In good news for Victorian drivers, the state government has relaxed its public health restrictions to allow scheduled or logbook servicing of cars to go ahead.
Previously, only emergency repairs, critical maintenance and recall work were permitted to take place during metropolitan Melbourne's ongoing lockdown, but from September 16 onwards any vehicle can be booked in for a routine service.
According to Business Victoria, "routine maintenance (i.e. logbook or scheduled maintenance) is permitted as a standalone service for safety purposes only, including for repairs and product recalls".
As such, automotive repair and maintenance outlets are permitted to operate provided they are giving support to a permitted service or industry (e.g. delivery vans, ambulances) or maintaining the health and safety of Victorians at home or at work (routine maintenance, vehicle repair, recall work).
People in metropolitan Melbourne leaving home to attend a scheduled servicing appointment must still obey the curfew (9pm-5am) and stay within a 5km radius of their house, unless there is no service centre within that distance, in which case they must visit the closest outlet.
Service centres and mechanics in regional Victoria were already permitted to operate under previous rules, but from 11:59pm on September 16, regional Victorians will no longer face restrictions on the reasons to leave home, allowing businesses to operate as normal.
The Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC), the state's peak body for the automotive industry, has welcomed the news after previously expressing concern the freeze on scheduled maintenance could leave road users exposed.
“VACC research indicates that Victorian new car dealers saw an 81.1 per cent drop in vehicles presented for service between June and August," Mr Gwilym said.
"This, when factoring in motorcycles and trucks, could have led to half a million vehicles missing their regular service ‘window’ by December – if the government had not listened to industry feedback and insight. Critical repairs may have been missed.
"This is not only dangerous but would have produced a backlog that was unlikely to be cleared in time for the end-of-year holiday period."
The VACC says most automotive businesses are prepared to receive customers in a COVID-safe manner, with many implementing a contactless service model including key drop-off box facilities, contactless payment, emailing of invoices and work authorisation via SMS or email.