Car dealerships in the UK will be allowed to reopen on June 1st, as COVID-19 containment measures are being relaxed by the British government. Other types of businesses will be able to resume activity from June 15, if it’s deemed safe.
The UK’s industry association SMMT welcomed this decision, saying that it will help carmakers with factories in the UK, as well as car retailers, reports Autonews Europe.
The reason why car dealerships are being allowed to open before other non-essential shops is because “they often have significant outdoor space, where it is generally easier to apply social distancing,” said Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“Allowing dealers to get back to business will help stimulate consumer confidence and unlock recovery of the wider industry,” said SMMT CEO Mike Hawes. “We see no reason for delay.”
The SMMT pressed the government to allow showrooms to reopen, claiming the closures cost the Treasury 61 million pounds ($75 million) per day in lost taxes and state-wage support.
Germany aside, the UK is Europe’s second largest car market, with a total of 4,900 dealers. During the lockdown, sales plunged 97 percent to just 4,321 cars last month, according to the SMMT, who expect UK registrations to drop 27 percent for the year, the lowest since 1992.
The reason for this is not just the nearly two whole months of lost sales, but also an anticipated drop in demand for the long term.
The UK now joins Germany, France, Italy and other European markets in allowing dealerships to resume car sales.