Richard Lochhead MSP (pictured) has released the following statement on non-essential work during the Coronavirus lockdown period.
“We are the middle of a public health emergency and life is not the same, with everyone having to adapt to keep safe and with our local economy under severe pressure.
“Society is in lockdown and the latest advice recommends that all non-essential businesses should close their premises for the foreseeable future to help prevent the spread of the virus and to support staff.
“The coming weeks are going to be difficult and I appeal to any business that is still asking staff to report to work to review if the business they are undertaking is helping to tackle Covid-19 or is contributing in a meaningful way to the health and wellbeing of the nation.
“If not, and staff can’t work from home, they should furlough their staff, claim the government’s 80% wage subsidy and temporarily close their premises to help save lives.
“Any business that believes it has a case for remaining open should also ensure effective social distancing is achievable and if not they should also close and where staff can’t work from home they should be furloughed.
“I commend the many businesses in Moray that have sent staff home and closed their premises in line with advice, but I am still hearing of instances of employers continuing to carry out what any reasonable person would deem non-essential work.
“Even where companies believe what are doing is essential not every post within that company falls under that definition and these workers could be sent home.
“For instance, I am hearing that although many whisky distilleries in Speyside are doing the right thing and stepping down production others have not.
“For every distillery that remains open to simply produce whisky to be taken to the warehouse for three years, then the rest of the supply chain is under pressure to keep working also.
“I continue to be inundated by pleas from anxious employees and their families who tell me their role is non-essential and they believe their work places should scale back activity or close for the foreseeable future.
“Support is there to help firms prepare to get back to work again once we get through this.
“This is a very challenging time for the Moray economy and we need to be ready to step production back up again, but the health of the community comes first.”