When can car washes reopen in England? What the roadmap out of lockdown means for automatic and manual car wash facilities

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown has set out the stages and dates when businesses will be able to reopen.

While priority is being given to education and key retail, later parts of the four-stage plan will allow less essential businesses to resume operations across England.

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These include personal services such as hairdressers, outdoor visitor attractions and indoor leisure facilities such as gyms. They also include car washes, which have been forced to close under the nationwide lockdown.

When can car washes open?

The rules are different for automatic and manual car washes (Photo: Shutterstock)The rules are different for automatic and manual car washes (Photo: Shutterstock)
The rules are different for automatic and manual car washes (Photo: Shutterstock)

According to the Car Wash Association (CWA), under current guidance, fully automated car washes are already allowed to operate as long as they are fully Covid-19 compliant. That means there must be no interaction with anyone outside the car during the wash process and there must be PPE protection for any cashier accepting payment.

Manual or hand car washes, however, remain closed in England under the current legislation. During lockdown these have been placed in the same category as non-essential retailers and forced to shut down.

Under the government roadmap, non-essential retailers may be able to resume operations from 12 April. There is no specific mention of car wash facilities but it is likely, with the resumption of other non-essential services and easing of restrictions on outdoor activities, that manual car washes will be allowed to reopen at this point.

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According to the CWA, there is confusion around the use of jet washes in England, with some authorities treating them as manual car washes and others allowing them to operate as “automatic” car washes.

The CWA says that jet washes are allowed to operate during lockdown as long as they follow the same rules around third-party contact which apply to fully automatic washes.

Rules in other parts of the UK vary. In Scotland all forms of car wash are allowed to operate while Wales all but hand washes are open. In Northern Ireland, however, all car wash facilities must still remain closed.