The Prime Minister tonight instructed that people should stay at home.
The only reasons to leave your home are –
Shopping – basic necessities, preferably no more than once a day
1 form of exercise a day – alone or with household member – no group exercise
Medical need – including to provide care or help a vulnerable person
Travelling to and from work when necessary
To ensure compliance, from tonight –
Immediate closure of all shops selling non essential goods including clothing and electronic stores and other premises including libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, and places of worship;
All gatherings of more than 2 people in public excluding people you live with
All social events including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, but excluding funerals.
Parks remain open for exercise but gatherings will be dispersed.
These measures have been enacted to try and reduce the strain on the NHS and stop the spread of Covid-19 between households.
It is time the Government added detail to the instructions.
The crux of the announcement is to not travel to work unless it is essential. For many, as can be seen on the pictures of the London Underground today and calls received from call centres, they cannot stay away without their place of work agreeing.
Not only because their boss may sack them but for many because of penalty clauses.
Construction sites, marketing, sales teams and more can all have penalty clauses built into their contracts. Unless the Government specifically closes down that industry, then many will have to work to avoid prohibitive penalty clauses.
The only businesses specifically mentioned were non essential shops and retail outlets alongside places such as churches and libraries.
There are millions in this country working in call centres and offices and no guidance as to whether they are essential workers apart from what their boss decides. Accountants, lawyers, estate agents, HR, local authority, marketing and many more.
Everyone knows that most of these workers are not essential and should not be going to work. Unfortunately, without the Government directly instructing the closure of such workplaces, unscrupulous bosses will continue to demand attendance.
Tonight’s announcement was a good first step, now the public just needs more detail to clarify for the thousands of workers left waiting and hoping to be able to stay safe.