In these unprecedented times most of us should be heeding the Government’s instructions to stay at home unless it is absolutely essential.
However, for those classed as key workers during the current crisis there is no choice but to continue travelling in order to provide essential services.
To help them stay mobile while doing their jobs a number of businesses have announced special offers, services and discounts for key workers, and NHS staff in particular.
With the situation changing daily, we can’t be on top of all of them, but here are some of the latest offers around the country.
Free parking for NHS staff
The Government has announced that NHS staff and social workers in England will be able to park for free in hospital car parks and council-run car parks thanks to new funding and rules for local authorities. Hospital parking fees have already been abolished in Scotland and Wales.
However, for staff who can’t park on-site or at a council facility, private parking firms are also offering their help.
Parking apps JustPark and YourParkingSpace which allow parking space owners to rent out their spots to commuters have both announced free offers for NHS staff.
YourParkingSpace is offering free access to more than 900 spaces on its site to NHS workers. The sites included shopping centres, hotels and supermarkets, with many located near health facilities. Staff can register for a unique code on the website, which will allow them to book any of the 943 spaces for free. The service says it is looking to extend the offer to other key workers in coming weeks as well as expanding the number of spaces available.
To obtain a code, visit the YourParkingSpace website.
JustPark has introduced a free listing option so anyone with a suitable space near an NHS site can make it available to a healthcare professional or patient. The site is waiving all fees associated with the spaces, allowing space owners to share their spot for free with workers who need it.
To make a free listing for hospital or healthcare parking, visit the JustPark website here.
Vehicle rental firm Europcar is offering key workers car hire for just £5 a day. As part of a Europe-wide programme it will make thousands of cars available to staff across a number of essential sectors, including NHS workers, armed forces, police, paramedics, ambulance workers, fire services, social care workers and those working in education and childcare. The offer applies to a minimum rental period of two days with a free mileage allowance of 200 miles. Staff can book via a special section of the Europcar website and will be required to present their employee ID when collecting the vehicle.
Uber is offering free rides to NHS staff during the coronavirus outbreak. The ride-hailing service will make 200,000 free rides available to staff who need transport during the crisis. Customers will be able to claim up to 10 trips per week, up to a maximum value of £15, with charges incurred beyond that.
To qualify for the offer you need to link a valid NHS or HSC email address to an Uber account and then enter a weekly promo code. This week's code is NHSAPRIL20. Full details can be found at uber.com/nhs.
Uber is also offering 100,000 free meals through its Uber Eats service as a thank you to NHS staff.
Zeelo, which usually provides commuter services for businesses such as Jaguar Land Rover and Ocado, is offering its fleet of buses to transport NHS staff and other critical workers.
The firm, which operates fleets across the Midlands, Home Counties and England’s south west and north west has offered to provide commuter services for staff in healthcare, food, utilities and critical logistics to ease pressure on them. Its buses will be specially prepared o protect users, with a zero-contact operation, strict two-metre distancing between passengers, onboard handwash and protective equipment for drivers.
Garage discounts and breakdown cover
While garages are deemed essential services and allowed to remain open, some are choosing to close to protect staff and customers and others are operating at a reduced level. But key workers still need their cars to get around and there are maintenance firms offering to make this simpler.
Major retailer Halfords is offering all emergency workers a free 10-point health check on their cars to make sure they’re in good running order, and a similar offer for those cycle.
The car check includes tyre inflation, screen wash top-up and checks on oil levels, headlights and brake lights. Full details can be found here.
The retailer is also offering emergency workers a 10 per cent discount on tyres.
To redeem the offer emergency workers need to book via the website and then present their staff ID when attending the appointment. To reduce risk to staff and customers, Halfords has introduced social distancing measures at its stores and service centres.
Online maintenance booking service Fixter is also offering a discount for key workers.
The end-to-end servicing platform connects customers with local garages who collect the car, carry out the work and return the vehicle. It is now offering a free collection and delivery service for key workers so they can have their car serviced or repaired without having to visit a garage. It is also offering a zero-contact handover service, to reduce risks to customers and staff.
They will also receive a £10 contribution to their order.
To redeem this offer, ‘key workers’ – as defined by the government – should use the voucher code, ‘KEEPUP’, at the online checkout. Fixter has set all collection and delivery time slots free for ‘key workers’ to choose from, ensuring the service is as convenient for them as possible. Full details can be found here.
Vauxhall is providing free breakdown cover to any Vauxhall-owning NHS staff. The Roadside Assistance service is free to any NHS worker who drive a Vauxhall, regardless of the car's age, mileage or where it has been serviced.
To make use of the service, all NHS staff need do is call 0800 197 2049 and quote "NHS key worker". They will then be asked for the model of Vauxhall, its registration, exact location and the cause of the breakdown (if known).
Ford is also giving priority to emergency staff via its mobile servicing fleet. NHS staff and those classed as essential workers by the Government will be given priority servicing slots wherever possible by TrustFord's fleet of vans, which bring the technician to the car. To find out more, contact the booking team on 0330 159 7862 or visit www.trustford.co.uk/mobile-servicing
Ford is also giving out free plastic seat covers to NHS community nursing teams to help protect their staff. For more information and to request covers, visit https://www.partsplusuk.com/
Car insurance provider Veygo is offering a 75 per cent discount on temporary insurance for key workers.
It says the measure is designed to help essential workers such as doctors, nurses and teachers who usually use public transport.
The idea is that those who need to use someone else's car, or insure their own vehicle for a set period of time in order to continue working during the coronavirus outbreak, are able to get to work safely without paying the full insurance costs.