A power company has revealed contingency plans to ensure millions of homes and businesses in the north west maintain their electricity supply throughout the crisis.
SP Networks, which serves Merseyside and Cheshire, says it will also introduce special measures to protect supply for hospitals, nursing homes, food supply chain businesses, Ministry of Defence sites and prisons.
The electricity distributor says the contingency plans, developed alongside other network operators, government and electricity regulator Ofgem, will ensure power continues to flow throughout the coronavirus crisis.
Other major changes that SP Energy Networks is putting in place include:
Rapid installation of new connections that will support the containment of COVID-19 including connections for hospitals, care/nursing homes, water treatment works and food supply chain business.
A commitment to continue any critical maintenance and repair work that secures the resilience of the electricity network in the short and medium term to keep the power flowing – prioritising power cuts and urgent safety issues.
Postponement or cancellation of new network upgrade projects that involve planned interruption of power for customers – unless it assists the restoration of power supply or if not conducting the work poses a danger to the public, staff, or contractors or it supports short or medium term resilience requirements.
Deployment of teams to undertake connections projects that will provide additional resilience to the local or national electricity network – such as additional generation capacity to provide more electricity where it is needed.
These changes will be implemented with immediate effect across Merseyside, Cheshire, North Wales, North Shropshire, and Central and Southern Scotland.
"We have one of the most reliable energy networks in the world and our top priority throughout the COVID-19 crisis will be to keep the power flowing for our 3.5million customers while ensuring critical national infrastructure sites receive the electricity supply they need."
As a critical operational business, SP Energy Networks has already established social distancing measures and rolled out additional processes for critical frontline operational staff and control centre teams who cannot undertake their key roles from home to ensure they can maintain operations in the event of a localised outbreak of coronavirus.