New rules on face coverings were published yesterday.
The government says:
- Face coverings will be mandatory in additional enclosed public spaces from Friday 24 July – including shops, supermarkets, shopping centres and transport hubs
- New measure an important step in lifting lockdown, as the public are encouraged to play their part
- Venues such as restaurants, pubs and gyms will be exempt
Under the new regulations laid today, members of the public will need to wear face coverings – for example, a fabric covering, scarf or bandana – that covers the nose and mouth in additional enclosed public spaces, as well as frequent hand washing and careful social distancing.
It will be compulsory to wear a face covering when buying food and drink to take away from cafes and shops. If you are in a premises where you are able to sit down and consume food or drink that you have bought, then you can remove your face covering in order to eat and drink on-site.
Face coverings will not be mandatory for:
- anyone under the age of 11
- those with disabilities or certain health conditions, such as respiratory or cognitive impairments that make it difficult for them to wear a face covering
There is evidence to suggest that, when used correctly, face coverings may reduce the likelihood of someone with the infection passing it on to others, particularly if they are asymptomatic.
The government is telling the public to play their part and wear face coverings in order to help fight the spread of the virus, enabling further easing of national restrictions. The responsibility for wearing a face covering sits with individuals. Businesses are encouraged to take reasonable steps to encourage customers to follow the law, including through signs and providing other information in store.
Yesterday evening Propertymark issued guidance, saying:
“In line with Propertymark best practice guidance, estate and lettings agents should only be welcoming visitors on an appointment basis and when all other methods of communication have been exhausted.
“It is not necessary for agency staff to wear a face covering while sharing an office with the same group of people and social distancing.
“However, when dealing with any type of visitor, any member of staff in proximity should wear a face covering.
“Visitors to the office should also be asked in advance to wear a face covering.”
Whilst it may arguably be good sense to use face coverings, on government advice it appears there is still no legal compulsion on estate agents to insist on their use in-branch.