Latest News from BPCA

02 November 2020

Covid-19 second wave and what pest companies need to know

Covid-19 cases are spiking across the UK, with the country now seeing around 20,000 cases a day and roughly 46,000 deaths linked to the disease.

447 covid-19-second-lockdown-pest-management2

England recorded Europe’s highest excess death levels during the first wave of the pandemic and this rise in cases, following a relatively relaxed summer, are raising fears that this will be a much more deadly second wave.

As a result, England is once more set to face tougher lockdown restrictions from Thursday 5 November, in a move which mirrors recent decisions made by the devolved authorities in Wales and Northern Ireland, with Scotland opting for a strict tier system. 

Refer back to BPCA’s Becoming Covid-19 secure guidance document for how to operate during the Covid-19 pandemic. Reviewing guidance documents can be recorded as CPD on BPCA Registered. 

Download now

Public health in the four nations

Across the UK, devolved governments have been implementing various public health strategies to curb the rising numbers of positive Covid-19 cases.

  • England will go into a second lockdown, starting at 00:01 GMT on Thursday 5 November and lasting at least four weeks
  • Scotland has a five-tier system in place, with different areas under different levels of restriction
  • Northern Ireland is under a four-week circuit breaker that started on 16 October
  • Wales is under a two-week "firebreak" system that will end on 9 November.

All devolved governments agree that pest management businesses can continue to work.

However, you need to check governmental Covid-19 guidance in every nation you operate in.

England
gov.uk/coronavirus

Scotland
gov.scot/coronavirus

Wales
gov.wales/coronavirus

Northern Ireland
nidirect.gov.uk/campaigns/coronavirus-covid-19

REMEMBER: When you operate across borders, you need to check the local guidelines and regulations.

England

For the duration of the second lockdown, the Government is not asking all businesses to shut. Workplaces will be asked to stay open if people cannot work from home - including construction and manufacturing.

If you can’t work from home, but can practice social distancing and satisfy your obligations to make working safe, then the advice in England is to continue to work.

All pubs and restaurants will have to close (takeaways and deliveries can continue). 

All non-essential shops will also have to close, as well as leisure and entertainment venues. 

Scotland

Scotland has a five-tier system - Tier 0 to Tier 4.

No matter which tier your area is placed in, people are advised to work from home wherever that is practicable.

Businesses which provide essential services can continue to operate, such as those in the Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) sector, courts and tribunals. There are 13 designated CNI sectors including health, agriculture and food production, activity to maintain the food supply chain, energy and transport.

Not all CNI activity will be essential. Those operations which can be done effectively through home working should be adopted.

Pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues will only close for those areas in tier 4 of the restrictions. 

Wales

Wales is under a "firebreak" lockdown until 9 November, during which:

  • People should stay at home in most circumstances
  • Pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops are closed
  • Leisure businesses, community centres, libraries and recycling centres are also shut.

You can still leave your home for work purposes, or voluntary or charitable purposes, but only where it is not reasonably practicable to do this from home.

Work carried out in homes and businesses can continue, provided that the tradesperson is well, has no symptoms and follows Covid-19 guidance such as wearing a mask and sanitising hands reguarly.

Whenever you leave home, you should try to minimise time spent outside of the home, and ensure you stay at least 2 metres away from anyone you don’t live with or are in a permitted “bubble” with.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, current restrictions mean that:

  • Pubs, bars and restaurants are closed, except for takeaways and deliveries, which must stop by 23:00 BST
  • Close-contact services like hairdressers and beauticians must close, except for essential services
  • No mass events, with exceptions and limitations for weddings, funerals and certain sporting events.

Pest management companies are essential and can continue to operate; however you must follow workplace safety guidelines and social distancing, to protect the safety and health of everyone in your workplace.

Advice for workers can be found on the nidirect website here.

Will clients suspend their pest management services?

During the second lockdown in England all pubs, restaurants, non-essential shops, and leisure and entertainment venues will have to close.

This is also the case in any Tier 4 areas in Scotland and under the current restrictions in Northern Ireland and Wales.

This means many pest management clients may wish to suspend services during this period.

Refer to your individual contract, as they might be liable to pay for the visit if they choose not to allow you on-site.

However, you should try and come to mutually agreeable variations and payment terms following the provisions for this made in the contract at all times.

Remember, this pandemic is going to particularly hit small to medium-sized businesses, especially in the hospitality and events sectors. If in doubt, seek professional advice. 

pest-management-in-a-pandemic

Members can download the BPCA’s leaflet ‘BPCA pests in a pandemic client flyer’ to help convince clients to continue with their contracts.

You can download the flyer in our member documents area (login required).

BPCA released a letter template for members to help explain the importance of continuing ongoing site protection during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The letter includes the pros and cons of suspending proactive (routine) pest control during lockdown and a breakdown of the callouts the client has already had.

Furlough scheme

The furlough scheme had been set to come to an end on 31 October, to be replaced by the Jobs Support Scheme.

However, in light of the new four-week lockdown, this has been withdrawn and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS) extended for one more month. 

For more information on eligibility and how to extended support through the scheme, visit the gov.uk website.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme Grant Extension

Support for those who are self-employed comes in the form of an extension to the income support scheme. 

The extension will last for six months, from November 2020 to April 2021, with grants be paid in two lump sum instalments each covering a three-month period.

To find out if you're eligible for this support, visit the gov.uk website.  

Other financial support

Tax relief for home workers

If you’ve asked staff to work at home because of Covid-19 then they may have additional household expenses.

These employees can claim tax relief on £6 per week or £26 per month for these extra costs.

The employees can only claim if you have asked them to work from home for all or part of the week. For example, because there’s a rota system in place to allow for social distancing.

The quickest and easiest way for them to claim is to apply online at GOV.UK. It’s secure and ensures they’ll receive their full entitlement.

The employees’ tax code will be adjusted, reducing the tax they pay.

Bounce back deadline

The Bounce Back Loan scheme was set up to provide businesses with quick access to loans of up to £5‌0,000.

The deadline to apply for one of these loans is currently 30 N‌ovember 2‌020.

So if your business has been affected and you need some financial support, make sure you apply before this date using the GOV UK website.

Financial support finder

With a range of financial support for businesses, you should look at all the options available to you and your business.

From business rates relief to deferring VAT payments, find out what support you could be eligible for on the GOV UK website.

Mental health support

News of a second national lockdown - after life felt like it was getting back on track - has created a lot of stress, fear, anxiety and depression, after an already tough year for many. 

Here are some of the ways experts suggest you can limit the impact on your mental health:

  • If you are in isolation, try to stay in contact with people using technology such as video calling
  • Keep to your routine as much as possible, exercise regularly and practise hobbies or interests
  • 'Facts minimise fear'. Misinformation and uncertainty can cause stress, so it’s important to make sure that, if you’re looking for information on Covid-19, you use trusted sources. These include the World Health Organisation and the Government.

If your employer is a member of the Health Matters Assistance Programme, you can receive free mental health support by visiting their website or calling their helpline number on 0800 988 8809.

You can find more mental health and wellbeing support on the following websites:

nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/
mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/seeking-help-for-a-mental-health-problem/where-to-start/
rethink.org/aboutus/what-we-do/advice-and-information-service/get-help-now/
mentalhealth.org.uk/getting-help

Source: Online

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