With England set to go into a second lockdown from Thursday, motorists will be asking if they can still drive, have their car serviced and MOT tested and if they can go to dealers to order new models.
With the lockdown set to be enforced for just one month, ending on 2 December, the rules and restrictions won’t be the same as the original enforced shutdown put in place in March.
For instance, schools and universities will remain open throughout and people living alone will be able to exercise outdoors with one person from another household.
But what does a month-long lockdown mean for drivers and motoring as a whole?
What does a second lockdown in England mean for drivers? We have answered all the pressing questions motorists might have…
Can I still drive my car?
Motorists will be allowed to use their car, though are being encouraged to only do so for one of the approved reasons listed by the Government.
This includes travelling to work if there is no capacity to work from home, shop for essentials and drive to outdoor spaces to exercise.
Parents can also drive for childcare purposes or to take their kids to school and you will also be allowed behind the wheel to attend medical appointments or assist an elderly or vulnerable person.
Motorists should also only carry passengers from their own household in their cars.
Licence holders should not go for a drive just to get out of the house and should only get behind the wheel for one of the recommended reasons listed above – or else face fines if stopped by the police. However, there are big question marks about how this could be enforced.
As with the lockdown enforced from March, there are no plans to close roads.
With education continuing during the second lockdown in England, parents will still be able to drive their kids to school
Can I still get my car serviced and MOT tested?
Car garages remained open throughout the initial lockdown earlier this year, though only to provide vehicle maintenance for those working on the front line.
As the lockdown rules eased, garages introduced Covid-safe protocols, including no-contact vehicle handovers and thorough cleaning of cars if they had been worked on.
While yet to be clarified, its expected that garages will continue to operate from Thursday due to their categorisation as an essential business.
Garages are due to remain open from 5 November to 2 December, as they are categorised as an essential business
Many garages are already busier as a result of a backlog of work caused by the previous lockdown, in which an MOT extension was put in place from 30 March to allow owners to defer tests for six months.
This test exemption was due to run for 12 months but was eventually cancelled on 1 August over concerns for the growing number of potentially unsafe motors on the road.
With garages set to continue operating and the lockdown only initially planned for a month, it is unlikely an MOT extension will be put in place.
A DVSA spokesperson told This is Money: ‘We are working closely with Government to agree the impact of the lockdown in England on DVSA services. We will update customers as soon as possible.’
Drivers with – or intending to have – services or MOTs booked in November should contact their local garage or test centre after the full lockdown measures are introduced on Wednesday.
The DVSA says it is still working with the government to decide what the best next steps are for motorists who have MOT tests due in November
Will filling stations remain open and will petrol prices plummet again?
Among the list of essential retail businesses to remain open and fully operational during the second Covid-19 lockdown in England is petrol stations.
It means drivers will be able to fill up with fuel throughout November.
When the first lockdown was in place, the price of fuel plunged due to a massive drop in demand and oversupply or petrol and diesel.
Independent filling stations – especially those in rural areas – were on the brink of being closed due to the impact of traffic levels plummeting and the price of petrol fell below £1-a-litre for the first time in four years.
With another lockdown imminent, the one-month period is unlikely to have the same impact.
Filling station will remain open for the duration of the lockdown, though drivers are unlikely to see prices fall as dramatically as they did earlier in the year
Last week saw oil prices fall by almost $4 a barrel, which would usually see pump prices fall by around 2p-a-litre, though there has been little reflection of this at forecourts and no supermarket has taken the incentive to cut their prices ahead of Thursday.
And with other countries around the world not imposing lockdown measures, there supply chains are less likely to be clogged.
AA fuel price expert, Luke Bodset, told us: ‘In the first lockdown, the fuel retailers said their failure to pass on more of the savings was because they needed to compensate for the collapse in road fuel demand and the pressure that puts on smaller and rural fuel stations.
‘At one point, fuel demand fell to 20 per cent of pre-lockdown levels.
‘The fear now is that the fuel trade behaves in the same way during this second lockdown, with even less justification to cut prices with schools still open and more people working in Covid-safe environments.’
It should be noted that motorists continue to be advised to wear gloves while filling up.
Car washes will be closed around England during the second lockdown – even those that are automated with no staff required to operate them
Will I be able to get my car washed at a petrol station after filling up with fuel?
