It is undoubtedly a worrying time for us all right now. The new covid restrictions and 3 tier process announced by the Government yesterday (in full rather than the drip, drip feed we have had over the past week or so) has put everything very much into perspective.
We are in the grip of a second wave; the curve of infection rates and increased R which, on Friday 18 September, the government said was estimated to be between 1.1 and 1.4, slightly up on the previous week all support the need for additional measures to combat the spread of infection.
The introduction of The Local COVID Alert Levels “medium”, “high” and “very high” – will be implemented in different areas depending on local infection rates which means we, as suppliers to the property industry, will need to keep on top of current advice, keep a keen eye for any changes and lockdowns and be even more vigilant when it comes to both our health and mental well being.
So let’s take a programmatic approach here (doom and gloom doesn’t help anyone) and look at what can and should be done to prevent the spread of the virus as well as keep our livelihoods.
Ensure that you heed Government advice to:
- Wash your hands
Coronavirus can survive for 24 hours or more in indoors environments. Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or using hand sanitizer, regularly throughout the day will reduce the risk of catching or passing on the virus.
- Cover your face
Coronavirus is carried in the air by tiny respiratory droplets that carry the virus. Face coverings reduce the dispersion of these droplets. That means if you’re carrying the virus you’re less likely to spread it when you exhale.
- Make space
Transmission of the virus is most likely to happen within 2 metres, with risk increasing exponentially at shorter distances. Making space between yourself and others has a powerful impact in containing the spread of coronavirus.
If you or anyone you know ever displays symptoms of the virus, you can get a free test by calling 119 or visiting nhs.uk/coronavirus.
Beware of the levels for your local area and the areas you provide your services.
Tier 1 – Medium
- 10pm curfew for bars, pubs and restaurants
- Gatherings of more than six people banned, apart from some settings such as funerals and weddings
Tier 2 – High:
- Mixing of households indoors not allowed in any setting
- Two households can meet in a private garden – rule of six and social distancing rules apply
Tier 3 – Very high:
- No mixing of households indoors and outdoors, including in private gardens
- Pubs and bars to close
- Restaurants, and pubs that can operate as restaurants, allowed to stay open
- Local politicians will decide if gyms, betting shops, casinos, hairdressers and beauty salons should close
- Non-essential shops, schools and universities to remain open
- Avoid non-essential travel
- Travel outside area advised against
Further information and advice including up-to-date tier levels can be accessed by visiting Gov.uk
As inventory providers and industry suppliers, our core work is at and within a property so visiting any property other than your home carries a risk so it’s incumbent on us all to minimize the potential for transmission and reduce the risk to the lowest possible level.
Preventative measures you should take include:
- hand washing regularly for 20 seconds (use sanitiser if out in the field)
- cleaning any surfaces you have touched
- spending as little time in the property that is practically possible
- reduce the number of people each person you have contact with by planning ahead for reports including picking up of keys
- checking whether anyone at the property (if occupied) is isolating and or have been advised to shield
- encouraging agents/landlords to adopt a 72 hour ‘barrier’ between checkout and carrying out the physical report
- communicating with all key stakeholders to minimise risks
- maintain social distances of 2m or 1m where you need to be in the same room as a colleague or other contractor
Also; talk to your clerks, contractors, clients and staff so that everyone is supported, understand their obligations and that if there is an indication of infection that all the required protocols are carried out.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has a wealth of advice and guidance for businesses in regards to how to communicate within GDPR rules including whether, if you become aware of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you need to report them to a contact tracing scheme.
The clear answer here is no. The ICO states that:
Contact tracing personnel have the responsibility for following up cases of COVID-19 following a positive test result. They will make the appropriate assessments and contact the people affected themselves.
Helping colleagues and providers manage the financial stresses and strains COVID-19 is causing is important so encourage them to reach out to reputable organisations such as:
For financial help and advice visit Money Advice Service
It’s difficult not to worry but by taking a positive and pragmatic approach we can all support each other and help safeguard the industry during these turbulent and unknown times.