The British Cleaning Council (BCC) is calling for all cleaners to be to be included in the expanded first wave of testing for coronavirus for “essential workers” announced last week.
Last Thursday, the government launched an online testing scheme that it said was designed to allow “all essential workers” in England to register for tests if they or a family member were suffering from symptoms of the virus.
The list of those eligible included support staff in health and social care, the police, the fire and rescue services, education and childcare – meaning that cleaners in these few sectors are entitled to testing.
But the BCC says this still leaves a huge number of cleaners doing vital work totally unprotected.
BCC chairman Paul Thrupp said: “The cleaning sector has an essential role in maintaining the high hygiene standards that are essential to defeating the coronavirus.
“Many cleaners are potentially being put at risk of contracting the virus while doing this vital work, so it is only fair they are all also offered testing.
“In fact, this list of ‘essential workers’ entitled to testing doesn’t even include the many cleaners who are key workers in critical industries. There is no mention of support staff or cleaners working in food supply and retail, transport, utilities, communication and financial services, prisons, probation, courts or tribunals.
“The role of my cleaning sector colleagues is key to making sure staff in these sectors stay fit and well. Without the work of cleaners, these sectors could well grind to a halt due to large numbers of staff contracting coronavirus.
“We are calling for the government to urgently review this list and include all cleaners as a priority for testing. To suggest that testing is being offered to all essential workers is completely wrong when so many cleaners have been overlooked.”
The government’s list of essential workers eligible for coronavirus testing can be seen here.