Cover up! Face coverings will be required in agents’ offices

Announcing that the UK has reached a ‘perilous turning point’ in the fight against the spread of Covid-19, Boris Johnson has said that face coverings must be worn by customers in shops, supermarkets and shopping centres around the UK and that they will become compulsory in England for bar staff, shop workers, waiters and taxi drivers.

Those who fail to do so can be fined by the police – up to £100 in England, or £60 in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Yesterday afternoon, Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA Propetymark, clarified the situation relating to estate agency offices:

“We have asked the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government how the Prime Minister’s announcement about face masks for those in retail will impact agents and have been told that agents will be expected to wear masks while working in their High Street offices.

“Legislation will be brought in to this effect shortly and we advise agents must adopt this measure to both protect themselves and their clients.”

The required legislation could be in place by the end of this week.

The other measures are:

Work from home if you can;

Pubs and restaurants to close at 10pm;

Heavier fines for those who do not comply;

A reduction in the numbers allowed at weddings and funerals;

A ban on indoor sports involving more than six people.

We know that a number of readers are unconvinced by the argument that face coverings help to stop the spread of Covid and no doubt there will be cries that our civil liberties are being infringed. However it does appear that the rate of infection is getting out of control again and we all need to work together to try to avoid another complete lockdown. On the simple premise that face coverings presumably do not assist the virus to spread, there can be little harm in us all complying. It might just help.

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42 Comments

  1. R1

    Our offices are locked and closed to customers without an appointment surely this does not apply in those circumstances unless they are actually in the office on an appointment as with off site appiontments?
     
     

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    1. Countrybumpkin

      We are the same

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    2. My Point Of View

      We propose to lock our front door and only allow customers into our office if they are wearing a face mask. The employee greeting them will be required to wear a face mask and the reception area is separate from our workstations. Will we all be required to wear face masks even if we are in non customer facing roles and whilst we are making phone calls?

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      1. AgencyInsider

        MyPointOfView – Do you not understand that Covid can sneak into phone signals? It’s a very clever virus. However it also very lazy as it sleeps all day and only infects people in pubs and restaurants after 10pm, not before then. This must be true otherwise why else would Johnson make them shut at that time?

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  2. AlwaysAnAgent

    Other countries have been doing this for months and if it makes staff and customers feel safer it’s a no brainer. Why Brits have to be dragged kicking and screaming is beyond me.

    It’s also fair to other sections of society, as the wonderful people in bars, cafes, and other establishments, have been rushing around in masks for a while. We don’t mind playing our part.

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    1. CountryLass

      I think it is more because we are offices, with few people entering, not a shop or bar with people in and out all day. Yesterday for example, I think we had 3 people come into the office, and one of them was the accompanied viewer! I have been wearing a mask since before it was mandatory, and am still one of the few parents who tries to social distance at school, as well as wearing a mask.

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  3. GPL

    …… Dear G@d, Boris is threatening to use the Army?

     

    How on earth are we supposed to take anything he says, seriously?

     

    The biggest danger is the monumental lack of CLEAR, CONCISE, CONSISTENT messaging!!! It doesn’t seem a lot to ask however this government continues to run around shouting La,La,Laaaaaaaa …..and we are supposed to follow their lead!

     

    Scientists & Experts can’t agree?

     

    Yes? No? ……Don’t Know?

     

    Utter madness at the helm of the UK.

     

     

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    1. AgencyInsider

      Johnson is a bag of wind, without substance. His ‘Churchill mentality’ fools no-one but himself. The disaster for this country is that just when we need a Churchill to give clear, resolute leadership, we have this over-promoted puffed-up fool who is the wrong person in the wrong job at the wrong time.

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      1. LetItGo

        Yeah, crickey I wish we had picked Corbin and Abott!

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        1. GPL

          Zero Politics from my perspective. 
          Judge Boris by his performance!
           
          Dreadful!!!
           
          Truly Dreadful!!!
           
           

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      2. jan - byers

        No way

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    2. LetItGo

      It’s a balance between death of the public and death of the economy. If we all kept 2m apart then there would be no problem but you and I both know that the majority of the public are just plain stupid and need to be told what to do. Then when they don’t you force them with fines. Anyone with a modicum of common sense can work out themselves that they need a mask if they can’t be 2m apart. The mistake the government is making is assuming that people aren’t stupid.

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  4. Countrybumpkin

    I hope he does use the army. 
    does everyone else value and list properties wearing masks. How many vendors wear masks in their own home – we have had all sorts of challenges in this respect and surprisingly being told we are the only agent who wears a mask and only agent who insists masks are worn for viewings perhaps we have missed something in our area?

