Government clarification on lockdown rules

Construction work can continue during the lockdown period, according to a recently received government clarification sought by the GGF.

The federation had said that its members had received conflicting advice and views regarding whether or not they should remain open for business during the lockdown period. It therefore contacted the government for clarification regarding essential workers in construction.

Writing to the ministers at the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the GGF received from the Directorate of Construction, which clarified the situation.

“There is currently no distinction between essential and inessential construction work in England,” it said. “The government’s position is that construction work can continue, provided the worker is not displaying symptoms of Covid-19 (coronavirus), does not need to self-isolate for another reason, and that the work can be done in a manner consistent with the guidelines published by Public Health England (PHE).”

The GGF relayed the government’s response to its member companies, as well publishing on its website the latest government guidance on social distancing in the workplace and the more detailed guidance from Public Health England.

The GGF has advised that business owners conduct a thorough health and safety risk assessment of the workplace and contact their insurance provider to ensure that employer’s liability and public liability insurance policies are unaffected during this period.

John Agnew, GGF’s managing director, said: “Though we are pleased the government responded in a swift and clear manner to clarify this important matter, this a fast-moving and changing situation. I would therefore advise all members to be responsible, and if they choose to operate, then they should do so within the government’s health and safety guidelines and social distancing guidance.”

The GGF has also written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer highlighting the current cash flow crisis in the glass and glazing industry.

The GGF also stressed that the length of time the claim to payment process is taking will mean money under the new government schemes might not reach companies in time, with an anticipated six to eight weeks’ process period.

The GGF also proposed three ways the government could improve the current financial situation for many small to medium sized companies during the Covid-19 crisis: that glass and glazing companies be made eligible for the cash grant scheme (that is currently open only for companies in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors); that glass and glazing companies are made eligible to apply for the current business rates holiday (currently only open to companies in retail, hospitality and leisure sectors); and to increase the maximum amount that can be claimed under the small business grant funding scheme from £10,000 to £30,000.