Car dealerships in England can reopen for 'click-and-collect' style sales according to a new government update – but showrooms will not be allowed to reopen until at least 1 June.
Click-and-collect handovers would typically involve a car being placed outside and sanitised prior to a customer collecting it at a specified time, with the key being left in a sanitised package, and with no human contact of closer than two metres.
The move partially unlocks car sales, as it will allow customers whose car is in stock to collect it so long as strict guidelines are followed to ensure social distancing.
Because the coronavirus lockdown began in mid-March - the busiest month of the year for new car sales - many vehicles were impounded prior to delivery to their owners.
Additionally, during lockdown, dealerships have been allowed to sell new and used cars online or on the phone. Most retailers had moved to a model of taking deposits for them pending delivery - so a click-and-collect style of system would allow them to complete the transactions.
The government guidelines state: "All retail, other than those exempt, must close their premises to members of the public. However, staff may be present to make deliveries or provide services in response to orders such as those through telephone, online, or mail.
"Click-and-collect services can also operate, though customers must not enter premises."
Retailers had hoped to be allowed to reopen this month following talks with the government, but the infection rate from coronavirus was deemed too high for restrictions to be lifted. The government says that retail stores in England will be cleared to open 'in phases' from 1 June at the earliest. All shops, including showrooms, will be required to complete an online risk assessment from the Health and Safety Executive to ensure they have health and safety measures in place.