I understand and share concerns about the implications of online retailers remaining open at this time. I have personally raised my concerns directly with the Chief Executives of local businesses, Barnsley Council, Government Ministers and Trade Unions and I will continue to push for Government guidelines on social distancing and workers’ safety to be fully implemented and enforced.
The number one priority for all employers is ensuring that their staff are properly safeguarded and that Government guidelines on social distancing are being followed. I welcome the fact that Barnsley Council Environmental Health Officers will be conducting regular inspections of warehouses in the Borough will continue to monitor closely the measures on social distancing and employee welfare that have been put in place.
Whilst the Government guidelines state that non-essential shops with physical premises must close to the public, this does not apply to online retailers who can continue to trade providing that social distancing measures are implemented and properly adhered to. If companies cannot demonstrate they can keep their workforce safe, then they should cease operating until appropriate measures can be implemented and enforced.
The Coronavirus crisis is having a profound effect on our regional economy and is hitting local businesses hard. I will continue to support businesses to keep trading and protect jobs where possible, but all employers have a responsibility to safeguard workers, follow Government guidelines and do their bit to tackle the Coronavirus.