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  5. krosotv

    Facemasks are not required in offices – I needed to get planning to convert a shop to an office as Estate Agents are not retail, therefore I am legally an office.  Anyone ever heard someone say they are off to the Estate Agents shop ?

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    1. JW

      Propertymark campaigned for Estate Agents to be treated as retail…successfully. So we are stuffed!

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    2. debbiedoesalot

      We call our office as shop, it’s a syllable less!  Also we sell houses 🙂

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    3. FAQs

      So you didn’t get the Retail grant then?   No need for change of use application since 2015.

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  6. BEReal46

    I wish they would also stipulate that only procedable buyers should physically view properties.
    I can’t believe how many browsers are still wanting to view considering what’s going on!

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  7. Eyereaderturnedposter12

    With a final paragraph of this likes written in the article above…it’s no surprise that the author didn’t want their name attached to the article…whilst I understand that this is the approach the current Government is taking, I’m not sure that PIE needs to be quite so patronising.

    Our country’s/population’s civil liberties have been more than infringed, a long time prior to this inane requirement being imposed on our industry.

    Based on the flimsiest of premises and at breathtaking speed, this country has been driven at full speed into what can only be described as a dictatorship…

    Curfews

    Encouraging neighbours and friends to ‘rat each other out’.

    Restrictions on who you may see, and when you may see them.

    Censorship of content (on the basis that any content posted goes against the COVID narrative/line spewed by the media , government and their selected ‘experts’, is “dangerous”).

    Anyone watching Boris Johnson’s speech last night, may have noticed that at certain junctures during his speech, he could barely contain his glee.

    The suggestion that infection rates are rising, is as a result of more testing and misinformation.

    Indeed, were there to be a campaign launched to offer IQ tests, there would be also be a sharp increase in stupidity (credit: unknown)

     

     

     

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    1. AlwaysAnAgent

      I imagine you were one of the people on the beaches with a complete disregard for COVID, or our vulnerable relatives, reading trivia books and brushing up on your quizzing skills to impress your libertarian friends. 
      Just follow the rules. Some of us with lower IQs want to see the end of restrictions, not an increase in restrictions. 
      I hope you’re a trainee and not anyone in a position of responsibility. 

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      1. Eyereaderturnedposter12

        Sure, instead of entering into a constructive debate…why not simply make a couple of derogatory comments?
        I’d be happy (time permitting) to provide you with an extensive list of far more dangerous risks to you, your friends, colleagues and families, that i would imagine you’ve never given a second thought to…
        If you believe that “following the rules” will affect a course already intended…then my view is, you may be wrong.
        Time will tell.
        Out of interest…have you required your staff to wear masks in office, all day, since the COVID issue arose? I suspect not…
        In which case, other than an emotive and sensationalist announcement by our illustrious PM…how has the reality for you changed, to now take such a firm stance on the issue?

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    2. JonnyBanana43

      Covid has come from the 5G masts. 
      Did you know Wuhan was the first place in the world to get 5G… no jokes! 

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      1. jan - byers

        LOL

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  8. JonnyBanana43

    Why is everybody so obsessed about what the government is or isn’t saying?

    Use some common sense!

    clearly the problem for the government here is that most High Street agencies are affectively shops – People can wander in and out pick up brochures and leave – face masks are not going to be compulsory in offices… So the simple answer is lock the door of your High Street agency and turn it into an office…

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  9. EAMD172

    Anyone noticed that as soon as Brexit starts to creep back into the news, the government make a big thing about Covid restrictions again even though the death rate is minimal and the NHS is fully capable of coping with whatever Covid can throw at it now.
    What happened to protect the NHS? Now it’s just protect the Brexit smokescreen!!! Let the people choose how they protect themselves. Much like we have to with regular flu every year. And measles, and mumps, etc etc…..

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    1. jan - byers

      Yawn the referendum was over 4 years ago move on 

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  10. James White

    Was going to write a long winded post but gave up…..

    The idiocy of some of the posts on here this morning, reflects the idiocy of much of the behaviour of the government and public over the last six months…..

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  11. GPL

    I say black someone else says white, fair enough, free speech, different views/opinions …..who is right or wrong?

     

    It’s a monumental price to pay, for a death toll that is a fraction of the UK population. The untreated conditions and resultant deaths will far outweigh any covid death toll.

    The fact that we are swept along in this revolving headline hysteria simply confirms my worst fears – common sense is gradually being driven out of society, replaced by fear, fiction and rumours.

    We did “Hygiene” during the war years …..and we are still here! I have a WW2 Leaflet which states basically the same messages – Wash Hands etc etc etc……

     

    Anyway….. I’ve read enough to know this is just another shuddering calamity of a statement from Boris – Yes! Bring in the Army Boris ……and get them to remove you now! ……before you do any more damage!!!

