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Can I drive during the lockdown? Your transport questions, answered

On 23 March, Boris Johnson said that people should only leave their homes for “essential” trips.

Public transport is still running across the country, but to scaled timetables. This is partly due to the huge drop in demand caused by the majority of the country now staying at and working from home. However, the Government is helping maintain transport services so key workers can get to work. People have been told to not use public transport, unless they are making an essential or unavoidable journey. They are advised to abide by social-distancing rules and keep trips to a minimum.

People can use their cars to make these essential trips, but again, they must abide by social distancing rules, meaning they should only be in a vehicle by themselves or with a member of their household.

A: Under Government rules, cars can be used, but only for essential journeys such as to buy food or medicines. If you are making a car journey, Public Health England says that people should drive alone or only with other members of their household. People with any symptoms of coronavirus or who are self-isolating should not be making any journeys.

A: Most public transport is still running, albeit with scaled-down services. This is mainly so critical workers, such as doctors and nurses, can continue to work. Since the lockdown began, train operators started running new timetables with about half the normal services running. The same is happening for buses, with operators running reduced services due to the falling demand. They urge people to check revised timetables online before travelling.

A: The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) says that warranty policies are specific to different car manufacturers and recommends that owners contact their individual manufacturers to see how the lockdown affects their policy.

A: The Government has now suspended all MoTs for six months for cars, motorbikes and vans starting from Monday March 30. This means that all MoTs are now effectively 18 months long. The Department for Transport said that car owners’ MoT dates will change about a week before their test is due, and they will be able to check the new date online. This will means MoTs due from March 30 with be valid for another six months, and so insurance won’t be effected. 

However, ministers have warned that people need to keep their cars roadworthy and anyone found driving a dangerous vehicle will be prosecuted. 

Drivers whose MoT was due before March 30 will still need to have their test done. If they have been unable to do so because they are self-isolating, they can still have their test done at a later date. An agreement has been negotiated with insurance companies and the police so they will not be unfairly penalised.

Garages will remain open for critical workers and people who depend on their cars for essential trips like shopping to get necessary repairs done.

A: The Department for Transport said that taxi drivers are not automatically considered critical workers but can be considered for the status on a case-by-case basis. This is if they are helping other critical workers with home-to-school journeys for their children or driving vulnerable passengers.

A: Government advice is to avoid using public transport unless there is no other choice when making an essential journey. Public Health England advises that people try first to organise food deliveries to their homes.

However, if there is no other way for people to make an essential journey, the advice is to abide by social-distancing rules while waiting for and on public transport like buses, to use contactless payments where possible and to wash your hands thoroughly when you get home.

Public Health England also advises that if people have no other option but to use public transport for shopping, they should try to limit the number of trips they do. People with any symptoms of coronavirus or who are self-isolating should not use public transport at all.

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