Car dealerships will not be allowed to reopen before June 1 as they have been added to the list of businesses that must remain shut.
However, new guidelines released by the government overnight say click-and-collect services for retail businesses WILL BE allowed.
In the updated set of directions, the government has clearly laid out those businesses that cannot trade as the lockdown rules begin to ease.
But it looks like the government will be allowing those retail firms to operate click and collect services which means car sales can resume in England.
With varying degrees of lockdown in the devolved nations, it has not yet been confirmed whether this is allowed across the UK.
The document states: ‘All retail, other than those exempt, must close their premises to members of the public.
‘However, staff may be present to make deliveries or provide services in response to orders such as those through telephone, online, or mail.
‘Click and collect services can also operate, though customers must not enter premises listed in the left-hand column.’
Listing car showrooms as a business in that column, the document says: ‘To reduce social contact, the government has required by law the businesses and venues in the left-hand column to close to members of the public.’
‘Car showrooms’ are clearly listed in the guidance which can be seen here. No exceptions have been allowed for car sales, so dealers must remain shut until June 1 at the earliest – but will be able to operate via click and collect.
Neil McCue, chief operating officer for Snows Group, told Car Dealer Magazine this morning: ‘This is great news. I am delighted. It will get things moving again and we’ll be able to start delivering those cars we wanted to from March.
‘It will get the supply chain moving again and some revenue in. We won’t be back fully, but it will certainly give us something to go on. It’s just what we needed.’
The option for click and collect services will dramatically change what dealers can offer and allow many to get back to work in a far larger capacity than they are now.
Dealer groups have been calling for a click and collect to be allowed as home deliveries were not economical on a larger scale.
Robert Forrester, CEO of Vertu, tweeted: ‘There has been a government update on click and collect overnight.’
— Robert Forrester (@vertumotors) May 13, 2020
Property viewings and house sales, sunbathing, unlimited exercise and meeting one friend in an open space are allowed from today under the new rules.
The updated government document does not explicitly say that dealers will be allowed to open on June 1, despite that date being the widely expected one car dealers will be allowed to reopen.
The government has said it will regularly review its plan to reopen the economy over the coming days and weeks.
Sean Kelly, MD of Vines BMW, said: ‘It is frustrating to see car dealers excluded from the list of businesses able to reopen.
‘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.’
In Boris Johnson’s address to the nation on Sunday, 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.
We reported yesterday that all car dealers will have to prove they are Covid-19 secure and display a safety certificate before they can reopen.
[The key soundbites from Boris’ speech, 5:29 video]
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