The prime minister Boris Johnson thanked the country for our efforts in fighting coronavirus on 27 March. On his first day back at Downing Street after recovering from coronavirus the prime minister also warned that the UK was facing the moment of maximum risk and urged the country not to lose patience with the lockdown.
Johnson, who described the pandemic as the "biggest single challenge" the UK has faced since the war, said there were fewer hospital admissions, fewer coronavirus patients in intensive care units and real signs that the country was passing through the peak.
But the prime minister stressed that it was too soon to ease social distancing measures, saying the country must instead press home its advantage at a "moment of maximum risk".
He added that if the virus was a physical assailant or invisible mugger, which he said from his personal experience it was, this was the moment at which it had been wrestled to the floor.
When will social distancing end?
The prime minister did not give a timeline for when social distancing will end. A UK-wide coronavirus lockdown was announced on 23 March.
Instead, he said lockdown measures could be eased once it was clear that the first phase was over, and the government’s five tests were being met.
These five tests are: making sure the NHS can cope, a sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rate, evidence that the rate of infection is decreasing to manageable levels, overcoming challenges relating to testing and the supply of personal protective equipment PPE, and ensuring a second peak has been avoided.
Once these tests are met, the second phase can start, under which the country can "gradually refine" the economic and social restrictions.
The prime minister said that the government will be saying more about this phase in the coming days and any decisions will be taken with the "maximum possible transparency".
On 16 April the foreign secretary Dominic Raab, deputising for Boris Johnson who was recovering from coronavirus, said lockdown would last for at least three more weeks.
What does this mean for house sales?
With the lockdown remaining in place, the majority of home sales will also remain on hold.
Under the current government guidance, if the property you are moving into is empty, you can continue with your transaction and move into your new home.
If the property is currently occupied, everyone involved in the transaction is being asked to do everything they can to agree an alternative date to move once the current social distancing measures are no longer in place.
If the move is considered ‘critical’ and a new date cannot be agreed, it can still go ahead, unless anyone in the chain has symptoms of the virus or is self-isolating, in which case it should be put on hold.
What can I do if I want to buy a home?
There is nothing to stop you doing a bit of house hunting during lockdown. In fact, browsing figures on Zoopla have increased.
Many estate agents have been quick to respond to the situation and have created virtual tours of properties.
Although estate agents’ offices are closed as part of social distancing measures, they are still working from home and are available to answer any questions you may have.
Unfortunately, you cannot view a property in person at the current time, and if you do decide to go ahead and put in an offer on a home, the conveyancing process is likely to take longer and you will not be able to complete until social distancing measures are lifted.
What can I do if I want to sell my home?
If your home is not already listed, putting it on the market may be tricky at the moment, as estate agents cannot come to your property to carry out an appraisal or take photographs.
It is also not possible for Energy Performance Certificate assessors to visit you.
You can, however, still contact estate agents about the possibility of listing your home once the lockdown is lifted, while you can also use the time to get your home looking as good as possible.
If your home is already on the market, estate agents can continue to advertise it, but people cannot come to physically view it.
If you have an interested buyer, you are still allowed to accept offers on your property, although, as stated above, the conveyancing process will take longer.
Top 3 takeaways
- The Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised the British people for their response to coronavirus and said the country was coming to the end of the first phase of the conflict
- But he stressed that it was too soon to ease social distancing measures
- As a result, people are being asked to continue to delay completing transactions unless the property in question is empty