Car wash confusion continues – while England gets clarity

Car wash confusion continues – while England gets clarity

The PRA remains baffled as to why the NI Executive cannot amend its NI regulations to enable a more pragmatic approach to car washes, as has been the case in England – with the Westminster government providing absolute clarity for businesses there.

PRA’s Brian Madderson said “We are becoming aware of confusion in Northern Ireland among the public, media, car wash operators and enforcers. For example some Sainsbury supermarkets continue to open Automated Car Washes, others have closed. Some HCW – manual, hand car washes – including one opposite a PSNI building are operating, others have closed. Police have closed an ACW in Bangor and yet others around Belfast are open.

“By way of contrast, the guidance on ACW and HCW on the mainland is now very clear and not subject to interpretation.”

Following Boris Johsnon’s speech on January 4th, the new guidance states in the section ‘Businesses and venues which can remain open’:

petrol stations, automatic (but not manual) car washes, vehicle repair and MOT services, bicycle shops, and taxi and vehicle hire businesses

However the situation in Northern Ireland continues to baffle the PRA.

The Car Wash Association (CWA) and Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) represent the 5,350 independent forecourt operators and specialist car wash companies across the UK. This covers 65% of the total fuel outlets (PFS) with more than 50% having high-quality Automated Car Washes (ACW).

Reflecting on the new National Lockdown in England announced by the Government last night, with all England moving to Tier 4, Brian Madderson, Chairman of the CWA, said: “We are pleased that the Government restrictions previously advised with Tier 4 regulations are unchanged, such that ACWs can continue to OPEN.  A vehicle with clean windows and mirrors definitely improves road safety, especially in these dark and dirty winter months. This is so important for essential workers, including NHS and all other medical staff”.

ACWs will be able to serve their communities unlike Hand (manual) Car Washes (HCWs) which have been required to close. The CWA supports this decision due to the higher-risk of COVID-19 transmission at these sites where often no PPE is available, social-distancing is impractical, especially when valeting car interiors, and in many cases cash is the only payment method accepted.”

The PRA’s Brian Madderson is continuing to seek a solution from the NI Executive.