Q&A: Can car dealers open in the new 2021 national lockdown? Can I buy a car in the third lockdown? Will there be another MOT exemption?

Time 1 year ago

Boris Johnson has announced that a new lockdown will come into force this week putting the whole of England into the new highest level of restrictions.

Medical chiefs have warned that without tightening the rules the NHS would be overwhelmed within 21 days.

Even more car dealers will now have to close their showroom doors to customers but similar rules to before will likely be put in place.

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There are now different but more severe restrictions across the four nations.

What do the lockdown rules in England mean for car dealers?

The new restrictions are broadly similar to those put in place in March – with the message to stay at home and protect the NHS.

While the government has classed car dealers as non-essential it has said ‘these venues can continue to be able to operate click-and-collect’.

In his announcement, Boris Johnson said people will only be allowed to go outside for essential activities, such as not being able to work from home and essential shopping.

This does mean showrooms in England won’t be allowed to open their doors to customers from tomorrow (Jan 5) and sales will have to happen remotely.

Car dealerships will be able to operate in the same way they did in recent tier lockdowns with a click-and-collect or home delivery service in place.

Can I buy a car in the national lockdown?

Consumers have been allowed to buy cars from dealers since showrooms were allowed to first reopen in June 2020.

It has now been confirmed that they will be able to continue buying cars remotely either online or over the phone, but these cars will need to be paid for in advance.

It is believed these rules are the same as the current Tier 4 restrictions, where test drives are not able to take place and only distance sales are allowed.

Can I get my car repaired or serviced in the lockdown?

Garages and car workshops have been classed as essential throughout the lockdowns, meaning you can get your car fixed or serviced if it is essential.

The message is still to stay at home where possible though.

Will there be an MOT exemption?

As with previous tier restrictions and lockdowns, service and repair centres have been able to continue operating.

Therefore it is unlikely there will be another MOT exemption – particularly as there is still a backlog of cars to be tested.

The government guidance on the new lockdown says that vehicle repair and MOT services can remain open and you are allowed to leave home to get an MOT ‘if you need to drive when lawfully leaving home’.

Will the government offer businesses support?

The furlough scheme is still in place until April and the government has yet to announce whether this will be extended once again.

It is not yet known if there will be further grants put in place for businesses that are forced to close.

What restrictions are in place in Scotland?

Scotland will be placed into a national lockdown from midnight tonight (Jan 4).

The new lockdown will be in effect in Scotland until the end of January.

From tomorrow, mainland Scots will be legally required to stay at home in a move that mirrors the lockdown put in place in March.

People will only be allowed to leave their homes for essential purposes, including essential shopping, caring responsibilities and exercise. It is hoped car dealers will be able to continue offering click-and-collect as in the first national lockdown.

What restrictions are in Wales?

Wales went into Level 4 – the country’s highest level of restrictions – on December 19.

Car dealerships will be forced to shut their showrooms again and return to offering click and collect sales only.

Service and repair are allowed to continue, as before, as it’s classed as an essential service. Those dealers that offer both will not be able to allow people to browse showrooms.

This was due to be reviewed at the end of this week but it is predicted to continue until the end of the month.

What restrictions are in Northern Ireland?

Car dealers in Northern Ireland are already in a six-week national lockdown with no click-and-collect allowed.

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On December it was announced that non-essential retail must shut from December 26 for a month and a half.

A review was supposed to happen tomorrow, but has been brought forward to this evening with an update to come.

First minister Arlene Foster said the Stormont Executive has ‘very difficult decisions to take’ in a ‘dire situation’.

Rebecca Chaplin's avatar

Rebecca has been a motoring and business journalist since 2014, previously writing and presenting for titles such as the Press Association, Auto Express and Car Buyer. She has worked in many roles for Car Dealer Magazine’s publisher Blackball Media including head of editorial.

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