Where Are You Allowed to Drive in Lockdown #3?

Man in car pointing at location on a map

We probably don’t need to tell you that England is currently experiencing its third national lockdown. What we may need to tell you, though, is the specific rules regarding driving that arrived with the latest shutdown. Yes, even though this certainly isn’t our first rodeo at this point, there is always a little bit of confusion about where you are allowed to drive in lockdown.

That’s why PassMeFast is here to clear things up! Join us as we quickly run through the rules surrounding driving in lockdown. We also throw in some handy tips and answer a few FAQs!

The bottom line

Scrabble letters spelling out 'stay home'
Image source: Priscilla Du Preez via Unsplash

Let’s make this very clear: in general, you should be staying at home as much as possible. Even though there are instances where you can use your car (which we’ll get to in a second) you should only do this when it is actually necessary. Do not think up excuses or reasons to leave the house just because you feel like it. Obviously, if staying indoors is beginning to affect your mental health, you should pop outside for some fresh air. It is absolutely fine to leave the house once a day for exercise.

The government has confirmed that you can use your vehicle for essential journeys. Or, put another way, you can leave the home if you have what they call a ‘reasonable excuse’. That being said, it is encouraged that if you do need to travel, you should walk or cycle wherever possible. Journeys outside of the home should also be kept to a maximum of once a day.

What counts as a reasonable excuse?


  • Shopping for essentials 
  • Going to work (if you cannot work from home)
  • Attending an institution of education
  • Exercise*
  • Receiving medical help
  • Getting a COVID test
  • Avoiding injury or escaping harm
  • Providing informal childcare to those in your childcare bubble
  • Visiting your support bubble
  • Picking up or dropping off a child you share with someone from another household
  • Carrying out essential duties on behalf of a vulnerable person
  • Going to a property viewing or moving house

*This can be done once a day either alone, with your household, or with 1 person from another household. You must stay within the village, town or part of the city where you reside. 


If your reason for firing up the ignition is not mentioned in the list above, it is highly likely that it is against lockdown rules.

It is important to remember that cars need to be driven every so often to prevent the battery from going flat. Plan ahead where possible and time your essential journeys accordingly. Avoid making any car journeys that do not feel absolutely necessary.

Potential consequences of breaking the rules

Police car leaving police station
Image source: Ashley Harkness via Unsplash

A major area of confusion when it comes to lockdown rules is whether the guidelines established by the government are recommendations or commands. Well, be confused no longer—the rules about essential journeys are law. As a result, if you break them, you can face legal action. Here’s the exact wording on the government website:

“You must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. This is the law. The police can take action against you if you leave home without a ‘reasonable excuse’, and issue you with a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice).

You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.”

That’s some hefty financial repercussions you could be facing! If you’ve been keeping track of the news lately you’ll know that the police are taking lockdown breaches much more seriously this time around. Fines are being dished out left, right and centre to those who are not complying with COVID rules.

Aside from the threat of legal and financial punishment, we should all want to avoid failing our civic duties. Our nation (along with most of the globe) is in the midst of a terrible crisis and we should all play our part in hastening its end. Hitting the road for unnecessary drives puts you and others at risk.  Remember, it’s not just about you—we’re all in this together.

Tips for when you are driving during lockdown

Road sign reading 'stay at home protect the NHS save lives'
Image source: iMattSmart via Unsplash

✓ Drive safely and resist the urge to speed just because the roads are more empty

✓ Keep journeys short and plan ahead 

✓ Take a list with you when you go shopping so that you don’t forget any of the essentials that you require

✓ At petrol stations and garages, keep two metres away from others and use contactless payments if you can

✓ Wash your hands before and after car journeys

✓ Store anti-bacterial wipes or sprays in your car so that you can keep surfaces as germ-free as possible

Driving during lockdown: FAQs

Am I allowed to rent a car at the moment? 

Yes; car rental businesses are deemed to be an essential service and so remain open. You should do some research online or over the phone before heading to the rental facility to ensure that you have everything you need when you arrive. It also means you can double check the safety measures that are in place.

Can I go for a drive to get a change of scenery? 

No. Ideally, you should use your daily walk as an opportunity to experience a change of scenery. That being said, you can drive to an outdoor space if it is where you plan to take your daily exercise. This must be in your local area. Do not travel long distances to find a more picturesque setting.

What happens if my car breaks down while I am on an essential journey?

Breakdown services are still up and running, so you should contact one of these. Check out our article on what to do if your car breaks down for more information. It includes specific details on how this works during the pandemic.

Who’s allowed in my car with me?

Only people from your household or support bubble should be allowed in your car.

If it is absolutely necessary for you to carshare as part of your work, be sure to wear masks and keep the car well ventilated. You will need to be vigilant about maintaining personal space and hygiene—just because something is technically allowed does not mean it is safe or advised.

Can I purchase a new car during lockdown?

While car showrooms have been forced to close during the lockdown period, it is still possible to buy a car. You can browse dealerships online and many car dealers offer a click and collect or home delivery option.

My car requires a mechanic to fix it. Is this possible at the moment or will I have to wait for the shutdown to end?

Garages and mechanics are considered an essential service, so you still have access to these facilities. While using these services you should keep contact with other people to a minimum, maintain safe distances (at least 2 metres) and wear a mask.

So there you have it! You can drive during lockdown as long as you stick to your local area and only use the car for essential journeys.

For the latest information on how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting driving, keep checking our coronavirus updates post.

By Isobel Robb

Isobel enjoys the freedom of the open road and loves driving to new places. She's here to offer helpful hints and tips to improve your motoring skills. When not keeping up to date with the latest driving info you can find her discovering new restaurants or exhausting her Netflix subscription.

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