On Wednesday afternoon, a full 24 hours before this tweet was published by the Minister for Business and Industry there was a debate held in the House of Commons under the title of Financial and Social Emergency Support Package. The debate was launched by John McDonnell who called for our nation to respond to the to statement that was made by Boris Johnson on Monday evening. John started his contribution by stating:
On Monday, the Prime Minister ordered the 21-day lockdown and asked non-essential retail and leisure facilities to close. We all supported that measure. Indeed, we called for and welcomed it. Today we need clarity and security for all.
He then went on to describe the numbers of people who were ill or had died and then said
we all send our condolences and deepest sympathy to their families and friends. Sadly, we know that there is every likelihood that worse is to come. People understand the health risks. They fear for their loved ones and neighbours.
A few minutes later he explained
The point I was making is that if we are to be serious in this war-like situation about defeating the enemy, we have to go all the way. People and businesses need absolute certainty. The Prime Minister said that all businesses should close down unless they have an essential role to play in the fight against the coronavirus, or unless the business can continue to operate with staff working from home. Let us be clear: construction sites should be closed down, unless they are building health facilities. They should close now. They are putting lives at risk by operating still. The Scottish First Minister says they should close, and the Mayor of London says they should, but the Government are allowing them to continue. I have spoken to construction workers and their unions in recent days. They have told me that social distancing on a building site, as anyone who has worked on one will say, is just not possible. For some roles, it would not be safe either.
I work for a business that is on the periphery of the construction industry and we made a decision on Monday night to close down for the next 3 weeks apart from anything that emerges which is vital. This has already involved an NHS requirement for a COVID-19 command centre to be established and some assistance to set up a similar arrangement for a Police office. However we made a difficult decision to postpone a visit to a care home which is for retired people. That seemed like a questionable decision because they were very keen for us to do the work and finish a bigger job. However this morning we received a confirmation that we were right to do so as they have now been informed by their national agency to prevent all visits outside of those that provide vital issues.
Along with ourselves there is a couple of our suppliers (Bose and another one) who have closed down their companies for the time being. Bose began last week and the other has done so as from today. Also at least two building companies, J.H. Payne based a few miles away from us and Sunninghill Construction Co. a few miles in the other direction have both closed down today. So what we now need is for the Ministers such as Nadhim Zahawi and at least one of his Ministerial colleagues Robert Jenrick who as I blogged on Tuesday tweeted something similar straight after the broadcast from the Prime Minister, to reverse their arguments that the building industry should remain open while we all try to dramatically reduce the Coronavirus attack on our nation.