The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has clarified builders’ merchants’ operational status during the COVID-19 crisis following a Construction Leadership Council Taskforce briefing with BEIS.
Government restrictions have specified people should work from home where possible, but where it is not possible people can continue to work as normal, while observing Public Health England (PHE) Guidelines.
However, construction and manufacturing operations are given as examples of workplaces where people cannot work from home.
The federation pointed out the importance of merchants to support the construction sector and should continue to function, supporting the industry to operate on sites especially for essential work.
However, all operations should be carried out whilst observing Public Health England (PHE) Guidelines.
CEO of the BMF John Newcomb said: “The advice we received from BEIS makes it clear that merchants should continue to operate.
“Ideally, this should be through online and delivery services, but those who need to maintain depot service are able to do so providing they observe PHE guidance including social distancing, cleaning and hygiene, staff welfare and all other means to minimise the risks of transmitting coronavirus.”
The BEIS has offered the following advice to BMF members which has been sent to merchants:
- Builders merchants should continue to operate, and to provide a key service to their customers, but do this taking account of the guidance provided by Public Health England
- Online and delivery services can operate as normal, although drivers should seek to follow advice on social distancing, and avoid close contact with customers;
- Where firms operate stores, they should consider how to manage ordering and collection systems and store operations to observe PHE guidance including social distancing, and on cleaning and hygiene, including of staff welfare facilities, to minimise the risk of transmitting coronavirus;
- merchants open to the public should consider whether to continue to allow this during the period when restrictions are in place, and if this is necessary, should consider restrictions on the number of people in their stores at any one time, and how to improve cleaning and hygiene within stores to minimise the risk of transmitting coronavirus.
The British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom Installers (BiKBBI) has also issued advice about what constitutes “essential work” to its members.