     

     

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    1. JonnyBanana43

      Obviously Kier Starmer would do a much better job. Let’s get Piers Corbyn and Diane Abbott to show us what to do

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      1. AgencyInsider

        Why do you assume that when people like me/us criticise this government we must want Starmer, Corbyn, Abbott etc? What I want is a capable leader and a competent government. That is all. I don’t care what shade of politics they may be.

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        1. GPL

          Agreed.

          I don’t care if a monkey, alien, brick, carrot or a fart is running the UK …..I do however care that they are competent.

          Let’s stop calling him Boris and go with “the current Prime Minister” …..the prosecution case remains the same …..the current Prime Minister is incompetent …..the evidence has been willingly provided by the Accused ……repeatedly!

           

           

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  12. scruffy

    BEReal46 makes the valid point about inspections that we have been making for months. i.e. unless in a position to proceed, no viewings. Like many, we have a bumper pipeline but inevitably have had complaints by those who can’t understand why some agents abide by this guidance, others don’t.

    What we say in response is this: we do not wish our agency to be part of a race to the bottom in terms of ignoring Health & Safety guidance intended for all of our protection. Our clients don’t want this and neither do my staff.

    Sadly those leading this race are those for whom referral business is such a significant part of their income stream, and  staff are so targeted, that they are forced to encourage as much traffic as possible.

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    1. JonnyBanana43

      Had a massive Twitter spat with Kirsty Allsop about this…

      Owners need to do viewings.

      Agents going into 3 or 4 houses a day will be spreading this like wild fire.

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      1. jan - byers

        Why have a twatter spat grow up

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  13. inthefield

    I’d feel safer now if the coronavirus held a press conference to tell us how it’s going to protect us from the government.

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    1. GPL

      Ditto
       
       

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  14. Rhino

    I thought we had this debate in the early stages post lock-down whether we are shops or offices but no doubt some more clarity will emerge.

    However, what might be more worrying is that the little woman in Scotland has banned household visits and the suggestion that England will follow suit shortly, could presumably mean the end to any physical viewings (unless a property is vacant – or will it be alright if the vendors go out and sit in their cars/garage etc. so there is no physical contact) If we can’t do anything then we can all go home and try and work to keep together what we’ve got, because in spite of the wonderful world of videos and virtual viewings, I still don’t believe too many people will actually commit to purchase without a physical visit.

    Best get the Spring 2021 marketing campaign sorted.

    Merry Christmas

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  15. Quags

    So we still don’t know whether or not we need to wear one with no customers in the office?

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  16. WhereIsTheMoniiMoney

    Just wear the f****** masks!The arguments about doors locked, highstreet presence, commercial categorisation are irrelevant.Get some branded masks. Leave them on appraisals, drop them through other agents properties but more importantly, wear them and show YOUR customers that THEIR safety and the safety of your STAFF is being taken seriously.Rant over…

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  17. CountryLass

    So, to confirm, we are supposed to wear a mask constantly in the office? We wear them to appointments, and the office is by appointment only and people must wear a mask before entering. They must stay in the designated space and we have a screen between the reception desk and the reception area. All of our desk have been moved to 2m apart, or failing that, turned to face a wall.

    We have sanitiser by the door that everyone must use upon entering, and staff regularly sanitise the door etc in customer areas.

    We are an office, not a shop.

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    1. GPL

       
      Just shout at them through your window. 
       

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  18. pmcook1970@gmail.com

    Office or shop for estate agency? Traditional agents are on our high streets alongside other shop premises… so shops. But wait, with Covid precautions making many of these operations lock their doors and go ‘By appointment only’ for entry they become more like an office, no casual footfall.
    Look at the purpose and process of modern estate agency, connect the potential viewer from the moment of first contact with a property at 10pm on the big property portals to a booked viewing time. As a traditional agent with a retail shop this process is completely overlooked by the structure of the operation. See the property at 10pm and ring our high street premises the next morning at 9am..
    If you can provide a tech solution to take the internet browse to the booked viewing time then you have zero requirement for the phone answering retail premises. The other functions of agency – offers and post sales are all transferable to a more hub or tech based set up.
    Perhaps the difficulties in providing such shops/office during the pandemic and the further rise of home working will make the unsuitability of the retail agent model to consumer requirements even clearer..
    Think admin. hubs, think ‘work from home’ local agents supported by technology and think of genuine estate agency models that encompass the needs and safety of workers and the consumer beyond 2020.
    Read more on Amazon at “No.1 Bastard Estate Agent. (someone no longer in their original form) How to Evolve in Property Selling”

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