BRITS were yesterday urged by the Health Secretary to keep working to save the country from economic disaster.
As many of the nation’s 32million workers as possible should carry on from home, they were told.
But those who cannot must keep commuting — as long as bosses keep them safe, Matt Hancock said.
No 10 insisted that as well as frontline NHS staff, key workers included Britain’s army of construction employees and manufacturing staff.
But there was initial confusion over the “rushed advice”.
London Tube trains were crammed with rush-hour commuters yesterday.
That sparked a row between the Government and London Mayor Sadiq Khan over who was to blame for the chaos.
Mr Hancock said: “I want to be clear that where people absolutely cannot work from home, they can still go to work — indeed it is important they do to keep the country running.”
And he lashed out at Mr Khan for failing to run enough Tube trains in London after services were cut during the outbreak.
Government sources said while Transport for London staffing was down 20 per cent, as many as 50 per cent of the Tubes had stopped.
Mr Hancock insisted: “There is no good reason in the information that I’ve seen that the current levels of Tube provision should be as low as they are.”
TWO-METRE RULE APPLIES
But Mr Khan said, for safety reasons, it was “simply not true” he was able to run more. He also said the PM slapped him down during a meeting on whether builders should go to work.
Mr Hancock put the onus on bosses to keep their workers safe, saying: “In work, in many, many instances, the two-metre rule can be applied. Employers have a duty to ensure workers are two metres apart.”
It came as Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley tried to keep stores open — then pushed up prices. His group told staff its fitness ranges made it a vital asset.
But it later announced that its shops would close.
Ashley’s stores had hiked prices by more than 50 per cent on some goods. Sports Direct blamed lack of clarity for the shops fiasco, and supply problems for the rises.
Meanwhile, Wetherspoons boss Tim Martin told staff to “go work at Tesco” instead as the pub firm warned they could face delays over pay.