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Automotive retail sector likely to shut down in Melbourne during lockdown

By Tim Robson, 07 Aug 2020 Car Advice

Automotive retail sector shut down in Melbourne during lockdown

The government has tightened the rules around mechanical repairs for vehicles in Melbourne

UPDATED AUG 7 - The Victorian state government has tightened the definition of vehicle repairs, and has issued the following clarification;

We can confirm that only services covering essential and critical 'vehicle repair, servicing and maintenance' are permitted to open for on-site work with a COVID Safe Plan in place.

This does not include routine servicing, however, would include urgent recalls.

This clarification will have a definite impact on whether car mechanics are open during the metro Melbourne stage four lockdown.

The clarification also covers the collection of cars purchased online;

In regard to the collection of cars, retailers are able to work onsite only for the purposes of fulfilling existing and online orders.

For further guidance for Transport, Postal and Warehousing sector business under Melbourne's Stage 4 restrictions including how to create a COVID Safe Plan, see Business Victoria’s website.


AUG 3 - Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has said that retail will look “far different than it ever has” as he announced sweeping closures for metropolitan Melbourne, which is in the midst of a stage-four lockdown to fight the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the city.

Are car dealerships open in Melbourne?

Essential retail businesses including supermarkets, pharmacies and petrol stations will stay open, but car dealerships and automotive retail stores will be required to close from Wednesday until at least late September.

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Government documents indicate that all retail activity not bounded by supermarkets, grocery shops, convenience stores, newsagents, fuel retailers, pharmacies, post offices, trade hardware and other specialty retailers (like maternity supplies and disability/health equipment, for example), are 'all closed unless listed'.

There is one subsection in the government document which lists 'motor vehicle parts for emergency repairs only Agricultural retailers (drive-through-only)' which is listed as 'open for on-site work'.

Are car yards open in Victoria?

Car company representatives contacted by WhichCar are still awaiting confirmation about the status of their metro Melbourne car dealerships, and it's understood that the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) has been involved in discussions with the Victorian government.

A spokesperson pointed to the premier's remarks that suggested that there could be recourse to open negotiations with the Victorian government should dealerships be required to close.

Car dealers were considered essential services under level three lockdown provisions, but with large retailers like Harvey Norman and JB Hifi set to close under stage four, it looks likely that car dealerships - especially ones that aren't equipped with service facilities - will have to close.

"If this happens, it will kill new car sales for this month," said a company PR operative. "Six weeks with no new sales will be tough."

Can I buy a new car online in Melbourne?

Some car companies are pivoting to a 'click-to-buy' online sales model, but real-world purchasing figures are still relatively low.

Delivery of a new car purchased outside metro Melbourne may be possible given that road transport and transport support services are still allowed.

Can I get my car serviced during lockdown?

Vehicle service centres are exempted under emergency provisions, given that emergency services, health workers and other essential workers will still need to drive and have cars repaired in metro Melbourne.

However, the ruling is not yet clear about vehicle service centres attached to car dealerships.

Petrol stations in Melbourne will remain open.

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Vehicle repair, servicing and maintenance are allowed under stage four restrictions, as well as towing services and transport support services.

The stage four restrictions will impact metropolitan Melbourne, while regional Victoria returns to stage-three lockdown.

Can I drive more than 5km to get to the shops?

Metro Melbourne residents are obliged to remain with a 5km radius of their homes, but if your closest shop is more than 5km away, you are allowed to travel to it to buy essentials, under the one person/once a day provision.

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