Marshall Motor Group chief executive Daksh Gupta has confirmed that the AM100 car retail PLC will maintain all COVID-19 social distancing measures after July 19’s ‘freedom day’ – including face masks.
Gupta informed the automotive retailer’s 4,000 staff in one of his regular video calls and spoke exclusively to AM about the decision to “defy Government’s latest action” in order to prioritise the ongoing safety of its customers and colleagues.
“Nine times out of 10 being a CEO is about making pretty obvious decisions, but sometimes we have to make judgement calls,” Gupta said.
“That said, I like to make decisions based on the data and it’s all pointing towards a rise in cases, with the commentary suggesting that there’ll be over 100,000 in August.
“The last thing we would want, or our staff would want, would be a customer or one of our colleagues contracting COVID in one of our showrooms and becoming seriously ill.”
Marshall will maintain the plastic screens, social distancing, hand sanitation, unaccompanied test drives and face mask protocols it has upheld throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
But Gupta said that staff at its 116 dealerships would not be expected to eject non-compliant customers.
Instead, the business will rely on clear signage and advice, Gupta stating “our colleagues are not police don’t want to ask our colleagues to be security guards”.
A recent YouGov report found that 64% of Brits plan to keep wearing masks even after COVID-19 restrictions end, while 40% will continue avoiding crowded places.
In May Marshall announced that it was repaying £4 million in government support claimed to help the business through the COVID crisis.
After strong annual financial results for 2020 it also handed a ‘loyalty bonus’ to its staff, along with a back-dated pay review, while its directors continued to decline their annual bonus payments.
Gupta said that the group’s decision to maintain COVID-19 measures after what has widely been referred to as “freedom day” was the first time that it had “gone against Government’s guidance”.
He said that the decision would be reviewed when Government issues further guidance – largely related to the ongoing need for self-isolation for individuals who have received two vaccinations – ahead of a further, August 16, change to regulations.
Marshall’s decision came as transport authorities across the UK – including London, Manchester and South Yorkshire – said they would be continuing to ask travellers to wear masks.
Gupta said that he hoped his decision may ease the burden of making a decision on the ongoing use of masks for other retailers.
“It’s a very difficult decision, but I hope the fact that we’ve made it will ease the burden on others,” he said.
“We strongly believe that we’ve made the right choice for our customers and colleagues and maybe us taking that step will allow others to follow suit.”