As car dealers start looking towards a time they can begin reopening showrooms, uppermost in their mind will be protecting staff and the public in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Government guidance as of April 29 says that for those working in non-health and social care settings, good hand hygiene and social distancing are key to reducing the infection risk.
There are likely to be specific guidelines issued to dealers this week, but until then we’ve devised this guide around sensible PPE measures you can put in place now.
It’s fair to say that PPE could play a major part in instilling confidence, and the government does concede that ‘splash barriers’ (or ‘sneeze guards’) could reduce anxiety, as the screens provide a physical block.
It’s really down to each individual car dealer as to what they want, so here we take a look at what’s available in the PPE arena.
These can be made from perspex or perhaps acrylic, and stop airborne particles in their tracks, for example, if somebody coughs or sneezes.
Perrys managing director Darren Ardron told Car Dealer Live that the dealership group was fitting such screens at service receptions and in its call centre, but they were also being made in such a way that they could be moved to wherever they were needed, making maximum use of them.
These are already in widespread use across a number of industries, are relatively cheap, and are a major part of contactless interactions.
Latex ones offer protection against viruses and bacteria, while nitrile gloves are effective against viruses and chemicals.
Some people may have an allergy to latex, though. Powdered latex gloves are easier to put on than non-powdered ones. Whichever ones you get, make sure that you change them regularly.
There are two types: ones that include respirators (N95 or similar FFP3) and surgical masks. The former are tight-fitting and really only for people working within two metres (6ft) of someone who is known or suspected of having Covid-19.
The latter are fluid-resistant and are looser fitting, although they don’t protect the wearer against smaller particles that are airborne.
They should cover mouth and nose, only be worn once (with hand hygiene carried out after disposal), not allowed to dangle round the neck, not be touched once they’re on, and changed if they become damaged or moist.
Some dealer groups such as Marshall have ordered thermometers as part of their post-lockdown strategy or, in the case of Vertu, are considering using them to take the temperatures of customers.
This could be the future. One of our dealerships is trialling checking people’s temperatures via laser thermometers before entering the business. We have seen this in China’s dealerships already! pic.twitter.com/IMzXbhhzhr
— Robert Forrester (@vertumotors) April 6, 2020
Others, however, may feel it is a step too far and could be construed as an invasion of privacy.
Again, used in other industries, but these are unlikely to be needed in dealerships.
Where to put handwashing stations
Make them visible and easily accessible but ensure social distancing can still be practised. They’re usually mobile, meaning they can be moved to wherever they’re most needed at a particular time.
When’s a good time to buy?
A tricky one. Of overriding importance is the fact that the NHS isn’t deprived of supplies. Our healthcare heroes must come first at all times. This has to be a personal decision – check with whoever you are going to order from.
A quick and easy way to rid surfaces of the vast majority of bacteria and viruses. Should only be used once. There are many makes available and the manufacturer will specify their efficacy.
Sanitising hand gels
These disinfect without you having to use soap and water. Make sure they come with the all-important NHS seal of approval, though. Gels should contain 70 per cent alcohol, too. And if the product doesn’t give you sore or dry hands either, so much the better.
IMDA chairman Umesh Samani told Car Dealer Live that it was essential for cars to go through a sanitisation process and that post-lockdown customers will expect cars to be sanitised as standard. GardX, for example, has a KleenAir anti-bacterial vehicle treatment system that pumps a mist around a car’s interior, which the firm says kills 99.9 per cent of bacteria.
GardX recommends providing these to dealers and dealership staff. The kits should include gloves, alcohol wipes, disposable masks and resealable bags to place contaminated equipment in and for storing documents before handover.
What else can I do as an employer?
The government suggests giving employees regular breaks to let them wash their hands for 20 seconds, while break areas and times should also take into account social distancing to reduce contact then.
It says you should ensure staff are aware and that there are visible signs reminding employees and customers not to enter if they or a member of their household are displaying symptoms of Covid-19, such as a persistent cough and/or a high temperature.
They should also avoid touching their mouth, eyes and nose with unwashed hands. Keep on sanitising keys as well as touch points, including the steering wheel, gear knob, door handles and rear-view mirror, and put protective covers on seats too. Make sure your business has a professional deep-clean, too, before you start allowing customers back in.
Please note that the information in this feature is intended purely to give tips and suggestions and is based on our understanding of the situation at the time of publication. It is up to individual dealers to take responsibility for and decide what they feel is appropriate and will work best for their business. We will update the feature when we are made aware of more or alternative guidance.
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