TYNEDALE'S largest employer has explained its reasons why it continues to operate during the coronavirus.

Questions had been raised about why Egger, in Hexham, remained open after Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared on Monday evening that non-essential shops and other businesses needed to close to minimise the spread of the virus.

A spokesman for Egger explained that some of the factory's products were used in essential services, including the construction of the new NHS field hospital in London.

On Tuesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said any worker who could not do their job from home should go to work to "keep the country running".

Plant manager Andrew Sanderson, said: “In line with most manufacturing companies, Egger has been impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

"At all sites, including Hexham, the company’s top priority is the health and safety of its employees, customers and stakeholders.

"Production currently continues in Hexham, with extensive measures being taken to ensure that we operate safely and within the Government’s guidelines.

"Where possible, many employees have been set up so they can continue to work from home, significantly reducing the number of people working on the site.

"A number of our customers remain on the essential government list, including the funeral sector and suppliers to the NHS, which includes currently the construction and fit out of the Excel NHS Field Hospital in London.

"The management team continues to constantly monitor its operation and resource planning.”

However, concerned workers at the factory have contacted the Courant to say that the workforce wasn’t being protected from catching the virus.

One worker said: “I am really concerned with the way we are working.

“The Government’s safety measures are not being followed at all. The lack of empathy and consideration for the staff is out of order."

It was claimed that some departments in the factory had large groups of people confined to small spaces who weren’t obeying the two-metre social distancing rule.

The worker, who also wished to remain anonymous, added: “Not everyone has received any protective equipment, it’s only gone to the departments that really need it.

“It’s a fallacy what we have to do. It’s not safe.”

Another worker said he had difficulty getting time off work to care for his children.