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Assay offices reopen following temporary closures

All four assay offices across the UK have now resumed assay services following their temporary closure in light of the ongoing pandemic. 

The British Hallmarking Council confirmed that opening hours and arrangements are now being “managed carefully in line with government advice to ensure the welfare of staff and the public”.

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The Birmingham Assay Office confirmed that its operating days from the week commencing 18 May will be Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. 

Its operations will continue in a “safe environment” with the use of skeleton staff for its hallmarking, gem lab and AnchorCert Pro testing services.  

If customers wish to deliver a parcel in person, its customer service counter will operate between 10am and 2pm on the days that it is open. Strict social distancing measures will be put in place at the counter, and only card payments will be accepted. 

Meanwhile, the Edinburgh Assay Office has been operating a resumed hallmarking service since 28 April, and continues to provide a limited service using a skeleton team made up entirely of volunteer staff. 

The office remains open daily for deliveries by courier and post from 8.30am until 2.00pm, though customers wishing to visit are advised to contact the office in advance.

From today (18 May), the London Assay Office will also be accepting the submission of packets for hallmarking at Goldsmiths’ Hall and Heathrow as part of the partial reopening of both sites.

However, it warned that turnaround times will be affected by the safety measures put in place, which includes a significantly reduced staffing level to allow for social distancing. 

Customers will therefore receive their completed packet later than normal, and the office will not give updates on time-frames for the completion of packets. 

In addition, there will be reduced counter opening hours between 10am and 1pm, Monday to Friday, and only card and online payments will be accepted. Priority services will no longer be held, and moderate or complex laser engraving will not be provided. 

Complex and moderate bespoke display hallmarks will also take more time, and new sponsor’s mark registrations remain suspended.

Meanwhile, the Sheffield Assay Office has resumed normal business hours of Monday to Friday, 8:30am and 4:30pm.

Its daily collection service, which was fully suspended at the beginning of the pandemic, will now operate in London and the South on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with an “adhoc” service for Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester

CEO and assay master, Ashley Carson, said: “Due to increased volumes of work being submitted, and having successfully altered our working practices to fully embrace the government’s guidelines for safe working, we have taken the decision to un-furlough 16 members of staff, across both our hallmarking and analytical services divisions, in order to increase our output capacity.”

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