Many builders were forced to turn up for work yesterday, many using packed public transport, after being excluded from lockdown measures.

Downing Street said they should continue to work if they can follow public health guidelines to remain two metres apart.

But the government advice was at odds with official instructions in Scotland and London mayor Sadiq Khan said he clashed with the PM about the move.

Electrician Dan Dobson said the Government must provide support to self-employed workers, including about a million in the construction industry, and then shut down building sites.

He added: “They have no incentive to stay at home, they have bills to pay.

“Everyone on site at the minute feels angry and unprotected.

“None of them want to go to work, everyone is worried about taking it (coronavirus) home to their families.

“But they still have bills to pay, they still have rent to pay, they still have to buy food.

“Construction sites will stay open until the Government issues an order to close.

“But the Government cannot issue the order to close until it offers support to the one million-plus construction workers – it has to go hand in hand.”

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the Construction Leadership Council had issued guidance to the industry.

He added: “We urge employers to use their common sense when managing live projects and ensuring that employees can follow the Government guidance and practice safe social distancing on site.”

Cabinet minister Michael Gove said “construction on sites should continue”. 

But Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said construction sites should close unless the work is “essential” such as hospitals.

London’s Mr Khan said he told the Prime Minister “forcibly” at a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee that construction workers should not be going into work.

He told LBC: “One of the points I made was, construction workers, unless it is for safety reasons, should not be going to work. I was overruled.”

British Safety Council chairman Lawrence Waterman said that all non-essential construction work should be stopped so that workers can stay safe.

He added: “The construction sector needs clarity from the Government – on most sites social distancing will be impossible or simply unsafe.

“All non-essential construction should end now so that construction workers can go home House-builder Taylor Wimpey has closed its construction sites, show homes and sale sites.

But rival Redrow said its sites remain open with “strict precautions in place including enhanced levels of cleaning, additional hygiene facilities and social distancing”.

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