Confusion continues over how and when agents should wear masks while working in their branches following Sunday’s update from the prime minister on the government’s new Covid restrictions.
Several smaller estate agency bosses told The Neg taht official guidance did not provide clarity and that many branch staff were questioning whether they had to wear masks to work.
We asked three of the largest property industry organisations what rules they are telling branch employees to follow. All have taken different approaches.
In summary: ‘At all times unless you operate a locked-door policy’
“Face coverings are now required to be worn in all shops and on public transport following the emergence of the Omicron variant in the UK,” says its Compliance Officer Paul Offley.
“In the guidance issued by the Cabinet Office, the list of ‘shops’ is quite extensive and includes estate and lettings agents, as well as auction houses.
“There is no clear guidance with regard to whether agents would need to wear a mask at all times or just when a member of the public is in the office, however, it would appear that it would be at all times unless the agent has screens up or has a locked door policy.
“Previous guidance states ‘it is recommended face coverings are worn when in an indoor setting with people you are not usually with.”
In summary: ‘At all times except when sat at your desk’
A spokesperson says: “Connells Group continues to follow government guidance at all times to protect colleagues and customers during the pandemic.
“All colleagues are required to wear a face mask when entering, leaving or moving around our offices and branches, and when out on appointments. Customers visiting any of our offices should also wear a face mask at all times.”
In summary: ‘Only when face-to-face with customers’
Timothy Douglas, Propertymark Policy and Campaigns Manager says: “The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings) (England) Regulations 2021 do not refer specifically to estate and letting agents, but UK Government guidance strongly recommends that a face covering is worn in enclosed spaces, where you may come into contact with other people you do not normally meet.
“With this in mind, Propertymark recommends face masks to be worn in branch when speaking to customers.
“Face coverings are not required if the door is locked and there are no members of the public in the office, but it is recommended.
“When out on appointments in clients’ homes, it is recommended to wear face coverings.
“At a time when the UK Government is increasing warnings and restrictions, agents have a responsibility to ensure they are acting in a way that enables consumers to continue to feel comfortable.”