Two of the Isle of Wight’s largest employers have hit back at claims they should be closed during the coronavirus pandemic, saying they are ‘following Government guidance’.
Staff at GKN Aerospace and MHI Vestas are still at work on the Isle of Wight – as the government hasn’t issued advice for factories to close.
A number of Islanders have contacted Isle of Wight Radio to raise concerns about the ‘high number of employees working at the respective sites.’
Guidance and restrictions on businesses have been issued by the government for those trading in non-essential services, such as pubs, restaurants, and some types of shops.
However, no requirement for businesses outside the listed sectors to close has been issued.
The Gov.UK website guidance for those going to work is as follows:
‘People can travel to and from work, but only where the work they do absolutely cannot be done from home.
‘With the exception of the organisations in the section on closing non-essential shops and public spaces, the Government has not required any other businesses to close – indeed it is important for business to carry on.’
Isle of Wight Radio has approached GKN Aerospace and MHI Vestas for details on any precautions they are taking to keep their staff safe during the pandemic.
In a statement from GKN Aerospace, a spokesperson said:
“These are unprecedented times. Our key priority throughout is to safeguard our people, while continuing to deliver for our customers in line with the latest Government guidance for businesses such as GKN Aerospace to ‘carry on’.
“we continue to follow national guidance as a minimum in all the countries in which we operate. In the UK this has included a health questionnaire for every employee to enable vulnerable employees to identify themselves and remain away from the workplace, in addition to other measures such as social distancing and increased cleaning cycles at our facilities.
“we will continue to take all steps necessary to ensure the health and safety of our workforce, our partners and everyone associated with the business.”
In response to Isle of Wight Radio’s questions to MHI Vestas, a spokesperson said:
“In regards to the Isle of Wight facility – we’re closely following the guidance of the UK government in regards to our operations there and taking COVID-19 extremely seriously across our business.
“We have implemented changes to the IoW operations to encourage physical distancing at the workplace, while ensuring that production continues. For example, shift changes are being amended to avoid too many people in the changing rooms at any one time; team meetings are taking place with people asked to stand 2 metres apart; dining protocols have changed to avoid close contact including by closing the canteen, etc.
“If anyone is experiencing flu-like symptoms, or someone in their family is experiencing the same, they are asked to stay at home and self-quarantine for the designated period of time.
“We really want to thank our dedicated employees who are continuing to come into work. The electricity sector has been demarcated as a critical sector by the UK government, as well as the manufacturing and supply chain supporting this sector. So we are proceeding until informed otherwise, while making sure that we’re in compliance with authorities’ advice with respect to health, and protecting the health and safety of our employees and their families.
“We’re mindful that the UK, and our critical services such as the NHS, needs the energy being produced by our wind turbines now more than ever, and that we also need to preserve jobs and livelihoods during this challenging time.”
The advice from the government is to maintain a distance of two metres between yourself and persons from outside your household, along with limiting public gatherings to no more than two people.
Isle of Wight Radio has also approached two other large Island employers regarding any precautions they are taking.