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Coronavirus: Electricians and plumbers told to keep working in private homes despite lockdown

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The government has issued new advice to tradesmen saying they can keep working in private homes - and it appears to contradict what minister Michael Gove said 24 hours earlier

Electricians, plumbers, decorators and handymen have been told to keep working in people's private homes despite the coronavirus lockdown.

The government issued new guidance today confirming domestic work can continue - despite people being ordered to keep out of each other's households to stop infection.

The advice is likely to prompt a furious new row over the lack of protection for self-employed people amid the pandemic.

Millions of people's jobs in pubs, bars, hotels and "non-essential" shops have been shut down as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic with their wages covered by the government.

Yet after an expansion of Universal Credit was branded not enough last week, the government has still not come forward with a similar package of support for the self-employed. Chancellor Rishi Sunak is working on a package to be announced later this week.

It comes as Boris Johnson is under growing pressure to stop non-essential workers heading into work.

The Prime Minister has faced calls from across the political spectrum for more stringent rules so workers are not placed at risk, and public transport is not overwhelmed.

Mr Johnson, who will appear before MPs on Wednesday for Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons, has so far resisted the pressure.

And last night Health Secretary Matt Hancock defended the government's policy.

He said: “The judgement we have made is in work, in many many instances, the 2-metre rule can be applied. In my workplace in the House of Commons you can see it every day."

The government's new guidance on tradesmen says work can continue if neither the worker nor the householder is self-isolating due to coronavirus.

It adds no work should be done in the homes of the 1.5million most at risk people who the NHS has told individually to stay in their homes for 12 weeks.

The guidance says: "It will be important to ensure that Public Health England guidelines, including maintaining a two metre distance from any household occupants, are followed to ensure everyone’s safety.

"No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs, and where the tradesperson is willing to do so.

"In such cases, Public Health England can provide advice to tradespeople and households.

"No work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild."

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