Car dealers now open for business

  • Car dealers open again, ready for summer
  • You can buy cars in showrooms, as well as online
  • Rules apply to England - the rest of the UK to be confirmed

Renault dealer re-opening

As part of the ongoing relaxing of social restrictions, car dealerships have re-opened, allowing buyers to pick up a new car after more than two months of being closed. Dealers that are open need to have significant social distancing measures in place to enure the safety of their customers and staff.

Embattled car dealers were already preparing their showrooms in anticipation of the easing of lockdown – but there had been no offical confirmation of a date until the briefing. The industry assumption had been that it would be 1 June in line with government intentions to ease the lockdown unveiled earlier in May.

The condition for showrooms re-opening rest on whether they can be modified to meet social distancing advice issued by the government, which have now been passed. These require staff and customers to be protected against the spead of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and include measures such as the provision of hand sanitisers, protective screens and floor markings indicating 2.0-metre distances, as found in supermarkets.

Industry and trade welcomes announcement

Car dealer entrance

In addition to car showrooms, outdoor markets will also be allowed to resume if they can do so safely. Boris Johnson stated in an address to the nation in May 2020: 'We know that the transmission of the virus is lower outdoors and that it is easier to follow COVID-secure guidelines in open spaces.’

If this measure proves succesful, then from 15 June, ‘all other non-essential retail’ will be allowed to re-open, contingent on progress in the fight against coronavirus and if the businesses are COVID-secure.

In a statement, Mike Hawes – chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said, 'It is timely that the aftermarket can assure customers and colleagues that it is ready to re-open safely to ensure workers’ vehicles remain roadworthy. This is essential, not just for the sector, but for the restart of the wider UK economy.'

What this means for you

If you've been holding off your car purchase because of the pandemic, and the idea of buying a new car online doesn't appeal, then this news is good for you. Obviously, your safety is paramount, but dealer groups and individual operations have been planning the re-opening for some time now, and have been introducing a raft of measures to ensure social distancing in their showrooms.

For instance, JCT600 says, 'members of all of our teams are available on an appointment-only basis, so that we’re able to ensure social distancing can be properly observed at all times. We’re also extending our opening hours, to make sure we can maximise appointment availability.'

Renault's response reflects wider industry thinking: 'Appointments and visits to the showroom will be staggered where possible, and a limit on the number of visitors in the showroom at one time will be in place, while social distancing will be maintained inside and outside. Reminders to adhere to social distancing measures will be clear on arrival, while, there will also be clear reminders to sanitise workstations and vehicles to the highest standards.'

This is typical of all main dealers across all networks – but if you encounter one that doesn't employ these measures, you're free to walk away and try somewhere else. As always, your number one priority should be to control the spread of the virus by strictly following social distancing rules.

Further reading

>> Parkers Coronavirus (COVID-19) information and advice pages

Keep 2m apart