CONSTRUCTION workers and takeaway cooks have said they fear for their safety as they continue to work in close proximity to colleagues.

Workers have contacted the Oxford Mail to voice concerns, and say they are struggling to observe the two-metre social distancing rule in cramped kitchens and communal staff facilities.

It comes after the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Oxfordshire has risen to 86, with four fatalities recorded in the county, according to NHS data.

Large-scale building sites and food takeaways and deliveries are allowed to continue during the lockdown – but many people contest that they should be considered 'essential business'.

Among the building sites where work has continued is at West Way in Botley, where student flats, a hotel, retail and restaurant units are taking shape.

Also read: Taylor Wimpey shuts down ALL construction sites, show homes and offices

One worker on the site, who was so concerned he sent himself home, said: "They're losing guys by the day.

"It shouldn't be open – it's unbelievable. People are still congregating in the smoking shed and passing each other on the stairs.

"It's been chaos trying to get on site in the mornings, absolute chaos."

He said measures including temperature tests on entry had been introduced, but that people were not keeping their distance.

The worker, who asked not to be named, added: "All the locals are complaining.

"Every day [workers] are putting themselves in harm's way.

"I've got a mortgage and don't know if I'll get paid [at home], but you can't pay the bills from the grave."

The development is being overseen by the development division of construction company Mace.

Also read: Domino's staff worried about working during lockdown

In a statement on Tuesday, the firm's chief executive Mark Reynolds said Mace's work would be suspended for 'at least 48 hours', 'with the exception of safety critical works'.

He added: "The health, safety and wellbeing of our people and the communities they work in is our top priority, and unless we are certain sites can operate safely and in accordance with guidance, we will not re-open them."

However, work at West Way seems to have continued.

A Mace spokesperson said: "Main contractor SDC have advised us that they are continually monitoring the government's guidance for construction sites, and have committed to fully comply with their recommendations."

Many Oxford Mail readers have expressed concerns about building works continuing across the county.

Commenting on a Facebook post this week, Krista Sullivan-Webb wrote: "A prime example of putting the economy before people’s lives, it’s an absolute disgrace!"

Also read: Eerie photos show Oxford like you've never seen it before

One reader raised concerns about work on the Redrow Homes site in Kennington.

Herald Series:

Redrow workers on site in Kennington today

In a statement, Redrow said its sites are operating with 'strict precautions including enhanced levels of cleaning, additional hygiene facilities and social distancing'.

Several readers have been in touch about the continuation of work at St Edward's School in Oxford, where major development is under way.

Edward Hayter, bursar at the Summertown school, said: "It is our absolute priority that all activities at St Edward’s are strictly in line with the government’s social distancing and lockdown directives.

"We are in close contact with our contractors who have given the required assurances that they will only continue to operate as long as they are able to maintain the required social distancing and health and safety requirements.

"They have both produced full risk assessments of their construction activity in relation to coronavirus and all office-based staff are working from home to minimise the number of their staff coming on to the sites."

Taylor Wimpey is one of the housebuilders to announce closure of all sites to protect workers and customers.

Several other firms have paused work – but only for a short time.

In Cornmarket in Oxford, Jesus College's £36m redevelopment of Northgate House has now been put on hold.

Also read: More about what the development will look like

BAM Construction, which is carrying out the project, halted work on Wednesday night across its sites.

A statement from company bosses said: "[This is] to enable further detailed reviews of the working practices necessary to reduce the risks of Covid-19.

"BAM is determined to maintain the highest levels of safety for our employees and their families, our supply chain, our clients, along with the wider public."

However, following this review, work is expected to resume from Monday.

Builders are not the only people questioning if they should go to work, given the government's plea to 'stay home, save lives'.

In the takeaway industry, there are concerns about small food preparation spaces in some restaurants and fast food joints.

On Tuesday a video was posted on Twitter, showing colleagues preparing pizzas in an Oxford branch of Domino's.

Also read: Blenheim Palace staff put on furlough due to impact of coronavirus

Nick Beale, who tweeted the video, said he was 'disgusted' to see eight workers inside the 'tiny' space.

One Domino's employee, who asked not to be named, told the Oxford Mail: "The store [I work at] is too small to guarantee a two metre gap at all times.

"They should be closed until further notice."

Domino's said it is issuing clear guidelines to store teams, reiterating government advice.

A spokesperson added: "Our priority is the safety of our colleagues and customers.

"We are working closely with our store teams and have implemented clear processes to ensure distance is maintained between colleagues."