An advanced lockdown level or tier 5 is currently in place across England with the rules somewhat similar to those of the first lockdown. The main message is to stay at home wherever possible. However, for tradespeople like plumbers and electricians, who have to go to clients’ homes for work, this guidance has obvious limitations.
So, if you’re a tradesperson, what does the tier 5 lockdown mean for you? Can you continue to work? Here’s what you need to know.
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What do the new tier 5 rules say?
According to the new tier 5 rules, you must not leave home or be outside your home except where necessary. You can only leave home if you have a reasonable excuse, such as going to work if the work can’t be done from home.
Can tradespeople continue working?
In short, yes. Given that the job cannot be done remotely and requires in-person attendance, if you’re a tradesperson, you can continue working.
The government’s guidance ‘applies to those working in, visiting or delivering to home environments’. This includes, but is not limited to, people providing repair services, fitters, cleaners, cooks, meter readers and plumbers. You can still work in other people’s homes as long as you follow COVID-Secure guidance.
However, if you’re clinically vulnerable, you’re advised to stay at home even if that means you cannot work.
How can tradespeople keep safe in people’s homes?
The government says that you should not enter a property or carry out work in a place where a member of the household is showing symptoms of Covid-19 or is shielding. It goes without saying that you should not attempt to work if you are experiencing any symptoms yourself.
You should communicate with households before any visit to discuss how the work will be carried out to minimise risk for all parties involved.
When working in a house where someone is clinically vulnerable (e.g. a person over 70) you are required to make prior arrangements with the person to avoid face-to-face contact (e.g. when answering the door).
Other safety rules that should be observed are as follows:
- Where possible, wear a face mask
- Maintain the two-metre social distancing rule
- Wash your hands at regular intervals for 20 seconds using soap and water
- Thoroughly clean regularly touched objects and surfaces
- Open windows and doors to maintain good ventilation in the work environment
- Avoid touching your face and dispose of all tissues safely and immediately after use
- Ask your customers to pay using electronic payment methods rather than cash to minimise contact
What about tradespeople who work in teams?
Where there are multiple workers in a home, under tier 5 restrictions they should be divided into fixed teams or partnered up to reduce the number of people each person has contact with.
They should also work back to back or side to side rather than face to face whenever possible.
Where there is a need to hand over tools or domestic appliances to other teams, drop off points or transfer zones should be created to avoid direct contact.
What support can I get if I cannot work?
The good news is that if you cannot work during the tier 5 lockdown, there is still a lot of support available from the government. This includes the furlough scheme, which has been extended until the end of April.
Also, if you are a self-employed tradesperson and your profits have reduced because of the coronavirus, you can claim the SEISS grant. Applications for the third phase of the grant are now open and will close on 29 January 2021.