Garages, fuel stations and car rental outlets are among the ‘essential businesses’ the Government is allowing to stay open as the UK moves into lockdown as a consequence of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

However, car showrooms are among the businesses, premises and places that have been forced to close in the wake of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s state of the nation address on Monday evening (March 23).

The Government has said that it will review its action in three weeks as it seeks to do “what we can to reduce the spread of coronavirus”. The full list of businesses and premises to close and those that are allowed to remain open is available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/874732/230320_-_Revised_guidance_note_-_finalVF.pdf

In other developments:

  • The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) suspended MoTs for all HGVs, trailers and public service vehicles for up to three months from March 21. All HGV and PSV vehicles as well as trailers with an MoT will be automatically issued with a three-month certificate of temporary exemption. Operators will not receive a paper exemption certificate. Instead, the MoT will be extended by three months from its current due date. But it said that vehicles must be maintained, kept safe to drive and operated within the terms of Operators’ Licence conditions throughout that time. However, the DVSA said that some operators may need to apply for an exemption if there vehicle was due an MoT before the end of March. The Department for Transport is continuing to keep MoT testing under review for cars, light commercial vehicles and motorcycles. Further information is available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-mots-for-lorries-buses-and-trailers
  • Transport for London temporarily suspended all road user charging schemes – the Congestion Charge, Ultra-Low Emission Zone and Low Emission Zone – in the city with effect from yesterday (Monday, March 23) until further notice.
  • Auction giant Manheim said: “In response to the Prime Minister’s announcement imposing strict restrictions in the UK to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, we will be closing all our offices, auction centres and vehicle services sites as soon as possible under a managed process. This means that we will also be suspending all our physical auction sales immediately until further notice. The planned auctions on Simulcast for Tuesday (March 24) will not go ahead whilst we make the preparations for closure. We will be working through the details of the closure process and will communicate further as soon as we are able to. The health and well-being of team members remains top priority, as well as ensuring the safety of our customers and suppliers. We appreciate that this is an unsettling time but I’m sure you understand that this highly necessary and responsible course of action must be taken quickly.”

The National Franchised Dealers’ Association (NFDA) wrote to Transport Secretary to Grant Shapps to outline franchised dealers’ priorities during the Covid-19 pandemic in relation to workshops opening and MoT testing.

NFDA director Sue Robinson said in the letter: “It is crucial that franchised dealers’ workshops stay open to help the Government meet its goal of keeping freight transport on the roads operating, by ensuring that thousands of vans and smaller commercial vehicles will continue to able to be serviced and repaired.

“Workshops are vital in ensuring that critical vehicles can continue to operate safely and efficiently during these extremely challenging times.”

The NFDA said that it understood that vehicle technicians who were being asked to continue to work at franchised dealers’ premises were included under the definition of key workers, in line with Government guidance.

Fast-fit giant Kwik Fit has said: “Currently all Kwik Fit centres are open and operating as normal, as is our mobile fleet. Our number one priority remains the safety and wellbeing of our people and customers, providing a safe and clean environment for everyone.

“Where possible, our centres remain open as usual. Following the announcement from the Prime Minister yesterday (Monday, March 23), we are currently in the process of reviewing our position. We consider the services we provide to be essential for transport, however clearly the scale of our service will be reviewed accordingly.”

Kwik Fit says it has introduced additional hygiene measures both in its centres and for its mobile fitting fleet, and is practising social distancing to reduce any close contact between staff and customers.

The statement – available at https://www.kwik-fit.com/coronavirus – continued: “The company has seen a 15% increase in enquiries for appointments for tyre fitting at customers’ homes, the majority of which are due to customers self-isolating after being impacted by the Government’s latest guidance on the coronavirus.

“The company, which operates a fleet of more than 200 mobile tyre fitting vehicles across the UK, has put special precautions in place to ensure that it is helping to stem the spread of the virus, while also ensuring that motorists have access to a safe car if they need it in an emergency.

“To avoid direct contact between the Kwik Fit technician and the customer, the company is asking customers to provide their car key without direct contact, for instance by putting the key on their front doorstep and going back inside. Once the customer is at a safe distance, the technician will pick the key up. Where possible, Kwik Fit will ask the customer to also provide the locking wheel nut from inside the vehicle. This way, Kwik Fit can carry out the work without entering the interior of the car.

“The technicians themselves are thoroughly cleaning their hands between each job and using fresh protective gloves for each vehicle. These measures, along with not coming into close contact with the customer, are designed to minimise any risk of passing infection between customers.

“We’ve temporarily changed our practices to help minimise contact and will not ask for your signature on paperwork or in store tablets. We will clearly demonstrate work that is required to make your vehicle safe, show you any parts removed and demonstrate any faults. You’ll be invited to receive quotations and invoices by email which we would appreciate you accepting to minimise contact.

“While normal life has been severely curtailed and many people are keeping travel to a minimum, it is still important for people’s peace of mind that their car is ready in case of emergency. Those car owners who are self-isolating have realised that mobile fitting is the perfect way to ensure their car is in a safe condition for when they are once more free to move around. We have responded to the increased requirements with greater stock levels to meet demand, but more importantly, by introducing key precautions to help reduce the spread of the virus.

“We will update our operations in accordance with Government advice and provide information via our website.”

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