While retailer will be able to sell you petrol and diesel, their car washing facilities will be off limits during the lockdown.
Brian Madderson, chairman of the Car Wash Association (CWA) and Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), said: ‘It is deeply concerning that the Government guidance regarding the impending lockdown is proposing a blanket closure order for all car washes. We strongly refute the idea that they are not an essential service. Car washes are important for vehicle repair and maintenance.
‘They ensure vehicles are safer to operate as visibility is fully maintained through clear windows, while also making sure that make and model identifiers, in addition to number plates, can be recognised for crime enforcement such as speeding offences and RTA’s.
‘Furthermore, clean lighting system on vehicles allows them continues to function correctly and be seen on the road network; a fact that is vitally important to road safety, particularly in large parts of the country that rely on the rural road network with limited lighting.’
Despite dealers having strict measures in place to allow for social distancing, the government intends to force showrooms to be shut doing the November lockdown. That said, motorists can buy new cars
Will I be able to buy a new car?
Car dealers and showrooms are expected to be forced to close during the month-long lockdown in England from Thursday – a move that has angered many within the industry.
While garden centres, pet stores and bicycle shops allowed to remain open from 5 November to 2 December, car showrooms are not on the list of essential retailers.
The National Franchised Dealers Association has written to the government to request showrooms can keep their doors ajar.
It argues that manufacturers and franchised networks have spent millions to introduce measures to allow for social distancing and to make their locations Covid-secure.
However, if the request is rejected, dealers will be forced to revert to home deliveries and click-and-collect sales that had been allowed in the tail-end of May before showrooms were given the given the green light to fully re-open on 1 June.
This means motorists will be able to place orders for new cars online and collections will be made – socially distanced – outside of the dealership premises.
Driving lessons and tests have been suspended for the duration of the second lockdown in England
Will I be able to take driving lessons and my driving test in the second lockdown period?
‘Driving lessons are an essential service’
Ian McIntosh, CEO RED Driving School, says his company has worked tirelessly to make lessons Covid-secure – protecting the livelihoods of driving instructors and helping new drivers get behind the wheel.
He believes driving lessons and testing should continue and be treated as essential.
‘Many of our learners need their licence for work purposes because their job requires driving or because public transport doesn’t suit their work schedule or location,’ he explained.
‘Others need to learn to drive for childcare purposes or to attend medical appointments. We’ve also seen a demand from learners who want to avoid public transport to minimise their exposure to the virus – something the government encouraged this summer.
‘There is already huge demand for lessons following the first lockdown, and the DVSA has been unable to cope with the testing backlog. The latest stoppage will only worsen the strain.’
A DVSA spokesman confirmed to This is Money that driving tests will be cancelled throughout the second lockdown in England.
‘Following the Government announcement on tougher national restrictions from Thursday, driver and rider training and tests will be suspended in England from 5 November until 2 December 2020.
‘We will be providing further guidance and contacting those affected as soon as we can.’
Driving lessons will also not be allowed to take place, as has been in the case during the ‘circuit-break’ lockdown in Wales.
Tom Hixon, head of instructor support at Bill Plant driving school said he was disappointed to hear from the DVSA this afternoon that driving lessons and driving tests will be suspended.
‘We ask that all learner drivers stay in touch with their instructors throughout the upcoming national lockdown until 2nd December, and we can only apologise for the inconvenience and disruption.
‘But of course, it’s important that we all follow the latest government guidelines so that we can slow the spread of Covid-19 once again.’
Vehicle manufacturing, including the Nissan plant in Sunderland (pictured), will continue to operate during the second lockdown in England, the Home Office has confirmed
Will car factories remain open?
UK car makers, which are still in recovery from the first lockdown while also dealing with a huge decline in global demand for new vehicles in 2020, will be allowed to keep production lines running though the second lockdown in England.
The government has said that anyone who is unable to work from home – singling out those employed in the manufacturing sector in particular – should continue to travel to their work places.
‘This is essential to keeping the country operating and supporting vital sectors and employers,’ the Cabinet Office’s latest guidance states.
While this is positive news for UK car making, most manufacturers are still limited by the number of staff allowed on shifts due to social distancing requirements, while a stricter machinery sanitising process has also slowed assembly lines in recent months.
*This is Money will continue to update this page as more information becomes available in the lead-up to the lockdown being imposed on Thursday 5 November.
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