Can I drive during lockdown in England? What the third Covid lockdown means for travel, including driving to work and to exercise

How the newly announced restrictions will affect motorists

England has entered a third nationwide lockdown and as a consequence the rules around what we can and cannot do have changed again.

The restrictions announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson are due to come into law on Wednesday January 6 but people are being told to observe them immediately, including new limits on where, when and why you should use your car.

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Can I still drive during the third lockdown?

The new restrictions begin on November 5The new restrictions begin on November 5
The new restrictions begin on November 5

Similarly to the UK-wide lockdown and subsequent English lockdown in November, the instruction for all people in England is that you must stay at home except for essential purposes.

You can still drive if you need to travel for these exempt reasons. A full list can be found here but key reasons include:

Getting to work where this cannot be done from home

For education, childcare, and other caring responsibilities, such as caring for a vulnerable relative

Essential travel for work and education will still be allowedEssential travel for work and education will still be allowed
Essential travel for work and education will still be allowed

Attending medical appointments or visits where you have had an accident or are concerned about your health

Essential shopping


Attending a life event such as a funeral or wedding

Fulfilling a legal obligation such as a court appearance

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The Government has emphasised that essential travel does not include visits to second homes, camp sites, caravan parks or similar, whether for isolation purposes or holidays.

Driving when you don’t need to puts yourself at risk of being stranded should your car break down, or forcing a recovery service 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 during lockdown?

The Government’s list also allows people to travel from their home for the purpose of exercise. This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.

Among locations identified as suitable by the guidelines are parks, beaches, countryside, public gardens, allotments and playgrounds.

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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?

Yes. Garages are classified as an essential business and are allowed to remain 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.

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

How long will the restrictions last?

The restrictions are expected to remain in place for six weeks, until mid-February but could be extended beyond that if the situation does not improve.