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Several companies in the sector including Handicare have committed to continuing to help individuals throughout the crisis

With considerable lockdown measures in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus causing some confusion over what work can be completed in people’s homes, the government has given more details which will prove useful to mobility companies.

Announcing the stringent new rules on the 23rd March, prime minister Boris Johnson urged businesses and the public to adhere to the measures for a minimum of three weeks, at which point a review and a relaxation of the rules would be considered.

Providing the police and local authorities the power to disperse gatherings, including through fines, the new rules include a ban on public gatherings of more than two people and restricting travel outside the home to a number of limited functions, including to exercise once a day and travel to work where absolutely.

Also announced was the immediate closure of shops selling non-essential goods, with a limited number of exceptions.

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Following the lockdown, there has been confusion over some of the measures, particularly in regards to carrying out work in the homes of people.

For many companies in the mobility, independent living and access sector, a large proportion of daily work is carried out in the homes of some of the most vulnerable in society, such as the elderly and disabled people – conversely, those most at risk of COVID-19.

Urgent repairs, installation and maintenance of equipment and assistive technology that is vital for people to live independently safely is required constantly and plays an important role in helping to prevent individuals from putting strain onto the NHS from preventable falls and accidents.

Providing some clarity to business leaders in the sector attempting to balance the needs and safety of vulnerable customers alongside the wellbeing of their own staff, the government updated its guidance on the 25th March.

According to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, work carried out in people’s homes, such as by tradespeople carrying out repairs and maintenance, can continue, provided that the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms of coronavirus.

Stressing that companies working in people’s homes should follow Public Health England guidelines to prevent transmission, including maintaining a two-metre distance from household occupants, the guidance also highlighted that no work should be carried out in homes where people are isolating or being shielded.

An exception to this, however, is if the work is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, with the government providing examples of emergency plumbing or repairs.

Importantly, this requires the tradesperson’s willingness to carry out the work.

For the mobility sector, this caveat could pose a problem for some where repair work may need to be carried out on equipment used by an individual being shielded, such as repairs to wheelchairs or hoists.

The government says in such cases, Public Health England should be consulted beforehand to provide advice to tradespeople and households.

Finishing, the guidance emphasises that “no work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.”

Across the industry, a number of companies including Stiltz, Handicare, Closomat, Dolphin Lifts Midlands and Anglia Stairlifts, have committed to helping those most in need by continuing to carry out repairs and service work whilst introducing strict measures to protect staff and customers.

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