AS CORONAVIRUS restrictions ease further today, with pubs and restaurants permitted to re-open indoors, some motorists will be wondering how the rules have changed for them.
The third stage of the government’s “roadmap” out of national restrictions come amid the continued rollout of the coronavirus vaccination programme. At the time of writing, 36.5 million people across the UK have received the first dose of their vaccination, with 20 million of those having received both shots.
While the government in Westminster has worked with devolved regions regarding the UK’s exit from lockdown, all four countries have their own strategies and will return to normal life at different paces. The final stage of the plan in England, which will see nearly all social distancing lifted, will not come into effect until June 21 at the earliest — a date that could be affected by the worrying rise of the Indian coronavirus variant.
When am I allowed to drive my car during lockdown?
The allowances announced by the Prime Minister over the course of this year have massively extended the list of reasons to drive your car. While restrictions continue to ease, though, the government has said that you should continue to plan ahead and travel as safely as possible.
However, the Department for Transport has confirmed that you can go for a leisurely drive under current regulations.
The third step of the roadmap out of lockdown means that you can once again share a car with people outside of your household or social bubble. However, a private vehicle carrying more than six people should not include people from more than two households.
You can also drive to restaurants and pubs whatever the weather, as they have now re-opened inside — but, of course, you shouldn’t drive if you have been drinking. If you are planning a trip to the pub, then, you might want to book a taxi (this is allowed, according to current advice).
Rules have eased in Wales and most of Scotland today, although a spike in cases in Glasgow and Moray has led to some sets of increased local restrictions. Both nations have allowed pubs and restaurants to reopen indoors, although Scotland has said that all punters must be outside by 10.30pm.
In England and Scotland, you can now drive to the house of family or friends and sit indoors, although there are predictably restrictions on this. In England, the group must consist of no more than six people or two households, and in Scotland, it’s six people from three households. In Wales, indoor socialising is still limited to extended households.
In Northern Ireland, rules will be eased on May 20 ahead of a possible loosening of restrictions four days afterwards.
When will I be allowed to drive for a holiday?
In England and Wales, self-contained holiday lettings (apartments, caravans, tents, etc.) have been open since April 12, with people from the same household allowed to drive to a “staycation” spot. From today, hotels, hostels and B&Bs in England can re-open, and you can stay in these establishments in groups of up to six people from any number of households, or in a larger group made up of no more than two households. In Wales, all holiday accommodation can open fully.
In Scotland, hotel and hostel stays will only be allowed with people from your own household but you can go to self-contained accommodation with up to six people from three separate households. In Northern Ireland, meanwhile, staycations are limited to single households and self-contained accommodation, with the remainder of the country’s tourism sector expected to reopen on May 24.
International travel has also been allowed to resume today, with the government having published a list of 12 countries that are on a permitted “green list”. Countries given the go-ahead include Portugal, Singapore and Australia, and the list of permitted nations is to be reviewed every three weeks.
Driving to France is possible and you do not need to justify an essential reason to enter France but the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advises against all but essential travel to the whole of France as the Covid situation remains “severe”. If you do travel to France by car, you will need to complete a ‘sworn statement’ (déclaration sur l’honneur) form confirming that you don’t have Covid-19 symptoms and all travellers aged 11 and over will need to present a negative PCR Covid-19 test result, carried out less than 72 hours before departure. And here’s the kicker: passengers are also required to self-isolate for seven days on arrival, before taking another PCR test. Exit from this self-isolation period is subject to a negative test result.
If you’re planning on travelling anywhere outside the UK by car, check the government website for the latest travel advice.
Can I travel in someone else’s car during lockdown?
If you don’t have your own car then walking or cycling are encouraged over use of public transport. However, if you do have to share a car, you should make efforts to reduce the risk of transmission. These might include:
- Asking the driver/ passengers to wear a mask
- Facing away from one another
- Sharing transport with the same people each time, and minimising group size
- Opening windows for ventilation
- Considering seating arrangements to maximise social distance
- Cleaning the car between journeys using standard cleaning products, paying special attention to areas people are likely to touch like handles and seat belts
If you visit a petrol or service station, keep your distance from other drivers and pay using contactless if possible. You should always sanitise your hands when entering or exiting your vehicle. If you can find disposable gloves to use when handling the pump, that could also help avoid spreading the virus.
- Not planning on driving your car during the lockdown? Here’s how to take care of your vehicle.
- Don’t panic if your car breaks down, breakdown services are available during this lockdown, as they were last time.
- If you’re planning on buying a car during the lockdown, read about how car sales were affected during the first during the first lockdown.