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DEALERS are going into lockdown following Prime Minister Boris Johnston’s broadcast to the nation.

Lookers, Sytner, JCT600, Vertu, Marshall Group and Arnold Clark have announced closures as pressure mounts to shut down businesses to help combat the growing coronavirus crisis.

Online sales will continue, however, while the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) as called on the government to provide support to motor dealers affected by the outbreak.

Lookers said that was clear that maintaining social distancing and working was proving increasingly difficult adding in a statement: “With the support of our OEM brand partners, the group is temporarily closing all of its trading locations with immediate effect.

“This decision has not been taken lightly, however, the Board is clear that the priority during these unprecedented times is the safety and welfare of our people and our customers.”

Marshall Group said it would continue to pay employees 90% of income.

Arnold Clark said that all showroom sales will cease and new  customers in the process of purchasing a vehicle will be contacted.

Vehicles in workshops will have the work completed by Friday, March 27 and bookings will be rescheduled until after April 14.

The group also offered help with transport for NHS staff during this difficult time by helping with transport to work.

Vertu said that since the start of March it had convened daily senior management meetings to actively manage the developing situation.

It said in a statement: “Our primary focus has to be the health and safety of our valued Colleagues and customers and so we took the difficult decision to temporarily close our retail vehicle sales operations.

The Group has a strong digital presence including full online retail capability and we are seeking to ensure that customers can inquire and communicate with the Group to allow retail sales to be fulfilled in due course.

“We anticipate that the Group’s digital presence will continue to be available throughout the dealership closure, although delivery activity is now curtailed.”

Meanwhile the Government confirmed that garages, car rental operations and delivery should remain open during the lockdown.

This means that, currently, there is no hold on MOTs and that vehicles, particularly for key workers, can still be maintained.

Guidance from the Ministry of Housing Communities & Local Government states that retail and public premises expected to remain open must:

• Ensure a distance of two meters between customers and shop assistants; and

• Let people enter the shop only in small groups, to ensure that spaces are not crowded.

Garages are included in the list of ‘exceptions’ in the retail sector which can stay open. These include supermarkets, health shops, pharmacies, petrol stations, car rentals etc.

The latest guidance aligns with the Government previous statement describing key workers in the transport sector as “those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.

The Government’s full business closure guidance can be found here.

 

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