With the English government making the decision to yet again close many businesses, it may seem like a minefield understanding what you are and are not allowed to do in our auction industry!
Following the announcements from Boris Johnson on 31st October, many were left feeling confused as to what service they were in fact able to provide for the month of November. Following clarification from the Department for Digital Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), we are pleased to be able to share the latest government guidance:
As we are all aware at this point, restrictions come into force tomorrow, November 5th and government officials have confirmed that antique shops, auction houses, antique centres and art galleries alike will all have to close their doors to the public. Fairs and markets are deemed to be non-essential retail and therefore, whether held indoors or outdoors will have to close completely from November 5th. These retailers will be able to sell their goods online, operating behind closed doors providing a delivery service to their customers for any goods purchased. These businesses can also offer a collection service on a click and collect business, offering customers a pre-arranged collection appointment.
The saving grace for auction houses came in a statement issued by the DCMS who responded directly to an enquiry from Antiques Trade Gazette. In their response they confirmed as follows:
“ 1. Auction houses may trade online and can operate via click and collect or delivery. The only exception is for livestock and agricultural equipment auctions which can be open to the public.
2. Where staff need to be present to package auctioned goods, it is clear that this cannot be done from home and they will be permitted to attend work premises to fulfil those duties. “
This is great news for auction houses meaning they can continue to use our platform to run their auctions, taking online, telephone and commission bids; however, members of the public cannot attend the auction house neither for viewings nor to participate on the sale day. It was previously a little ambiguous with auctioneers unsure of their right to have staff in the workplace. This recent clarification by the DCMS has cleared up any confusion and auction house staff can indeed attend their premises to perform tasks which clearly cannot be performed from their home.
Clarification is still being sought as to whether professionals may perform house visits for clearances or valuations. But, for now, this recent update is certainly welcome news for many auctioneers who have already had a turbulent year.