Some people think cleaners should return to work during the pandemic and it's causing huge arguments

Some people think cleaners should return to work during the pandemic and it's causing huge arguments

Lockdown can only mean one thing: lots and lots of arguing online.

Boris Johnson’s new “relaxed lockdown” guidelines have cause a whole lot of confusion (and debate) about what is and isn’t acceptable right now.

One point of contention seems to be that it’s OK for cleaners and nannies to travel to work and enter peoples’ homes, but not okay for people to go and see relatives that they’ve not seen in weeks.


Lots of people have pointed out that it’s unfair for workers such as cleaners, who are disproportionately working-class women, to be put as risk of contracting and spreading Covid-19. Particularly seeing as, when push comes to shove, the vast majority of people do have the ability to clean their own homes, they just don't want to.

Some people have also suggested that, if you have a cleaner and haven’t felt any significant financial repercussions from the pandemic so far, the decent thing to do is pay them anyway and ask them to stay home and stay safe.

This all seems fairly uncontroversial, but on Twitter nothing is sacred, so of course it caused a huge argument.

LBC journalist Theo Usherwood said that by employing cleaners people are keeping households afloat right now.

But Guardian journalist Owen Jones didn’t agree.

Then journalist Sarah Ditum took issue with Jones’s retort, suggesting that doing her own cleaning was “KILLING” her...

(Which probably wasn't the best choice of words when Covid-19 is actually killing hundreds of people a day...)

Jones responded by saying that Ditum should enlist her teenagers’ help with the cleaning, which didn't go down well.

This is when Times journalist Janice Turner interjected to accuse Jones of being a “mansplainer”.

She mentioned that her mother had been a cleaner and also made the claim that cleaners like to clean to feel “useful”.

Naturally, this argument between several people with a lot of followers meant that the discussion sparked a lot of conversation (and memes too).

It’s fair to say that the vast, vast, vast majority of people sided with Owen Jones on this one.

Generally, people backed the point that it’s not fair to expect lower paid cleaners to put themselves at risk because you don’t want to clean your house.

Ditum eventually clarified that she doesn't have a cleaner, but no one was suggesting it's not fine to have a cleaner in general, just not right now.

Though the pro-pandemic cleaner side did have a few notable backers...

So there you have it, cleaner-gate, explained.

It's good that we're debating the issues affecting low-paid workers during the pandemic. After all, they're the ones who are disproportionately impacted by it.

This debate looks set to rumble on for a while. By the time it ends, lockdown will have been fully lifted and it'll almost be time to argue about Fairytale of New York all over again.

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