Coronavirus: Can I drive during the lockdown?

With the government asking people to stay at home, are there any reasons for driving your car?

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This week the UK has been in lockdown as the Government has moved to try to limit the spread of coronavirus.

It meant that people are only allowed to leave the house to buy food or medicine, exercise once per day, to receive medical help, or to help someone who is vulnerable.

All businesses that are not deemed essential have also been asked to close down, and employees who do not work in essential sectors should either work from home or not work at all.

Residents have also been warned not to visit friends or family with the police given powers to break up groups of more than two people who don’t live together.

When can I drive?

All of this means that there are some reasons to drive. For example, if you work in an essential business and have to get to work, there’s nothing to stop you from driving to do so.

Furthermore, if you’re travelling to a supermarket or pharmacy to stock up on essential provisions then you’re allowed to drive to these locations.

You can also use the car to travel to visit a vulnerable person in need of help, or to get to the hospital to seek medical attention for yourself or someone else.

When can’t I use the car?

Simply put, any other time. If you’re looking to blow off the cobwebs by going for a drive, that’s deemed an unnecessary journey so you shouldn’t be in the car.

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And if you’re tempted to drive to the local park or forest to take your allotted form of exercise for the day, this is being discouraged too.

Police in Bristol have been asking dog walkers visiting the Wellington Monument to stay away, handing them leaflets that say: “The government restrictions currently in place do not permit you to use your vehicle to travel to this location to exercise.

“Each and every one of us has been instructed to avoid all unnecessary travel.

“You are entitled to exercise once daily. This should be by walking, running or cycling from your home address.

“You should not be driving to a location away from home to carry this out.”

This interpretation of the rules appears to be being followed by police forces across the country, after Derbyshire Police shared drone footage of hikers in the Peak District who had travelled from as far afield as Sheffield, saying that ‘the message [to exercise close to home] is still not getting through’.

Why can’t I drive if I’m on my own?

Many users on social media hit back at Derbyshire Police, saying there was nothing wrong with travelling to get exercise if they practised social distancing. However, Supt Steve Pont of Derbyshire Police told the BBC’s Today programme the force would continue to “apply the law the government makes… to keep you and others safe and ensure our NHS is able to cope in order to save as many lives as possible”.

It is argued that by limiting the number of unnecessary journeys you take, you minimise the risk of getting into a crash that would put strain on the emergency services and NHS, and minimise the risk of getting a puncture or breaking down that would cause you to risk close contact with recovery personnel.

Darren Cassey
Darren Cassey
Articles by Darren Cassey are provided for The Car Expert by PA Media (formerly the Press Association). They include test drives of the latest new cars and features on various aspects of automotive life.

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