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COVID-19: Call to restrict sale of plumbing products during lockdown

1 April 2020
plumbing gasfitting drainlaying COVID-19

Master Plumbers are disappointed some plumbing merchants’ stores have remained open to walk-in customers during New Zealand’s COVID-19 Level 4 lockdown.

Not only does this encourage people to leave their homes, breaking their bubble unnecessarily and increasing the possibility of spreading the virus, but it also encourages non-essential work.

Plumbers, gasfitters and drainlayers are essential services permitted to undertake a limited amount of work at this time.

The definition of an essential service is that the work is required because of an immediate threat to the health and safety of the occupants in a house or building.

Examples include repair or replacement of hot water cylinders, of broken pipes carrying water or waste, clearing blocked waste pipes, major water leaks and any gas leaks.

Anything non-urgent (repair of minor leaks, replacement to tap washers, routine servicing, upgrade of any fixtures currently working) must wait until lockdown ends.

Suppliers have always had Trade Only emergency call out procedures in place. Should a plumbing-related emergency occur outside normal trading hours, a call is placed to the store manager who arranges the supply of necessary products as soon as possible, meeting the tradesperson at the door.

"By not following call out procedures for essential services, some merchants are facilitating non-essential work. It encourages people to leave their homes, go into stores and purchase products. Our members are quite rightly turning down requests for non-essential work. We know that some customers are finding other plumbers prepared to breach the government guidance and do minor jobs for them that could wait until lockdown ends," says Greg Wallace, Master Plumbers chief executive.

"We are also hearing reports that some people, having been turned down by plumbers, are attempting to carry out work themselves. Our members are now dealing with urgent calls as a result of DIY, including water and gas leaks. Almost all aspects of plumbing, gasfitting and drainlaying work are restricted and illegal to DIY – to keep everyone safe."

"Master Plumbers would like to see the sale of plumbing products restricted to Trade Only through call out procedures during the lockdown," he concludes.

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