Dealerships and other delivery agents are being urged to start moving vehicles again in order to unclog thousands of cars and vans that are congesting the automotive supply chain.
The Department for Transport (DfT) says in a letter to the logistics sector that logistics, including the collection and delivery of vehicles, should carry on during the lockdown, provided that it can be done in accordance with coronavirus safety guidelines.
The letter states: "Haulage drivers, managers, warehouse staff and all other logistics professionals need to continue to go about their business to keep supply chains moving, and government policy is clear that this applies to all supplies chains and not only those for food and medical supplies.
"All travel related to the operation of logistics businesses (including for instance necessary washing of vehicles or supply of spare parts) or necessary travel by logistics workers to places of work such as distribution centres is therefore to be considered ‘essential travel’ in the context of current restrictions."
The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) has produced best practice advice on this in collaboration with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and Finance and Leasing Association (FLA), and hopes that vehicle deliveries, in particular, will start to pick-up.
BVRLA chief executive Gerry Kean explained: “The Government has made it very clear that it wants ‘all supply chains’ to continue ‘to the greatest extent possible’ during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“This includes vehicle logistics, and not just cars and vans that are being delivered to essential workers. By getting these vehicles moving, we are not only helping the COVID-19 response, we are also ensuring that businesses and individuals can pick-up where they left-off as soon as the lockdown ends.
“We hope that the guidance we have produced with the SMMT and FLA can give our members and their supply chain partners the confidence to start making this happen.”
The closure of all non-essential retail sites was ordered by the Prime Minister on Monday, March 23 for a minimum of three weeks, prompting car dealers to close their showroom doors immediately.
Meanwhile, car factories across the world have closed production lines in response to the coronavirus crisis.