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Auto industry calls for exemption from latest national lockdown

Auto industry calls for exemption from latest national lockdown

From the 5th November 2020, England enters a second nationwide lockdown in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The lockdown, announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is currently set to run for four weeks, until 2nd December, and will see all non-essential retailers close. Further information on the new National Restrictions, as well as links to guidance for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, can be found on the government website.

The National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) are among those calling for the motor industry to be allowed to continue trading, citing the track record of providing a safe and secure environment for customers and staff when they reopened on 1st June, following the first national lockdown.

The government has stated that non-essential retail, which currently includes showrooms, can stay open for click-and-collect, where the sales process has to be completed online before the customer can go to the showroom for the handover. Car repair and MOT services have been classified as providing an essential service and can remain open.

What are the auto industry’s representative bodies saying?

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Chief Executive of the NFDA Sue Robinson said: “Shutting down vehicle showrooms will not only damage the livelihoods of the 590,000 people employed in vehicle retail. It will reduce car sales to the point where the car factories will have to stop production, impacting the 168,000 people employed in vehicle manufacturing. It will make it harder for emergency workers to obtain the vehicles they need to go to work.

“You may not yet have been briefed about how vehicle showrooms have been operating since they reopened. They were the first industry sector to reopen on June 1st, operating to COVID-secure guidelines formulated by the industry and BEIS officials. Our dealerships have not caused COVID-19 to spread over the past five months – and nor are they causing it to spread today.”

Mike Hawes, Chief Executive of the SMMT, issued a statement on Twitter, saying: “As England heads back into lockdown, we need to keep business operating. Auto Manufacturing must have its showrooms open; its proven safe & secure, a very different environment from other retail premises. We need to keep the economy turning – safely – and prevent wider job losses.”

Car Care Plan continuing to support customers during lockdown

Car Care Plan continues to offer all products and services throughout the pandemic and the latest lockdown. During the previous national lockdown, 95% of our employees worked from home, but we were still able to continue operating and supporting our dealer and manufacturer partners. We also put initiatives in place to support online selling of add-on products, which we will continue to develop and improve throughout this second lockdown.

Alongside the rest of the automotive industry, we have conducted thorough risk assessments on our sites and have introduced one-way systems, protective screens, hygiene stations, social distancing rules and more, ensuring the work environment in our facilities is as safe as possible for employees and visitors. We have also issued PPE to all field-based employees and established new ways of working to ensure social distancing rules are adhered to – meaning we are primed to return to the new business as usual when the latest lockdown eases.

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