Lockdown driving rules around the UK: What the latest policies mean for motorists in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland

The latest information on when you can and can’t use your car
Drivers have been told to stay at home unless their journey is absolutely essentialDrivers have been told to stay at home unless their journey is absolutely essential
Drivers have been told to stay at home unless their journey is absolutely essential

Lockdown rules around the UK continue to change on a regular basis.

From the complete ban on all but essential travel, restrictions have been eased at different paces around the country, allowing people to travel further and for a wider variety of reasons.

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While England was the first to allow non-essential workers to travel for work, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have also now eased their limits on driving.

The same restrictions apply to drivers as to people moving around on footThe same restrictions apply to drivers as to people moving around on foot
The same restrictions apply to drivers as to people moving around on foot

However, the rules and advice now differ around the UK, so following the most recent guidance from the respective authorities in each country, here is what we know about when and where you are allowed to drive in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland as lockdown restrictions continue to change.

Can I drive under new lockdown guidelines?

Initial UK-wide guidelines were that you should only drive for essential reasons. These included infrequent trips to get shopping, including medication; for medical reasons such as visiting a doctor or caring for a vulnerable person; to get to essential jobs where working from home was not possible. Police also said that short journeys to take exercise, where the driving time did not exceed the exercise time, were permissible.

In Scotland, since May 28, people in non-essential roles who cannot work from home have been allowed to return to their work, meaning they are able to drive to their jobs.

This mirrors the policy in England, where since May 11, non-key workers have been permitted to drive to work if they cannot work from home. They have also been encouraged to avoid public transport.

In both countries the advice remains to travel as little as possible. However, from July 3, the five-mile travel limit in Scotland has been lifted, allowing people to move beyond their local area.

Northern Ireland is also encouraging those who cannot work from home to return to their jobs and said there are no restrictions on travel for those who are not self-isolating.

In Wales, from Monday, July 6, the five-mile travel limit will be removed.

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Driving when you don’t need to puts yourself at risk of being stranded should your car break down, or putting unnecessary pressure on recovery services to come out to deal with you, so it’s better not to drive unless you have no other option.

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Can I drive to exercise?

In Scotland, following the announcement of a stepped introduction of phase 2 restrictions, the rules around exercise remain largely unchanged. Advice is still to stay in your local area as much as possible but the previous instruction to stay within five miles has now been removed.

In England, you can drive to another location to take exercise “irrespective of distance” as so long as you respect social distancing guidance. Previous guidelines were that such journeys should be kept as short as possible.

Welsh government advice is that you shouldn’t drive to exercise unless it is absolutely necessary but it says that people with specific health or mobility issues may need to travel further than the area around their home to be able to exercise. From July 6, there will be no limit on the distance you can travel.

In Northern Ireland, there are now no restrictions on travelling for exercise.

Are the roads and motorways closed?

No, all roads and motorways remain open but you should only be driving if it is absolutely necessary.

Are garages and petrol stations still open?

They will continue to offer services as required, with many developing social distancing or zero-contact methods of vehicle handover to protect staff and customers.

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MOT testing is still available but all cars whose MOTs expired on or after March 30 have been granted an automatic six-month extension, with the legislation in effect until August 1, 2020.

Petrol stations are also listed as essential businesses and remain open but many are encouraging customers to maintain social distancing by using pay-at-pump facilities wherever possible.