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New Zealand car sector moves to Alert Level 3

On the marque: Leading importer, distributor and retailer in New Zealand, the Giltrap Group, says its experience supporting essential services in Level 4 lockdown has helped it prepare for Level 3.

Dealers can now open in NZ but non-contact and other heavy restrictions in place

28 Apr 2020

THE New Zealand car industry has this week dragged itself out from full lockdown and moved to an ‘Alert Level 3’ that remains highly restrictive but more closely aligned to the difficult environment in which Australian OEMs and dealerships are trading as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.


From today (April 28), New Zealand moves from the ‘Alert Level 4 – Eliminate’ strategy that was put in place by the Ardern government on March 25 to the new Level 3 restrictions that remain in place for two weeks before a further review and decision is taken on May 11.


New Zealand Motor Industry Association (MIA) chief executive David Crawford said franchised dealerships had been carefully preparing to reopen for business, which are still heavily restricted in areas such as non-contact operations.


Health ministry guidelines specify that customers are not allowed access inside the dealership, for example, and that staff follow social distancing guidelines at all times, meaning face-to-face interaction is prohibited.


Where applicable, visits to the dealership will be arranged by appointment to restrict the number of people at the premises at any one time, and these visits must be recorded to comply with contact tracing guidelines.


“In a COVID-19-constrained world, operating at Level 3 will not be business as usual, it is a careful step towards restarting businesses that have put in place adequate steps to limit the transmission of COVID-19,” Mr Crawford said.


“This will require operating in a customer-contactless manner, while providing a COVID-19-free safe working environment for employees.”


Mr Crawford said motor vehicle distributors and their franchised retail networks were required to achieve non-contact operations to: “operate their workshops with the necessary sanitation, distancing and other health requirements”; and, at the front end of the business, “retail new vehicles without face-to-face customer contact throughout the sale and delivery process and to ensure vehicles are properly sanitised”.


“The Motor Industry Association endorses the government’s position that New Zealand needed to shut down to save lives, and that moving to Level 3 remains a necessarily constrained way of operating our businesses,” Mr Crawford said.


“Equally, in terms of imports, the new-vehicle sector is second only to the importation of oil in its contribution towards the New Zealand’s GDP. Getting these businesses operating again in a safe way is vital to allowing New Zealand’s economy to begin to recover.


“While we expect to provide some servicing under Alert Level 3, it may not be possible to respond immediately to all requests. We ask the public to be understanding if a request to service or repair your vehicle during this time is not possible or is deferred.


“The sooner we can stop the spread of the virus, the sooner New Zealand can fully reopen for business.”


In announcing the move from Alert Level 4 to 3, New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern said: “Going hard and early to stamp out the virus, backed by an effort of five million New Zealanders to break the chain of transmission, means together we have helped stop the uncontrolled explosion of COVID-19 in New Zealand.


“On the recommendation of the director-general of health, who is confident there is currently no widespread undetected community transmission in New Zealand, today (April 20) we are able to take a balanced approach in transitioning through alert levels and restarting our economy.


“The sacrifices made to date have been huge. Cabinet wanted to make sure we lock in our gains, give ourselves some additional certainty, but take no more than two additional business days to do this before we restart our economy again.


“We want to see kiwis back in work as soon as possible and our economy rebound before others. At Level 3, 400,000 more New Zealanders will return to work, with key sectors for our recovery like construction, manufacturing and forestry starting up again.


“Having our economy operating with a low threat of the virus is the competitive advantage we can seize if we get this next phase right. And I believe we can.


“But at Level 3 we need to be even more vigilant and we must stick to the rules, continue to reduce contact and keep breaking the chain of transmission.


“I couldn’t feel prouder of the start we have made together. But I also feel a huge responsibility to ensure we do not lose any of the gains we have made,” she said.


As at 9am today, New Zealand had 1472 cases of COVID-19 (both confirmed and probable), with 19 deaths. To date, 1214 recovered cases have been reported. There are nine people in hospital.

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