The logistics sector must be given access to PPE to ensure a successful return to work once the COVID-19 lockdown is ended, the FTA has warned.

The association is calling on the government and Public Health England to give all supply chain workers clear direction on what PPE they need and how it should be used.

Elizabeth de Jong, FTA’s policy director, said: “It is absolutely right and proper that the NHS is prioritised in the use of PPE, but supply chains also have a vital role to play in the economic recovery, and if the scientific evidence points to the use of PPE as a necessity in restarting business, then logistics must be given access to the supplies that it needs, so that critical services can start to move again.”

She warned that unless workers feel safe then the recovery could be threatened.

“Public debate and uncertainty about PPE, and in particular facemasks, has caused disquiet and unease about whether working in logistics environments is truly safe.

“There is also concern that this lack of clarity has also led to fewer workers making themselves available to work, and some businesses closing over staff welfare concerns.

“Government advice may be that business should be able to function safely, but without clear direction from either Public Health England or government to confirm that the use of PPE, particularly facemasks, is required or advantageous in non-healthcare workplaces or in public is creating more confusion and uncertainty.”

De Jong also called for an extension to furloughing. She said: “We are urging government to exercise caution in withdrawing all financial support including the option of furloughing from the industry – these have been challenging times, and the issues faced by our industry will not vanish overnight.

“We all want to return to normal, whatever that may now look like, as quickly as possible, but must not undo the good work done while we have faced such unprecedented challenges. For some businesses which have been hardest hit by the pandemic, support may be needed for a few months yet.”