Six people can meet outside under new measures to ease lockdown

The Prime Minister has announced that groups of up to six people will be able to meet outdoors in England from Monday 1 June, including in gardens and other private outdoor spaces, provided strict social distancing guidelines are followed.

The Prime Minister announced the change as he set out a package to ease the burdens of lockdown in a way that is expected to keep the R rate down.

Outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen from 1 June, provided they meet COVID-19 secure guidelines to protect shoppers and workers. We intend to open all other non-essential retail from 15 June, as long as the government’s five tests are still being met and COVID-19 secure guidelines are followed.

Recognising the impact that lockdown is having on family and friends who have been unable to see each other, the Prime Minister announced today that from 1 June up to six people from different households will be allowed to meet outside, including in gardens and other private outdoor spaces.

The evidence shows that the risk of transmission is significantly lower outdoors and this step will mean that people can see more of their friends, family and loved ones.

However, it is critical that those from different households continue to stay 2 metres apart. And it remains the case that people should not spend time inside the homes of their friends and families, other than to access the garden or use the toilet.

Minimising contact with others is still the best way to prevent transmission. The Prime Minister was clear that people should try to avoid seeing people from too many households in quick succession – so that we can avoid the risk of quick transmission between lots of different families and continue to control the virus. Those who are shielding should continue to do so.

The government will closely monitor the impact of the changes and continues to follow the scientific advice to ensure the five tests continue to be met before any further steps are taken.

The police will continue to take the approach of engaging, explaining and encouraging individuals to follow the law. Where people do not follow the rules, the police will have the power to enforce these requirements as a last resort.

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The Parts Alliance sees AutoTorque grow during lockdown

The June issue of AuutoTorque contains information on COVID-19, garage survey results and opportunities including online training and a battery testing concept.

The format is designed to be simple and easy to read on smart phone. There’s extensive coverage of the support The Parts Alliance has delivered to key workers. At national level this included the giving away of prizes from ‘The Original Experience’ promotion, postponed as the pandemic sprang up.

There have been local initiatives as well, to donate PPE and seat covers. Finally, kids have been encouraged to ‘Colour for Hope’ in conjunction with Brembo during May.

“It’s great to be able to showcase the things we’ve been doing in these exceptional times,” said Simon Moore, Head of Marketing at The Parts Alliance. “At a practical level, we’ve seen a huge rise in visitors to our AutoTorque website too.”

The Parts Alliance took the in-house AutoTorque publication digital-only during 2019 and has seen a surge in traffic during 2020, prompting it to progress the fortnightly email bulletins to weekly updates.

“Things have been changing fast,” said Simon. “Garages now more than ever value the latest updates and information, digital channels help ensure we’re always up to date.”

The Parts Alliance has developed vital resources for garages too. These have included a free vehicle inspection concept and guidance on reopening safely.

Choosing hand sanitisers and surface disinfectants to use during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

As a member of the public, anyone may choose to use hand sanitisers and surface disinfectants for your own and your family’s protection at home or elsewhere during the coronavirus outbreak. As an employer, you may also choose to provide hand sanitiser and surface disinfectants for your workers or others to use. These are biocidal products and are regulated by HSE. Whether you are a member of the public or also an employer, you should ensure that the products you use are suitable.

How hand sanitisers and surface disinfectants are regulated
Biocidal products, such as hand sanitisers and surface disinfectants, are beginning to be regulated in the UK under the Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR) to make sure that when they are used properly, they do not harm people, pets or the wider environment. BPR will require that both biocidal products and the active substances they contain have to be assessed and authorised or approved before they can be supplied and used.

Active substances (the ingredients that have the controlling effect on the harmful organism, such as bacteria) are currently undergoing a review process under the BPR, to assess their potential risks to people and the wider environment.

Once a review is completed and an active substance is approved, each individual product based on that active substance is then also assessed for authorisation under the regulations. However, until an active substance completes that review process, HSE does not carry out an assessment of the efficacy or risks from individual disinfectant products as they are not yet fully regulated under BPR.

Identifying suitable products
To find out which hand sanitiser and surface disinfectant products are suitable for your needs during the coronavirus outbreak, the HSEdatabase of authorised products might be a good place to start. Here you can find information about hand sanitiser and surface disinfectants products that have been authorised under BPR in the UK.

The database also contains information about hand sanitiser products that are using the Critical Situation Permit issued by HSE under Article 55(1) of the BPR for the WHO-specified formulation based on propan-2-ol or have been issued with their own permit for a different formulation.

Product manufacturers are responsible for ensuring that their products are suitably efficacious, including meeting any necessary testing standards, so it is recommended that you discuss your requirements with product manufacturers to determine if a product meets your needs.

Product manufacturers are also responsible for providing information and instructions for the user on the product label. You must always make sure that you read and understand the label before using a product and follow the label instructions carefully to ensure that you are using the product safely and effectively.

If a product does not appear on the HSE database, this does not necessarily mean it should not be used. The active substance could still be undergoing review and therefore products based on that active substance would not yet require authorisation. For example, ethanol, which is used in many hand sanitiser products, has not yet finished the review process. Therefore, ethanol products can continue to be used but they will not appear on the database as HSE will not have assessed or authorised them yet.

