Scotland and England have both today announced hard lockdowns to combat rising COVID infections and pressure on the health service. The new restrictions take us back to where we were in March and are set to last through January and possibly longer depending on the state of the healthcare situation. For Scotland and England, both begin at midnight tonight. For Scotland, the lockdown will continue through January, with a decision to be made at the end of the month as to whether to extend the lockdown. For England, it will last until at least mid-February, with the possibility of it being extended.

Here’s what it means for fenestration in both sectors.

Split approach

From the outset, these new restrictions mean different things for the fenestration industry. Manufacturing and construction in Scotland and England CAN both continue. Both have been deemed essential sectors.

The guidance on tradespeople for Scotland and England is different, however:

For installers in Scotland, the guidance above is clear that unless its an emergency, work in people’s homes will need to stop. For England however, the guidance is different. It says in a single line of information: Where it is necessary for you to work in other people’s homes – for example, for nannies, cleaners or tradespeople – you can do so.

This is not the clear cut definition that Scotland provided their workers earlier on in the day. The fundamental word in that line which carries a great deal of significance for installers in England is “necessary”. The guidance provided in Scotland goes into great detail as to what constitutes “necessary”. There is nothing in the guidance provided in England as to what constitutes necessary work. So as of tonight, installers in England, for now, will continue to work, installers in Scotland face a different scenario. In what continues to be a national emergency, two nations of the UK are currently in different positions in an area of the economy that directly affects UK fenestration.

Parliament is being recalled on Wednesday to pour through the detail of the new restrictions in England, so there may well be more detail added to the guidance in the middle of the week. I am also told that industry trade bodies are on calls with civil servants tomorrow morning to talk about the announcement tonight.

It’s worth noting that initial guidance is constantly updated and changed once published, so I fully expect more detail to be added in the coming days. As Scotland has taken a clear stance on working in the home, I suspect in the coming hours and days the guidance for England will be updated. So for England, as of now, installers will continue to work, but will need to continue to keep checking the Government guidance as it becomes clearer and more details in the coming days.

As we enter a new period of this pandemic, I urge all parts of the supply chain to be understanding and flexible with all other parts of the supply chain. The rules are different depending on which part of the UK you are in, and for many, how we run our businesses during this crisis is a very personal matter. Don’t put any undue pressure on each other. Work together. Communicate well.

For England, installers will continue as normal, albeit with showrooms closed, until if and when the guidance is updated to state otherwise. For Scotland, installers face a very different January.

More important details are likely to follow in the coming days. Significant changes will be published on DGB as and when they are made live.

Finally, this is a piece based on the information available. This is not an instruction to anyone or any business. For those who have questions, contact your trade bodies to help with any queries you might have.

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