The government remains committed to keeping the housing market open despite repeated warnings from scientific advisers that the existing current lockdown does not go far enough and that the prime minister should tighten restrictions further within days.
The latest government guidance has put agents, as well as buyers, sellers, renters and landlords, on notice that the government could end up closing the market.
It states: “It may become necessary to pause all home moves locally or nationally for a short period of time to manage the spread of coronavirus.”
But government figures said that ministers were “absolutely determined” to keep open the property market during the current lockdown.
“The housing market is staying open,” said one aide. “All involved need to follow the guidance for moving home safely which has been issued by the government.”
The chancellor Rishi Sunak is said to be among those reluctant to agree to closing the housing market in light of the threat to the economy and the huge cost of furlough.
A close ally of Mr Sunak said he is determined to keep the housing market operational during the pandemic.
But a spokesperson for the prime minister Boris Johnson declined to rule out new restrictions for the housing market, construction or manufacturing.
“If we believe there is a need to take further action we will,” the spokesperson said.
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, told Conservative members this week that he did not want to shut down the housing market but could not rule it out.