UK new vehicle dealers are unhappy that the government's post-lockdown 'reopening roadmap' announced on Monday (22 February) will mean they will still be closed - except for 'click and collect' online ordering - for another 1 March 'plate change' selling season.

Dealers, along with other 'non-essential' retailers will not be allowed to reopen showrooms until 12 April at the earliest, the government said.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said in a statement: "The automotive industry understands the priority must be to get the virus under control, relieving pressure on hospitals and protecting society at large. Nevertheless, the fact that retail showrooms must remain closed until April at least, is deeply disappointing given these facilities are COVID-secure, large premises with low footfall and able to operate on an appointment-only basis.

"Whilst 'click and collect' can continue, this does not replace the showroom experience on which so many retail customers depend, especially in the all important March plate change month that represents one in five of annual new car registrations.

"Unfortunately, the continuing decline in retail business will translate into reduced production volumes as well as giving rise to other operational issues.

"We look to government to work with the sector to provide ongoing support and clarity so the industry can plan its re-opening and recovery."