Britannia Lanes – update on Coronavirus measures
Update 13th January 2021
Further to speculation across the media over the last few days with regards to a possible lockdown of the home moving market, we have literally just received the following update directly from MHCLG.
Let me reassure you, that we have no current plans to close the housing market.
- We currently have no plans to close the housing market – it would only be closed if the Prime Minister decided it was the right thing to do.
- During the first lockdown people were still able to move where it was reasonably necessary. The housing market was the first sector of the economy to open back up in May 2020.
- We feel it is important to make people aware that closure is a possibility, to encourage all parties to build flexibility into their moving plans.
- It takes around 20 weeks to move home and one of the complexities in the process is agreeing a final date for the move, not least because in a long chain several households will be moving on the same day.
- When agreeing these dates we want all parties to have had a discussion with their conveyancer about contingencies in case they need to delay or postpone their move. We don’t expect it to happen but it is practical for people to think about it in advance.
Update 4th January 2021
Further to the PM’s announcement of the new Tier 5 restrictions in England, it is confirmed that Moving home is still permissible. The newly published guidelines state that:
People outside your household or support bubble should not help with moving house unless absolutely necessary. Estate and letting agents and removals firms can continue to work. If you are looking to move, you can go to property viewings. Follow the national guidance on moving home safely, which includes advice on social distancing, letting fresh air in, and wearing a face covering. Further information can be found via the following link:
National Lockdown Guidance (PDF)
The Devolved Government of Wales guidance still confirms that moves can still take place, even though the whole of the country falls under tier 4 restrictions, if you can’t delay the moving date until after alert level 4 restrictions are lifted. Associated activities, for example, removals processes, property preparation, handover of keys, surveys and valuations can also take place in line with guidance on working in other people’s homes. With regards to cross border moves, ie for a move into or out of Wales, they too can go ahead but you must ensure that you comply with the rules applicable in Wales as well as any rules that apply in the area you are moving to or from. Full details of the update can be found via the following link here.
As reported earlier following the announcement made by the First Minister in Scotland, the www.gov.scot website advises the following;
To minimise the risk of spreading the virus, you must stay at home as much as possible. By law, in a level 4 area, you can leave your home (or garden) only if you have a reasonable excuse to leave your home except for an essential purpose. There is a list of examples of reasonable excuses below. Although you can leave home for these purposes, you should stay as close to home as possible. Shop on-line or use local shops and services wherever you can. Travel no further than you need to reach to a safe, non-crowded place to exercise in a socially distanced way. To minimise the risk of spread of Coronavirus it is is crucial that we all avoid unnecessary travel. Examples of reasonable excuses to go out include:
For activities in connection with moving home (including viewing a property), or for activities in connection with the maintenance, purchase, sale, letting, or rental of residential property that the person owns or is otherwise responsible for.
Further information can be found via the following link; https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance
In Northern Ireland under its published lockdown rules the advice given is that unless they are specifically required to close under the regulations, workers, builders, tradespeople and other professionals can continue to go into people’s houses to carry out work such as repairs, installations and deliveries. Estate agents are permitted to remain open to facilitate the home moving market. The following measures have been in place since 26 December, and will be for a period of six weeks, with regards to households and that is as follows; Households are not allowed to mix indoors in private homes. Certain exemptions apply, including circumstances relating to a house move, and to do associated activities for that purpose, including viewing properties and making arrangements for removals. Further advice can be found via the following link here.
Throughout the pandemic, the BAR has worked tirelessly with the authorities across all regions of the UK to keep the UK residential property industry moving safely. The professional Organisations and Associations across the home moving market, including the BAR, have been continuously collaborating with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), the Home Moves in Scotland Working Group, he Home Moves in Wales Stakeholder Group and the Devolved authorities in Northern Ireland, to design and implement a joined up approach to safe working practices across the home moving sector under COVID-19 conditions. We are in constant communication with all of the regional Administrations to seek further clarity on this developing situation and we will update Members as and when more information becomes available.
We also attach to this update the current versions of the guidance notes that the BAR has agreed with those Administrations together with the other representative Organisations and Associations:
COVID-19; A safe return to work
Further guidance issued September 2020
Update 19th December 2020
House Moves are able to continue in Tier 4
We have now received confirmation from MHCLG that home moves are still allowed under Tier 4 restrictions and that Estate and letting agents and removals firms can continue to work. Please click the link below for more information.
