As of 30th November, face coverings are required in all shops and public transport; this includes Estate Agents, Letting Agents and Auction Houses. The latest COVID guidance requires all 'public and staff' to wear face coverings in public spaces.
There is no specific guidance on non-public spaces as yet; however Paul Offley, Compliance Officer at The Guild of Property Professionals, recommends that agents wear a mask on all house viewings, and ask their homeowners or landlords and viewers to do the same. He reminds agents that virtual viewings and meetings remain a good first-stage interaction and a great way to qualify interest.
Paul also says the COVID-19 temporary and precautionary measures announced by the Prime Minister are a stark reminder to the sector and the public that the pandemic is ongoing, and it is essential that everyone continues to carry out their business within a COVID-secure manner to reduce the spread of the new variant.
“Face coverings are now required to be worn in all shops and on public transport following the emergence of the Omicron variant in the UK. In the guidance issued by the Cabinet Office, the list of ‘shops’ is quite extensive and includes Estate and Lettings Agents, as well as Auction Houses. There is no clear guidance with regard to whether agents would need to wear a mask at all times or just when a member of the public is in the office, however, it would appear that it would be at all times unless the agent has screens up or has a locked door policy. Previous guidance states ‘it is recommended face coverings are worn when in an indoor setting with people you are not usually with’,” says Offley.
He adds that the COVID-secure polices within the property sector have been what has kept the sector and people moving over the past 18 months. “With the new variant and the rate of infections increasing, it is vital that agents continue to act within a safe manner to ensure that they are protecting the public and doing what they can to minimise the spread of the virus,” he says.
“With some potentially challenging months ahead, agents should look to review their COVID-19 operating plan and continue to review working practices to take all reasonable steps to help restrict the spread of the virus,” adds Offley.