Employers criticise ‘Vague’ government advice as they prepare for end of lockdown

worker with face mask

Employers have been told it is “critical” they provide safe workplaces once lockdown measures are eased amid claims government advice on the matter has been “vague”.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said talks are ongoing with firms and trade unions about what rules should be in place to ensure “safe distancing”.

But he avoided spelling out what extra sanctions businesses might face to ensure workers feel protected as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Labour is calling for a “national safety standard”, with leader Sir Keir Starmer warning that the “enforcement machinery been stripped down to the bare minimum”.

He called the consultation documents on protection measures circulated to businesses over the weekend “pretty vague”.

Some companies have been putting pressure on the government to start lifting the lockdown in an effort to revive the economy.

A review of the strict social distancing measures will take place by Thursday, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson expected to lay out “phase two” of his plan to tackling COVID-19 on Sunday.

Mr Hancock refused to give any early indication of what extra measures businesses might be told to follow, telling Sky News’ Kay Burley “There’s already rules in place that we’ve brought in to deal with the crisis.”

He also addressed fears about the privacy of an app residents on the Isle of Wight are being urged to download as part of a trial of the South Korea-style “test, trace and trace” programme that means someone is alerted if their phone registers they have been in close proximity with an infected person.

“The liberties as a nation we’re having to give up in order to tackle this virus are already enormous,” Mr Hancock admitted.

Sir Keir said there should be “consensus” about how to lift the lockdown but called for the “core principles” of how the UK will operate in the next few months to be laid out.

“People are very worried about going back to work – understandably, they want to know what they are going back to is safe and that means there are rules in place.”