UK lockdown: Construction and manufacturing employees should return to work from Monday, says Boris Johnson

Labour warns prime minister's statement 'raises more questions than answers' on workplace safety

Boris Johnson insists lockdown is still in place, but grants extra freedoms

Boris Johnson has said people who cannot work from home, such as those in construction or manufacturing, should be “actively encouraged” to return to work from Monday.

In his address to the nation, the prime minister said the government was changing its coronavirus guidance to say people should work from home if they can, but they should return to work if they cannot do their job from home.

However, workers have been asked to avoid public transport where possible to help maintain social distancing and keep people safe from Covid-19.

“We said that you should work from home if you can, and only go to work if you must,” Mr Johnson said.

“We now need to stress that anyone who can’t work from home, for instance those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work.”

He added: “We want it to be safe for you to get to work so you should avoid public transport if at all possible – because we must and will maintain social distancing, and capacity will therefore be limited.”

Although Mr Johnson said the UK government had been working on new guidance for employers to make workplaces “Covid-secure”, he did not provide details on what that guidance would be.

Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party, criticised the prime minister’s address for not providing detail on how people could return to work safely.

“This statement raises more questions than it answers, and we see the prospect of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland pulling in different directions,” Mr Starmer said.

“The prime minister appears to be effectively telling millions of people to go back to work without a clear plan for safety or clear guidance as to how to get there without using public transport.”

Meanwhile, Paddy Lillis, general secretary of the trade union Usdaw, said employees needed a guarantee that workplaces are safe before they return to work.

“We have emphasised safety first in all the discussions we’€™ve had with the government,” Mr Lillis said.

“Non-food retail should only start trading again when expert public health advice agrees, but even then we must have a guarantee that the right policies and practices are in place to make workplaces safe."

On Sunday, Mr Johnson announced tweaks to the UK’s lockdown, such as allowing people to spend more time outdoors for exercise so long as they remain 2 metres away from others.

From Wednesday, people will be encouraged to take unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise and even play sports, but only with members of their household.

Visiting and sunbathing in local parks will also be allowed so long as people remain apart from others.

The prime minister said social distancing rules must be obeyed, with increased fines in place for those who break them.

Additional reporting by PA

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