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?

Time 1 year ago

More parts of the country have been moved into the highest Tier 4 level of coronavirus restrictions today (Dec 30), the health secretary has announced.

The midlands, the north east, parts of the north west and, parts of the south west of England and remaining areas of the south east will go into the toughest Tier 4 – where there is a stay-at-home order – of coronavirus restrictions from Thursday, the Department of Health said.

The full list of areas in Tier 4 from Thursday is…

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  • the city of Leicester
  • Leicestershire (Oadby and Wigston, Harborough, Hinckley and Bosworth, Blaby, Charnwood, North West Leicestershire, Melton)
  • Lincolnshire (City of Lincoln, Boston, South Kesteven, West Lindsey, North Kesteven, South Holland, East Lindsey)
  • Northamptonshire (Corby, Daventry, East Northamptonshire, Kettering, Northampton, South Northamptonshire, Wellingborough)
  • Derby and Derbyshire (Derby, Amber Valley, South Derbyshire, Bolsover, North East Derbyshire, Chesterfield, Erewash, Derbyshire Dales, High Peak)
  • Nottingham and Nottinghamshire (Gedling, Ashfield, Mansfield, Rushcliffe, Bassetlaw, Newark and Sherwood, Broxtowe)
  • Birmingham and Black Country (Dudley, Birmingham, Sandwell, Walsall, Wolverhampton)
  • Coventry
  • Solihull
  • Warwickshire (Rugby, Nuneaton and Bedworth, Warwick, North Warwickshire, Stratford-upon-Avon)
  • Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent (East Staffordshire, Stafford, South Staffordshire, Cannock Chase, Lichfield, Staffordshire Moorlands, Newcastle under Lyme, Tamworth, Stoke-on-Trent)
  • Lancashire (Burnley, Pendle, Blackburn with Darwen, Ribble Valley, Blackpool, Preston, Hyndburn, Chorley, Fylde, Lancaster, Rossendale, South Ribble, West Lancashire, Wyre)
  • Cheshire and Warrington (Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Warrington)
  • Cumbria (Eden, Carlisle, South Lakeland, Barrow-in-Furness, Copeland, Allerdale)
  • Greater Manchester (Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan)
  • Tees Valley (Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton-on-Tees )
  • North East (County Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North Tyneside, Northumberland, South Tyneside, Sunderland)
  • Gloucestershire (Gloucester, Forest of Dean, Cotswolds, Tewkesbury, Stroud, Cheltenham)
  • Somerset Council (Mendip, Sedgemoor, Somerset West and Taunton, South Somerset)
  • Swindon
  • Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole
  • Isle of Wight
  • New Forest

The areas join Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, Essex, Surrey and the remainder of Hampshire which were placed into Tier 4 on Boxing Day.

It means in these new areas all non-essential retail will shut again and return to click and collect.

These areas join some other parts of London, the south-east and the east of England that were placed in Tier 4 on Sunday, December 20.

But what does this mean for car dealers? Here’s what we can assume and know so far taking into account how car dealers were allowed to operate during the second lockdown.

Are car dealers open in Tier 4?

No. Non-essential retail in Tier 4 areas closed from Sunday, December 20 and the new areas announced on December 23 will close from Boxing Day. It means car dealers will return to a click and collect solution for those who want to buy a new or used car in Tier 4 areas.

Dealerships will close and offer cars for sale on their websites only.

As during the second national lockdown, dealers will not be able to allow customers to browse or take test drives and purchases will have to be made remotely.

Car sales will have to have been completed online with only the hand over allowed as a click and collect.

Can people in different tiers go to a car dealer in Tier 4?

This is unadvisable, although permitted – as Car Dealer reported this week. People travelling into Tier 4 areas will be discouraged and those in Tier 4 should only make essential journeys.

Travelling to a car dealership in Tier 4 from another area will thus be unadvisable unless the purchase is for essential reasons. As always, the advice from the government is to be sensible.

Can I take a test drive at a dealership in Tier 4?

No. Test drives will not be allowed as all car sales will need to be completed remotely.

