Boris Johnson announced at 8pm on 4 January that a national lockdown across England will be imposed from January 5, with rules similar to what was seen in the early stages of the pandemic.
However, the rules which apply to working from home will be of no use to tradespeople such as gas engineers, plumbers and electricians.
So, will tradespeople be affected by new restrictions? Here’s what you need to know about the new lockdown rules.
Can tradespeople still work?
Boris Johnson indicated in his national address on 4 January that the most accurate guidance can be found at gov.uk/coronavirus, where it states that anyone who cannot effectively work from home is allowed to work.
Therefore, tradespeople working in domestic properties can continue to enter people’s homes for the purpose of working.
The guidance states that it “applies to those working in, visiting or delivering to home environments. These include, but are not limited to, people working in the following areas: in home workers – such as repair services, fitters, meter readers, plumbers, cleaners, cooks, visiting childcare providers, and surveyors (this is not an exhaustive list).”
However, those who are clinically vulnerable and have yet to receive the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine are advised to remain at home – even if this means they cannot work.
What new safety measures should tradesmen adhere to?
Tradesmen should not enter the home of anyone who has tested positive for coronavirus and is self isolating.
The tradesperson and residents should communicate prior to any work being carried out, to help limit face to face contact.
While the job is being carried out and before leaving the house, the tradesperson should wipe down surfaces they have touched.
People working in a home should try to keep a two-metre distance between themselves and members of the household, and where this isn’t possible a one-metre distance and other sufficient measures (such as mask-wearing).
Face coverings should be worn and the amount of time working in any confined space should be kept to a minimum.
Workers should regularly clean their hands for more than 20 seconds and dipsose of any waste at the site or a designated refuse site.
Tradesmen should not use towels or products also used by people within the household, and they are advised to use paper towels and dispose of these off the property or immediately into an outside waste bin.
What are the rules for tradesmen working in teams?
If a tradesperson works with other individuals, they should work side to side or back to back rather than face to face.
Designated teams should be created to limit the number of people working together in confined spaces.
Any work which is not urgent and cannot be carried out while effectively following the guidelines, should be postponed.
Employers who knowingly allow someone to work in an environment where they are at increased risk of coronavirus will be penalised.
Should tradesmen in the vulnerable category continue working?
No, people who identify as vulnerable should not go to work.
This includes those who are in the higher risk categories such as: older men, black and ethic minority groups, people with diabetes or other health conditions impacted by the virus and those with a higher BMI.
Anyone who is unable to work will be kept on the extended furlough scheme by their employer.
Those who are self-employed and who filed tax returns in 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 should claim Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grants.
Tradesmen who have been able to continue working, but at a reduced rate due to coronavirus restrictions, can also claim loss of profit through SEISS.