Wales’s 17-day ‘firebreak’ lockdown has come to an end as of November 9, 2020, with new rules to curb the spread of coronavirus in place.
Announcing the measures, first minister Mark Drakeford said: ‘There will be a new set of national measures from today (Nov 9), which will follow up all the hard work and sacrifices which have been made during the firebreak.
‘We cannot go back to the way we were living our lives and throw away all that hard work.’
But what are the new rules and how do they affect car dealers? Here we’ve tried to digest everything dealers and customers need to know.
What happened during the ‘firebreak’ lockdown?
From October 23, all non-essential retail business had to close and that included car dealerships.
Dealers could not offer a click-and-collect service either, as only essential retail was allowed and a ban was put on people travelling long distances.
Click-and-deliver services were allowed and drivers were advised to have their cars MOTed if an MOT test was already booked.
Small and medium businesses should have received a one-off payment of up to £5,000 as a means of support, too.
With the ‘firebreak’ over, what happens now?
The Welsh government wants to make sure the pain suffered by businesses wasn’t for nothing by returning the country to normal overnight. So, from November 9, new restrictions are in place that limit what people can do.
What are the new restrictions?
Briefly, they are:
- Groups of up to four people can now meet in cafes, pubs and restaurants, while shops, gyms, hairdressers and places of worship can reopen
- Supermarkets can again sell non-essential items
- People will only be allowed to meet up inside homes with members of one other household if they have joined a ‘bubble’
- A 10pm curfew on alcohol sales will carry over from before the firebreak, with people required to prove their home address in bars. This follows concerns people in England could flout its own lockdown and travel to Wales for a drink
- There are no restrictions on travel within Wales, but people will not be allowed to travel outside of the country unless for a reasonable excuse such as work
- The need to maintain two-metre social distancing and wear face masks in enclosed public places, including on public transport and taxis
- The requirement to work from home whenever possible
- Up to 15 people can take part in an organised indoor activity and up to 30 in an organised activity outdoors, providing all social distancing, hand hygiene and other Covid-19 safety measures are followed
So, does that means dealers are allowed to reopen?
Simply, yes. According to motor trade legal specialists Lawgistics, car dealerships and repair and MOT services are ‘regulated business/premises’. Essentially, this means dealers and garages can stay open as long as they have a covid risk assessment in place.
What is a covid risk assessment?
The Welsh government has published a five-step guide to keep employers, employees and customers safe in places of work such as car showrooms. The steps are:
- Carry out a risk assessment ‘through meaningful discussion with staff and/or their recognised trade union and share the results with you workforce’
- Allow staff to work from home where possible by issuing them with laptops and mobile phones
- Ensure the two-metre social distancing rule is maintained by staff and customers on the premises whether indoors or outdoors
- Implement Test, Trace, Protect (TTP) in the workplace
- Implement other measures, which include:
- Limiting face-to-face interactions
- Using physical barriers
- Increased hygiene
- Hand washing
- Minimising loud noises that will require people to shout over them
Does this include England, Scotland and Northern Ireland?
These new restrictions follow Wales’s ‘firebreak’ lockdown and do not cover England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. England is currently in the early stages of a four-week lockdown that will end on December 2.
For government guidance, use these links…
Is it safe to buy a car now?
Since dealers reopened after the first wave of national lockdowns, car showrooms and dealerships have arguably been some of the safest retail environments on account of their space inside and outside, and strict coronavirus measures in place including appointment-based viewings.