The government has announced a second lockdown will be put in place across England from 00.01 on Thursday, November 5 – but what does this mean to car repairs, servicing and MOTs?
With car showrooms forced to close as part of the measures, there have been questions as to whether garages can remain open.
Here we navigate our way through what will happen.
Car Dealer pored over the government guidance issued so far on the lockdown and there was no mention of garages, servicing or MOT centres having to close – and the Independent Garage Association told Car Dealer on November 3 that the DVSA would be confirming the same day that they would stay open.
As this lockdown follows the same lines as the first in March and April (with a few exemptions that are less stringent), it was always highly likely that garages and service departments of car dealerships would be allowed to stay open.
Earlier this week, Joel Combes, director of motor trade legal experts Lawgistics, told us: ‘Garages are essential businesses and the rules state that essential businesses can stay open. We are assuming that the rules will be the same as those earlier in the year.’
However, there is likely to be some disruption as some businesses may decide to close as they are unsure of the volume of work they can rely on – so it is worth calling ahead.
Will garages stay open during lockdown?
Garages, and the service departments of car dealerships, were allowed to remain open during the first lockdown to carry out repairs, servicing work and MOTs.
This was targeted at key workers and emergency services, but others could take advantage of it too.
This time round, the emphasis is on continuing to work where you can and travelling to work needs a car that is serviceable and road-legal.
With this in mind, car servicing and repair work will continue as normal.
Will there be another MOT extension?
It’s very unlikely that there will be another temporary reprieve over the MOT test.
During the first lockdown the government announced an MOT extension for those who were finding it difficult to get an MOT because of shielding and the advice to stay at home.
The Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) confirmed to Car Dealer today (Nov 3) that a memo had gone out to MOT testers advising that they should stay open and that vehicles should have a valid test certificate.
However, it also warned that it may yet be deemed necessary to bring in another extension because of the pandemic.
Stuart James, director of the Independent Garage Association, said: ‘We fully support the government’s decision to allow garages to remain open as normal, and to not enforce another MOT extension.
‘Garages are still busy catching up with the backlog of MOTs that the extension caused earlier this year.
‘A second extension would also cause confusion among consumers and put law-abiding vehicle owners at risk of significant fines by leaving cars unchecked.’
He added: ‘We thank the government for their clarity ahead of the new national restrictions from 5th November.’
In Wales, where a firebreak lockdown was put in place for two weeks, drivers have been told to take their car to a garage if it needs an MOT as normal.
Will I still be able to get an MOT during the second lockdown?
Yes, but it is worth calling up your local garage well ahead of when it’s due, though.
Classed as essential businesses, garages can carry on operating, but they’re already dealing with a backlog of MOTs from the six-month extension put in place during the first lockdown.
Members of the public are advised to contact their local garage as soon as possible to book their MOT in.
Garages started releasing their plans earlier in the week, as this tweet on Monday shows:
Covid-19 Update: STAYING OPEN. We’ve had many customers contacting us concerned we might be closing during lockdown. We would like to reassure the service and Mot centre will remain open and car sales will continue online with FREE nationwide delivery. Stay safe everyone 👍
— Smallbone & Son Cars (@smallbone_cars) November 2, 2020
Will I still be able to get my car serviced during the second lockdown?
In principal, yes. In reality, it may be trickier than normal.
Car dealerships have been told to close, and while their service departments will be allowed to continue to operate, some businesses may decide to close completely.
Car dealers we spoke to earlier this week were still weighing up how much of their aftersales operation they could justify keeping open.
One told us: ‘Aftersales can open as deemed essential – it’s like May 11 but pre-June 1. It will be a judgment call on how retailers set up.’
Have any car dealers confirmed they will remain open for servicing?
As of Sunday evening (Nov 1), some car dealers had begun to reveal their plans for dealing with servicing and MOTs during the second lockdown.
Vertu Motors – which operates Bristol Street, Farnell and Vertu-branded dealerships across the country – said in a statement: ‘From November 5, our service departments will operate as normal as they have been for many months in a safe manner.
‘Our aftersales departments remain fully operational for servicing, MOT and repairs.
‘We have produced a video which covers the details, but to give an overview social distancing measures, an appointment-only system, protective screens at our service desks as well as cashless payments have been in place for several months now.’
Other dealer groups are likely to follow suit.
Car Dealer is closely monitoring the situation and if anything changes will update this article.
First published: Nov 1, 8.54am. Updated: Nov 2, 6.34pm; Nov 3, 2.21pm.
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