Car dealerships could be among first non-essential businesses to open
Government holds talks with car industry, with earliest possible opening date of 11 May discussed...
Car dealerships could reopen for visitors as early as 11 May, under plans being discussed by the UK Government.
While that date remains fluid, subject to the coronavirus statistics hitting five key metrics set by the Government before it can lift restrictions, car industry executives met with senior Whitehall officials last Friday.
The meeting was set up to ascertain whether car dealerships can be in the first wave of non-essential businesses allowed to open once lockdown eases, due to their economic importance.
The move is seen as crucial to save jobs in the motor retail sector – which collectively employs more than 500,000 people and has an annual UK turnover of around £200 billion – and the car manufacturing sector, which is already estimated to have lost £8.2 billion during lockdown. In turn, it is believed that because of their scale, their financial health would stimulate the wider economy.
Although the Government confirmed 10 days ago that dealerships can sell cars online and deliver new vehicles as long as all social distancing rules are obeyed, the latest discussions are reported to have considered wider proposals, including allowing customers on site to talk to retail staff and collect purchased cars.
Finer details discussed are believed to have included how to maintain social distancing regulations within dealerships and what kind of protective actions and equipment are required, including temperature checks for all visitors, perspex protective screens at desks and the use of face masks and gloves during all interactions.
Because of the large scale of many modern car dealerships, achieving effective distancing is considered to be easier than in more densely packed retailers such as supermarkets.
However, car dealers and manufacturers are still expected to encourage buyers to undertake the bulk of their discussions online or on the phone prior to visiting. You can find out which brands are offering the largest guaranteed savings here.
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here
Best plug-in hybrid cars 2021
Plug-in hybrids can reduce fuel consumption to an absolute minimum, but which models are the best all-rounders and which should you avoid?
Jaguar E-Pace long-term test review
Our chief photographer wanted an SUV that was frugal and fun to drive, yet still practical enough to swallow all his gear. Did the Jaguar E-Pace fit the bill?