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CWA urges Northern Ireland executive to allow automated car washes to open

PRA 06/01/2021

The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) and Car Wash Association (CWA) continue to lobby the Northern Ireland Executive regarding the closure of Automated Car Washes.

 PRA and sister association Car Wash Association have been campaigning hard with the relevant government departments to highlight the facts that Automated Car Washes (ACW) including rollovers, conveyors and self-serve jet washes offer a contact-free clean.

This contrasts with the higher-risk of COVID-19 transmission at manual Hand Car Washes 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. 

As England entered the third lockdown, the guidance states that Automated Car Washes will be able to continue operating while Hand Car Washes have been required to close. However, under current restrictions in Northern Ireland, all car washes must close “except for the cleaning and disinfection of commercial vehicles for the purposes of food safety and controlling risks to human, animal or plant health”.

PRA and CWA have previously written to the Northern Ireland First Minister requesting a clear distinction between Automated Car Washes and Hand Car Washes, especially those on Filling Stations that are already designated as essential services and permitted to remain in operation.

The associations highlighted that “car washes operate an essential service for the purposes of ensuring the roadworthiness and safety of vehicles on the road generally”. In particular, car washes ensure that vehicles are safer to operate in respect of:

  • visibility (clean and clear windows);
  • maintaining functioning lights (important so that vehicles can see and be seen);
  • reducing the risk of hazards from mud on wheels and chassis;

Brian Madderson, Chairman of the CWA, commented: “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.

“We urge the Northern Ireland Executive to amend the current regulations and provide a more pragmatic approach to car washing”.

Supporting CWA's calls, Ian Paisley MP added: "The Northern Ireland Executive must clarify the confusion surrounding the current regulations in line with the restrictions in place in England, recognising the clear difference between Manual and Automated Car Washes".

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About the RMI

The Retail Motor Industry represents the interests of operators in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man providing sales and services to motorists and businesses. The RMI has a formal association with the independent Scottish Motor Trade Association which represents the retail motor industry in Scotland.