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THE Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) has taken the initiative with a wide-ranging advertising campaign across all main media in Victoria and Tasmania to let people know that despite the COVID-19 lockdown they are legally able to access automotive sales and service businesses.

The launch of the five-week campaign follows frequent reports by VACC members that the most common phone call they are getting into their businesses is: “Are you open?”

Hand-in-hand with the advertising campaign, the chamber has sought and received written advice from the Office of the Victorian police minister, Lisa Neville, that attending a motoring sales or service business is not in breach of lockdown laws.

The chamber has posted on its website the text of the response from the office of the minister which is available to the public and for distribution by members to customers to reassure them that they can legally visit a dealership or other service or auto sales operation.

The advice from the Office of the Minister for Police states: “VACC is correct in that the automotive trade is not being prohibited from work or opening, so staff can work, and customers engage as appropriate and consistent with the CHO requirements around density quotients and physical distancing.”

The chamber said that the Office of the Minister for Police has sent the VACC’s correspondence with Ms Neville to the Chief Commissioner’s office so that all police are informed of the clarification of the rules.

The chamber points out that police officers “are not meant to be stopping people from travelling for work or restricting trade of businesses that can and should remain open as long as they are maintaining density quotients and physical distancing.”

VACC is suggesting that customers print out the message from Ms Neville to carry with them as they visit dealerships or other auto businesses. Staff in auto businesses are also carrying the message to cover themselves if they are out driving to collect parts or other items as part of their work.

The head of marketing, media, communications and publications at the VACC, David Dowsey told GoAutoNews Premium: “This is a wide-ranging campaign that goes through TV, radio, print and social media. We have also done our own videos, blogs and editorials.”

Mr Dowsey said that the VACC had made special templates to help coach members on what to say to their customers on social media and in other communications to customers.

“We have written templates where members can fill in a few of their own details. We have made posters to display in their premises and prepared lots of communications on how they can market their businesses during this time.”

Mr Dowsey said that apart from public auto auctions, every other automotive enterprise from body repair, mechanical repair and maintenance, glass replacement, batteries and tyres has remained open. Mandated social distancing measures apply.

“Every bit of it is open and we thought it was very important as an association to help drive business and sales to our members’ businesses.”

Mr Dowsey said that radio was across the leading AM and FM stations in metro Melbourne and that TV coverage was across all of Victoria and Tasmania (where VACC operates as TACC).

“One hundred per cent of people living in those states have an opportunity to hear the message that ‘Auto is open’ and that they can safely drive down to a dealership or service centre and get their car serviced or look for a new or used car or commercial vehicle.”

By John Mellor

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