Can I go and look around a car dealership in Tier 4?

No you can’t. Car showrooms and their forecourts will be closed, so that means browsing is off limits.

One of our legal experts suggested during the second lockdown that dealers may even want to rope off their cars to ensure people don’t wander on and browse. This could be advisable under Tier 4 too.

While that may sound extreme, if car dealers are not allowed to be open it’s not worth falling foul of the law.

Can I look around a used car during Tier 4?

No. The deal has to be fully transacted online or over the phone before you go to pick it up. This means you can’t go and look around a car before buying it and have to do so using remote means.

Many dealers are well set up for this and will have countless pictures of the cars you’re looking to buy on their websites. They did it successfully during the second lockdown very well.

Dealers will also produce personalised videos for you and will likely show you around the car via FaceTime or video calling so you are comfortable with what you are buying.

Can I get my car serviced in Tier 4?

Yes you can. Car services and repairs are deemed as essential during all lockdowns and have not stopped. You will be able to get a service as normal as garages and car dealerships will be operating as normal.

Do I need an MOT if I am in Tier 4?

Yes you do. MOTs will still be needed if you are locked down or face tougher restrictions such as Tier 4. Book your car in for the essential check. Penalties for driving a car without an MOT are tough and despite coronavirus you will still need to have your car checked over annually.

Will there been an MOT exemption for Tier 4?

We’d say no. This is highly unlikely. You will need to get your car MOT’d as normal and it is advised to book in early as garages are still dealing with the backlog of MOTs that were deferred from the first lockdown.

The first MOT extension caused chaos with the backlog now needed to be tested and was hard for the government to implement.

MOTs carried on during the second lockdown and as Tier 4 is effectively the same, it’s thought they will carry on as normal under the ‘essential service’ exemption.

What has to close under Tier 4?

Non-essential shops – including car dealerships – gyms, cinemas, hairdressers and bowling alleys will be forced to close for two weeks from Sunday, December 20 (in the first wave of Tier 4) and from Boxing Day (in the second wave of Tier 4 areas), while people will be restricted to meeting one other person from another household in an outdoor public space.

Where does Tier 4 apply?

As of Boxing Day, the Tier 4 areas will apply to Sussex, Oxfordshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, those parts of Essex not yet in Tier 4, Surrey including Waverley, Hampshire including Portsmouth and Southampton but with the exception of the New Forest

Tier 4 restrictions already apply in London (all 32 boroughs and the City of London) and the East of England – Bedford, Central Bedford, Milton Keynes, Luton, Peterborough, Hertfordshire and Essex.

Exemptions to the ‘stay at home’ message issued as part of Tier 4 which applied in the November lockdown, will also apply in the new Tier 4 – including support bubbles, childcare bubbles and children whose parents are separated.

Remind me, what has to close under Tier 3?

  • Hospitality is closed with the exception of sales by takeaway, drive through or delivery
  • Accommodation is closed, with limited exceptions
  • Indoor entertainment venues are closed

And what can carry on in Tier 3?

  • Everyone can go to work
  • Personal care is open
  • Indoor leisure – but no group activities
  • Full details can be seen below

Are car dealers open in Wales during their new lockdown?

No. Wales will enter a lockdown tomorrow – bought forward from the planned start date of Christmas Eve. Dealers in Wales will have to close, however they will be operating a click and collect service. If you buy your new or used car online you will be able to visit the dealership to collect it only.

Are car dealers open during the Northern Ireland six-week lockdown?

No, and during the six week lockdown from Boxing Day no click and collect will be allowed either. Essential shops will have to close also by 8pm during the first week of the lockdown.

Are car dealers open in Scotland?

Nicola Sturgeon has said tonight that all of Scotland will enter Level 4 – the toughest of the county’s five tiers of restrictions – for three weeks from one minute after midnight on Boxing Day morning.

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Non-essential shops – which includes car showrooms – will close as will cafes, restaurants and hairdressers. It is believed click and collect will be allowed to continue and other services offered by dealerships are likely to follow the same rules as England.

Updated: December 30, 15:12

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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