Reopening of Car Retail Sites - What to Expect

Reopening of Car Retail Sites - What to Expect

Across the UK, many businesses will no doubt be holding their breath in anticipation for the further easing of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. In accordance with the plans outlined in Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of coronavirus restrictions, all non-essential retail is scheduled to reopen on April 12th.

This includes car dealerships, which will be welcome news to the thousands of such businesses in the UK, and their customers, who have been relying on online-only services for months now.

As April 12th steadily approaches, many drivers will be wondering what reopening will look like for companies in the motor industry. Here, we’ll outline what you can expect.

What is reopening or changing on April 12th?

It’s important to note that the government has made it clear that the restrictions will only continue to ease if it is safe to do so. This means that any of the outlined plans are subject to change. However, things seem positive so far and should be more certain over the next few days.

All being well though, all non-essential retail will open on the 12th of April. This includes car dealerships and showrooms.

Car dealerships and showrooms

Car dealerships and showrooms have of course been closed since the latest lockdown was put into place in January. This was a tough blow for the motor industry, whose sales have been continually impacted by Covid-19 restrictions and which experienced its worst year for sales in 28 years during 2020.

March in particular is a lucrative month for the automotive industry as one of its busiest sales periods due to number plate changes. Many will have suffered a loss, though many dealerships have adapted to online sales methods like click-and-collect.

The reopening in April is no doubt very welcome news, but businesses will have a lot of protocols to follow in order to stay Covid-19 secure. This will include rigorous cleaning and hygiene procedures, enforcing the 2 metre social distancing rule, and ensuring masks are worn in indoor areas.

When businesses first reopened in 2020, risk assessments were required to be undertaken with a Health and Safety executive, and a certificate had to be procured certifying their compliance with government guidelines, and the same should be expected this month.

Test drives have also been permitted during lockdown, however due to the lack of clarity surrounding regulation, many dealerships haven’t been offering these. They were also restricted, requiring a deposit and for car dealers to drop the cars off for customers to test due to showrooms being closed.


Garages have always been deemed an essential service and so have been allowed to stay open.

While the ‘stay at home’ advice has been in place, motorists have of course been advised not to travel anywhere - including garages - unless it is absolutely vital. As of March 29th, this is no longer one of the guidelines.

Garages have been and will continue to be expected to abide by government guidelines in order to ensure they remain as safe as possible for their customers. This will include similar hygiene processes to those that we mentioned above. Over lockdown, garages have been maintaining social distancing measures, such as telephone consultations or payments and contactless car and key drop-offs. While rules regarding appointments may be more relaxed, garages will still be expected to follow social distancing wherever possible.

Driving tests

Many hopeful drivers will finally be able to take their practical tests from the 12th April. Hundreds of thousands of tests have been postponed due to various lockdowns. In fact, many learners are still waiting for their rescheduled test from this time last year. Learners may have to book their tests a few months ahead.

Unfortunately, learners whose theory certificates are due to expire before they will be able to re-book their practical test are unable to get this extended. There are also no current plans to refund the price of their expired theory tests.

It’s good news for the motor industry

It’s definitely been a difficult time for the automotive industry, but the way that businesses of this sector have continued to adapt to work around restrictions is something that we should all be proud of. Though it has been difficult, it’s really shown the resolve of those in the sector, and how committed we are to keeping our customers safe.

Hopefully, we’re on the home stretch to normality now. And in spite of the negative impact these restrictions have had throughout the industry, it’s time for the recovery stage to begin.

Fingers crossed the roadmap will continue to play out as planned and showrooms will be back in action from this month. From there, we’ll look ahead to better things in 2022.

Meanwhile, if you’re a customer looking to lease a new car for yourself, you can be assured that we at Rivervale are doing all we can to ensure the utmost standards of safety and hygiene are being met. We’ve still got leasing deals on a wide range of models with various packages to suit your needs. Take a look, or get in touch directly with a member of the team.

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