With many places in the Philippines now under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) or General Community Quarantine (GCQ), automobile dealerships and service centers have now restarted operations. However, those under MECQ can only operate at 50% capacity. In fact, you can check out which dealerships are operational in a separate story here.

Similar to other businesses that have resumed operations, dealerships have also adopted a “new normal” in order to keep both customers and its employees safe. So we thought we'd list down what similar measures various dealerships in the country have adopted so you know exactly what to expect when you walk into a dealer to get your car serviced, or to buy a new one.

1. Disinfect and Sanitize

The number one priority of dealers will be to clean and disinfect their facilities on a very regular basis. Whereas before every business usually paid attention to mopping floors and wiping tables, it is expected that they will now be doing a deeper and more thorough cleaning before the dealership opens for customers. Also, we expect the same kind of thorough cleaning to be done to the vehicles inside the showroom on a very regular basis. 

2. Masks On

All dealerships that you go to (no matter the brand) will require both customers and employees to wear face masks, that much is certain. Companies didn't issue any specifics as to what masks are acceptable (i.e. N95, KN95, so on, and so forth), but so long as it prevents coughs and droplets from getting out, you should be fine. 

Also, some companies stated that if a customer is unable to bring a facemask, they will be provided. Nissan Philippines, for instance, stated that they will be giving out masks and disposable gloves to customers at the entrances of dealerships.

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3. Temperature Screening

It comes as no surprise that anyone who has to go to an auto dealership will have to undergo a temperature check via an infrared thermometer. Those who have body temperatures exceeding 37.5 degrees Celsius (generally) will not be allowed entry.

While it may seem trivial, this is a necessary step to ensure the safety and well being of people at the dealership. It goes without saying: if you're feeling feverish, just stay home.

4. Alcohol and Hand Sanitizers Everywhere

Don't be surprised if you find big bottles of alcohol or hand sanitizer at car dealerships from now on. That's part and parcel of the new normal at supermarkets and stores, and that won't be going away anytime soon. 

It'll also be good practice to wash your hands at the restroom when you get a chance, or perhaps even bring your own personal disposable gloves if you so choose. 

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5. Reduction In Staff

One thing dealers are really stepping up on is the reduction of people. On the staff side, those that can effectively work from home will be told to do so. Auto dealers are classified under Category II industries, and that means under MECQ they can operate up to 50% of their current workforce. Anyone who can work from home effectively (i.e. field sales staff) will be working from home.

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6. Safe Distancing and Scheduling

Dealerships will also be limiting the number of people inside showrooms in order to establish physical or social distancing. The current set standard is at least a 1-meter gap between individuals. A limited number of people will also be allowed inside the vehicle on test drives based on government guidelines too. 

But the key thing is that a lot of dealers are advocating a scheduling or appointment system for both new sales and for after-sales service. This is so they can manage the number of people and cars at their dealerships. 

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7. Special Measures

While the measures mentioned above are common across all-dealerships, no matter the brand, some automakers have taken things a step further.  This is assuming that the customers fall under the allowable temperature range. Meanwhile, Suzuki Philippines can now offer home delivery service for customers who will purchase vehicles in order to limit outside exposure. If you want to test drive cars but is afraid of going outside, Motor Image Pilipinas (MIP) now offers an “At-Home Test Drive Service”. The service essentially allows customers to book an appointment and have the Subaru vehicle of their choice brought to the client's house for a test drive. Vehicles will be sanitized and sales employees will be equipped with face masks and undergo temperature checks.

Aside from protecting customers at the showroom, Toyota and Lexus are also protecting vehicle owners by disinfecting the inside of vehicles. Toyota Motor Philippines and Lexus Philippines will be disinfecting all customer cars that come in for service. The disinfection will be done after all the work and services are complete. They will use a fogger machine which will eliminate all harmful bacterial, mold, or fungi. The disinfection service is free for customers coming in for service (periodic maintenance, general service, or body and paint works).

Some of you might find the “new normal” implemented at auto dealerships across the country a hassle, but these measures are to protect more individuals from the possibly catching virus. As much as we want our lives to return to normal, that doesn't seem possible at the moment, up until a vaccine for COVID-19 has been found and widely disseminated.