In recent days, the UK government has begun the next phase of its coronavirus response. Though this doesn’t mean an end to lockdown, it does signal the easing of certain restrictions on daily life. One of the most notable changes was a slightly more relaxed approach to travel. We’ll examine what’s different, and what the new approach means for drivers.
What has changed?
It’s important to note that the new guidance represents more of a tweak to the rules than an overhaul. The core advice from the government remains the same: stay at home wherever possible and maintain social distancing.
Nonetheless, there are some important changes coming into force affecting work and travel.
Getting back to work
The message regarding working is nuanced. One point remains unchanged: if you’re in an industry where it’s possible to work from home, you should continue to do so. Likewise, if you work in a sector where the risk of coronavirus transmission is very high, such as hospitality, then your workplace will still be closed.
However, the government has begun actively encouraging those in some sectors of the economy to return to work. This includes workers in fields such as construction and manufacturing. There’s also specific guidance for businesses to help keep workplaces as safe as possible.
As before, driving to and from work is classed as essential travel. The government is also urging people, where possible, to drive a private vehicle, cycle or walk to work. You should only use public transport if there are no other options available to you, and avoid carpooling.
Exercise and outdoor leisure activities
When the government introduced the lockdown rules, they stipulated that individuals could only leave their homes to exercise once a day. Now, in light of evidence suggesting that transmission is much less likely outside than inside, more liberal rules have come into force.
Under the new guidance, unlimited exercise is now allowed. What’s more, it’s now also possible to leave the house for more sedentary leisure activities, such as simply sitting in the sun. You’ll even be able to meet one person from another household while doing so (but just one—and you’ll need to stay two metres apart).
Before, the rules stated that you were allowed to drive a short distance to exercise away from your home. Now, however, driving to other destinations, such as parks and beaches, is possible. It’s worth noting, though, that this advice only applies within England—and travel to any of the UK’s other nations is not allowed.
One sector that underwent disruption as a result of the lockdown was the housing sector. Viewings shifted online and house moves were disallowed unless absolutely necessary. Under the new guidance, the housing market is back up and running. This means that it’s now okay to:
- Move house
- Go to a house you’ve bought to prepare for your move-in
- Attend a house viewing
- View show homes
- Visit letting and estate agents
While it’s possible for you to move home, driving to a second home is still against the rules. Take a look at our guide to where you can and can’t drive for full details.
What has stayed the same?
While the loosening of certain rules will come as a welcome relief to many of us, it’s important to remember that the lockdown is still in force. Though there’s slightly more freedom to drive for recreational purposes, you should limit your travel as much as possible. Doing so will not only reduce your risk of catching or spreading the virus, but will also ensure the roads are clear for emergency services and those whose journeys are essential.
Those hoping for a swift return to driving lessons will need to wait a little while longer, too. At present, driving tests are only available to key workers—and you’ll only be able to take lessons with an instructor if you have an emergency test appointment in place. PassMeFast is working to help key workers, including NHS staff, to get on the road and help keep Britain moving. Read our coronavirus guidance article for full details on our response to the pandemic.