We knew tonight was going to be big, and so it proved to be. After weeks of pleading with the general public to adhere to advice given by the Government, we have been moved into near lockdown mode. With only essential businesses told to stay open, no gatherings of more than two people unless its the family you live with, and only trips outside the house for essential items as infrequently as possible.

This has absolutely massive consequences for UK fenestration. I am going to try and digest them here for you and make as much sense of it as I can. Please bear with me as the information is still coming out from Government and by the time we wake up in the morning it may well have advanced further.

Official guidance:

This is taken directly from the document just published by Government:

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I have already seen a high number of installers taking to social media to announce that they will close until told otherwise. Its a very hard decision for many of us to take, but the right one in terms of the national effort. Boris said that meeting friends or family cannot happen, so the idea of a fitter turning up to fit windows and doors won’t fly.

It looks to me that despite there being a loophole for our sector, many are choosing to do the morally right thing and close. For the safety of their staff and their customers. Make no mistake, this is a grave decision to make for the life of any business. They must be commended for the hard decisions being made.

For fabricators, this is going to cause a major moral dilemma. They will have orders in the pipeline, due to go out for delivery to installers. For many, that’s not going to be possible. Invoices will be owed by installers for items delivered. For many, orders will now dry up as installers wait until the situation changes. The effect will quickly work its way up the supply chain.

More than all of this, we have to think about the workers. How many will have watched that speech tonight, and wondered if they really want to go into work tomorrow. Yes money is important, and bills have to be paid, but if you’re employed, you’re guaranteed 80% of your wage from the Government anyway. Is it worth it? For the self employed, it looks like you now have help too: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/58-01/0122/amend/coronavirus_daily_cwh_0320rev.14-18.html

Lets be realistic, operating a company in fenestration right now is very hard. If you’re an installer, even if you could go to site, operating the updated PHE guidelines isn’t easy. Installers are already reporting to me that some home owners are putting their orders on hold, cancelling, or not letting fitters on site. If you’re a fabricator, how can you ensure that on a busy shop floor, pumping out hundreds of frames per week that you can maintain a minimum 2m distance between each worker in all spaces at all times? Now a lot of installers have taken it upon themselves to close, the flow of orders will dry up and existing orders likely placed on hold. For systems companies, the effects up the supply chain will be felt as well. Will fabricators begin to pause orders if they believe their installers won’t order? The lack of clarity from Government tonight has not helped. But even if we’re only in 85% lockdown now, in a couple of weeks its likely that we’ll be at 100% soon enough.

Think about public perception. Just because you think you can fit, will the home owner now want you in their home? Do you risk bad publicity by pressing ahead with installations?

I am not a legal expert, or Government advisor. I simply have a family run installations business who is going through the very same problems you all are. We have to think of our staff, our responsibility to keep them and our customers as safe as possible, no matter how many precautions we take. I’m not telling you what decision you would take. I know what I would do.

IMPORTANT: brand new information for the self-employed has been published. Please read it here: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/58-01/0122/amend/coronavirus_daily_cwh_0320rev.14-18.html

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