It has been a difficult few weeks for everyone. Three weeks ago, I was on a holiday – beaches, sand, sun, the occasional beer, and plenty of relaxation. While I wasn’t hidden from the gathering storm, it did seem a long way away.
Then I came home!
I returned at the end of the week when everything changed. On the Friday, schools were being closed and self-isolation was about to become a way of life for many of us. ‘Working from home’ was no longer a crafty misnomer for sitting in your underpants and watching the cricket. Instead, it has become the norm for most people, unless you are classed as a key worker.
Firstly, let me state, there is no doubting the importance of the work being done by the NHS, carers, the police, grocery store workers, teachers, etc. Their efforts are truly inspiring for all of us. During this time of great social upheaval, they are helping to glue the fabric of this country together and there is no doubt their work is key to the continuity of our society.
My one concern is that pest control was not been included in that list. Along with many others in the industry, I have been arguing for years that pest control should be considered a profession. The days of flat-cap and whippet are long gone. There is science behind what we do. This is no longer a case of throwing rodenticides all over the place in the hope a passing rodent might eat it. Over the years, professional pest control technicians have developed ways to minimise the use of harmful chemicals while still providing an effective and preventative service.
The reason is often public health. Rats, mice, pigeons, etc. can carry harmful diseases – for example, rats can spread Leptospirosis and humans can catch the respiratory disease Histoplasmosis from pigeon waste. A professional approach to preventative pest control has been developed because it was needed to protect the public.
At a time when the nation is quite rightly focussing on stemming the spread of the Coronavirus, it is important that we don’t overlook other sources of infection. The mantra we are told to follow, #StayHome #ProtecttheNHS #SaveLives, must encompass, I believe, all aspects of our daily life.
I’m pleased to say, the British Pest Control Association felt the same way and started to petition to the Government to get them to recognise the essential work performed by pest controllers. As they say on their page, I think part of our frustration comes from the fact the professionalism of modern pest control is too often unnoticed by the rest of the world.
I am not saying the pest control sector should continue unaffected. As we recognise at Cleankill, many of our routine pest control visits cannot be considered essential, but some are. Therefore, we have temporarily stopped the majority of our routine visits until it is safe to start again.
At the same time, it cannot be sensible to stop all pest control activities. This is an industry that cannot, by its very nature, work from home. We are therefore continuing to answer real emergency calls, especially if the pests are causing physical or mental distress. We are also continuing with visits where there is a justifiable public health or livestock safety concern.
Sometimes, however, it is difficult to explain to customers what constitutes a real emergency. We had to very carefully point out recently to one lady that mice in her garden did not constitute an emergency if their existence just stopped her letting her children play in the garden during lock down. It is hard not to surmise that she would not have called us if her children were not suddenly being kept at home!
I am pleased to say, Michael Gove responded to the BPCA’s petitioning on 6 April, stating pest control services could continue where it was safe to do so. This is confirmation that the Government agrees with the advice given by the BPCA, which is what we have enforced. Essentially, we can continue to offer professional pest control services so long as the correct procedures have been put into place to mitigate the spread of the disease.
At Cleankill, all actions we take are in strict adherence to the Government’s guidelines. If we are to make a visit, it needs to be pre-arranged with the client. During this call, we need to be certain all government guidelines on social distancing can be observed and we need assurance that no resident is self-isolating with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 symptoms. To learn more about our response to COVID-19, click here.
As a company, it is vital we do the right thing in terms of protecting our employees, clients, all our families, and our wider communities. However, as a pest control company, I believe it is also important that we continue to protect the public from other forms of infection and disease, not least because we need to continue following the mantra, #ProtecttheNHS.
(Image from the BPCA)