What Will The New ‘Normal’ Look Like?

Following on from the confusing address from the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson last night, who informed the nation to “Stay Alert” as opposed to “Stay At Home”, the nation waited with baited breath today on clarification on last night’s new normal.

This morning, on an interview with BBC Breakfast, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab attempted to clarify the situation laid out by the PM last night who encouraged people in England to take more trips outside to exercise and even play sports, but only with members of your household.

The Foreign Secretary intimated that although we can’t mix households, we could meet up with friends and family although still stick to the social distancing rules. Although large group gatherings are currently not allowed, it is proposed that you can meet one family member in the morning and another in the afternoon.

The 50-page guidance published by the Government this afternoon, shows that they’re attempting to open the UK economy again, but tentative steps are vital to prevent a second wave of Covid-19 blighting the nation.

The guidance includes a number of measures, which include those sectors of the economy that are allowed to open should open. However, workplaces need to follow new Covid-19 Secure guidelines to ensure the safety of employees and clients/customers.

Sarah Sams, Partner at Dutton Gregory Solicitors, commented:

“Working practices in the office will definitely have to change and discussions will need to be had about possibly working in the office on a rota system, so that only a certain amount of staff are in at one time, with the remaining staff working from home. Personally, working from home has actually given me a couple of extra hours a day and made me realise how much time is spent on the school run and commuting! As we work with paperless files, the residential property team at Dutton Gregory have all had a fairly easy transition to working at home.

“Obviously with the schools being shut at the same time, there is the added challenges of trying to home school whilst working (my knowledge of grammar is severely lacking!), and occupying the children when they’re not doing their school work. However, I can definitely see myself working from home as becoming the norm, with visits to the office only happening when necessary.”

Tomorrow the Government is set to publish industry guidance, outlining the steps businesses should begin to consider prior to them reopening.

Beth Rudolf, Director of Delivery, The Conveyancing Association, said:

“We suspect today’s publication will be the outline of phases of reopening and actually what will be more interesting is the industry guidance due tomorrow. Businesses should start thinking now about how they will re-open to consumers. If clients come into the office, where will they see them, how will they ensure social distancing in their reception – do they need screens up as we have seen in supermarkets, how will they seat all of their staff 2m apart – ideally can they keep as many as possible working from home.

“As regards the home moving process itself, the Home Buying and Selling Group have been working on industry and consumer guidance in draft.

“As soon as the government guidance is available tomorrow we will be refining the drafts to create finalised versions which we will then publish to help businesses think about what they will need to do in terms of a safe transaction. The consumer guidance will be to ensure that the consumer is getting a consistent message from all property professionals about their responsibility to keep everyone safe during the moving process, whether that’s behaving appropriately on viewings or how to get a document witnessed. Overall the message will clearly be to keep things ‘virtual’ wherever possible. When it comes to the actual move, we should all be protecting the removers, who cannot always be 2m apart, and the British Association of Removers have already published guidance to their members on how to minimise risk. We all have our part to play in creating the safest possible moving environment.

“Of course the health and safety is paramount but we also need to think of the financial stability of an industry that, before Covid-19, on average did not get paid until 5 months after instruction. This is unsustainable and we as an industry need to work together to reduce transactions times, getting conveyancers instructed on listing and prior to offer, getting information forms and ID verification completed immediately, ordering searches and sharing information with the valuer and lender to reduce post offer queries. In countries where they employ these simple processes they have transactions times 12 weeks faster than ours. It goes without saying that many more businesses can cope with a 2 month transaction than a 5 month transaction.”

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