Road maintenance crews fear their safety may be at risk because they have been instructed to work as normal during the coronavirus pandemic.

Maintenance repair workers at Ringway have been told the work they do on the road network in Hertfordshire is ‘essential’.

Repairs made to roads over this period of lockdown will help keep streets safe for key workers, the emergency services, delivery vehicles and anyone requiring essential goods from supermarkets, Ringway said.

But one Ringway employee was outraged to discoverer they still had to continue working despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying people should work from home unless their work is deemed ‘essential’.

The worker said: “Ringway are saying we are keyworkers now, which is untrue. Why would putting a kerb back or patching a footway be essential work?

“I understand the gritting is essential.

“We have got over 50 men in the yard who are scared to go near each other, who are essentially using the same lorries on different days without being cleaned.

“We cannot do virtually any jobs that don’t endanger the two-metre restriction, so most are just hanging about in the yard potentially spreading the virus by doing nothing.

“There are well over 100 workers in the Ringway yards in Hertfordshire and this non-social distancing could potentially cause many deaths.”

Kevin Carrol, Ringway divisional manager, working on behalf of Hertfordshire County Council, said: "We recognise this is a difficult and scary time for us all.

"We are absolutely committed to keeping all of our people safe at work and have been continuing to deliver front line, essential works in partnership with local councils, such as Hertfordshire County Council, and in line with government advice.

“Our Ringway teams are delivering critical services that keep our highway networks safe, so that NHS workers, suppliers and other critical services, such as food deliveries, teachers and carers are able to keep moving at this time.

“We have changed the way we work to incorporate social distancing rules, including introducing new risk assessments and providing additional cleaning and welfare protocols.

“We are in the process of making safe and demobilising all non-essential worksites and projects. This is a task that we will have completed by the end of this week.

“No-one should feel unsafe at work, and this applies now more than ever.”

Hertfordshire County Council is working with all of its contractors to make sure that government social distancing rules are applied on all sites.

Phil Bibby, the cabinet member for highways at the council, said: “Our highways service has a vital role to play in making sure essential workers and deliveries can get around safely, which is why we’re continuing with roadworks where it’s safe for us to do so.

“We’re prioritising schemes that keep the roads safe and prevent them deteriorating too much and putting back works that we can’t do safely at this time.

“Please be kind to our workers out on the roads at this difficult time.

"It’s difficult for them too, but they do have an essential role to play in keeping our road network safe, making sure essential workers and deliveries can get through and preparing the county to get back to normal as quickly as possible when this is all over.”