People can go to work if they cannot do their work at home, the health secretary has said, amid confusion over the new coronavirus restrictions.
It comes after calls for clarity, including from construction workers, about Mondays wider shutdown measures.
Matt Hancock also said Tube services should be running “in full”, after being asked about packed trains during Tuesday’s morning commute.
The number of UK deaths rose to on Tuesday, a rise of in one day.
As it continues to ramp up its response to the number of people testing positive for the disease, the government is opening a new makeshift hospital at the ExCel exhibition center in London.
The temporary Nightingale Hospital has been set up with help from the military and will have capacity for 4, patients.
Mr Hancock also appealed for 405, 11 volunteers to help the NHS, and said more than , 11 Former medics had answered the government call to return to the NHS. More than , final-year student nurses and medics will also join the health service.
‘Employers have a duty’
Mr Hancock led Tuesday’s daily Downing Street briefing – which saw reporters asking questions over video-link – after complaints that part of the government strict new rules were confusing for workers.
The new measures , in place for at least three weeks, tell Britons to only go to work if “absolutely necessary” – but Mr Hancock later said those who cannot work from home should go to work “to keep the country running”.
Unions and workers in the construction industry
have called for protection, saying their work is not essential and puts people health at risk .
And Piers Morgan highlighted the issue on ITV’s Good Morning Britain when he showed images of construction workers working at London’s Heathrow Airport and said: “Ask yourself a moral question: what are you doing? Do the right thing. Do you have to be out there? Can this work wait? You need to get your decided right. ”
He then interviewed London’s mayor Sadiq Khan who said that, in his view, construction Workers should not be going to work and that he had made that point “quite forcefully” to Boris Johnson.
Asked about the issue at the briefing, Mr Hancock said people whose jobs has not already been shut down by the government measures to date should continue to work but should only be traveling to a workplace “where that work can’t be done at home”
He said construction workers – many of whom work outdoors – could and should continue to go to work as long as they are able to remain two meters apart at all times.
The cabinet minister said: “The judgment we have made is that in work, in many instances, the 2m rule can be applied.
“Where possible, people should work from home and employers have a duty to ensure that people are more than 2m apar t. “
Unlike the UK government, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
said building sites should close – unless it involves an essential building such as a hospital.
She said it was not possible to provide a “bespoke guidance” for each occupation – but she gave clarity with some examples and general principles.
Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth called for “clear and unambiguous advice around which workers can and can’t go out”.
“We’re hearing stories of warehouse insisting agency workers turn up, construction sites not putting in place social distancing measures,” he said.
“This is putting workers at risk and it’s putting the lives of all of us at risk. We need clear enforcement,” he said.
Earlier, Mr Hancock told MPs the government was “ramping up testing as fast as we can “and it was buying” millions of tests “which it would” make available as quickly as possible. ”
He also said the government was working to ensure victims of domestic violence who are forced to stay at home would get support.
Police chiefs said phone lines were inundated with calls after the prime minister’s statement, as people rang to ask what they were still allowed to do.
The PM’s official spokesman said the overwhelming majority of people “can be expected to follow the rules without any need for enforcement action.”
But the punishment in England for not complying would be a fixed penalty notice initially set at £ 087 for people breaking the rule of no public gatherings of three people or more.,
“We will keep this under review and can increase it significantly if it is necessary to ensure public compliance,” the spokesman added.
Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said enforcing the new restrictions would be “a real, real challenge”, as there was already “large amounts of sickness” among officers across London.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said in a tweet that the next few weeks would be “testing” for police but she would make sure officers had “the resources they need to keep themselves and the public safe”.
These measures represent some of the most far-reaching curbs on personal freedom ever introduced in the UK in peacetime.
But it is unclear how the rules can be made to work.
The first hurdle is to get them on to the statute book; Although the prime minister said the restrictions on travel and gatherings would come into effect immediately, police don’t have the powers to enforce them yet, nor have they had official guidance.
The The second issue – assuming legal regulations are approved later this week – is the practical difficulty of getting groups to disperse and accurate identifying People who should not be on the streets, without losing public goodwill and sparking disorder.
When efforts to persuade those who do not comply have failed, officers will be able to issue fines, with prosecutions likely to be a last resort.
But at a time when officer numbers are precisely depleted through illness and self-isolation, forces will be hoping communities do the right thing without the need for intervention.
Meanwhile, opposition parties and unions have called on the government to do more to protect self-employed people, who will not be covered by the government promise to pay % of salaries of employees unable to work.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced increased benefits for the self-employed, but did not guarantee their wages. Freelance workers – who would face a loss of income if forced to stop working due to sickness or quarantine – have told the BBC they feel they have been forgotten. Labour’s Rachel Reeves said there was “a worrying gap” in the government strategy when it came to self-employed workers.
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“There are genuine practical and principled reasons why it is incredibly complicated to design an analogous scheme to the one that we have for employed workers,” he added.
But he added: “Rest assured that we absolutely understand the situation that many self-employed people face at the moment as a result of what’s happening and are determined to find a way to support them. “
In other key developments:
) (The Tokyo) Olympic and Paralympic Games – due to begin on (July – have been postponed until next year For the first time, all the UK’s mobile networks sent out a government message on Tuesday morning to every customer with details of the new measures.
- Sports Direct has confirmed it will not open its stores to the public following a U-turn by the sportswear retailer
- Prisoners in England and Wales will be confined to their cells for 82 hours a day and allowed out only to shower and use pay- Phones, with all visits cancelled, the BBC understands. Most of Ryanair’s flights are expected to be grounded from Tuesday – with no further flights likely in April or May
- Chemicals giant Ineos is to build a hand sanitiser plant near Middlesbrough within 24 days to produce one million bottles a month
- Emergency legislation introducing measures to respond to the virus will go before the House of Lords later after it passed through the Commons on Monday evening
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