Coronavirus lockdown easing: what does it mean for motorists?

A new roadmap to ease England out of lockdown has been unveiled by the Prime Minister. Here’s what it will mean for motorists and car buyers...

Nissan showroom

The Government has confirmed that all non-essential retail outlets, including car showrooms, will be allowed to reopen from 12 April, following the Covid-19 safety guidelines they introduced at the end of previous lockdowns.

Measures dealerships will have in place include the introduction of regular cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures, ensuring staff and customers can maintain a two-metre distance, and where this is not possible, introducing other measures to manage the risk of transmission of the virus.  

When businesses reopened in 2020, they first had to carry out a risk assessment with the Health and Safety Executive, and they had to display an official certificate confirming that they had complied with the Government's guidance on managing the risk of Covid-19. They will be expected to follow the same guideline in April. 

Can you buy a car? 

Online car buying

It is still possible to buy a new or used car from a trader and take delivery of it without visiting a showroom. Dealers are allowed to sell cars remotely and arrange contactless delivery as long as they abide by social distancing guidelines. If you're concerned about getting a discount, try What Car?'s new car buying service, which lets you secure a discount without having to haggle

Can you get your car serviced? 

Although many garages and service departments closed during the first coronavirus lockdown to protect staff and customers, they have always been deemed essential businesses and many have remained open during subsequent lockdowns.

Like car dealerships, garages have also introduced many changes in procedures to prevent the spread of the virus. These include contactless car and key drop-off procedures, strict car cleaning and interior protection measures and telephone consultations and payments so there is no need for face-to-face contact.  

What if your car’s MOT needs renewing? 

There was no extension of MOT test certificates during the third lockdown, and with garages mostly still open, if your car needs a new MOT, you should get it booked in. Some garages are still dealing with backlogs caused by previous lockdowns, so it's advisable to book your car in earlier than usual to ensure a new MOT is secured before the old one expires. 

Can you take driving lessons or your practical test? 

Driving test changes – everything you need to know

Driving lessons and tests were suspended during the 2021 lockdown, but they should be restarting from 12 April, alongside the opening of non-essential retail outlets. However, with a backlog of thousands of learners who haven't been able to take their test for much of the past year, there is likely to be huge demand, so you may have to book some months in advance. 

Learners who took their theory test but couldn't take the practical test before the two-year expiry time of the theory part will also have to retake this before they can sit the driving test. 

Can you drive to a different part of the country? 

 Motorists must stick to local journeys during the lockdown or risk a £200 fine, but from 12 April they can stay overnight in self-contained accommodation, as long as they only do so with members of their own household. And that means you can drive longer distances from home.  

From 17 May restrictions could be eased again, permitting people to stay in hotels and bed-and-breakfast accommodation.   

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Read more: All the latest coronavirus advice for drivers >>

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