Car dealerships have chosen to keep social distancing and mask wearing within their showrooms from Monday, despite the legal requirement to do so being removed.
Dealer bosses spoke to Car Dealer and explained how they wouldn’t be putting their staff at risk but many added that they wouldn’t be enforcing mask wearing either.
Many referred to the difficult decisions and vagueness from the government, who have produced guidance advising business owners to recommend masks indoors still despite it being removed from law.
Snows Group operations director Neil McCue said for him the decision was clean cut and they wouldn’t be taking any risks.
He told Car Dealer: ‘We’ll be carrying on as before. We won’t be making any changes because we’re not prepared to take the risk.
‘Cases are spiking and we don’t think it would be responsible to remove any of these precautions.
‘We’ve already had breakouts in the group and it’s caused us massive problems. We’re not prepared to put our staff at risk and they fully support us.’
When asked if he predicted any problems with customers, he said with them only in the showroom for a short amount of time he believes they will understand the business protecting its staff.
This view was echoed by Wessex Garages managing director Chris Wiseman, who felt it was the right thing to do.
He said: ‘We are seeing an obvious increase in Covid cases and the need for colleagues to isolate, based on activity outside of the dealership environment.
‘We have maintained stringent Covid-19 protocols throughout the pandemic and will be continuing these for the foreseeable future, including the request for all visitors and colleague to wear facemasks in public areas.
‘If anything, we are even more vigilant as restrictions relax elsewhere. I see this as a basic duty of care for both colleagues and customers as well as the need to keep the businesses open.’
IMDA chairman and owner of Specialist Cars of Stoke, Umesh Samani, said: ‘From my perspective there’s not a lot to be changed.
‘Obviously we won’t be enforcing face coverings, however the sign in the showroom and service centre will be requesting that customers wear masks and social distancing will be the same as its been for a while.
‘The service staff have all been told we carry on as usual with all the sanitising of cars.’
CarShop CEO Nigel Hurley added that with other venues reopening fully, for now they would be remaining vigilant. However, the supermarket group will also let customers choose if they wear a mask.
‘We have discussed this at length and feel it’s safer for our customers, colleagues and families to remain as vigilant as we have been for now’, he told Car Dealer.
‘Apart from allowing customers to enter our facilities without a mask which is now their choice, we will continue to adopt our highly vigilant approach.
‘There is concern that we could face greater risk as venues open up fully so now is the time to revisit our agreed internal plans and ensure we are as safe and vigilant as were in early on in the lockdowns.’
Daksh Gupta, chief executive of Marshall Motor Group explained that he had chosen to hold off on a decision but last night informed staff by video that they would be keeping all restrictions in place.
‘I’ve done 53 videos since the pandemic began and by this morning I’d received 75 to 80 emails saying it was the right decision. Only one person said they disagreed with me,’ said Gupta.
‘There are clearly two camps; the people who think this is an insane decision and those who can’t wait. The nation is divided.
‘Usually I like to think decisions in my job are pretty common sense but this time I decided I would step back and watch the numbers. I was looking at them going up and up every day, and while the vaccination news is good and deaths are going down, we still don’t want people getting sick with what is a nasty illness.
‘It also has an impact on these people’s ability to go to work, their earnings and the business. We didn’t want to take the risk at our colleagues expense.’
Gupta added that his dealerships have been told not to confront customers over mask wearing though.
Swansway Garages director Peter Smyth told Car Dealer: ‘We will be doing exactly the same. Our customer facing staff will continue to wear masks and we hope that our customers will too.
‘Social distancing, our signage, and temperature checks for staff will also still take place as well as unaccompanied test drives.’
Let us know what you think about social distancing in your dealership from July 19 by emailing [email protected].
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