Britain has closed down for 21 days with everything apart from essential public services such as hospitals, supermarkets and petrol stations closed and free movement severely restricted.
But high street hybrid estate agents with off high street premises have been given some relief from the announcement’s enormous impact; commercial landlords are to be banned from evicting businesses until the end of June.
“Small businesses will wholeheartedly welcome the decision to ban evictions for commercial tenants for three months,” says Mike Cherry, Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (pictured, below).
“This will give piece of mind to millions of small businesses who are desperately struggling with their cash flow.
“We know sensible conversations between landlords and commercial tenants are taking place – but having this legislative backstop to prevent evictions during the worst of the crisis will provide much needed peace of mind for many small businesses.”
But it is going to be an extraordinary three weeks. People are now only allowed to go outside their homes to buy food, do exercise by themselves including cycling and, if key workers, travel to their places of work. Gatherings of more than two people are now banned.
But guidance from the government on how or whether the management of property is to be allowed as an ‘essential service’ has yet to be published, including what happens if boilers, water supplies, electricity, gas and other services require emergency repairs.
The property industry also faces a once-in-a-lifetime event – the mothballing of its entire network of branches even though the UK’s 20,000 high street premises will still be paying business rates for offices that neither customers or staff can use or visit.
As we reported yesterday, a petition is gathering signatures by the second to lobby the government to change their mind on this. It has already reached 7,300 signatures at the time of writing and counting.