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SMTA reiterates Scotland’s test drives ban during COVID-19 lockdown

Sandy Burgess SMTA chief executive

The Scottish Motor Trade Association (SMTA) has warned that Trading Standards operatives will be checking up on car retail operations to ensure test drives are not illegally conducted during COVID-19 ‘Lockdown 3’.

Chief executive Sandy Burgess has contacted all SMTA members to reiterate the nation’s zero tolerance approach to test drives during the period of stringent COVID-mitigation measures that will now remain in place until at least mid-February.

In an email prompted by a member whose own enquiries had prompted a direct response from Trading Standards, Burgess stated: “Test drives are not permitted and may well be subject to checks by Trading Standards under the current lockdown rules.

“Clearly, as the ‘click and collect’ rules are clear that consumers are able to visit a dealer to collect a previously purchased car, test drives would not be expected to be required.”

The SMTA was first to gain confirmation from the Scottish Government was permitting car retailers to proceed with click and collect sales last week, following a tightening of COVID restrictions on retail announced by First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

But the Association was keen to highlight the need for car retailers to stick to the rules in order to avoid formal action or a reappraisal of the current position.

Across the UK, Trading Standards and police forces have been actively monitoring COVID-19 regulations compliance, through phone calls and visits to businesses.

Prior to the current imposition of 'Lockdown 3' restrictions, Barnsley-based independent retailer, Autozone, was raided by police after staff stayed behind after closing for a festive 'Secret Santa' team building excercise, according to a report in the Barnsley Chronicle newspaper.

Burgess’ note to SMTA members said: “You will see that from 16th January 2021, outdoor car lots are permitted to be open, but only for the collection of a vehicle that has been purchased, or the delivery or collection of a vehicle for the purposes of a repair, MOT or service.

“Vehicle test drives are NOT permitted.

“Further advice can be found in the undernoted guidance, under the Section ‘The shopping experience’.”

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