BMF clarifies merchants’ role during COVID-19 restrictions

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has requested and received clarification on builders’ merchants’ operational status during the Construction Leadership Council Taskforce briefing with BEIS, following the additional restrictions announced by the Government.

Merchants were a vital part of the construction supply chain and it was important they continued to support the construction industry to operate on sites, it said, and to provide the link between product manufacturers and the firms and tradespeople that use and install the products they make.

However, all operations should be carried out whilst observing Public Health England (PHE) Guidelines, a statement added.

John Newcomb, chief executive officer of BMF, said: “The advice we received from BEIS makes it clear that merchants should continue to operate. Ideally, this should be through online and delivery services, but those who need to maintain depot service are able to do so providing they observe PHE guidance including social distancing, cleaning and hygiene, staff welfare and all other means to minimise the risks of transmitting coronavirus.”

The full text of the statement the BMF has issued to members follows:

“The Government announced additional restrictions that would apply to business and individuals to reduce the spread of coronavirus. These restrictions specify that people should work from home where this is possible, but also states that where this is not possible, people can continue to work as normal, whilst observing PHE guidelines.

“Construction and manufacturing operations are given as examples of workplaces where people cannot work from home. The guidance also states that retailers can continue to operate where this is essential, for example providing food and other essential items, and that online and delivery operations involving limited contact can also continue.” 

Considering this, to ensure builders merchants can continue to operate the BMF are advising its members that:

  • Builders’ merchants should but take account of the guidance provided by Public Health England
  • Online and delivery services can operate as normal, although drivers should seek to follow advice on social distancing, and avoid close contact with customers
  • Where firms operate stores, they should consider how to manage ordering and collection systems and store operations to observe PHE guidance including social distancing, and on cleaning and hygiene, including of staff welfare facilities, to minimise the risks of transmitting coronavirus
  • Merchants open to the public should consider whether to continue to allow this during the period when restrictions are in place, and if this is necessary, should consider restrictions on the number of people in their stores at any one time, and how to improve cleaning and hygiene within stores to minimise the risk of transmitting coronavirus