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Car showrooms in England and Wales are able to reopen from today (April 12), as lockdown restrictions ease further.

Dealerships were forced to close more than three months ago, and though click and collect and home deliveries were permitted, the showrooms themselves remained locked to the public. But with non-essential retail able to open from today, they’re able to roll up the shutters once again, offer face-to-face meetings and also allow test drives with fewer restrictions.

The decision has unsurprisingly been welcomed by the industry, with Mike Hawes, chief executive of the trade body the Society Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), saying that ‘dealers are ready, willing and able to welcome customers back into a showroom’.

Hawes said: “While “click and collect” has helped the sector survive, it cannot replace the experience of choosing and test driving a new car in person. Reopening these premises will also boost UK car manufacturing, as the reduced demand caused by their closure has led to months of lower production.

“Consumers returning to showrooms will notice some changes, not just in the updated Covid safety measures, but also in the increasing choice of new car technologies and there are now more “green” choices than ever before. With 150 models of battery electric, plug-in hybrid, fuel cell and hybrid electric vehicles on sale, that’s one in three models capable of zero emission motoring.”

Dealers will need to introduce strict social distancing measures, along with a range of other Covid-19 protocols.

Showrooms in Scotland opened last week, though in Northern Ireland they’re only allowed to trade in an outdoor setting from today.

Ted Welford

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April 12, 2021