POSTPONING the reopening of car dealerships in Scotland until 29 June will expose many hundreds of businesses and the thousands of people they employ to “profound and unnecessary economic risk”.
Sue Robinson, Director of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), said it is the Scottish Government’s responsibility to protect jobs as well as health.
The NFDA has written to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to highlight the potential impact of the delay in allowing dealerships to reopen in Scotland.
While dealerships could reopen on 1 June in England, 8 June in Northern Ireland and 22 June in Wales, dealers in Scotland have been given the green light from 29 June.
On behalf of its members in Scotland, NFDA has repeatedly urged the Scottish Government to consider reopening as soon as possible.
On 4 June, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture, Fiona Hyslop MSP responded to a previous NFDA letter and outlined the Government’s plans for reopening automotive retail (alongside other retail) in Phase 2 with many expecting showrooms in Scotland to reopen today, Monday 22 June.
In its latest letter to the First Minister, the NFDA said: “There remains an urgent need to supply vehicles to people and firms, so that people – including key workers – can travel to and from work, and so essential goods and services can be accessed by them or delivered to them.
“The availability of reliable motor vehicles – cars, vans and commercial vehicles – is essential for many people to get to work and to undertake their work safely and efficiently”.
“This unexpected delay means that our members will have incurred further substantial losses. NFDA recognises the need to protect the health and safety of citizens, but the automotive retail sector has addressed all concerns and was one of the first industries to develop tailored guidance to ensure that rigorous social distancing and hygiene rules will be respected at all times.
“The combination of low footfall, spacious retail footprint and strict and comprehensive industry guidelines means that showrooms are far safer for staff and customers than any other physical retail environment, including supermarkets and other essential retail segments that have been allowed to stay open throughout the crisis.
“Showrooms in Scotland are already prepared, with all the protective screens, sanitisers, equipment and social distancing measures in place for an immediate reopening.
“We urge the Scottish Government to engage with the automotive sector going forward. The lack of clear communication with our industry has meant hundreds of firms that were preparing to open today, have brought staff back from furlough to do so, are now having to shoulder the huge financial burden of a workforce who are not allowed to work”.