Moving home - Can I move home?
Yes, if you can’t delay the moving date until after alert level 4 restrictions are lifted. Associated activities, for example, removals processes, property preparation, handover of keys, surveys and valuations can also take place in line with guidance on working in other people’s homes.
In terms of cross border moves, i.e. for a move into or out of Wales, they too can go ahead but you must ensure that you comply with the rules applicable in Wales as well as any rules that apply in the area you are moving to or from. Full details of the update can be found via the following link;
Update 1st November 2020
Current summary: As per Government guidelines, Britannia Lanes will continue to offer Removal services.
Latest guidelines from the Governments in all areas of the UK confirm that you can still move home even under "lockdown" or "circuit breaker" conditions. Estate and letting agents and removals companies can continue to work, and people looking to move home can continue to do so. For more information, follow the national guidance on moving home safely, which includes advice on social distancing and wearing a face covering. (see details in our May update below.)
In order to keep the UK residential property industry moving safely, residential property professional bodies including the BAR, have been continuously collaborating with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to update previously published guidance that notes that remind everyone of what they should be doing when moving home under Covid-19 conditions. It is vital to ensure that we collectively maintain joined up approach and consistency across the home moving sector, hence the industry has aligned its processes with sector guidance developed by MHCLG.
A process document published by the BAR to its Members on Wednesday 6th May, and further updated on 27th July and 21st September, has been widely endorsed by those other professional organisations and associations in the property moving industry, and reviewed by MHCLG, The Home Moves in Scotland Working Group and The Home Moves in Wales Stakeholder Group. Those processes provide clear guidance on risk mitigation procedures to be adopted by removers and their clients. It must be noted that the fact of implementing the necessary safe working practices will inevitably have some impacts on the scheduling and resourcing of a move and so we strongly advise that you discuss all such considerations in detail with your chosen BAR Member mover.
Update 11th May 2020
Following the announcement from the Prime Minister on Sunday 10th May, our offices have reopened and we are now taking removal bookings from 18th May.
Prior to your move
During this time, we will be carrying out contact-less video surveys. This is very easy to set up and it helps you, your family and the employees of Britannia Lanes to stay safe.
Removals will look and feel different at this time. Prior to your move, we request that you inform us if any occupants of your property have underlying health issues. This includes symptoms of Covid 19, have a temperature or are self isolating.
On the day of your move
We will be staggering the start times of each removal crew. The crew’s instruction will be placed into the vehicle that is being used for your move, to prevent contact with the admin team or other crew.
Prior to our crew arriving at your property, we request that you pack your personal items from the bathroom and all bedding. Please place these in sealed boxes or bags. Also prior to the move, we will post you plastic mattress covers and, where possible, we request that you put them on the mattresses.
During the loading and unloading we will ask you to vacate the property. If this is not possible, only one member of the household is to remain, keeping to one room or outdoor space.
Hygiene is the first defence against the virus. We ask for your co-operation by agreeing that the removal team have access to washing facilities so that they can frequently wash their hands throughout the day. They will bring their own soap and disposable hand towels and a black bin bag to dispose of any used towels. The 2 metre social distancing will be adhered to wherever possible. For the few items that need more than one member of the crew to move them, additional PPE will be supplied; such as face masks, disposable gloves and hand sanitizer.
The crew will not ask you to supply tea, coffee or cold drinks and will bring their own beverages to ensure that you do not share facilities.
Self Storage, Self Drive Van Hire, Confidential Shredding, Archive Storage and Records Management
During this week we will stagger the opening of our self storage facilities and self drive van hire business. Please contact your local depot for the opening dates and times of the facility. Confidential shredding has remained open during the lock-down with special offers for those working from home. Our shredding collection service will resume shortly. Our Records Management services will resume from Monday 18th May.
These measures have been put in place for the welfare of our customers, staff and their families. We thank you for your co-operation and understanding.
Update 24 March 2020
After the announcement last night from the PM, we have cancelled all moves that have not previously started. Our priority at this time is ensuring the safety of our staff, our customers and their families. I hope everyone keeps safe.
