What Coronavirus means for the Construction and Trades Industries
New measures came into force on 23rd March stating that you should only leave home for one of four reasons; shopping for basic essentials and medicine, one form of exercise a day, medical needs or caring for the vulnerable, and travelling to and from work but only where this cannot be done from home.
There are many industries where it is impossible to work from home, and one of these is construction. In order for our economy to stay buoyant, industry and manufacturing must keep up production, as so many other sectors are closing down for the foreseeable future.
A growing number of construction companies have downed tools in a bit to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, but there still seems to be some confusion about the government’s advice about social distancing, and whether all construction is deemed as essential.
The government has said that work can continue so long as social distancing rules are adhered to. Some argue that a 2 meter distance between people on construction sites is not only difficult to police, but also to maintain. In the light of this, many house builders have closed their sites amid fears that spreading the virus was a very real danger.
Shortly after lockdown rules had been announced, the Communities and Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick stated: ”It’s important that we make sure that construction and manufacturing can continue and that seems to me to be the safest way of ensuring that we can maintain appropriate social distancing rules in a way which ensures that people who cannot work from home continue to do so.”
However, not all construction is carried out on large sites. Many builders have to enter people’s homes in order to carry out their work. Work on home extensions which involves close contact with the homeowner has been deemed ‘inappropriate’ but reconstructing or building a home where there is no one present is appropriate and can continue.
Government rules also state that ‘No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs, and where the tradesperson is willing to do so. In such cases, Public Health England can provide advice to tradespeople and households.’
In such unprecedented times, it’s impossible to gauge when life might begin to return to normal, but for those whose livelihoods depend on them returning to work it can’t come soon enough.
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