Strict guidelines govern easing of restrictions on automotive industry

Brian Joss – Trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel announced that certain trading activities on vehicles will be permitted during Alert Level 4.

The newly published directives comes at the back of the amended regulations issued on Wednesday, April 29 where the country started to gear for a gradual and phased recovery of economic activity under a “Risk-Adjusted Strategy”. Minister Patel affirmed that it was essential to have robust conversations and all-embracing consultations during the past seven days with all key industry stakeholders in order to deliberately take a cautious approach that will always balance the need to resume economic activity with the imperative to contain the virus and save people’s lives.  

“As we have said before, this virus doesn’t move, people do. One of the key enablers of this mobility is through vehicles. We have carefully crafted new directives which would empower our dealership network across the country to cautiously resume with their operations whilst reducing the risk of infection across the entire automotive value chain and save the lives of our employees and those they come into contact with through the dealer shop floor and their maintenance and repair centres,” said Patel. 

Tim Abbott, NAAMSA president, speaking on behalf of the entire automotive industry, said while everyone was anxious about when the industry would be allowed to trade, “we all understood that there are no trade-offs”. “The risk of this virus to spread is real and this is something we have embraced and it is part of all our business planning”, said Abbott. “We are very pleased that Patelhas heard our plea and we are also very grateful that our teams across all different brands and channels have collaborated seamlessly through NAAMSA and we all support Patel’s directives”, said Abbott. 

The trading activities on vehicles that will be permitted during Alert Level 4 include among others, 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. 

To allow for and facilitate the sales of cars, and the proper functioning of the supply chain, it is necessary that the various administrative and other functionaries, such as roadworthy assessment and testing centres, and other testing stations are operational. 

The new directives allows for a slow gradual phased-in for all car sales across the country. During the first phase [from 13 May to 23 May 2020], all dealerships and used car outlets will operate with up to 30% of employment subject to a maximum of one employee or customer per every nine [9] 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 eCommerce or telephone. Personal contact will be kept to a minimum and only on appointment under very strict hygiene and social distancing conditions in line with the Regulations;  test drives will be conducted on appointment only; home delivery of vehicles with full sanitisation will be mandatory; and where possible, electronic, or virtual signatures will be used for finance and insurance documentation;

In Phase Three: from 8 June if  Alert Level 4 is Lifted, all dealerships and used car outlets will operate with up to 100% of employment; customer on-site contact will be allowed, but kept to a minimum, whilst remote vehicle sales is encouraged; test drives can be arranged on site by appointment only, and under very strict hygiene conditions including fully sanitised cars; 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

Dealer Principals or other persons in charge of dealerships and used car outlets will ensure that ongoing training and guidance on personal hygiene and preventative measures are communicated to all employees on a regular basis. All dealerships and used car outlets shall at all times act in compliance with risk-adjusted measures for occupational health and safety as a prerequisite for operation. 

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