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Are UK dealerships still open during Plan B Covid-19 restrictions?

In the UK, NEW MEASURES are being put in place to stop the spread of Covid-19, particularly the Omicron variant which appears to spread more easily than other types of the virus. But what does that mean for car dealerships and car buyers at this time?

Plan B of the government’s Winter Covid-19 Strategy says that starting December 13, those who can work from home will be encouraged to do so.

This may not be a huge challenge for those in non-public and administrative roles, but it can be a problem for car dealers.

As of now, dealerships will remain open with no sign of closing according to the latest government guidelines, with salespeople still on-site as needed. Masks are mandatory, however, and many traders have asked their behind-the-scenes teams – human resources, accounting, and the like – to work from home.

Some car dealership back rooms may still be comfortable walking to the office with mask wearing, social distancing, and filtered or open air, and as a result, some dealerships are taking a mixed approach to working from home.

The fact that no dealerships are closing is good news for an auto industry currently grappling with a shortage of new cars due to global supply chain problems, not least the semiconductor shortage that has massively hampered many manufacturers’ ability to get cars from the factory doors and in the exhibition rooms.

October was the worst month for car sales in the UK since 1956, and with November, not much better dealers will be hoping the Omicron variant of the coronavirus will stay relatively stable during the usual year-end decline in sales and not force another full lockdown and ” pingdemisch ”, as it was already observed in 2021.

As reported in Autohaus-Magazin, the variant is already spreading quickly, with some dealers already seeing absenteeism due to staff isolation due to positive test results.

Coronavirus: car dealerships open to click-and-collect

For smaller retailers, where front-of-house and backroom workers are often one and the same, this could prove more damaging. Speaking to car dealer Umesh Samani, chairman of the Independent Motor Dealers Association (IMDA), said:

“I don’t know of any IMDA dealers who allow their employees to work from home. Most independent small dealerships are by nature a practical business, so all of them (are) needed in the car dealerships / workshops. “

Most retailers, large and small, have put in place a combination of public health measures in addition to the mandatory ones, including a heavy emphasis on social distancing, extra hygiene measures, and air filtration so that potential customers are theoretically just as, if not safer, as they are in any other Retail environment. The customers, say dealers, responded well to this.

With sales already in the doldrums, car dealers will keep their fingers crossed that Omicron and future variants will not result in a global industry slowdown (or another shutdown), making 2022 even more dismal for new car sales than 2021 and 2020.

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