Easing restrictions from 13 May

12 May 2020

The following guidance is taken from the government’s coronavirus recovery strategy. These provisions will take effect from Wednesday 13 May 2020.

Specific groups of workers should return to work

  • Certain sectors that are allowed to be open should be open – this includes food production, construction, manufacturing, logistics, distribution and scientific research in laboratories.
  • Workers in these sectors should return to work as long as they are symptom free. They should practice social distancing in their workplaces.
  • Sectors that are not allowed to open are workplaces such as hospitality and non-essential retail, which during this first step are required to remain closed.
  • Anyone who is able to work from home should continue to do so to reduce social contacts and public transport use. People are still advised to avoid public transport as far as possible and to commute by foot, by bike or by car.

What does this mean for housing associations?

Housing associations with in-house construction teams are now being advised to resume construction as long as proper social distancing can be carried out on site. We know that many sites have already reopened and the expectation now is that the majority will do so soon. The government has published separate advice on safe working on construction sites and in other outdoor environments.

We are seeking urgent clarity from MHCLG on what the new guidance means for work carried out in people's homes, including non-emergency repairs. We know members will want to put resident and staff safety first. Our understanding is that there is no expectation that there will be an immediate return to business as usual, which we know will take time. We will make this clear in our conversations with government officials and will press for further clarity and guidance you need.

We are also seeking clarity on what these new measures mean for lettings and house moves, and provision in supported housing settings. The government has published separate advice on carrying out work in people’s homes.

We know that housing associations will all differ in what face to face housing management activities they are currently performing, and that many organisations will have found ways to move housing management tasks and support provision online. We welcome feedback from members on whether the current guidance on safe working and social distancing provides a clear enough framework for what housing management activities are appropriate. Please email us with your feedback.

Face coverings in enclosed spaces

  • The government is advising that people wear cloth face coverings whenever they are in an enclosed space, to avoid the risk of transmitting coronavirus to others if they have it asymptomatically.

What does this mean for housing associations

This might affect workers carrying out emergency repairs or gas safety checks. We know that some members have been equipping these workers with masks.

Government guidance does not stipulate that these workers must wear PPE, but members may now wish to advise their staff to wear a face covering whenever they enter a resident’s home.

Public spaces

  • People can now spend time outdoors and exercise more than once a day if they wish to, subject to proper social distancing measures - i.e. no one should be within 2 metres of anyone who is not a member of their household.
  • Playgrounds and outdoor gyms will stay closed.

What does this mean for housing associations?

Some housing associations with properties that include communal outdoor space have previously closed these spaces to ensure residents are properly socially distancing. Housing associations may wish to consider reopening some outdoor spaces if they have closed them. But this should still be subject to being able to enforce social distancing measures in these spaces.

Who to speak to

Rebecca Slack, External Affairs Manager (North East)