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Role of builders’ merchants key to Welsh COVID-19 plans

John Newcomb, BMF chief executive

A trade body has welcomed recognition by the Welsh government of the important role of builders’ merchants in its plans to ease the lockdown.

The sector is specifically mentioned in the traffic light roadmap, which sets out how Wales could exit the coronavirus lockdown

Available to view online, the document was unveiled on Friday (15 May) by First Minister Mark Drakeford.

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has already produced operating protocols for the safe operation of merchants during Covid-19, which adhere to the roadmap’s requirements.

The BMF’s 18-page document sets out guidelines and additional precautions for builders’ merchant staff to follow in the office and trade counter, for customer and supplier deliveries, customer collection and for tool hire during the COVID-19 outbreak.

John Newcomb, BMF chief executive, said: “The Welsh Government’s roadmap recognises that small construction companies cannot operate effectively if builders’ merchants remain shut.

“It also refers to the importance of click and collect retail, which we advocate for our members in our own guidance.

“That model centres around phone, click/call and collect and pre-arranged orders, with no public access into shop or products.

“The number one priority is to minimise the risk of transmitting coronavirus.

“The safety of staff, suppliers and customers is paramount, and the risks can be managed if safe systems of work are in place and remain effective until further notice.”

The guidance has been endorsed by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC), which has created a Construction Industry Task Force to provide a focal point for co-ordinating the industry’s response to the Covid-19 crisis.