London (CNN Business)Groups representing UK business and workers have blasted the government’s plans to ease coronavirus lockdown rules, complaining that crucial details on how companies should prepare for a safe return to work are missing.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday announced that restrictions on exercise and local travel would be eased after six weeks of lockdown. Workers in some industries, such as construction and manufacturing, are being encouraged to return to their jobs.
“We said that you should work from home if you can, and only go to work if you must. We now need to stress that anyone who can’t work from home, for instance those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work,” Johnson said during a televised address from 10 Downing Street.
The UK government later published further details on which sectors of the economy are allowed to reopen on Wednesday, adding food production, logistics, distribution and scientific research in laboratories. Hospitality and nonessential retail businesses will remain closed, the government said in a 50-page report.
Yet labor unions urged caution, saying many people won’t be able to get to work if they also follow the government’s recommendation to avoid public transportation.
“Lots of working people will feel anxious and confused after listening to Boris Johnson,” Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, wrote on Twitter, noting that the government hasn’t published guidance on how workers will be kept safe.
“So how can the [prime minister] — with 12 hours’ notice — tell people to go back to sites and factories? It’s a recipe for chaos,” added O’Grady, whose organization represents 48 trade unions and 5.5 million workers.