Beggs seeks clarity from Economy Minister on essential ‘businesses and premises’ due to CoViD-19

Beggs seeks clarity from Economy Minister on essential ‘businesses and premises’ due to CoViD-19

East Antrim Ulster Unionist Party MLA Roy Beggs has sought assurance and clarity from the Economy Minister around what businesses and premises are to close following guidance from the UK Government, following CoViD-19.

“I have been contacted by scores of local workers desperately concerned that they are still being forced to work in factories and businesses which are not ‘essential’ or within environments with little or no social distancing or protective equipment. Key workers must be confident they have safe working conditions as they are crucial in the food processing industry, protecting food supply chains, maintaining the country`s transport and communication networks and manufacturing essential products in the battle against Covid-19. Employers have an obligation to ensure the safety of employees.

My Party have raised this matter with companies directly but some are hiding behind the lack of clarity from the government. We urge the Department for the Economy to urgently issue a new directive today explicitly covering exactly which production and manufacturing businesses are essential and instructing all other companies to close.”

Speaking in the Assembly yesterday, Roy Beggs MLA said:

“I thank the Minister for her statement. I, too, have been contacted by a range of employees, including office workers, warehouse workers and childminders. Yesterday, the UK Government produced a six-page document entitled ‘Further businesses and premises to close’, which is largely focused on the retail and hospitality sector and reinforces the two-metre rule that has been widely talked about. Can the Minister confirm that it applies to Northern Ireland as well so that there is clarity on that issue? Also, can she advise what responsibility business owners and employers have to their employees to encourage home working and, if necessary, close or provide personal protective equipment?”

Economy Minister Mrs Dodds MLA responded saying “The advice that is on the Government website does apply to Northern Ireland. It is absolutely critical that businesses heed that advice. That is for the safety of the businesses, the workers and people who will come into those businesses. So, yes, it applies to Northern Ireland, and, yes, it is absolutely crucial that we heed the advice.

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