Can I drive my car during the Covid-19 lockdown?

England is going back into lockdown, with firm measures in place across the rest of the UK - what does this mean for drivers?

Speed limit to be cut to 60mph on M1

England is being placed into a second national lockdown on 5 November, with restrictions expected to last until 2 December or possibly longer.

This means that, once again, drivers can only use the roads for a very limited set of reasons, such as shopping for food and medicine, or attending a medical appointment.

It must be noted that - while England is going back into lockdown - Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are taking a different line as dictated by their respective devolved governments. Wales and Northern Ireland are coming out of their second lockdowns, while Scotland is persevering with its five-tier local lockdown system. Drivers in England should not travel into any other UK nation without good reason, and vice versa.

Those caught breaking lockdown rules can be fined up to £10,000 for serious breaches, so drivers should be sure to stay on the right side of the law.

When am I allowed to use my car?

Once the second lockdown comes into effect on 5 November, you will only be allowed to use your car for a very limited set of reasons - these are:

  • Shopping for essentials (e.g. food or medicine) as infrequently as possible
  • For childcare or education (where this is not provided online)
  • Travelling to an outdoor public location in order to take one form of daily exercise (either alone, with other members of your household/support bubble or with one member of another household)
  • Attending medical appointments or emergencies (such as escaping domestic abuse)
  • Assisting an elderly or vulnerable person, or a member of your support bubble
  • Travelling to and from work (only if unable to work from home)
  • Travelling to a very limited selection of non-essential retailers, such as garden centres, and other appointments/reasons, such as property viewings, moving house or getting a takeaway meal

These rules are broadly similar to the ones we saw during the first lockdown earlier this year. One key difference is the Government has clarified that you are allowed to drive to an outdoor public location in order to take exercise, although people are encouraged to make these journeys on foot or by bicycle if at all possible.

Another difference is schools and universities are remaining open this time around, so cars will inevitably be used for the school run or by students who need to attend lectures in person.

In addition, the housing market is staying open, allowing people to use their cars to attend property viewings or to move house. A very limited selection of non-essential retailers, including garden centres, are also being allowed to remain open, so people can drive to these. Car showrooms are being forced to close down again, but those who buy a car online can drive to the dealership to collect it.

What can’t I use my car for?

Most non-essential shops - including car dealerships - and pubs/restaurants won’t reopen until 2 December at the earliest, the Government has announced. As such, you can’t use your car to go to your local town centre for a spot of high street shopping.

Pubs, restaurants and hairdressers are also being closed, so you can’t drive to access these for the time being, unless picking up a takeaway meal from a restaurant.

Can I go for a drive?

Although the argument can be made that you won’t catch Covid-19 or pass it on to anyone else if you’re alone inside your own car, simply going for a drive for pleasure would be classed as non-essential travel and would thus be prohibited by lockdown.

The reason for this is that if you suffer a breakdown, you will come into contact with a breakdown company worker, increasing the risk of infection. Furthermore, if you had a car accident, you may require the attention of emergency service personnel, who are stretched thin as it is.

Do you think the Government should be stricter on driving? Let us know in the comments below...

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