London came under fire for blaming commuters for flouting advice over non essential travel; 
  • Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt demanded more NHS workers were tested for coronavirus, which has killed 335 and infected 6650 in the UK; 
  • Supermarket websites crashed and delivery slots were booked solid for weeks as lockdown begun; 
  • Sports Direct insisted it was providing an essential service and tried to open it stores, but was forced to U-turn under pressure from the government; 
  • The FTSE 100 opened up 4 per cent as investors seemingly took confidence in the PM's measures. 

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