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Coronavirus: what does it mean for cars and motorists?

Coronavirus: what does it mean for cars and motorists?

The current situation regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) is fast-moving, and this week's IAM RoadSmart tips have been written by Simon Bolingbroke from Chelmsford Advanced Motorists group offering advice on what the coronavirus pandemic means for cars and motorists.

Will I be able to get my car serviced and repaired?

It's likely you'll be able to book your car in for servicing, repair or maintenance, but you may end up waiting longer for an appointment or must travel further. The National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) has called on the government to ensure "essential repair and maintenance services for all vehicles will not be closed as part of the anticipated wider closures of shops in the UK."

Sue Robinson, NFDA director said: "Ensuring that essential vehicles remain in a roadworthy condition will reduce the likelihood of mechanical failures and other incidents, ensuring that vital journeys can be made and services fulfilled."

Will coronavirus cause fuel shortages?

According to Brian Madderson, chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association, motorists have nothing to worry about here. He said his organisation has been in contact with its equivalent in Italy, where the virus is some weeks ahead. It reports Italian fuel sales are down around 60 per cent due to the travel restrictions. "It is the reverse of panic buying", he said.

In the UK, Brian says the picture is "mixed". Fuel sales in urban areas are remaining steady due to reduced journey numbers being counteracted by the number of travellers switching from public transport to cars. More transient filling stations, such as motorways service stations, have reported a slump in demand as fewer motorists embark on long-distance journeys.

How hygienic are petrol stations?

Motorists are being urged to use gloves when filling up with petrol or diesel. The Petrol Retailers Association says all its members are offering gloves for motorists to use at the pumps. Brian Madderson said that while petrol pump nozzles are cleaned every day they can't be cleaned after every use, so pump handles could pose a real risk of transferring the virus.

He added that hand sanitiser is being offered to customers and staff, where available, but he warned petrol retailers are struggling to deep clean forecourts because cleaning companies are prioritising front-line services such as the NHS and care homes.

He said some fuel retailers are taking further steps, with a small number refusing to accept cash due to concerns over contaminated notes, although he stressed that with comparatively few motorists carrying cash, it's unlikely too many forecourts will become 'plastic-only'.

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