Coronavirus: News update (8am March 24, 2020)

Date Posted: 24/03/2020 18:13:56

Garages, fuel stations and car rental outlets are among the ‘essential businesses’ the Government is allowing to stay open as the UK moves into lockdown as a consequence of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
 
However, car showrooms are among the businesses, premises and places that have been forced to close in the wake of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s state of the nation address on Monday evening (March 23).
 
The Government has said that it will review its action in three weeks as it seeks to do “what we can to reduce the spread of coronavirus”. The full list of businesses and premises to close and those that are allowed to remain open is available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/874732/230320_-_Revised_guidance_note_-_finalVF.pdf
 
In other developments:
 
  • The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) suspended MoTs for all HGVs, trailers and public service vehicles for up to three months from March 21. All HGV and PSV vehicles as well as trailers with an MoT will be automatically issued with a three-month certificate of temporary exemption. Operators will not receive a paper exemption certificate. Instead, the MoT will be extended by three months from its current due date. But it said that vehicles must be maintained, kept safe to drive and operated within the terms of Operators’ Licence conditions throughout that time.  However, the DVSA said that some operators may need to apply for an exemption if there vehicle was due an MoT before the end of March. The Department for Transport is continuing to keep MoT testing under review for cars, light commercial vehicles and motorcycles. Further information is available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-mots-for-lorries-buses-and-trailers
     
  • Transport for London temporarily suspended all road user charging schemes - the Congestion Charge, Ultra-Low Emission Zone and Low Emission Zone - in the city with effect from yesterday (Monday, March 23) until further notice. 
     
  • Auction houses in response to the Prime Minister’s announcement imposing strict restrictions in the UK to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, will be closing offices, auction centres and vehicle services sites as soon as possible under a managed process. This means the suspension of all physical auction sales until further notice. 
The National Franchised Dealers’ Association (NFDA) wrote to Transport Secretary to Grant Shapps to outline franchised dealers’ priorities during the Covid-19 pandemic in relation to workshops opening and MoT testing.
 
NFDA director Sue Robinson said in the letter: “It is crucial that franchised dealers’ workshops stay open to help the Government meet its goal of keeping freight transport on the roads operating, by ensuring that thousands of vans and smaller commercial vehicles will continue to able to be serviced and repaired.
 
“Workshops are vital in ensuring that critical vehicles can continue to operate safely and efficiently during these extremely challenging times.”
 
The NFDA said that it understood that vehicle technicians who were being asked to continue to work at franchised dealers’ premises were included under the definition of key workers, in line with Government guidance.
 
National Tyres and Autocare, the largest independent fast fit specialist in the UK has said: “Our number one priority is the health and wellbeing of our employees and customers. We’ve been keeping everyone safe on the roads and in our branches for 50 years, and we want to assure you that we are taking extra precautions in our branches across the UK in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.”
 
All our staff routinely wear protective barrier gloves, fit seat covers and use floor mats before working on customer’s vehicles. Technicians work on ramps that are suitably spaced apart and customers do not need to interact with staff in the workshops space. As an additional precaution and to minimise contact with staff and other customers, you have the option to call the branch when you arrive rather than coming in to our reception area. We will see customers in order of arrival and drivers can remain in their vehicle until we are ready to begin work. You may wait in our reception area or if you prefer to leave the premises, we will give you a call to return when work is complete.”
 
National says it is also making sure that all branch staff understand the role everyone can play to help prevent the spread of germs, including thorough hand washing, avoiding contact with people who are ill and, of course, staying at home if they are not well. 
 
The statement - available at https://www.national.co.uk/coronavirus-response - continued: “We share everyone’s concerns in this unsettling period and will do everything we can to keep customers and our staff safe while working on your vehicle.”
 
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