The changes were announced July 31 by Premier Mark Drakeford. A government statement said that from August 3 “pubs, bars, restaurants, cafes will be able to reopen indoors. As will indoor bowling alleys, auction houses and bingo halls.
However, the news was greeted with caution by at least two Welsh auction houses.
Rogers Jones in Cardiff and Colwyn Bay was open to the public by pre-arranged appointment only, with bidding conducted online only.
Ben Rogers Jones said: “While we acknowledge the Welsh Government’s announcement that auction houses in Wales are now permitted to be fully open, Rogers Jones & Co has taken the decision to pursue a policy of non-bidding in the room at our two auction rooms, until further notice. The health and well-being of our auction team and customers are at the heart of this decision.
“Our auction schedule has returned to normal, but both of our auction houses are open by appointment, whether for sales viewing, enquiries, appraisals or for collections. Auctions can be done online, on commission and, in some cases, by telephone.
Rogers Jones added: “I think it is interesting to see that the government has bracketed auction houses along with pubs, bars, restaurants and bingo halls in this reopening announcement; but for these other companies, the presence of the public on the site is vital, while for auction houses, the Internet is the essential element these days.
“Some bidders may be disappointed with this decision and we sympathize with them – we too love the drama, tension and fun that bidders bring. However, we must put the health of our community first.
Rogers Jones has said indoor bidding will not be permitted for the upcoming ‘flagship’ auctions in Cardiff: the Welsh Sale and Selections and Collections on September 12. He added: “Of course, we look forward to welcoming our buyers back to lift paddles at our Cardiff and Colwyn Bay venues when we are fully confident the time is right. »
Nigel Hodson, managing director of the Carmarthen Peter Francis auction house, agreed. “We resist a quick return to the traditional way things were,” he said. “We find that extended viewing hours that are strictly by appointment work well with the constant flow of people easily managed with fewer staff and natural social distancing.
“We get requests from buyers to attend the auction itself and as an auctioneer I don’t find the on-screen sale to be much fun and certainly more tiring. Opening a sale with an empty auction house is distinctly odd after 47 years with a hammer.
“However, we think the auctions are doing very well with the online platforms as well as the commission offers and a few phone lines and right now, at least for another month, maybe two, that’s how it is. that we will continue.”
Hodson added that he wonders if this clinical and social way of managing auctions is becoming “the new way, maybe in the long run.”
He added: “Some aspects have appeal, although the atmosphere and buzz of an auction is definitely lost. Perhaps this was always going to happen gradually with the greater involvement of the internet and the advent of live auctions in recent years. Auctions are both theater and business, and theater is gone.
“As many have said, we have to get used to a new normal.”
The premises of auction houses in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland (under restrictions) have been open to the public since the start of the summer. Dealerships were able to reopen in Wales on June 22.