The government’s plan to restore the economy doesn’t include car dealerships – yet.
A 50-page document has been released this afternoon (May 11) by the government detailing the next steps of easing the lockdown.
As non-essential retailers, car dealers are likely to be treated as part of a first wave of shops allowed to reopen from June 1 – if they can prove they can keep safe.
From that date, non-essential retailers could be allowed to reopen if they meet new Covid-19 safety and security guidelines.
The government says that stores are set to be reopened in phases, with politicians due to issue further guidance on which businesses will be included in each phase and time frame.
The guidelines restate what we already knew – that those who cannot work from home can go to work.
The document says: ‘You should travel to work, including to provide voluntary or charitable services, where you cannot work from home and your workplace is open.
‘With the exception of the organisations covered in the section on closing businesses and venues (see below), the government has not required any other businesses to close to the public – it is important for business to carry on.’
However, as car dealers are classed as non-essential retailers and were specifically closed as part of the lockdown, this information is largely redundant.
One dealer group boss told Car Dealer: ‘We were explicitly told to shut as part of the lockdown and the guidelines state that those businesses are not allowed to reopen yet.’
The document states as part of step two of the roadmap: ‘Opening non-essential retail when and where it is safe to do so, and subject to those retailers being able to follow the new Covid-19 Secure guidelines.
‘The intention is for this to happen in phases from June 1; the government will issue further guidance shortly on the approach that will be taken to phasing, including which businesses will be covered in each phase and the timeframes involved.
‘All other sectors that are currently closed, including hospitality and personal care, are not able to reopen at this point because the risk of transmission in these environments is higher. The opening of such sectors is likely to take place in phases during step three.’
Neil McCue, Snows Group chief operating officer, told Car Dealer Magazine: ‘We are disappointed it’s not sooner, but obviously pleased there is a date we can work towards. We have a lot of work to do to ensure our dealerships are safe for our customers and staff.’
Sean Kelly, MD of Vines BMW, added: ‘It is frustrating to see car dealers excluded from the list of businesses able to reopen from Wednesday.
‘It is clear that many have undertaken much preparatory work in on-site social distancing and sanitising measures in a desire to return to work rapidly. It is a surprise to me, as car dealers have facilities large enough to accommodate any required measures for the safety of our customers and staff.
‘With June 1 now firmly on our radar, it is vital we all heed the revised “Stay Alert” advice to ensure no further curtailment on the relaxation of rules can occur.’
The guidelines also say that face coverings should be worn in enclosed spaces such as public transport and some shops.
And the document says you should reduce the number of people you spend time with in a work setting where you can.
It states that businesses can lower the risks of transmission in the workplace by reducing the number of people they come into contact with regularly, and employers should, where it is practical, change shift patterns to match people with the same team and split people into smaller, contained teams.
Restrictions may be lifted and implemented on a regional basis, depending on local levels of infection.
The document says: ‘The government may adjust restrictions in some regions before others: a greater risk in Cornwall should not lead to disproportionate restrictions in Newcastle if the risk is lower.’
Dealers were left confused by the prime minister’s message last night (May 10) as to whether they could open or not – this looks like it won’t be before June 1. Some fear it could even be later.
In Boris Johnson’s address to the nation, the PM said going back to work should be done while adhering to social distancing at all times and that commuters should avoid public transport.
He added that schools and non-essential shops will remain shut in England until at least June because the coronavirus transmission rate is still too high to significantly ease the lockdown.
[The key soundbites from Boris’ speech, 5:29 video]
For the time being, certain businesses and venues are required by law to stay closed to the public, the government document says. These include:
- restaurants and cafes, other than for takeaway
- pubs, cinemas, theatres and nightclubs
- clothing and electronics stores; hair, beauty and nail salons; and outdoor and indoor markets (not selling food)
- libraries, community centres and youth centres
- indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, gyms, arcades and soft play facilities
- some communal places within parks, such as playgrounds and outdoor gyms
- places of worship (except for funerals)
- hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan parks, and boarding houses for commercial/leisure use, excluding use by those who live in them permanently, those who are unable to return home and critical workers where they need to for work
The document does allow food retailers and food markets, hardware stores, garden centres (from Wednesday, May 13) and certain other retailers to remain open.
It adds: ‘Other businesses can remain open and their employees can travel to work, where they cannot work from home.
‘From Wednesday, the government will also allow outdoor sports facilities – such as tennis and basketball courts, golf courses and bowling greens – to open, but you should only use these alone, with members of your household, or with one other person from outside your household, while keeping two metres apart at all times.’
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