Car retailers have just over a week to prepare for showroom reopening after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a December 2 end to ‘Lockdown 2’ – and the return to a three-tier system.
The PM announced yesterday (November 23) that England would emerge from its month-long lockdown, as planned on Wednesday of next week, with all ‘non-essential retail’ businesses permitted to open their doors in all three tiers.
With his assertion that the “scientific cavalry is almost here” suggested the UK Government may now see and potential end to the current crisis.
Government said that it has secured 350 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to be deployed before the end of 2021.
The PM said: “By the spring, these advances should reduce the need for economic and social restrictions.
“We should be able to render obsolete the very notion of a COVID-19 lockdown. We can now see the route out of this epidemic, provided the vaccines are approved and successfully deployed.
“But the spring is still months away. We cannot just click our fingers, and inoculate the most vulnerable. It will take long and patient work, and a giant feat of logistics. That means we must be patient, and we must be realistic. There are still hard, cold months ahead – and in the meantime we must keep the virus under control.”
Hospitality businesses have reacted in mixed fashion to the news that England will return to a three-tier system of COVID-19 mitigation measures – depending on a region’s ‘R’ infection rating.
Yesterday’s announcement stated: “It is right to target the toughest measures only in areas where the virus is most prevalent and where we are seeing sharper increases in the rate of infection.
“The previous tiered system had an impact on viral transmission, but SAGE advised that stronger measures would be needed in some areas to prevent the epidemic from growing.”
An initial outline of England’s three tier system, issued yesterday, stated the following:
Tier 1 – the Government will reinforce the importance of working from home wherever possible.
Tier 2 – pubs and bars must close unless they are serving substantial meals (like a full breakfast, main lunchtime or evening meal), along with accompanying drinks.
Tier 3 – all hospitality will close except for delivery, takeaway and drive-through; hotels and other accommodation providers must close (except for specific exemptions, including people staying for work purposes or where they cannot return home); and indoor entertainment venues must also close.
To read through England's COVID-19 Winter Plan document, click here.
News that car retailers will be able to reopen showroom doors next week will be welcomed by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Earlier this month it said that England's COVID-19 'Lockdown 2' and the Welsh 'firebreak' were set to result in the UK’s weakest new car sales performance since 1982, following a 1.6% decline during October.
In Scotland, however, 11 council areas are currently trading under the Scottish Government's most stringent, Tier 4, COVID-19 restrictions.