The Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham is calling on the Government to tighten Public Health England (PHE) guidance and end all non-essential work, after more than 300 complaints were received in just two days about companies alleged to be flouting COVID-19 social distancing rules.

Following a call with Greater Manchester MPs on Wednesday 25 March, where concerns were raised about companies in the city-region continuing to operate and not observing PHE guidelines on social distancing, Andy invited members of the public and employees to make confidential reports about any business they felt was not following the advice.

The vast majority of Greater Manchester employers are following guidelines and keeping their employees safe. But since the Mayor made his call on Wednesday, more than 300 complaints have been received about more than 150 companies. Andy is now contacting all of the companies identified in the complaints.

The Mayor is also calling on Government to tighten safety guidelines further and issue a clear ruling to end all non-essential work, in an effort to protect key workers and reinforce its Stay At Home message.

Andy said: “In the past few days I’ve heard an increasing number of reports about companies here in Greater Manchester that are ignoring strict guidance from Public Health England.

“Since asking people to contact me in confidence to share their experiences, I’ve received more than 300 emails from people worried that their employers were exposing them to completely unnecessary risk by sending them to work in unsafe conditions.

“I am now seeking legal advice about the enforcement actions that Greater Manchester Police and other agencies in Greater Manchester can take against any business that continues to carry out unnecessary work, flouting the official guidance and endangering lives.

“So many of our city-region’s businesses, large and small, are pulling together and supporting our communities through this outbreak. However, despite repeated calls to stay at home and protect the NHS, some employers are carrying on as normal and refusing to adapt. This is unacceptable.

“We simply cannot have a situation where people are being forced to risk their own health and that of their families. I am now writing to all of the companies who’ve been identified, urging them to evidence how they are complying with Public Health England guidelines to protect the health and welfare of their employees.

“Unfortunately, guidance issued to businesses stating employees should follow two-metre social distancing ‘where possible’ means some employers continue to call people in to work unnecessarily. The Government must now remove this get-out clause and issue a clear ruling to end all non-essential work and reinforce its vital Stay At Home message.”

Anyone wishing to raise their concerns or make a confidential complaint about a company not following Public Health England guidelines can email the.mayor@greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk. All correspondence will be treated in strict confidence and complainants will remain anonymous.

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