NEW GOVERNMENT advice has allowed car dealerships in England to open for click-and-collect sales, although showrooms will be unable to open until June 1.
The new rules enable dealerships to leave a car and its keys, sanitised, for the customer, ensuring people will not get within two metres of one another.
As well as enabling dealerships to complete delivery of vehicles sold online or over the phone during lockdown, this allows new deals to be completed in a timely manner once again, which will come as something of a relief to car makers who have seen sales plummet during the coronavirus pandemic.
Some commentators have predicted an uptick in car sales due to a resumption of commuting in England from Wednesday for those who cannot work from home, though with people advised not to use public transport if possible, with buses and trains limited to 10 per cent of normal capacity to maintain social distancing.
According to the new government guidance, people from different households who normally share vehicles should find a different way to travel if they can, though they may be able to share cars provided they keep the windows open to maintain good ventilation, ensure that people face away from each other and ensure vehicles are cleaned between journeys.
Boris Johnson said in his address on Sunday that using bicycles or walking would be preferable. The Department for Transport announced on Saturday a £2bn package to create a “new era” for cycling and walking, including plans to reallocate roads to cyclists and pedestrians rather than drivers.
New car sales in April fell 97.3% in the UK compared to the same month last year. An increased demand for cars for safer commuting would mitigate similar figures in the coming months.
The government guidance stated: “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.”
Photos from Wednesday morning’s rush hour showed packed tubes and buses in London, as people began to return to work in the nation’s capital. Tube passenger numbers were up approximately 9% compared with last week, according to The Times.
@TfL @SadiqKhan @BorisJohnson you lot claim to care about the public I just watched and 86 bus at Stratford bus station pull in and not one person Is social distancing because there’s to many people on buses either put out more buses @ peak times or just go back to lockdown pic.twitter.com/eylN6q4TqV
— ᒍᗩY_ᗷITᔕ_ Risky Roadz X BOTBOT x Grime Gran (@Jay_Bits_) May 13, 2020
The government has urged operators to prevent overcrowding where possible, but attempts thus far have proved somewhat futile. Operators have now been urged to close parts of the transport system to maintain social distancing, if required.
Grant Shapps, the Transport secretary, said: “With public transport’s capacity severely restricted at this time, our trains and buses could become overcrowded and our roads gridlocked – holding up emergency services, critical workers and vital supplies.”
He continued: “We know cars will continue to remain vital for many, but as we look to the future we must build a better country with greener travel habits, cleaner air and healthier communities.”
Reacting to the partial reopening of dealerships, James Hind, CEO of carwow, said he was pleased that business was beginning to see signs of resumption.
“We are very pleased to hear that car dealers have been given the greenlight to offer click and collect,” he said. “There is a rising demand for cars, particularly now in light of the need to return to work but remain socially distanced and the government’s directive to avoid public transport where possible, and also with the opportunity to now travel by car for leisure.”
Hind said that carwow data showed more people looking to purchase a new car, and pointed out many dealerships were now offering home delivery for customers who don’t wish to risk going to collect it themselves.