It remains the responsibility of the company supplying the product to maintain high levels of safety for the products they make available and to ensure their products are suitably effective. The product manufacturer or supplier named on the product label will be able to confirm if the active substance in their product has been supported for review under BPR and whether it has not yet finished that review process.

There is information about the supply and manufacture of hand sanitiser and surface disinfectants during the coronavirus outbreak.

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Using PPE at work during the coronavirus outbreak – advice from HSE

Health and safety law says that employers must protect workers from injury or harm to health which could happen as a result of work-related activity. This includes taking reasonable steps to protect your workers and others from coronavirus.

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, HSE has worked with others to develop guidance about current issues with PPE (personal protective equipment).

HSE also has specific advice to help employers and workers.

PPE in non-healthcare businesses
For most people any potential infection from coronavirus will not be because of their work.

If you do not normally wear a face mask, or any other PPE for work, then you do not need to because of coronavirus.

There is currently no evidence that using face masks outside of a healthcare or clinical setting will protect people from coronavirus.

Face coverings do not need to be worn in the workplace but employers should support their workers if they choose to wear one. You can find more on face coverings in the GOV.UK guides on Working safely during coronavirus.

There is also core guidance available:

PPE hub – GOV.UK provides advice on infection prevention and control in health, social care and non-healthcare sectors
Guidance for non-clinical settings – GOV.UK guidance on what you need to do to protect yourself and other people
Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Scotland – Scottish Government guidance
Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Wales – Welsh Government guidance

Using any form of PPE is a last resort after you have assessed the risks – find out more in the HSE employer’s guidance on your legal duties for providing PPE at work.

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Industry returns as it embraces WAI support

Buying groups, motor factors and independent garages have all embraced WAI’s new range of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and vehicle sanitiser kits as the industry returns to a ‘new normal’ during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Thousands of three layer face masks, KN95 masks and face cloths along with over 2000 vehicle sanitiser kits have all been distributed into the automotive aftermarket and WAI managing director, Richard Welland has been delighted with the response so far.

He said: “It’s been an extremely difficult and distressing two months for everybody in the automotive aftermarket and wider world. We have, through our global footprint, reputation and supply chain expertise been able to get the market moving again in the safest way possible.”

WAI has introduced the STERI-7 brand into the automotive aftermarket with a brand new vehicle sanitiser kit. Technicians simply need to spray the ready-to-use disinfectant inside the vehicle, follow the instructions and close the doors.

A few seconds later bacteria, viruses and spores on that surface will be eradicated up to 99.99%.

Once it has been left to dry, a reactive barrier is created on the surface, which will then regenerate to give up to seven days’ added protection.

The product has been tested, and is effective against many commonly occurring bacteria, yeast and viruses that are known to be highly transmissible and can result in infections and illnesses.

Users are recommended to use 50ml per use, meaning there is enough per kit for 100 vehicles. The STERI-7 vehicle kit also comes complete with a five-litre pump sprayer, 100 ‘This vehicle has been sanitised’ stickers and a pack of 10 disposable masks.

David Clarke, managing director of Autosupplies Group, said: “These kits are enabling us to offer additional reassurance to garages and in turn local motorists by sanitising the inside of their vehicle after it has been worked on.

“WAI has gone above and beyond to help keep automotive aftermarket businesses operating during the pandemic and we’re very pleased to bring this solution to our customers – independent garages – as they continue to service and repair vehicles needed for essential travel.”

Hayley Pells of Avia Autos, Automechanika Birmingham Garage of the Year, said: “I’ve got mine. Thank you for putting this together. How do we fit parts if we can’t do it safely?”

This was echoed by Vic Clarke, owner of AutoCentre Rushden, who said: “We’ve promoted the kit’s use on our local area’s Facebook page, and we have already had six MOTs booked in because of this. It adds confidence to our team and customers.”

WAI has also been able to source and donate much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) to charities, hospices and hospitals across the UK.

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Access to hygiene facilities for drivers

A letter has been produced by the Department for Transport and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), to reassure drivers, and to remind businesses of their obligations under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, to provide suitable toilet and hand washing facilities to drivers visiting their premises.

Businesses which make or receive deliveries, should ensure that drivers have easy and safe access to toilets and hand washing facilities to support their health and wellbeing whilst carrying out their important work, which supports the economy.

Regulations 20 and 21 state that suitable and sufficient sanitary conveniences and washing facilities shall be provided at readily accessible places and that hot and cold running water and soap must be available to use. Whilst this obligation for business is not new, ensuring that hygiene facilities are made available to visiting drivers is especially important during the current COVID-19 crisis, to avoid unwanted public health implications and to help tackle the spread of the virus, at a time when there are fewer locations operating with facilities that drivers can access.

HSE guidance states that drivers must have access to welfare facilities located in the premises they visit as part of their work. The responsibility in law to provide access rests with the person in control of the premises.

You can obtain more information on infection control by contacting:
Public Health England:
Public Health Wales:
Health Protection Scotland:

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IGA receives response concerning MOT extension

The Indepent Garage Association (IGA) has announced that the Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, has responded to its letter requesting an end to the six-month MOT extension.

