New car buyers in metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria can now inspect their next vehicle purchase in person, after the state government announced automotive retail would be permitted to reopen after months of closures.
From October 28, all automotive businesses will be allowed to re-commence on-site work, including new and used car dealerships, mechanics and service centres.
Previously, these sites were only permitted to open for the purpose of fulfilling online orders or carrying out essential repairs and maintenance.
But now, limits on the type of permitted work conducted have been removed, with all facets of automotive businesses permitted to return to normal – pending a COVID Safe plan is in place.
“The automotive industry is primed and ready for opening. VACC has provided its members with exhaustive information, including assisting with COVID Safe plans, creating communication templates, and resources for staff and customers,” said Geoff Gwilym, CEO of the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC).
These COVID Safe practices include maintaining physical distancing, wearing a face mask, practicing good hygiene, keeping records and avoiding interactions in enclosed spaces.
A VACC representative said it's not yet clear what the government's relaxed restrictions mean for test drives, with a further announcement expected at a later date.
"The VACC’s recommendation in regards to test drives is to only allow members of one household to drive a vehicle (no salesperson sitting with them), and to disinfect the vehicle before and after the test drive,"a VACC spokesperson told CarAdvice.
Metropolitan Melbourne residents must remain within a 25km radius of their homes (until November 8) and must wear a face mask when leaving home, but from midnight on October 27 there will no longer be restrictions on the reasons for leaving home.
As such, new car shoppers can finally take action after being resigned to online ordering for several months.
It's hoped Victoria's reopening will aid an improvement in new car sales, after closures in the state prompted an ongoing decline in nationwide sales figures.
In September 2020, Victoria recorded a 57.7 per cent year-on-year decline in new car sales, with just 10,447 new cars reported as sold compared with 24,686 in the same month last year.