The second lockdown in November 2020 is targeted on the retail and hospitality sector, rather than the entire economy as was the case in March. Messaging from government has been clearer than in March, in that they want manufacturing and construction to remain open.
As we interpret what has been specified in the guidance, and in some cases stated by ministers, the situation appears to be:
- Factories and manufacturing can remain open (subject to existing requirements of a COVID Secure workplace).
- Showrooms to be closed
- Tradespeople can work in homes (subject to the existing guidance around social distancing and not working in people’s homes if they are self isolating).
In respect of going to work verses working from home, the guidance states that
And the legislation says that it is permissible to go to work where it is not “reasonably possible” to work from home. Which arguably could cover a sales person work in a showroom to access a CRM system where this is not possible remotely. Even though the showroom is closed to the public.
So to answer the most asked question…
The guidance, and a tweet from Robert Jenrick, make is clear that yes window installers can work during the November lockdown.
Is it clear that showrooms must close?
The regulations do not explicitly state that showrooms displaying replacement doors and windows have to close, instead they refer to “restricted businesses” and “restricted services”.
Some businesses are arguing that if Hardware stores, building services and garden centres are explicitly allowed to remain open, then a double glazing showroom can also rely on those exceptions to keep open.
So in the absence of clarity in the regulations, you can turn to the guidance. Which while a little clearer it is still not explicit. The message in the guidance is however pretty clear that non-essential retail should close.
So, the question is probably open to a degree of judgement and willingness to argue a point of law. In deciding whether to open or close we would suggest that a business should consider:
- Their understanding of the legislation and guidance
- How would staying open look to their customers and wider community
- How confident are they of arguing their case in the face of enforcement.
It’s probably safest to consider the specific circumstances of your business. If your business is in an industrial unit and you genuinely sell building supplies to the trade you may have a stronger argument than if you’re in a lockup shop full of display units.