In a world before COVID, it was standard to spend a few minutes before your practical waiting in your local test centre. This meant you had time for a short breather or a pep talk from your instructor before getting behind the wheel. However, safety concerns mean that many learners have had to go without a test centre waiting room, even with the resumption of testing across Britain.
As England emerges from its second national lockdown, though, the DVSA have taken the opportunity to open up more waiting rooms across the country. In this article, we’ll give you the information on your local test centre, and run through the rules you need to know.
Why has the DVSA closed some driving test centre waiting rooms?
When the coronavirus pandemic first hit in early 2020, test centres across the country shut their doors. It wasn’t until July that those outside of critical sectors were able to take their practical again. Waiting rooms, however, took even longer to reopen, with the first handful doing so in late October.
Even though practical testing has now resumed across the country, many waiting rooms remain closed. This has been a source of consternation for many—particularly driving instructors, who may not otherwise have the chance to use toilet facilities during the day if taking multiple candidates to their test.
The DVSA, which organises practical testing across Great Britain, has defended the closure of waiting rooms as a necessary safety precaution. Some waiting rooms, it argues, are too small to allow for social distancing. In others, waiting rooms have been repurposed by examiners to allow for additional social distancing space indoors.
This may not make for comforting reading for candidates or instructors, but it’s good to know that the rules are, at the very least, clear. So, with that out of the way, there’s one burning question: what does this mean for your test centre waiting room?
Is my local test centre waiting room open?
If you’re not sure whether you’ll be able to use the waiting room at your local test centre, let us put your mind at ease. We’ve used official data from the DVSA to create the map below, which details the situation at test centres across Great Britain.
What precautions do I need to take inside test centre waiting rooms?
If your test centre waiting room is open, you’ll need to follow certain rules to help ensure that the space is COVID-safe.
- Candidates taking the driving test may use the waiting room, and may bring a maximum of one accompanying person with them.
- If the waiting room is full, entry will not be possible. The maximum occupancy will be noted on posters inside and outside the room.
- In England and Wales, anyone entering the room must scan a QR code to check in via the COVID-19 app. In Scotland, you will instead be provided with a contact slip.
- Unless exempt, you must wear a face covering in the waiting room.
- Use hand sanitiser when entering the room, and wipes to disinfect anything that you touch.
- You must maintain social distancing inside the room. The required distance is one metre in England, and two metres in Scotland and Wales.
Do waiting room openings correspond to coronavirus tiers?
No. Some test centres in tier 3, such as Preston, Sunderland, Nottingham Chilwell, Gateshead and Bolton, have opened their waiting rooms. Conversely, many test centre waiting rooms in tier 1, such as Camborne, Isles of Scilly, and Newport Isle of Wight, remain closed. The best way to check the situation in your area is to use our map above.
Will I be able to use toilet facilities if the waiting room is closed?
Where available, toilet and handwashing facilities are available to all candidates, instructors or accompanying drivers on request. However, be aware that some test centres may not offer toilet facilities.
Has the DVSA announced any further test centre waiting room openings?
There are currently no immediate plans for additional waiting room openings. Most recently, 92 additional test centres opened their waiting rooms on Friday, December 4th. We will update this article in the event of any further developments.