When the Prime Minister announced stringent new measures to reduce the amount of social contact in order to delay the spread of the COVID-19 virus across the UK, there was still some ambiguity around his statement about only travelling if ‘absolutely essential’.
Michael Gove was interviewed on BBC Breakfast this morning and gave greater clarification and some examples. He said, workers may still travel to their places of work for the purposes of say manufacturing, where it is not possible for them to work from home. However, the place of work must provide an environment where social distancing happens – with good practice communicated to all staff and reinforced by management.
He also gave examples for those who don’t have a set place of work. For example, he said construction sites can continue if workers are working outside, whereas the likes of electricians and plumbers working indoors, should only go to people’s houses to service an emergency e.g. a boiler breakdown, but not for non-essential tasks.
Leaders should not pressurise their workers to come into work if it is practical for staff to work from home – here he gave the example of accountants who should be able to work from home.
In other words, travelling to work is to continue and is not limited to key workers only at this point, however, this is on the proviso that social distancing provisions are in place and practiced.
Beyond this Michael Gove also said:
- The new restrictions are for the next 3 weeks at least
- The Treasury will soon announce measures to protect the self-employed
- Exercising outdoors should be once a day only and either be a walk, run or cycle ride
- Schools will be open for the children of stipulated key workers
- Children of separated parents can still be ‘shared’ by both households
- Garages will remain open for MOT certification, essential car maintenance and fuel
- Travel to protect the vulnerable is permitted
- Moving home may need to paused if contracts have not been exchanged
- Deliberate flaunting of the rules will be penalised by the police
For further clarification, here is a link to a list of facilities that the Government has said are specifically to be closed.