Late on Tuesday Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel, announced new regulations for the sale of cars and emergency repairs during level 4 of lockdown.

The regulations allow for the sale of new and used cars, the wholesale trade of new and used cars, the export and import of all category of cars through national ports of entry and trade-in purchases, car lease scheme returns and wholesale trading of vehicles.

But South Africans can’t just waltz into a car dealership as they did before lockdown commenced.

From the regulations it’s clear that Patel is hoping to slowly open up the sector through the implementation of phased reopening.

Phase One

During Phase One, dealerships and used car outlets will be permitted to operate with up to 30 percent of employees. However, this hinges on whether there is nine square metres of floor space per customer or employee.

Most car sales will have to be done remotely via the internet. In cases where sales cannot be done online or over the phone, appointments must be made.

Under Phase One, test drives will be under appointment only and, curiously, home deliveries of full sanitised vehicles will be mandatory.

The regulations also state that electronic and virtual signatures can be used for finance and insurance documentation.

Car auctions will have to take place online.

Phase Two

In the second phase of this plan, dealerships and used car outlets can double the capacity allowed to 60 percent. Customers will be allowed to enter the dealership or outlet in limited numbers under strict hygiene and social distancing conditions.

Test drives can be arranged but once again by appointment only.

Vehicle deliveries are no longer mandatory but should remain as an option for customers. Whether picked up or delivered, vehicles must be fully sanitised.

Car auctions will be conducted online and viewings can take place under strict hygiene conditions.

Phase Three

It’s at this point that the regulations make mention “From 8th June 2020 until Alert Level 4 is lifted”. Whether this means level 4 of lockdown will lift at that date is unclear.

At Phase Three, all dealerships and used car outlets can operate with 100 percent of staff.

On-site contact with customers will be allowed but must be kept to a minimum and remote sales are encouraged.

Test drives must still be arranged on appointment only and both on-site pickups and delivery can take place. Of course, strict hygiene conditions will be in place.

Aside from the guidelines above, the regulations outline additional instructions that all dealerships and used car outlets must implement.

These instructions include:

  • Sanitisation procedures at all sites will be strictly applied to ensure that all work surfaces, equipment and cars on the floor are disinfected before the dealership is opened, and regularly cleaned during the working period;
  • maintaining social distancing protocols at all times;
  • ensuring that all staff and customers wear a cloth face mask or a home-made item that covers the nose and mouth and not allowing any customer access to a dealership, used car
    outlet or auction without a face mask
  • not allowing an employee who is sick or who has COVID-19 symptoms to work
  • mandatory screening of all employees when they arrive for work on a daily basis;
  • mandatory signing of a register by all visitors and customers to all sites; and
  • not permitting children access to dealerships and used car outlets under Alert Level 4.

Dealer principals or other persons in charge will train staff on personal hygiene and insure that guidance regarding this is communicated to all employees on a regular basis.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]