‘Things may never be the same again’: Garage owners bemoan MOT holiday

PUBLISHED: 16:17 07 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:41 07 July 2020

A & D Garage Services, Drayton Road. Pic: A & D Garage Services

A & D Garage Services, Drayton Road. Pic: A & D Garage Services

Owners of garages in Norfolk are welcoming business resuming – but say the six month extension to MOTs isn’t helping.

Demonte Garage. Pic: DelmonteDemonte Garage. Pic: Delmonte

The relaxing of coronavirus restrictions has meant a welcome return of business for garage owners offering repairs and services. But most say the government’s MOT holiday – giving drivers an extra six months for tests due between March 30 and July 31, really isn’t aiding recovery.

Other business owners offering breakdown services have faced forking out for taxi rides for stranded passengers because of the difficulty in giving lifts to people. And the general consensus seems to be that with people choosing to drive less, and do shorter journeys, as well as many facing job cuts, trade is being reduced to essential jobs only.

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Rob Duncan, who part owns A & D Garage Services, Drayton Road, Norwich, said: “We were closed for four weeks and reopened at the start of May when it was really quiet. People were just not using their cars and we were struggling to get parts, but it has slowly picked up. The six month cap on MOTs really has not helped, but we are busy doing general repairs, servicing and clutch exchanges,

“Eventually we had to come back to work, because some customers did need us so we came back for half days to begin with.”

Tony Lemay, who runs Delmonte Garage, a vehicle repair business in Concorde Road, Catton Grove, Norwich, said they had stayed open throughout the coronavirus outbreak because they offered breakdown recovery for essential workers including ambulance drivers. They went from 14 workers, down to nine, furloughing the rest and are gradually bringing them back to work. But they initially faced a problem with drivers who’d broken down because usually they would give them a lift in their vehicle back home or to their place of work. But with government guidelines initially advising against sharing vehicles, they had to provide taxi services for people. He said they had now invested in special screens which separated people inside their vehicles.

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“I don’t know whether business will ever return to what it was, we are now getting people back and we are getting some MOTS because people are worried that it will be manic getting towards the end of the extension, it will get busier but I don’t think it will ever be the same.”

Simon Kitchen, of Albies Workshops in Great Yarmouth, also said he hoped business would pick up. “The last few months have been a bit quieter than normal, probably because of the three-month extension. There has been no surge yet. That will probably come in October.”

How to stay safe when putting your vehicle in for an MOT or repair:

Stay at home if you have any symptoms of coronavirus; a garage owner can refuse you an MOT if you are displaying symptoms

Use hand sanitiser before and after arriving at the garage

Disinfect your car steering wheel, gears and handbrake if you can but most garages will do this both before they use the vehicle and afterwards. Staff will wear gloves and usually install a temporary seat cover.

Ideally just leave one single key with the garage which can be easily disinfected, not a large bunch

Remember that you should pay using a contactless system if possible

Don’t ask for a printed MOT certificate unless you really need one. Instead download and print one out that’s sent to you at home

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