The response received by the IGA explained that plans to stop the extension are constantly under review, which mirrors the IGA’s desire to meet the safety measures required to end the MOT extension.

IGA has said it supports the Transport Secretary’s view that chances of a second spike must be minimised, the wellbeing of consumers and MOT staff must be put first, and people who are self-isolating or shielding must not be put at unnecessary risk.

However, the IGA has stated it is doing everything possible to prove to the Government that garages are safe places to be. The association’s Covid-19 audits have been designed to provide the support garages need to meet the Government’s safe working standards. These audits are provided at no cost to members, utilising IGA field resources, and will underpin the Transport Secretary’s requirements to facilitate a safe environment for consumers and garage staff.

The IGA has said it is committed to working with the Government in order to meet the standards needed for the MOT exemption to end.

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Impression donates funds and PPE to Bromsgrove youth project

PR agency, Impression, has donated much-needed funds and personal protective equipment (PPE) to the Bromsgrove Anglican Youth Project, which supports engagement with young people during the coronavirus pandemic.

The funds will go towards ensuring youth workers, working alongside Police and other agencies, are able to go out on to the streets securely and the PPE will assist them with social distancing and staying safe.

Mark Field, director at Impression, said: “With the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent rules and restrictions affecting the mental health of young people, there is additional pressure on all families. It is essential that we reach out and engage with everyone in society and get them the support they need.”

Rea-Anne Preece of the Anglican Youth Project, Bromsgrove, said: “Young people are feeling increasingly isolated during the coronavirus pandemic and so we are extremely grateful to be able to safely go out and offer support wherever needed.”

Recognising the demand for basic PPE for key workers throughout Birmingham and Worcestershire, Impression recently donated 1000 face masks and gloves to a number of local care homes, charities, hospices and hospitals.

Impression Communications is holding “Crisis communication surgeries” for companies during the Covid-19 outbreak. The surgeries are open daily, including weekends. Those interested simply need to post a question on any of Impression’s social media feeds or contact Mark Field on email [email protected]

The PR agency is also sharing best practice for businesses operating in the automotive aftermarket via its social media platforms.

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UK car manufacturing plummets -99.7% in April as coronavirus stops production

UK car production fell to its lowest level since the Second World War in April, down -99.7%, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).1 As the coronavirus crisis forced plants to close, just 197 premium, luxury and sports cars left factory gates in the month, models that had been assembled prior to shutdowns with only finishing touches needed.

In April, instead of making cars for the UK and global export markets, many manufacturers refocused efforts on producing personal protective equipment (PPE), including face shields, visors and medical gowns for use by healthcare professionals. During the pandemic car makers have now made some 711,495 pieces of PPE, with others helping make medical equipment, including high-tech ventilators as part of the Ventilator Challenge UK Consortium.2

Output for both the domestic and overseas markets was severely curtailed in the month, with 152 cars built for export and 45 for customers in the UK. The exceptional month follows a particularly weak April 2019, when volumes fell -44.5% year on year due to temporary shutdowns as manufacturers sought to mitigate the impact of an expected end-March Brexit.

The news comes as the latest independent analysis suggests annual UK car production could fall below one million units in 2020, which would represent lower volumes than in 2009 and possibly a third lower than expected in January pre-crisis.3

Although the UK’s 168,000 automotive manufacturing employees are now starting to return to work, with around half of the country’s car and engine plants set to be operating by the end of May, factories are scaling up production along different timescales and, with strict social distancing measures in place, output initially will be restricted with a predicted loss of up to some 400,000 units by year end, compared with the January outlook, and a cost to industry of up to £12.5 billion at factory gate prices.4

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “With the UK’s car plants mothballed in April, these figures aren’t surprising but they do highlight the tremendous challenge the industry faces, with revenues effectively slashed to zero last month. Manufacturers are starting to emerge from prolonged shutdown into a very uncertain world and ramping up production will be a gradual process, so we need government to work with us to accelerate this fundamentally strong sector’s recovery, stimulate investment and safeguard jobs. Support to get all businesses through this short-term turmoil will ensure the UK’s many globally-renowned brands can continue to make the products that remain so desirable to consumers the world over and, in turn, help deliver long-term prosperity for Britain.”

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COVID-19: Support from HMRC

HMRC has a range of online support to guide businesses through the new measures, announced by the Chancellor, to help deal with the economic impacts of COVID-19.

As part of the government’s commitment to support businesses and individuals, the coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme is now live on GOV.UK.

Find out if you can use the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme, by joining the following live webinar. Ask your questions using the on-screen text box.

Coronavirus COVID-19 Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme: Providing an overview of the scheme, this webinar looks at who can claim, when to start paying SSP, employees you can claim for, making a claim, keeping records, and more.

Choose a date and time

You can also check whether you can make a claim for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme with our live webinar below.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – How to make a claim: This guides you through making a claim, including the essential information you need, what to do before you make your claim, calculating and processing your claim.

Choose a date and time

There are a limited number of spaces, so save your place now.

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