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Government confirms car dealerships can sell and deliver during lockdown

The Government has provided clear guidance that car dealers can sell and deliver during the coronavirus lockdown – provided they stick to strict social distancing regulations.

The Government has confirmed that dealerships can carry out remote sales as well as deliveries in line with social distancing regulations

The confirmation brings clarity that dealerships set up for online and phone line interactions can carry out both sales – provided they are fully remote – as well as vehicle deliveries that comply with the regulations, after there had been confusion over operations.

In a statement to Car Dealer Magazine, a spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said: “We have asked non-essential shops like car dealerships and showrooms in England to close, unless they provide urgent car repairs and other necessary services.

“They are all able to continue to sell cars remotely and deliver cars, as long as they follow our clear guidance from Public Health England to protect both employees who cannot work from home and their customers.”

The confirmation follows growing calls for deliveries to be restarted, including from the BVRLA, which had warned two weeks ago that dealerships and the wider automotive supply chain should restart vehicle deliveries to unclog the thousands of cars and vans congesting the sector.

Guidance published at the time by the association along with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and Finance & Leasing Association (FLA) had highlighted how maintaining vehicle deliveries is essential to enable vital coronavirus response work while also ensuring fleets and drivers are ready when lockdown restrictions lift.

The news of the Government’s guidance for carmakers has been greeted across the industry.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “We welcome this reiteration of existing government guidance that allows retailers to sell online and deliver products to customers, if the necessary social distancing and hygiene measures are in place. However, it still remains a decision for each company based on their own unique circumstances and ability to comply with the requirements, especially in terms of vehicle delivery.

“When the time is right, re-opening car showrooms will be a crucial first step to restarting the market and getting the wider economy back on its feet. To drive manufacturing and economic growth, we need to see car dealerships in the first wave of retail re-openings.”

James Hind, CEO of carwow.co.uk, also commented: “There are still lots of consumers who are actively looking to buy despite lockdown, many who report they have an increased need for a car due to the need to make essential travel journeys during a time of social distance. It’s great news for dealers to have that clarity as well, the car retail industry is an important part of the economy and a significant employer in the UK.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.