Adrian Buttress, managing director at Permaroof, believes there is confusion within the construction industry after Boris Johnson's address to the nation on Monday 23 March and more clarity on the situation is essential.
“There has been lots of confusion among the construction industry after Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered people to stay at home unless ‘absolutely necessary’ in his statement addressing the nation on 23 March.
“Yesterday (24 March) ministers were working to provide clarity, with Michael Gove saying those doing jobs that are ‘critical’ should continue to work while ensuring they are following Government and NHS advice. However, Gove also stated that if repairs are needed to a home where a family is living, they should not be carried out and workers should not enter the site.
“This advice is really ambiguous and further clarity is needed from the Government as one thing is certain – roofs do leak and urgent repairs that are required to keep homes and buildings, such as hospitals, safe cannot be put on hold for three weeks.
“When a leak starts, it's important that immediate action is taken to avoid further problems, such as structural erosion or the fire risks posed by damaged electrics.
“Leaky roofs never fix themselves or get better on their own. We recommend any contractors continuing to carry out critical repairs to strictly implement the Government’s social distancing requirements and avoid public transport to minimise the risk of spreading the virus and keep the public – as well as themselves – safe.
“It's clear that Coronavirus is having a major impact on the roofing industry – major builders’ merchants have closed for 24 hours while they work out whether they should continue trading during the latest lockdown measures, and we’ve spoken to many stockists who have told us they’re not planning on placing any more orders this week because of the uncertainty.
“Our advice to merchants and stockists is to plan ahead for when this situation ends. We are allowing businesses to place provisional orders with us so we can gauge how much stock they will need, in preparation for an anticipated surge once Government restrictions have been lifted.
“As mentioned previously, things can go wrong, and urgent maintenance and repairs sometimes need to be carried out without further delay to avoid problems down the line. For example, we have already had an order for urgently needed materials for a vital roof repair at a hospital.
“We want to reassure people, businesses and workers that our product levels are high as a result of our preparations for this year’s sales. We have enough stock at our head office in Derbyshire for four months and we have two more deliveries coming at the end of the week, with more planned for next week.
“We are doing everything we can to ensure orders are fulfilled so urgent and critical repairs can safely be made. Purchases made online or over the phone will be processed by our teams working from home, and we have skeleton staff practising social distancing and following NHS advice in our warehouse to put those orders together.
“While it isn’t business as usual as the health, safety and wellbeing of our staff is our top priority – we're working at around 20% capacity – there is a back-up and we are here to support merchants, contractors, installers and homeowners during this time.”