Memo from British Association of Removers
Propertymark (the National Association of Estate Agents) has spoken to a senior civil servant at the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) this morning. The civil servant stated that agents are not “essential businesses” under the new rules and therefore their view is that agents should close their offices immediately. Furthermore, they stated that there should not be any in-person viewings, routine inspections or house moves. MHCLG is still looking into property maintenance tasks such as gas safety checks and hopes to issue guidance on these points as soon as possible.
In a further development, British Association of Removers (BAR) has issued communications this morning instructing members that moves should only be completed if they are already underway, any move that has not yet started, should not go ahead.
Update 19 March 2020
Many of you will be aware of the fast-moving situation surrounding the Covid-19 virus both in the UK and overseas. We have been tracking developments for some time and taking direction from reliable sources such as the UK Government, Public Health England, the NHS and the Chief Medical Officer, who are now all providing regular bulletins offering advice and direction both for individuals and businesses alike.
What is absolutely clear is that we have never experienced anything like this before, which makes planning and preparing measures to deal with the challenges we’re currently presented with along with any potential escalated situation in the future fairly complicated.
One thing we can absolutely assure our customers of is that you have been at the heart of all our discussions. Your safety and wellbeing as well as that of our staff is our priority and we are in communication with our staff, local offices and customers on a regular basis to assess their levels of health so that where possible contact with anyone displaying symptoms is prevented. We ask that all customers play an active role in these endeavours. From an operational point of view, Britannia Lanes have taken measures and will continue to do so to mitigate any impact on the services we have committed to complete for you. Currently, there have been no actual or suspected cases of the coronavirus (Covid-19) at the three branches of Britannia Lanes at the time of writing this bulletin. However, we are clearly monitoring this on a day to day basis and have robust plans in place should any diagnosis materialise within our group.
Britannia Lanes have set out guidelines to our staff on how to maintain a clean office space and reduce the spread of any germs via simple suggestions handed down by Public Health England and the NHS. This includes advice for our field staff such as our surveyors and removal crews who will come into direct contact with our customers.
Below are the measures that Britannia Lanes are taking, and we would ask that where relevant our customers mirror these guidelines.✓ Staff have been told not to come to the office if they are unwell and to self-isolate for the recommended period by the Government. Currently 14 days, but this may change, and Britannia Movers will follow any updated recommendations.
✓ Where feasible staff are being encouraged to work from home, however given the nature of the removal service we provide there are limited roles where this is possible.
✓ Office staff, field staff and removal crew have been equipped with a range of sanitary products such as hand wipes, sanitiser and hand wash. Staff are being encouraged to maintain the very highest levels of personal hygiene at all times by washing hands regularly (for at least 20 seconds with soap and water).
✓ Staff must carry tissues and use them to catch all coughs and sneezes, disposing of the tissue into a waste container. Staff must then wash hands instantly with soap and water, or use a sanitiser
✓ If a Member of our removal staff present with symptoms, they will be withdrawn from a move to safeguard their colleagues and our customers. Should this affect the scheduling of a customer’s move we will contact them immediately to discuss our options.
✓ On an ongoing basis staff are receiving briefings from management and being encouraged to keep abreast of developments. Staff have been provided with access to various web- based advice so that they are not adding to the weight of NHS 111 calls and busy GP surgeries. Posters have been placed around our offices displaying best practice, details of common symptoms and what to do in case of any concerns.
For our International customers we are keeping a close eye on restrictions within your overseas location that you are either moving from or to. Things are changing daily with European countries closing borders for all but the most necessary services. Inevitably there will be delays for some customers and potential postponements. Should any customer have any questions, please contact the branch that is handling your consignment.Truro, Cornwall 01872 560147 Cornwall@britannialanes.co.uk
Exeter, Devon 01392 494966 Devon@britannialanes.co.uk
Bridgwater, Somerset 01278 447099 Somerset@britannialanes.co.uk
Bristol, Somerset 01179 811220 Bristol@britannialanes.co.uk
Finally, a general message to everyone not only within the UK but all around the world. As an international business Britannia Lanes wish everyone well, to stay safe, fit and healthy and to take advice from reliable expert sources wherever you are. Communities all over the world are supporting each other and if we continue to take this approach, we will get through this unprecedented event sooner rather than later.
Best wishes from all at Britannia Lanes
If you have any queries, please don't hesitate to contact us on the above details. The aim is to ensure that all government guidance is being followed and Britannia as a group are doing all we can to minimise the risk to our staff and customers.