COVID-19 Advice for Developments Managed by Matthews (Block Management)

Updated: 26th March 2020

The current outbreak of corona COVID-19 virus continues to present risk and worry to everyone and businesses worldwide. Matthew’s, like everyone are mindful of how we can help minimise the risk of spread and continue normal day to day services during this unprecedented pandemic.

The health and safety of residents, employees and supply chain partners remains our priority. Please be assured that we are continuing to monitor the latest Government advice on Coronavirus (COVID-19) and are adapting our management planning accordingly. 

The following information provides updates from our customer communications to keep you up to speed about what this means for your development.

i) Matthew’s Response to this situation

As you know, the government advice on Coronavirus is constantly evolving with new updates and additional guidance being issued daily.  We’re monitoring this closely and continuing to adapt our management planning to respond to the latest advice as it is released to make sure we are doing the right thing to keep our customers, colleagues and contractors safe.  We are working with our suppliers to try and minimise any potential impact to the services we offer.

We consider the Government are working hard to deal with this situation nationally and this impacts on everyone. On Monday 23 March 2020 the Government issued a nationwide instruction that people must stay at home.  Since then, Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has now confirmed that those who cannot work from home should go to work “to keep the country running”.  Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), has also offered additional clarification on Wednesday 25 March in an interview on BBC Radio 4 that confirms that work should continue to maintain buildings for sanitation and fire safety reasons.

As a result of these clarifications we have continued to adapt our approach at developments (along with our suppliers) to follow the latest government advice appropriately.

We thank our residents, leaseholders and directors for their understanding during what is an unprecedented, and rapidly developing, situation.

ii) Matthews Workforce

Although the office in Chester is temporarily closed, we have arranged for the team to work remotely with access to the phone system, emails and our ‘Cloud based’ systems, in order to respond to your needs.

Although we have tried to mitigate the impact, due to the ever-changing situation around Coronavirus, there may be certain times during the day you may have to wait longer than usual to speak to our team.

For non-urgent matters, we would encourage you to email us at blocks@matthewsofchester.com, where we will respond to you as quickly as possible.

iii)  Visitors and communal activities at your development

In line with the Government’s advice, everyone must stay at home and must follow social distancing guidelines. This means that you should not be having visitors to the development at the present time, and all communal activities should not take place while this Government guidance is in place.

iv) Developments with communal facilities and/or site personnel

      • Site staff: Site staff, such as handymen and caretakers, will be on site where possible. This will be strictly in line with social distancing measures within communal areas.
      • Bins & refuse collection: We expect the local authority to maintain refuse collections during this time. However, we do need your help to keep rubbish in tied bags and evenly distributed between your development bins please. This is important to make sure that bin collections can take place, and that overflowing waste or dumped bulky items are not left blocking access, and to reduce the likelihood of attracting pests or rodents.    If you notice any refuse issues, please contact us and we will liaise with the local authority and/or key contractors, as required.
      • Communal area cleaning, gardening, grounds maintenance & window cleaning: These services will carry on where possible, but with the potential for a reduced frequency due to staff and/or contractor availability. We will be reinforcing to all operatives that they must be strictly following social distancing instructions and must not attend site if they or any of their household have symptoms or have been unwell, in accordance with the latest public health guidance.
      • Lifts: We have been in contact with our main lift contractors to confirm emergency call outs services are in place, although some servicing visits may need to be deferred. Due to the nature of the coronavirus (COVID-19) the contractors have explained there may be some disruption and delay in such services due to the current circumstances. We would therefore encourage you to use the stairs rather than the lift if this is possible or you are able to do so. If you do need to use a lift, please make sure you do not share it with anyone outside of your household in order to adhere with social distancing requirements. In the event of a lift failure please use the emergency call point in the lift, failing that call the emergency services on 999.
      • Communal systems: If there is a communal heating system at your development and this were to breakdown, please be aware that response times to repair this are likely to be delayed but will be attended to as soon as possible.
      • Emergency access to communal amenities: Keys and access codes are available for emergency use by authorised contractors to access communal amenities and services. These will only be used if it is necessary to check the heating system, plant room, water boosters or any other vital systems behind a locked door. This does not include any keys for individual properties.
      • Fire safety: During this time emergency services are likely to be stretched, so please do take extra care to reduce the risk of fires by making sure that:
        • No items are left in stairwells or corridors
        • All rubbish is placed in bins – please do not leave refuse in communal areas
        • All fire exits are kept clear
        • You and all persons in your household know the evacuation procedure in the event of a fire in your property
        • Please check that the smoke detectors within your property are operating correctly
      • Grounds maintenance: Based on the latest guidance, grounds maintenance services will continue wherever possible but with the potential for a reduced frequency due to staff and/or contractor availability. We will be reinforcing to all operatives that they must be strictly following social distancing instructions and must not attend site if they or any of their household have symptoms or have been unwell, in accordance with the latest public health guidance.
      • Essential reactive maintenance: We are working to make sure that essential services, for instance reactive maintenance to breakdowns, leaks or electrical faults, electric gates, water & sewage systems or pest control can still be undertaken wherever possible by our contractors.

v) Security

Please be vigilant: Whilst we are all adjusting to these new circumstances, please help us and yourselves to reduce any opportunistic crimes. Please make sure your possessions are locked away, doors are kept closed, and report any acts of vandalism or suspicious behaviour by strangers to the police.

vi) Property Management

Your Block Manager will still be available to support you. They will be strictly following social distancing instructions if attending site.  They will continue to be available as usual during working hours even if they are not on site.

vii) Useful Information

As you know, this is a developing situation and we would urge you to refer to the Government advice to stay up to date with the latest information and guidance.

Please refer to the links below for the most update to information from the government and NHS about the Coronavirus situation in the UK:

www.gov.uk/coronavirus

www.nhs.uk/coronavirus

www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public

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