Dealerships open across Ireland as first wave of COVID restrictions are lifted
Dealerships open across Ireland as first wave of COVID restrictions are lifted

After weeks of closure due to Coronavirus restrictions, car dealers in Ireland are finally getting back to work. From today (18th May), the Government has decided to permit the reopening of car showrooms for sales, service and repair.

They’re open but is it safe to buy a new car or even a used one right now?

The answer is YES! Dealerships have been very busy preparing for this reopening and are adhering to protocols to protect the safety of customers and staff. The Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) issued guidelines to its members in this regard, as have the vehicle manufacturers to their franchise dealers. This has included a significant level of investment in hand disinfectant, PPE equipment, signage, training, acrylic glass protective screens, specialist vehicle sanitising equipment as well as other procedures.

The nature of motor retail and the showroom environment means that these spaces are already well suited to social distancing measures, which will be part of Irish life for many weeks and months to come to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading.

We hope you have done your research reading our new car reviews on Changing Lanes and are now ready to start talking to your local dealer! Here’s what you can expect from the showroom experience.

Cleaning – cars and showrooms

Across the board, dealerships will be greeting customers from a distance, observing the 2 metre guidance. There will be limits to the number of people allowed in at any one time.

Sanitation products like hand gels will be readily available, for example on the way in. Some dealerships will also have equipment to take your temperature! Surfaces of key touch points around the showroom will be disinfected regularly, for example door handles.

New and used vehicles will be cleaned and disinfected before test drives or handover to owners. You will probably see disposable protection on steering wheels, seats and gear levers. Vehicle keys will be cleaned before handovers or handed over in disinfected sealed plastic bags.

Car servicing

Dealerships are booking cars in for routine servicing and repairs once again, with measures such as social distancing in workshops, technicians wearing PPE while working on a vehicle, and sanitisation of cars and keys before being returned to the owner.

Test drives of new and used cars

Sales personnel typically accompany customers on test drives but in these times of COVID threat, most dealerships will be allowing interested buyers to take solo, unaccompanied test drives.

Remote dealer services

Watch out for remote services being offered by dealers for customers who would rather not visit their local dealership in person. These include trade-in valuations, test drive at home facilities, online finance applications, online payment transactions and contactless collection/delivery of cars.

You may have noticed in the last few weeks how dealers have been able to carry out some of the sales process remotely, for example, sending personalised car videos to customers, online chat function through websites, and answering sales queries on the phone and in scheduled video calls. There’s lots that can still be done at home, online or over the phone.

Check the dealer website and social media for what remote services are available or phone but rest assured that dealers have been working very hard to ensure their premises are safe for you to enter! There does come a point in the sales process where a test drive or vehicle inspection is needed, so it’s good for consumers that this part of the business is now resuming.

By Caroline Kidd