The prime minister has announced that car dealers in the new Tier 4 must close their showrooms from midnight tonight (Dec 19) and return to click-and-collect only.
Those currently in Tier 3, located in London, the South East and East of England, will move into the new highest level of restrictions, which Johnson described as close to the national restrictions in November.
This means that these car dealers will need to return to only click-and-collect from Sunday, December 20.
Prime minister Boris Johnson gave the news at a press conference alongside chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty and the government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance this afternoon.
The new Tier 4 restrictions see non-essential shops, gyms, cinemas, hairdressers and bowling alleys forced to close for two weeks – while people will be restricted to meeting one other person from another household in an outdoor public space.
As the PM has said Tier 4 will follow the last national lockdown’s restrictions, cars sold in these regions must be done remotely from tomorrow.
The only way car dealers can sell cars is either via click and collect or home delivery – and none of the deal can be done at home or in the dealership. This includes taking payment or signing paperwork.
- Q&A: Are car dealers open in Tier 4? Can I buy a car in Tier 4? Will there be an MOT exemption in Tier 4?
The prime minister held crisis talks with cabinet ministers yesterday as scientists confirmed that the new variant coronavirus was spreading rapidly.
Professor Whitty has informed the World Health Organisation that it had concluded the mutant strain could spread faster in the population.
‘As announced on Monday, the UK has identified a new variant of Covid-19 through Public Health England’s genomic surveillance,’ he said in a statement.
‘As a result of the rapid spread of the new variant, preliminary modelling data and rapidly rising incidence rates in the South East, the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group now consider that the new strain can spread more quickly.
‘We have alerted the World Health Organisation and are continuing to analyse the available data to improve our understanding.’
Whitty said there was ‘no evidence’ to suggest a higher mortality rate or that it affects vaccines, but he confirmed ‘urgent work’ was under way to confirm this.
He added: ‘Given this latest development it is now more vital than ever that the public continue to take action in their area to reduce transmission.’
In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she would be chairing a meeting of her cabinet to discuss the emerging evidence on new variant.
The latest developments come after Johnson refused to rule out a third national lockdown for England – a move he has previously been deeply reluctant to contemplate.
Wales and Northern Ireland have already announced fresh lockdowns once Christmas is over while the Scottish Government has said the option ‘remains on the table’.
- Welsh dealers forced to shut on Christmas Eve
- No click and collect for Northern Ireland dealers during 6-week lockdown
Latest figures from the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) showed the R number for the UK was estimated to have risen to between 1.1 and 1.2 – which means the disease is growing again.
At the same time, there are concerns about a possible upward spike in cases as rules on households mixing are relaxed over the Christmas period.
On Saturday much of the South East was following London and large parts of Essex and Hertfordshire in entering the toughest Tier 3 restrictions.
The latest tiering changes in England – which came into force on this morning at one minute past midnight – saw 38m people now living in Tier 3, 68 per cent of the population of England.
Additional reporting: James Baggott