The Auction Industry has been eagerly awaiting an announcement from the government to find out whether auctioneers can continue to conduct online only auctions with bidding and viewing over the internet during the second Covid-19 lockdown.
With the new lockdown restrictions coming into force on 5th November, all non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues have been forced to close their doors to the general public.
The good news for auctioneers came when the government confirmed that online auctions can continue during the new lockdown, and auctioneers will be allowed to trade behind closed doors and have staff on the premises for collection and delivery.
The announcement was made following lobbying by a number of interested parties to get clarification on the government’s position. In a statement issued on 3rd November The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) confirmed:
- 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.
- 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.
- Arts and antiques markets are non-essential retail and will have to close whether indoors or outdoors.
The statement also clarifies the position for outdoor antiques fairs and markets, some of which had continued to trade with Covid-secure procedures in place. Unfortunately, these venues will now have to close their doors to the public as they are classed as non-essential retail.
Similarly, galleries, shops and antiques centres will also have to close to the public, however, like auctioneers they will be able to sell online and operate from their premises behind closed doors.
The official legislation for the second lockdown was announced on 31st October, drawn up on 3rd November and voted on in parliament before coming into force on 5th November and running to 2nd December at least.
To find out what restrictions are in place for Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland you should check the website of the relevant devolved government for the latest updates.