Three national newspapers yesterday reported that the government’s influential ‘Covid O’ sub-committee has discussed the likelihood of estate agent branches being shut and house moves permitted ‘only where absolutely necessary’ in England.
The measures is part of wider discussion at senior government echelons as to how much to tighten restrictions as the new variant Covid strain runs rampant.
An announcement had been expected during last night’s Downing Street Covid update lead by Home Secretary Priti Patel, but during questions from members of the public and journalists on tighter restrictions, she would only say that discussion were ‘ongoing’.
But both The Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph and Sun reported yesterday that health experts and ministers within the government are pushing Boris Johnson to go further and ban many activities so far allowed under the lockdown regulations.
He told nurses during a visit to a health centre in Bristol yesterday that lockdown measures would be tightened ‘if necessary’.
As well as shutting high street agency branches and severely restricting house moves, as happened under the first lockdown last year, other options are being considered.
This includes the wearing of face masks in public, closing cafes and takeaways and increasing social distancing rules from one to two metres, closing nurseries and places of worship, stopping click-and-collect shopping except at supermarkets, and limiting how people can exercise outdoors.
Northern Ireland has already brought in regulations that could be used to shut estate agency branches, and Propertymark has reminded agents there that, although branches can stay open for the moment, members of the public are not allowed into their offices.