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Motor workshops must apply for permission to stay open during the circuit breaker period, and they are to carry out only emergency repairs.

08 Apr 2020 | International News : Singapore

Motor workshops must apply for permission to stay open during the circuit breaker period, and they are to carry out only emergency repairs.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said routine servicing and cosmetic-related works are not allowed during this period.

Towing, recovery, and repair of vehicles that have broken down, or damaged in an accident are examples of permissible services during this period
"Towing, recovery and repair of vehicles that have broken down or which have been damaged in an accident and require repair are examples of permissible vehicle services," an MTI spokesman said.

She said vehicle workshops which provide vehicle recovery and repair services for emergency cases will be allowed to continue operating.

"This is necessary to ensure that essential firms and workers in essential services who rely on their vehicles for transport and delivery are able to have their vehicles recovered and repaired in the event of a breakdown, accident or other emergency," she clarified.

Vehicle workshops which continue to operate are required to submit details on their operations and manpower requirements by 13 April 2020 for review, the MTI added.

And businesses that are allowed to remain open must implement enhanced safe-distancing measures to reduce physical interactions. "We urge all businesses to play their part in the fight against Covid-19," the MTI said.

Routine servicing and cosmetic-related works are not allowed during this period
Motor workshop operators were confused initially by the phrase "emergency vehicle services" found on the GoBusiness Covid site. One asked, "Do they mean emergency vehicles like ambulances, or do they mean emergency services for vehicles?"

The Singapore Motor Workshop Association (SMWA), which has more than 700 members out of almost 2,000 workshops here, informed member companies on 5 April 2020 that those which "provide vehicle recovery and repair services" are part of essential services that are allowed to continue operating during this 'circuit breaker' month.

Mr. Francis Lim, Managing Director of BCC Automotive and the immediate past president of the SMWA, said he has closed three of his four workshops. "Only our headquarters' site in Sin Ming remains open, to service customers who are in the essential services sector. And out of 20-plus workers, we're down to three."

Mr. Joey Lim, Managing Director of Harmony Motor, said he is keeping both his workshops open as his Malaysian workers are living on the workshop premises since Malaysia's movement control order was implemented. "But it's a ghost town, this morning, there was only one car at each location," he said.

Transport group ComfortDelGro has closed one of its six workshops and restricted its workshop in Loyang to only taxis
While he has given his staff 'strict instructions' to put on masks, use hand sanitiser, turn away cars with more than one occupant, and sanitise vehicles before and after repairs, it is sometimes "very hard to say what is an emergency. Customers will come in saying there is vibration or loss of power, or that the engine is overheating. The situation is fluid, and we often have to make a judgment call."

Elsewhere, transport group ComfortDelGro, which has six motor workshops, said it has closed one (in Sungei Kadut) and restricted another (in Loyang) to only taxis.

And authorised car agents are keeping their workshops open, but with smaller crews attending to only emergency cases. Most do not accept walk-in arrangements, and customers have to make appointments for available slots. Roadside assistance is still available.
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