Face coverings will be mandatory in shops and supermarkets from 24 July and those who fail to comply with the new ruling could be fined up to £100.
But once again the government guidance, and ministers’ comments, have left estate agents to fall in between the cracks from a legal perspective.
For example, while health secretary Matt Hancock has said people in shops and supermarkets must wear masks, he has also said there is no need for face coverings to be worn within offices.
So once again agents are left to interpret the rules. Paul Offley, Compliance Officer for The Guild of Property Professionals, says: “Our recommendation is that firms continue to follow their own COVID-secure risk assessment process.
“They should be mindful that the guidance is that face coverings should be worn in enclosed spaces and where two-metre social distancing cannot be adhered to, or in any other circumstances as set out in an agent’s own COVID-secure risk assessment policy.
“Whether estate and lettings agents are classified as a ‘shop’ or not, they are legally responsible for protecting both their staff and others from risk.
“Agents must make sure that the risk assessment they have for their business addresses the risks of COVID-19 and measures have been taken to create a safe environment for staff in the office and people that walk into it.
“Just as all measures should be taken to ensure the safety of people in the office, it is vital that agents follow health guidelines when going to into people’s homes.
“Again, where the two-metre social distance rule cannot not be applied, face coverings should be worn to minimise risks to all parties involved.
“Regardless of whether it is government mandated or not, estate and lettings agents should make the safety of their customers and colleagues a priority. Making the health of others paramount will ensure we continue to make progress and avoid the possibility of further regional lockdowns in the future.”