Johannesburg – It’s official – dealerships are allowed to open for business around the country as of Wednesday, according to the government’s latest gazetted regulations. This comes as a revelation to automotive-related business owners around the country, on the back of the worst vehicle sales month in recent history where less than 600 new units were sold in April.
The government gazette dated May 12 (No. 11111, Vol 659) states the following trading activities with regard to cars are permitted during the Covid-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown:
Trade in new and used cars
Wholesale trade of new and used cars by OEMs and importers
Export and import of all category of cars through national ports of entry (under strict guidelines)
Trade-in purchases, car lease scheme returns, and wholesale trading of used cars.
It’s also noted that to facilitate the sales of vehicles under Alert Level 4 lockdown, and the proper functioning of the supply chain, businesses related to the sector such as roadworthy assessment and testing outlets will be opened for business.
A calculated approach
It’s important to note vehicle sales will be allowed under the following phased-in approach as outlined in the gazette:
Phase One: May 13 – 23
All dealerships and used car outlets will be allowed to operate with up to 30% of employment subject to a maximum of one employee or customer per every nine square metres of floor space: Provided that small businesses may operate with a minimum of five employees.
The majority of car sales will be done remotely via the internet or e-Commerce or telephone.
Personal contact must be kept to a minimum and only on appointment under very strict hygiene and social distancing conditions, and in line with the Regulations.
Test drives will be conducted on appointment only.
To facilitate the sales process and maintain social distancing, where possible, electronic, or virtual signatures will be used for finance and insurance documentation.
Car auctions for all categories will be conducted online in compliance with the CPA Regulations.
Phase Two: May 25 – June 6
During Phase Two, all dealerships and used car outlets will be allowed to operate with up to 60% of staff.
A limited number of customers will be allowed to enter the dealership under very strict hygiene and social distancing conditions and remote vehicle sales will continue for those potential customers with access to online services.
The gazette also states that test drives can be arranged on-site by appointment only and under very strict hygiene conditions including fully sanitised cars for customers to experience.
On-site pick-ups and deliveries of fully sanitised cars will be allowed under strict hygiene conditions with an option of home delivery of fully sanitised cars, if possible.
Car auctions for all categories will be conducted online in compliance with the CPA Regulations and limited physical contact will be allowed for viewing prior to the auction under very strict hygiene conditions including fully sanitised cars.
Phase Three: June 8, 2020 until Alert Level 4 is lifted
All dealerships and used car outlets will operate with up to 100% of employment and on-site customer contact will be allowed, but kept to a minimum, whilst remote vehicle sales are encouraged.
Test drives can be arranged on-site by appointment only, and under very strict hygiene conditions including the provision of fully sanitised cars for customers.
On-site pick-ups and deliveries of fully sanitised cars will be allowed under strict hygiene conditions, with an option of home delivery of fully sanitised cars if possible.
Car auctions for all categories will be conducted online in compliance with the CPA Regulations and limited physical contact will be allowed for viewing prior to the auction under very strict hygiene conditions, including fully sanitised cars and limits on the numbers of persons at auctions in order to maintain a distance of at least 1.5m between persons at all times, including when entering or exiting from an auction.
The gazette states that all dealerships and used car outlets must ensure limited teams of employees and contractors to access the dealerships to prepare for the start-up in line with Covid-19 risk mitigation measures.
A cleaning schedule must be kept and all surface and key areas and high-traffic areas of dealerships and automotive-related businesses must be sanitised regularly. It is important to ensure that all staff and customers wear a cloth face mask or a home-made item that covers the nose and mouth. Those without a face mask of some kind should be denied access.
Should a dealership employee contract Covid-19, that employee will not be allowed to return to work until he or she has recovered while mandatory screening of all employees when they arrive for work on a daily basis will be undertaken to keep customers safe.
It’s also important to note that a register of dealership visitors will be kept and that no children are allowed to visit dealerships during Alert Level 4 lockdown. You cannot refuse to sign the register if you visit a car dealership.
What about service and maintenance?
According to the government gazette published on Tuesday, you can book a service or essential repair and have your vehicle inspected at your dealership under very strict guidelines. For instance, if your vehicle requires a repair under warranty, it can be addressed if you make a booking and follow the dealership’s guidelines.
Only mechanical repairs and maintenance will be undertaken, and cosmetic repairs won’t be addressed unless it affects safety or is critical to the operation of your vehicle.
The full government gazette outlining the exact stipulations of Alert Level 4 car sales and maintenance can be viewed at www.gpwonline.co.za.
VISIT www.drive360.co.za to shop for a new or used car today. You can contact dealers directly through our platform to see if they are open and to set up a test drive.
By Pritesh Ruthun