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Wheels: Can I drive my car during the lockdown?

THE prime minister has put the UK on lockdown to prevent the further spread of coronavirus, and the police are now enforcing strict rules regarding when and why you can leave your house.

People living in the UK are now only permitted to leave their homes in order to:

■ Shop for essentials (eg food or medicine) as rarely as possible

■ Take one form of exercise per day (eg walking, running or cycling), either alone or with members of the same household

■ Attend medical appointments

■ Assist an elderly or vulnerable person

■ Travel to and from work (only if unable to work from home)

The police have powers to deal with anyone caught breaking these rules — they’re able to issue fines and/or disperse public gatherings. But where does this leave car drivers?

When am I allowed to use my car?

Although the prime minister didn’t specifically mention driving when he announced the lockdown, it’s safe to say that using your car for any of the aforementioned purposes is permitted.

For example, if you need to go and buy food, it’s OK to drive to the supermarket, or if you are still working from somewhere other than your own home, you can use your car to commute.

You can also drive to a hospital or doctor’s surgery if you have a medical appointment to attend, and you can use your car to get to the home of an elderly or vulnerable person you know is self-isolating and needs a helping hand.

The short answer is that you can’t use your car for anything not outlined above, as you’re not supposed to leave your home for any unnecessary reason. In addition, the government — along with some police forces and National Park authorities — have said people should not be driving to places in order to get exercise. Walking, running or cycling should instead be done locally.

Meeting friends or family members who are not part of your own household for social activities is forbidden. Even though it would be harder to do this with all pubs, clubs and restaurants now being closed, you also can’t drive to someone else’s house to meet them.

Can I go for a drive?

This is a question that will be on the minds of motorists who own classic cars, performance cars or just love driving. One may argue that, while sitting inside a moving car on your own, you’re not going to be able to catch coronavirus or pass it on to anyone else. Furthermore, no plans have been announced to close any roads in order to prevent people travelling.

This may be the case, but the government has been clear that no one should leave their home for any reason other than one of those listed above. With this in mind, leaving your home just to go for a drive is currently inadvisable.

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