Will tyre dealers stay open in a lockdown?

UK tyre retail UK tyre retail

While the government has introduced significant social distancing measures including closing schools, and while tyre businesses are offering innovative contactless solutions, garages are still open for business. However, in Italy the country has been on lockdown for a month. We know that truck tyre technicians should be categorised as “key workers”, but what about car tyre retailers and what if movements become more restricted?

If we look to what is presently happening in Italy we find the answer that car repair shops “can continue to carry out their business as it is considered essential to the needs of the community”. Our Italian sister publication Pneusnews.it confirmed with tyre industry associations Assogomma and Federpneus Prime Minister’s website that tyre centres are part of the clarifications of what constitutes “public businesses and commercial activities”. When asked by a mechanical workshop owner about the possibility of remaining open, it was clearly stated that “…mechanical workshops, body shops, tyre repair and replacement….can continue to carry out their activity as it is considered essential to the needs of the community”.

In the note, Assogomma and Federpneus specify, however, that, as indicated in the reply, car repairers “can” but must not remain open. Therefore, keeping businesses open is at the discretion of individual professionals.

“This opinion also solves the problem reported by a company about a tyre transport contested by a Carabinieri patrol because it is not a basic food item” reads the note from Assogomma and Federpneus. On the contrary, the Prime Minister clarified that “…the activities connected with allowing maintenance and repair activities such as the sale, wholesale and retail, of spare parts and accessories are authorized”. Therefore, the transport of tyres is allowed. Of course, as already reported in our previous communication, all the necessary precautions must be taken to safeguard the safety of workers”.

Here is the full text of the response on the Prime Minister’s website:

“I am the owner of a mechanical workshop for cars and motorcycles. Can I continue to carry out my business? Where can I buy spare parts?

“Yes, the repair and maintenance activities of motor vehicles and motorcycles (mechanical workshops, body shops, tyre repair and replacement) can continue to carry out their activity as they are considered essential to the needs of the community. Similarly, activities related to allowing maintenance and repair activities such as the sale, wholesale and retail, of spare parts and accessories are authorized. However, in order to avoid contagion, the activity must be carried out with the following precautions:

“a) limit contact with customers and take the necessary health precautions (respect for the interpersonal safety distance of at least one meter, use of gloves and health protection masks);
“b) encourage, where possible, the activity of mail and internet sales of spare parts and accessories”.

US Homeland Security: Tyre shops are “essential”

Meanwhile across the Atlantic, the US Department of Homeland Security government has adopted a wider definition and described “automotive repair and maintenance facilities” as “essential” in a memorandum issued by the federal government yesterday.

“If you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, such as healthcare services and pharmaceutical and food supply, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule,” the statement dated 19 March 2020 by Christopher Krebs, director of cybersecurity and infrastructure security agency, United States Department of Homeland Security.

The list of essential workers is designed “to help state and local officials as they work to protect their communities, while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security.”

And therefore, in answer to our original question “will tyre dealers remain open during a lockdown scenario” the answer is a qualified yes. Based on the experience of our colleagues in Italy and the advice given by the US Federal Government, it appears that tyre businesses will be able to remain open. However, it is also likely that a degree of discretion will remain with the owners of individual businesses.

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