The Directors of the National Coppice Federation met on 24th March 2020, to discuss and clarify some of the issues surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.
It is clear that all NCFed can do at this time is to recommend that members follow ALL guidelines and rules as they are announced by the Government. In case anyone needs reminding, we are all being encouraged to:
- Stay at home – the less we risk passing it round the more likely the NHS will have the resources to cope with the numbers of people expected to fall seriously ill
- Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (where this absolutely cannot be done from home) – one daily trip out for exercise is allowed
- Stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people – the disease spreads by droplets in the breath and coughs of others
- Wash your hands as soon as you get home – soap kills viruses
We will share announcements and research relevant to our trade on the NCFed Facebook Page AND by issuing bulletins via The Cleft Stick Newsletter. The best way to ensure you receive The Cleft Stick Bulletins is to sign up at ncfed.org.uk/news/ That way every edition will be sent straight to your inbox. The Cleft Stick is also distributed to members by group representatives via email. A list of the group reps can be found on the NCFed website at ncfed.org.uk/about/groups/.
We are aware that some NCFed members are deciding to cease all work. Others are continuing to work where it is safe to do so. Below is the clearest statement yet, dated 23rd March, that relates to work.
4. Going to work
As set out in the section on staying at home, people can travel to and from work, but only where the work they do cannot be done from home.
With the exception of the organisations covered above in the section on closing non-essential shops and public spaces, the Government has not required any other businesses to close – indeed it is important for business to carry on.
Employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working.
Sometimes this will not be possible, as not everyone can work from home. Certain jobs require people to travel to their place of work – for instance if they operate machinery, work in construction or manufacturing, or are delivering front line services.
If you cannot work from home then you can still travel to work, provided you are well and neither you nor any of your household are self-isolating. This is consistent with advice from the Chief Medical Officer.
Employers who have people in their offices or onsite should ensure that employees are able to follow Public Health England guidelines including, where possible, maintaining a 2 metre distance from others, and washing their hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds (or using hand sanitiser gel if soap and water is not available).
Work carried out in people’s homes, for example by tradespeople carrying out repairs and maintenance, can continue, provided that the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms. Again, it will be important to ensure that Public Health England guidelines, including maintaining a 2-metre distance from any household occupants, are followed to ensure everyone’s safety.
No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs, and where the tradesperson is willing to do so. In such cases, Public Health England can provide advice to tradespeople and households.
No work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.
As set out in the section on closing non-essential shops and public spaces, the Government has ordered certain businesses and venues to close. The Government has set out guidance on which organisations this requirement covers. Advice for employees of these organisations on employment and financial support is available at gov.uk/coronavirus.
At all times, workers should follow the guidance on self-isolation if they or anyone in their household shows symptoms.
NCFed would add to this guidance, that there is a distinction between continuing to work, and continuing to trade with the public. If continuing to trade with the public you would be well advised only to take on-line or phone payments remotely.
We will continue to keep an eye on this fast-moving situation and share updated information with you.
Good luck and keep safe.
National Coppice Federation