Car showrooms in England will be able to open from 1 June onwards, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced.
The Prime Minister made the announcement during the Downing Street Daily Briefing today (Monday), saying that the decision was based on the progress made to control the spread of Covid-19 by the lockdown that has been in place since mid-March.
Car dealerships and outdoor markets will be able to open from 1 June, with other 'non-essential retail' outlets set to open from 15 June onwards. The Prime Minister said that the decision was "thanks to the country's collective effort" in obeying the lockdown rules implements to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
Johnson said that the government is publishing new guidance for the retail sector outlining steps outlets should take "to meet the necessary social distancing and hygiene standards". He added: "Shops now have the time to implement this guidance before they reopen. This will ensure there can be no doubt about what steps they should take."
The decision to allow car showrooms to open will be welcomed by the car industry, with sales of new cars virtually halted since retail outlets were forced to close in March. The Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has been leading industry calls for the government to allow dealerships to open as soon as possible.
Sue Robinson, the director of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) said the decision to allow dealerships to open was "positive" news that was "vital" for the industry.
She added: "The NFDA has worked closely with SMMT to produce guidelines for retailers in line with the Government’s recommendations. Retailers have been working hard to put all necessary measures in place to ensure social distancing can be observed.
“Following our lobbying efforts where we highlighted it was vital to include dealerships in the first wave of non-essential retail reopening, it is positive that the Prime Minister has confirmed the Government intends to reopen car showrooms from 1 June.
"As lockdown measures start to ease, many of us will need cars to get back to work and it is crucial that automotive retailers are open to serve the workforce. The retail automotive sector looks forward to welcoming customers back into showrooms."
The government decision to allow showrooms to open only applies to England. Decisions on when dealerships and other retail outlets in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales can open will be made by the devolved governments of each country.