STAFF at a home retail store claim they are being forced into work despite the Government ordering stores to close.

Workers at the the Range in Pitsea say fridges and freezers have been brought in over the past week so the business can stay open.

The Government had ordered all non-essential businesses to close to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The worried team say the firm has not provided them with adequate protection from getting infected.

One staff member, who asked not to be named, said: “In two weeks’ time this pandemic will be rife, staff at the Range in Pitsea have been concerned for some time.

“No protection given, just ‘distance signs” - people returning items from homes that may contain the virus, no gloves or hand sanitiser supplied.

“This is unacceptable in this present climate. The Range staff need help to express their worries about contamination.

“We do NOT sell essential items, even though freezers (one) were brought in last Monday, they are empty.

“It’s a sad, money making, greedy move by the owner. All these staff need protection. It’s wrong. We have all had to buy our own sanitiser and gloves.

“We have not had many customers at all, the ones that have been returning things, buying non-essential items like mirrors and wallpaper.”

Leader of Basildon Council, Gavin Callaghan, also raised concerns about the store remaining open. He posted on Facebook yesterday saying he had received a response from the CEO.

He said: “The CEO of the Range has replied to my letter and explained that they believe they provide thousands of essential goods so on agreement with the Government will remain open. “I disagree with the decision the Government has made. “Only supermarkets and pharmacies should be open at this time to reduce the spread of the virus.

“Staff are being asked to risk their health, and the health of their families, on low pay, in order to seek coke and crisps. It’s a shambles.”

The Range was contacted for comment.