Let car showrooms reopen urgently, industry body urges UK government

FILE PHOTO: Toyota cars at a dealership in West London are pictured as it remains closed during lockdown following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, May 5, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s nearly 5,000 new-car showrooms should be allowed to reopen urgently, an automotive industry body said on Friday, lobbying the government ahead of the next stage in plans to lift some coronavirus lockdown measures.

British car factories and dealerships closed from mid-March, contributing to a more than 40% decline in sales so far this year, but some plants have resumed production although with many at lower output levels than normal.

“Car showrooms, just like garden centres, are spacious and can accommodate social distancing easily, making them some of the UK’s safest retail premises,” said the Chief Executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Mike Hawes.

“Allowing dealers to get back to business will help stimulate consumer confidence and unlock recovery of the wider industry.”

The government has set out a timeline for when it hopes to unlock parts of the economy, including the reopening of non-essential retail businesses in phases from June 1.

Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Stephen Addison

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