Coronavirus lockdown: Which companies are still asking employees to go to work?

24 March 2020, 18:02

Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

Boris Johnson has announced a nationwide lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic, meaning businesses that are not deemed essential are being forced to close.

The decision comes in a bid to force social distancing measures into practice by requiring people to work remotely or stay at home.

But workers for several big brands across the UK have said their employers are still asking them to go into the workplace - deeming themselves an essential business.

So - which brands are they?

Who is open for business?

+ Sports Direct

In a public spat on Tuesday morning, Sports Direct reluctantly agreed to close its stores following government direction.

However, multiple staff members say they are still being asked to come into work behind closed doors.

In a statement, Frasers Group said it was "due to confusing guidelines issued by the government" that stores remained open.

It added: "We were simply seeking 100% confirmation as to whether we should keep our sports/bike stores open.

"Frasers Group would and will follow whatever the government advises.

"All stores within the Frasers Group are closed."

+ The Range

The home, leisure and garden shop has received a dozens of angry messages on its Facebook page from workers and relatives of employees over its decision to remain open.

LBC News has contacted The Range for comment.

+ Dexters

The estate agents released a statement to say that while its offices were "no longer open to the public", it would continue to operate with some staff members heading into the workplace.

It said: "In the current lock down, we are not carrying out physical viewings of property.

"Where our colleagues can, they are working from home and we are fully available to help Londoners with their urgent and longer term property needs."

+ Next

While the fashion retailer has closed its high street shops, reports from employees in the warehouses, and those sorting stock were asked to continue turning up for work.

LBC News has contacted Next for comment.

+ WHSmith

The retailer said in a statement that it was closing "all stores apart from those designated essential by the government."

It added: "About 40% of our store portfolio is remaining open to provide customers with these important services."

+ Holland & Barrett

In replies to those querying the shop's decision to remain open, the company said: "We have been advised by the government that our stores should remain open as a 'health retailer'.

"This relates to our sale of healthy and specialty foods, supplements and vitamins.

"We are encouraging online shopping to reduce unnecessary travel."

+ John Lewis

A number of reports from people who say they are employees report being asked to go to work in the company's call centres. The company's delivery service is also ongoing.

LBC News has contacted John Lewis for comment.

An essential business has been outlined by the government as supermarkets, pharmacies, petrol stations, newsagents, bicycle shops, hardware shops, laundrettes and dry cleaners, garages, pet shops, post offices and banks.

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