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Automotive remains ‘desperate for more certainty’ on face covering rules

Social distancing at a JCT600 Porsche Centre

The UK's automotive retail sector remains ‘desperate for more certainty’ on COVID-19 legislation and Government’s guidelines on face coverings, according to the NFDA.

The National Franchised Dealers Association’s (NFDA) Motor Industry Legal Service (MILS) revealed that many car retailers and repairers remain uncertain about the demands of legislation over the wearing of face masks as it sought to clarify the changing situations for businesses across the UK.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed a week ago that customers entering retail environments in England would be required to wear face masks from this Friday (July 24).

In both Wales and Northern Ireland, the position remains that face coverings are strongly advised but not mandatory in a retail environment.

In response to the question of whether car showrooms should be defined as retail environments, MILS said: “Many RMI members have been arguing that they are retail premises for the purposes of business rate relief as well as Coronavirus grants.

“As the government are likely to use the same definition regarding face masks, it is our opinion that dealerships to whom members of the public have access should assume they are retail premises and require customer to wear a mask unless an exemption applies, particularly as it will protect customers and staff.”

MILS described its advice as being “general in nature”, adding that it would need to be tailored to any one particular situation.

“Furthermore, it is important to note that the situation is very fluid and Government guidance is changing daily,” it said.

“We are keeping our ears close to the ground for RMI members who are all, understandably, desperate for more certainty.

“Should you find yourself in the situation above, contact us at any stage for advice and assistance as appropriate.”

AM reported earolier this month that the police, and not retailers themselves, will be required to enforce legislation regarding the wearing of face masks.

Steve Freeman, partner and national head of motor at MHA MacIntyre Hudson, said: “It should be noted that the current guidance states that it is not compulsory for shop staff to wear face coverings, however employers should consider whether usage should be required to protect staff where appropriate and where other mitigations, such as shields are not in place.”

Last Friday the Prime Minister announced a “best case” schedule for the easing of COVID-19 lockdown measures in England, which could see the return of conferences and sports events in stadia by the end of October.

AM reported how the new legislation would also allow employers to exercise “more discretion” over their employees' return to work.

Johnson stopped short of delivering a “back to work” directive, but said that a change of stance on the return to work legislations would be introduced from August 1.

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