Following the initial rumours of another lockdown, the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) wrote to the Prime Minister on Saturday 31 October to highlight the efforts that franchised dealers have been making to keep customers and staff safe during the pandemic.

“The industry was quick to work with the Government on developing Covid-secure guidelines to enable the return to work. By sticking to these guidelines, the risk of Covid-19 being spread on vehicle retail premises has been minimised”.

“Even during lockdown, people still need to continue to buy and lease new and second-hand cars. In most parts of the country not covered by all-embracing public transport, patients need a car to get to hospital for treatment, and they need a car they can rely on. Emergency workers, such as medical staff working at all hours of the day and night, also rely on their cars to get to and from place of work”.

“[...] There is also a risk to the economy of closing vehicle dealerships. The factories will close and production lines stop if people are no longer buying cars. We are already seeing a contraction and reshaping of our industry as it attempts to recover from the last lockdown. The impact of another national lockdown on jobs, on livelihoods and on mental health would be vast”.

On Sunday 1 November, following the Prime Minister’s announcement that a second lockdown would be put in place from Thursday 5 November, forcing showrooms to close, NFDA wrote a second letter to the PM.

The letter read: “There is no evidence that keeping dealerships open would increase transmission of the virus.

“Shutting down vehicle showrooms will not only damage the livelihoods of the 590,000 people employed in vehicle retail. It will reduce car sales to the point where the car factories will have to stop production, impacting the 168,000 people employed in vehicle manufacturing. It will make it harder for emergency workers to obtain the vehicles they need to go to work.

“[...] The German Government, while imposing a lockdown, has decided to keep vehicle dealerships open. We would like the British government to show the same good judgement.

“You may not yet have been briefed about how vehicle showrooms have been operating since they reopened. They were the first industry sector to reopen on June 1st, operating to Covid-secure guidelines formulated by the industry and BEIS officials. Our dealerships have not caused Covid-19 to spread over the past five months - and nor are they causing it to spread today.

“Vehicle retail is an essential economic activity”.

NFDA will continue to work hard and lobby the Government to best represent franchised dealers’ interests and keep our members updated.