Today, we start a new life.
Work places are closed, all shops other than food stores are shut, people have been told to stay at home. Gatherings of more than two people are banned. Do not meet friends. Go out once a day for exercise. Travel is banned unless strictly necessary. Even food shopping should be done as little as possible.
Social events are prohibited – weddings, parties, all except funerals.
Estate and letting agents are not ‘key workers’, according to the Government. Agents are therefore heavily restricted compared with, for example, NHS staff and those involved in food production who can still go out to work for essential reasons and who cannot work from home. However, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for full clarification.
He said: “There now needs to be clear guidance to employers and workers about which workplaces should close – and the Government must close the loopholes to give security to all workers, including the self-employed, as well as renters and mortgage holders.”
This morning Propertymark issued guidance that a civil servant at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government believes that estate agents are NOT essential businesses and should therefore be closed. More on this when we get it.
Guidance is also needed, and EYE is seeking it, on house moves due to take place shortly, and on letting properties due to be vacated. Michael Gove has this morning indicated on TV that moves can still go ahead if absolutely necessary, although people should stay in their homes if they can. We will try and get further confirmation and detail as soon as possible.
A full list of what can and cannot be done does not specifically mention estate agents. The list is here
Last night’s statement by Boris Johnson means that some stories in today’s newsletter may, possibly, have been superseded. We say ‘possibly’ because there are still agency businesses albeit run from home and in circumstances when many of our readers will be wondering what on earth their business still is when there may be no viewings, no home moves and no income.
There are stories we have chosen not to cover, for today at least: job losses, office closures, agents’ plans to ‘furlough’ staff. All seem to have been overtaken by events.
All of us are affected, all our lives changed, and the future is invisible.
Just as so many of our readers are today doing, EYE will be wondering about our own future. There are no exemptions for anyone.
We do, however, plan to continue with what we hope will be an essential news service for an industry which, however depleted and however changed it may be, will still have a need to know. We will also try to help, wherever we can and it may not be easy, with getting answers to practical queries that you may have as you adapt to these very different times.