So here we go again. Another lockdown. Back to where we were in March.
Well, not exactly. There are some quite big differences, and they’re actually good news for sweeps, stove fitters and their customers.
Because unlike in March, when the government’s advice was much misunderstood – prompting many sweeps and installers to down tools – they have been more forthright this time.
They have now spelt out, in black and white, that people ARE able to work in other people’s homes. Crystal clear. End of.
‘Ah’, I hear you ask, ‘but is the work essential?’
Whether that work is deemed ‘essential’ or not is neither here nor there. ‘Essential’ only relates to physical commercial premises in this context – which is why fireplace shops may have to close (although many have to undertake home survey visits anyway so in practice the disruption isn’t a dealbreaker).
Similarly, whether the person carrying out the service is a ‘keyworker’ or not isn’t something which is being thrown into the mix this time, as schools aren’t shutting.
Even if schools did shut, being a keyworker never conferred any special rights on whether you are allowed to work or not. Plenty of non-designated keyworkers were able to carry on working last time.
The keyworker designation only gave you the right to be able to continue sending your child to school in the event of school closures.
So, please – disregard the words ‘essential’ or ‘keyworker’ when it comes to having a tradesperson in your home. They are massive red herrings.
Yes, it can be confusing when the government are telling you you can have a someone in your home to undertake a paid service, but you can’t have your friends around.
But those are the ‘rules’ as they stand ’ – basically if it’s a social occasion it’s banned; if it’s for work, it’s fine.
The explicit reference to working in people’s homes is good news and, to be frank, a bit of a relief.
The government has clearly listened to people like me who highlighted how their lack of clarity last time caused a massive, unnecessary upheaval for a lot of tradespeople.
Of course, some tradespeople may voluntarily shut down, as many did last time, but they are not legally obliged to.
Some may also have to rearrange appointments if they are self isolating, and that is to be expected of any professional tradesperson.
2020 has been an odd year for pretty much everyone. Working in people’s homes enables you to get a sense of people’s views and mindsets. And most I speak to now accept that we have to learn to live alongside the virus.
Yes there measures we can take to minimise risk but life has to continue.
As winter draws in, with more people working from home, many will want to enjoy the glow of a roaring fire.
And given the sort of year most people have had, the ability to enjoy this simple comfort safely and securely takes on even more importance…
Mr Soot Chimney Sweep is a HETAS Approved Sweep, and member of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps, offering a professional and friendly chimney sweep and stove service. Book Mr Soot online or call 0800 0541154.