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How does the new national lockdown affect sites in 2021?
Construction work is still allowed under Scotland’s new lockdown, which comes into effect on Tuesday 5th January. Unlike earlier April restrictions, sites are relieved from a total ban allowing construction to continue in line with England's latest national lockdown announcement.
An update on the Scottish Government website in the first week of January said that construction is among the permitted occupations allowed to operate. In a statement, first minister Nicola Sturgeon said, however, that her administration would consider whether further restrictions on business are needed. Until then sites can operate under the current covid prevention guidance, but we will update as we know more if things do change.
Businesses have already shown a tremendous capacity to adapt during this pandemic and I’m very grateful to them for that – and we need them to consider their operations again, as we all work together to reduce transmissions.
Across the UK on Monday, a further 58,784 new cases of the virus were reported, with 407 new deaths. Boris Johnson unveiled new rules for England including an instruction to "stay at home", warning that the new variant of the coronavirus makes it much more likely to be caught and passed on. Builders' merchants are also permitted to continue trading during the lockdown. Restrictions already in place in Northern Ireland and Wales also allow construction activity to take place.
Sturgeon and Johnson both said that extremely clinically vulnerable people should not go to work. People needing to shield Wales were told not to leave their homes for work just before Christmas.
TLDR what is the guidance?
The guidance states that “tradespeople should only go into a house to carry out or deliver essential work or services” – one example is to “carry out repairs and maintenance that would otherwise threaten the household’s health and safety”. On 23 December, UK business secretary Alok Sharma wrote an open letter to the industry about remaining open under the then tightest restrictions. He said:
I want to be clear that, as before, firms and tradespeople in the construction sector and its supply chain, including merchants, suppliers and product manufacturers, can continue to operate in tier 4. I also want to reiterate, that where it is essential to travel between tiers to get to your work or for the purposes of carrying out your work, you are able to do so.
I want to reassure you that the government appreciates the invaluable contribution your sector is making. Whether delivering on large or small construction sites, and in peoples’ homes across the country, in builders’ merchants, designing and project managing schemes or producing construction and mineral products, you are making a major contribution to the economy.