Labour leader Kier Starmer has proposed that house viewings should be halted in a bid to reduce Covid cases.
In his first speech of the year, Sir Kier voiced surprise that house-buyers could still conduct physical viewings during the worsening pandemic, and follows a warning from the government that home moves could be paused to manage the spread of coronavirus.
Sir Kier said: “It would surprise people that it’s still possible at the moment to go and view houses if you want to buy a house – and that wasn’t allowed last March. So we’re in this extraordinary situation, where having got to at least as serious if not at a more serious situation than in March last year, we’ve got lesser restrictions in place, and we need those in place as quickly as possible.”
He added that the public had been getting mixed messages, with individuals and families struggling to know what to do; he has already suggested that nurseries – like primary schools – should be closed to protect the NHS.
While viewings – both virtual and physical – are still currently allowed, the government has updated its guidance on house moves, which suggests that it could be considering a ban in light of the seriousness of the pandemic.
It says: “We encourage all parties involved to be as flexible as possible and to be prepared to delay moves, for example if one of those involved becomes ill with COVID-19 during the moving process or has to self-isolate. It may become necessary to pause all home moves locally or nationally for a short period of time to manage the spread of coronavirus. We will let you know if this needs to happen.”
The government has already insisted that people outside a household or support bubble shouldn’t help with moving house unless absolutely necessary and that everyone must follow the national guidance on moving home safely.
Read more comments by Kier Starmer on Covid and the housing market.