Picture: REUTERS/STEPHANE MAHE
Picture: REUTERS/STEPHANE MAHE

Motor dealers hope to start opening their doors on Friday after the government added them to the list of business sectors allowed to trade at level four of the risk-adjusted Covid-19 strategy.

The latest gazetted regulations allow for vehicle sales “under specific directions”.

The sector is awaiting clarity on what those directions are but Mark Dommisse, chair of the National Automobile Dealers’ Association, said, “We expect to be back in business tomorrow.”

Dealers were originally near the back of the queue for re-opening before fierce motor industry lobbying brought them to the front. Vehicle and components manufacturers, who will also go back to work on Friday, argued that it made no sense to build vehicles if there was no local outlet to sell them.

Though some dealers may open tomorrow, Dommisse expects most to start sales from Monday.

Social-distancing and other coronavirus health rules will be put in place over the weekend and it is believed at least one motor brand wants to conduct on-site checks at its franchised dealers before allowing them to admit customers.

There are about 1,600 franchised new-vehicle dealers in SA, employing about 60,000 people.

Dommisse warned last week that dealers would start to close, and jobs be shed, if the sector was not allowed to resume business.

furlongerd@businesslive.co.za