Estate agents and other workers in Northern Ireland are being urged to work from home "where possible" in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Current advice in Northern Ireland already states that workers should operate from home where they can, but ministers in the devolved Stormont executive say they are "strengthening" their message.
Ministers are asking employees "to work from home where they can and advise employers to support this where possible".
Ministers are also advising the public to limit social contacts and wear face coverings indoors.
A statement from the executive says: “Hospital admissions are rising and modelling indicates that admissions will increase further in the coming weeks … clear advice from public health experts is that an intervention is now required."
Ministers at Stormont say that if more people work from home it will help reduce the risk of infection inside and outside the workplace.
Paul Offley, compliance officer at The Guild of Property Professionals, says the advice from the Northern Ireland executive is a reminder that the pandemic is still ongoing, and it is important to act within a Covid-secure manner to ensure the safety of both the public and the agents themselves.
He says Covid-secure polices within the property sector have been what has kept the sector and people moving over the past 18 months.
“With the rate of infections increasing within certain regions, it is vital that agents continue to act within a safe manner to ensure that they are protecting the public and doing what they can to minimise the spread of the virus,” he says.
“Given the current circumstances, agents should look to continue to promote virtual viewings in the first instance; review their Covid operating plan and continue to review working practices to take all reasonable steps to help restrict the spread of the virus during the next few difficult months. Also, if we have learnt anything over the past year and a half, it is that the property sector is highly adaptable and most businesses are able to effectively work remotely” adds Offley.
Meanwhile new government advice in England is advising people to take a rapid lateral flow test before going to high-risk settings.
The updated guidance on Covid testing suggests people may want to test themselves before going to crowded and enclosed spaces or visiting people at higher risk of severe illness from Covid-19.
Previous guidance urged people to take rapid tests twice a week or before visiting the medically vulnerable.