Car showrooms in England are allowed to open their doors to customers today (Monday 1 June), having been closed since the UK's coronavirus lockdown was introduced in on 23 March.
Dealerships will be able to see new and used cars, and to offer servicing and after sales service. All showrooms must have completed a Covid Risk Assessment from the UK Health and Safety Executive, which will require measures such as the introduction of social distancing measures, provision of hand sanitiser for staff and customers, and the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) or safety screens for staff where needed.
The leading car manufacturers have worked with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) to develop guidance and best practice steps for showrooms to open.
As a result, car firms will be operating systems such as staggered appointment times to limit customer numbers, offering unaccompanied test drivers, keeping showroom display models locked unless requested and cleaning both test cars and display models after use. Vehicles that are being serviced will be cleaned and sanitised before work begins and after it is completed.
Several firms will also be introducing a greater number of digital services, including completing all paperwork digitally, and offering video handovers and guides. Meanwhile, several car firms will continue to offer expanded online sales services, including 'click-and-collect' and deliver services for new cars.
With sales having virtually dried up since mid-March, car firms are expecting an early rush in demand both for new and used cars, especially from customers whose contract hire details were due to expire during the lockdown period. However, there are fears that the ongoing economic and social impact of the coronavirus will affect demand for the remainder of the year.
Car dealerships have been included with outdoor markets in the first wave of 'non-essential' retail shops allowed to open in England, with the government citing their large footprints and outdoor set-ups as helping to limit the spread of Covid-19. Dealerships in Northern Ireland are due to open on Monday 8 June, but there is no date when those in Wales or Scotland will be allowed to open yet.
More updates to follow throughout the day.