As the Government announced their new four-step plan to bring to an end the restrictions needed to minimise the impact of COVID on the nation’s population; many could be forgiven for thinking ‘This is it! We’re out of lockdown!’.

But that’s not quite the full picture.

With every step taken, the Government is trying to ensure that we have the mechanisms in place to be able to move both forward and back if needed. Should the number of confirmed infections rise as we reach each of the four milestones, then the government has been very clear that we are likely to revert any steps already taken to get the numbers back on track. 

So what are the key dates and rules?

In order for the easing of restrictions, key dates will prompt further easing of lockdown but only if the data that will be collated during each of the five week periods (between Steps) show that numbers of infections and fatalities are either not increasing or (as is hoped) continue to fall.

The four conditions for easing lockdown are:

Road to somewhere - Government announces 4 Step plan out of lockdown

*BBC News

Key dates and changes:

Road to somewhere - Government announces 4 Step plan out of lockdown
Road to somewhere - Government announces 4 Step plan out of lockdown

So how does that affect Inventory providers?

As you can see from the steps; effectively nothing really changes in regards to how reports and property visits are currently conducted until the 17th May when restrictions to social contact are relaxed allowing the ‘Rule of 6’ within a property.

That does not mean, however, that your own protocols should change at that point. Until you have reviewed your process, consulted with your clients and clerks to ensure that safety is maintained throughout any property visit, your current safety protocols should continue to be adhered to.

Wear PPE – wear a mask, gloves or ensure hand sanitizer is used both before and after visiting the property. 

Keep a safe distance – until the government makes any changes to their guidance a 2 metre distance should be maintained when at the property from anyone else present. 

Wash hands – washing hands regularly and for at least 20 secs both before and after visiting the property where possible.

For more detailed safety at the property guidance; view our blog –Inventory Clerk Guidance For Safe Property Reports – 3.0

What should inventory providers do before March 8th?

In order to be ready for each and every step both forward and backwards, if the data suggests that the government’s plan for easing of lockdown is not working, so you should be reviewing your protocols and plans to deliver your service.

  1. Review current working practices, safety protocols and advice both for your clerks, clients and subcontractors you use
  2. Align your protocols with the 4 Step plan so that you can easily move between steps as restrictions are eased or are reintroduced
  3. Communicate your plan with your clients, staff, clerks and any additional support you use to provide your services
  4. Keep lines of communication open so that should the situation change you can quickly adapt and ensure that your services are not affected 

We have provided a handy template to help you review your protocols:

As providers we need to ensure that our staff, clerks and clients feel safe and supported during the transitions between each of the steps. 

As the housing industry has been able to operate during the pandemic the transition in some respects will be less of a disruption as we can continue to compile reports and make property visits, however be under no illusion; it will still be a difficult transition out of lockdown.

The psychological challenges that some may face will be less obvious and there will no doubt be pressure to relax current working practices as agents and landlords seek to get the industry back to something resembling ‘normal’. But that does not mean that safety should be put at risk, so a considered approach as to how you will deliver services going forward should be your priority.

The steps the government has issued to ease the restrictions, get the economy moving and to allow people to be together as families and friends is now a road to somewhere but remember; only when the government is sure that it is safe to move from one step to the next will decisions be made to move forward. Adopting this approach to your own inventory services will help ensure that we protect our staff, clients and the wider public.

An accompanying podcast to this blog is available – listen to ‘The Inventory Professional’ on Apple, Spotify or YouTube.