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Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has provided some clarification on the status of plumbers and heating engineers now that the nation has been placed in lockdown.
Under the new rules, people should not leave their homes for work unless they are classed as key workers or are carrying out essential services. This left many tradespeople with questions of whether their work was considered ‘essential’.
Michael Gove told the BBC Today programme that in circumstances where it was still necessary to move out of the house – such as a plumber visiting a vulnerable elderly person – they should maintain a distance of at least two meters.
Appearing on BBC Breakfast, Michael Gove was asked specifically about plumbers and he said: “Of course if you are attending an emergency in someone’s home in order for people to stay safe in that home, that’s appropriate. But there will be some visits in the ordinary run of things which are not essential and people should not undertake those.”
He also said:
“It’s also important we stick to social distancing. A plumber can be called to someone’s home, do the work required but during that time it’s also appropriate they maintain the distance of two meters.”
Plumbing and heating engineer Peter Booth, who is known as @pbplumber on Twitter, was interviewed on BBC Leicester this morning and reflected many of the concerns of the wider industry. He said:
“There is a lot of confusion in our industry, especially plumbers – are we key workers or not? For example, if you are at home, you are self-isolating, your boiler breaks down and you have no hot water to wash your hands, you got no heating and you’re ill, that’s kind of an emergency, so do we still attend those jobs?
“Myself personally, I’m just doing emergencies now. The non-essential stuff, you know, a dripping tap, if you got two toilets and one of them is not working, it’s not an emergency. Just think, is it an actual real emergency?”