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Prime Minister Boris Johnson during one of his coronavirus (COVID-19) statements.

Image credit: UK government.

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The government announced on Saturday, December 19, that businesses in areas in England in tier 4 including “non-essential retail and auction houses (except for auctions of livestock or agricultural equipment) and market stalls selling non-essential goods” will close to the public but “can continue to be able to operate click-and-collect (where goods are pre-ordered and collected off the premises) and delivery services”.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) confirmed to Antiques Trade Gazette that shops and auction houses can “continue to operate under tier 4 regulations via click-and-collect only. Items must be collected from the front door and the public are not permitted to go inside.”

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Number 10 Downing Street.

Image credit: UK government.

As the UK auction calendar ramps back up in the new year, expect sales to be held as they were in November with no viewings or viewings by appointment and no fairs or markets in tier 4 for England.

For other regions of England there are different regulations such as shops and auction houses can remain open for the public in tiers 1-3.

Devolved nations have different rules.

In Northern Ireland from December 26 all non-essential retail businesses will have to close.

In Scotland new restrictions will take effect from December 26 and will last for three weeks. Every part of mainland Scotland will be in level 4, while level 3 will apply in Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles and the more remote islands in Argyll and Bute and the Highlands. Non-essential retail will have to close.

In Wales a lockdown with non-essential shops close will begin on December 28.

Meanwhile, Ireland will return to its highest-level lockdown - level 5 – from December 24 but non-essential shops will be allowed to remain open. The measures will remain in place until at least January 12.

Check the relevant government websites for further details.