THE UK is effectively in lockdown due to the continuing, rapid outbreak of Covid-19. People are now only permitted to leave their homes for a small list of reasons, including to get vital shopping or for medical reasons, exercise, or to get to work. It is the biggest shutdown in peacetime in living memory.
Although travel is now only permitted in certain circumstances, some people still need to use their cars and many will have MOTs due during what will be at least three weeks of lockdown, possibly more.
With people told to only leave their homes for vital reasons, however, some are confused about whether or not they can, or should, get their MOT done.
Are garages allowed to stay open?
Garages have been classed as an essential service by the government, alongside establishments such as supermarkets and petrol stations, and therefore are not included in the forced closures of ‘non-essential shops’ such as clothes and electronics stores.
While the tests for larger vehicles had already been suspended, the equivalent tests for cars, motorbikes and light vans were still going ahead pending government review. This morning, however, the Department for Transport announced that vehicle owners will be granted an emergency six month MOT exemption, as part of the ongoing fight against coronavirus.
The legislation will effectively extend the date on your MOT certificate, which means that you shouldn’t run into any insurance-related issues.
However, this legislation will not come into effect until March 30, in order to give the government time to make it legally sound. This means that if your MOT expires in the next few days, you must still get it done at a test centre.
It is worth calling ahead to make sure the garage is expecting you, as it may be busy in the light of the announcement this morning, and potentially working with smaller work forces due to portions of the population self-islolating.
MOTs for HGVs had already been suspended, but for a shorter time — three months. While this exemption applies automatically to some larger vehicles, many HGV drivers may have to apply for it. It is advisable to head to the government website to check your situation.
If you are in a high risk group and are self isolating because of the Covid-19 coronavirus but have your MOT due before March 30, the Department for Transport says that it is working with insurers and the police to make sure you won’t be negatively affected.
If you are due to get an MOT before March 30 and you have not been able to due to current circumstances, you should get in contact with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). Have your name, phone number, address and registration number at the ready.
Under normal circumstances, cars over three years old must get an MOT once a year. You can find out when you need to get another test on your current MOT certificate, or online.
Even though MOTs are being suspended for six months, all drivers must still keep their car in roadworthy condition. The government has stressed that if you are caught driving a vehicle that is in unsafe condition you can still be prosecuted. This can comprise punishments including a fine up to £2,500, three penalty points on your licence or even a ban. You can find government advice on keeping your car in safe condition here.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We must ensure those on the frontline of helping the nation combat COVID-19 are able to do so. Allowing this temporary exemption from vehicle testing will enable vital services such as deliveries to continue, frontline workers to get to work, and people to get essential food and medicine.” He reiterated that garages will remain open for essential repair work.
Edmund King, AA president said: “The AA raised concerns about MOTs with transport ministers last week as many drivers were anxious about their MOT running out while in self-isolation. We are glad they have listened and provided a sensible solution.
“Drivers should only use their cars for essential journeys throughout the lockdown and must ensure they keep their car in a good condition.”
Karen Hilton, chief commercial officer for heycar, said: “We’re really pleased with the news that MoTs have been scrapped for at least six months. We’ve had queries from concerned customers about what they should do, as taking their car for an MoT seems to conflict with the Government advice to stay at home. People have enough worries in this time of crisis without having to consider how they get their car in for MoT.”
She continued: “Scrapping the MoT for all vehicles while the country goes through the Coronavirus lockdown is the only sensible approach, removing risk for motorists and mechanics alike.”
If you are concerned about how your method of travel is affected due to Covid-19, it’s worth keeping an eye on the Prime Minister’s daily TV broadcasts, because if we know anything, it’s that things can change very quickly at the moment.