Today Boris Johnson announced a new set of rules and restrictions for England in an attempt to flatten a rising curve of COVID-19 cases. In a statement to the Commons the PM announced a series of new measures:

  • those who can work from home have been told to do so – this doesn’t apply to construction and manufacturing
  • masks are now a legal requirement for customers in taxis and private hire cares, staff in hospitality and customers in pubs, bars, restaurants etc
  • maximum number of people allowed at weddings reduced to 15 from 30. Funerals remain the same at 30
  • all hospitality venues must close by 10pm – restaurants can continue to serve takeaway food after 10pm
  • pilot scheme to allow fans in stadiums and conference centres on hold

The reality is that these new restrictions aren’t a huge deviation away from the situation England was in before. 10m people across England are under other local lockdown measures, and the above brings the country more in line with those local measures.

In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon took the decision to ban households mixing. This has been a key point where scientists have said will break potential trains of transmission. Nicoal Sturgeon to Holyrood went as far to say that the measures announced by the UK PM don’t go far enough and won’t curb rising rates. We will see in a few weeks time whether the two different approaches have worked or not.

In Wales and Northern Ireland their own regionalised measures align more closely to Scotland. England’s new measures set it apart from the rest of the devolved nations.

A YouGov poll after Boris’ 8pm address to the nation showed 77% of the public supported his new measures. However, many also doubt the potential effectiveness of certain measures such as the 10pm curfew for pubs and the continuation of the “rule of 6” and the allowing of mixing households in England.

Unlikely to affect fenestration operation

The change in course today is unlikely to have any operational effect on the UK fenestration industry. None of the new measures above affects our industry, and in Nicola Sturgeon’s speech to Scotland, this evening made it clear that their new regulations didn’t affect tradespeople. I appreciated that she deliberately included that section of society as there has been so much confusion around trades in the past.

What this should serve to our industry is though is a renewed push to ensure all our workplaces are COVID safe, that we all wear masks where required to do so in workspaces and in people’s homes. Its something we take very seriously at our place, unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be the case with our competition with our clients telling us that we’re the only ones wearing masks and maintaining social distancing measures.

Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, we’re not past this crisis, and Winter brings with it a renewed phase. The chances are more restrictions will be imposed in the weeks to come if the current new measures don’t take effect. So it’s important that with cases rising, our workplaces in our sector are as safe, clean and organised as possible. We might see more people returning to work from home if they weren’t continuing to do so already. But crucially for installers, working in homes remains fine. Orders books are crammed. It’s imperative we fit as much of that work as possible.

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Empathy and support required

We’re about to enter a new phase of this crisis, and just like the first wave, togetherness and empathy is needed to help each other work to function through the Winter during this pandemic.

Over time, I have seen social media denegrate to a point where those who seek to use those platforms to vent about it shut down by trolls. This is the wrong attitude to take. You only need to take a look at the comment threads from tweets from media outlets to see the abuse and mocking of those who remain concerned about the crisis. I appreciate that everyone has an opinion on this, but to turn what remains for some the only outlet on which to converse on the subject into a place where some fear to tweet about it is wrong. This crisis is still very real for many people, that has to be taken into consideration.

It took myself some time to decide even to write this. Its been a while since I have written a post directly about COVID, for the reason in the above paragraph, and no doubt I’ll have some “feedback” sent my way once this goes live. But today was too big a day in the story of this crisis not to cover it at least from a fenestration perspective.

I would urge everyone to continue to look after one another. Whilst you might be over it and want to hear nothing more about it, there are businesses and people in our sector and wider society that remain worried and continue to be affected by the disease directly or indirectly. Language matters and in all spheres togetherness and helpfulness are going to be vital tools over the next few months.

Its as you were for fenestration. Installers, keep on selling. Fabricators, keep on producing. Systems companies, keep that profile coming. Be safe. Help each other.

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