THE government is coming under pressure to clarify who should and should not be going to work, after readers contacted us to say there was some confusion.

In Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s briefing on Monday he told employees that travelling to and from work was allowed, but only where work absolutely cannot be done from home, and yesterday Health Secretary Matt Hancock said advice was “crystal clear” - that people should only go to work when it cannot be done at home.

After this paper appealed for readers to send questions in for Robin Walker, one of the main topics was calls for a clarification of “essential work”.

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Sally Peel said: “Are self employed gardeners supposed to be working or should we stay at home. We stayed home (yesterday) because we thought we were non-essential workers and Boris said stay at home. Now the government seems to be saying we can go to work if we can’t work from home.”

Cat Roberts said: “I witnessed a window fitter, fitting windows - why are people not taking this seriously still?

“All non-essential business should be closed, quarries are still open.”

One of the main areas highlighted was construction work. Justin Robbins said: “Why didn’t Boris force building sites to close? I couldn’t believe Michael Gove (on Good Morning Britain) saying sites could start open. Most brick layers and ground workers travel to work together in a company vehicle. It’s crazy.”

Speller Metcalfe, a construction firm based in Malvern, initially confirmed they were keeping construction sites open in line with government guidance, but staff were following social distancing rules on the county sites.

However, they later said: "With government advice currently unclear, we have agreed that the morally responsible course of action is to suspend site operations as soon as is possible in order to reduce risk to our staff." They said they would "temporarily close the vast majority of sites."  

Worcester MP Robin Walker said: “The government has provided guidance on certain businesses which should be shutting immediately and these are the ones in which the public were at the greatest risk of spreading the virus through a lack of social distancing, this is why the guidance started with pubs, bars and restaurants but then expanded to non-essential retail including clothing shops, car showrooms etc. Construction sites where people are working outside in the fresh air are relatively safe and wherever possible social distancing should be maintained by those working on these sites but the guidance is that work outdoors can continue. Clearly if people have the option to work from home they should take it but if their work requires them to come in to an office or site they should ensure that they are able to practice social distancing there. It is possible that as matters progress there will be further guidance on more settings that will have to close.”

He added that more information, including “a list of exceptions” could be found on the government’s website.