Social media has been on fire for weeks with anxious groomers asking whether they should be open, or remain closed, during the Covid-19 Lockdown.
From the morning after the Prime Minister’s address on March 23rd, BIGA has actively sought to share with its members, and the community of pet grooming professionals, the latest and most legitimate advice from Government regarding pet groomers.
At first, a number of shops and services were identified as Essential and could remain open during Lockdown. Pet grooming was not listed among them. However, pet 'shops' (retail) were allowed to remain open for the sale of ‘food and other necessary goods’.
Thereafter followed a flurry of questions. Are pet groomers Essential or Non-Essential? Surely a dog’s coat should not be neglected? What does the Government mean, exactly, by ‘working from home’? Which Government department needs to provide this clarity? And ‘Who’ exactly IS ‘the Government’?
Trading Standards gave its view – which differed between regions. Local Authorities came out with their recommendations. Also inconsistently. One Member of Parliament would say Yes, another MP would say No.
With so much conflicting information, it was, indeed, impossible to tell groomers exactly what they needed to hear. There was no unified position from ‘Government’ about whether or not groomers should open or remain closed.
The Canine and Feline Sector Group (CFSG) is the industry advisory body to the Government department, Defra (the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs) and deals directly with the Animal and Plant Health Agency, an executive agency of Defra.
The CFSG is the closest representative of the pet grooming industry to central Government. And BIGA is an Associate Member of the CFSG (most of our interaction with the CFSG normally involves discussions around regulation).
By Tuesday the 7th of April, after hearing inputs from BIGA as well as the Pet Industry Federation (PIF), the CFSG – in consultation with the APHA, as well as the Animal Health and Welfare Board for England (AHWBE) – published its guidance for pet professionals, including pet groomers. The link is available at the bottom of this article (go to the CFSG website and click on the link for 'Coronavirus').
BIGA dutifully shared this guidance with our members and the pet grooming community. We said from the start that we would abide by the following premise throughout the crisis: Follow all government advice. Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.
Whether or not you agree with the guidance from the CFSG (which is subject to unannounced revisions so it is worth checking the link daily) and choose to open or stay closed is an informed decision for you to take, considering the safety requirements, financial viability and animal welfare. In the meantime, BIGA is pulling together information and guidance for how groomers can best meet the safety protocols in their businesses as Lockdown restrictions are lifted.
Click here for the advice from CFSG. See also the preceding news article on BIGA's News Page.