Coronavirus: Over-70s given the green light to drive their cars, but there’s a catch…

Published 17 March 2020

Last updated: 25 March 2020

Everyone in the UK is being advised to stay at home and only go outside for food, health reasons or essential work. These measures are in place for a total of three weeks and will be reviewed on 13 April.

People with serious underlying health conditions must stay home for a minimum of 12 weeks and not use their vehicle in any circumstances - the Government and local health authorities are in the process of contacting 1.5 million people who are affected by this advice. 

Those with an underlying health condition are being urged to ask family, friends and neighbours to support them by supplying food and everyday essentials. If this is not possible, the public sector, business, charities, and the general public are gearing up to help those advised to stay at home by delivering groceries.

In all cases, it is important to speak to others and ask them to help to make arrangements for the delivery of food, medicines and essential services and supplies.


Miniman777    on 17 March 2020

So in a world of self-service filling stations, how is it possible to obtain fuel if over 70?

The advice is too inflexible. Just saying..

Edited by Miniman777 on 17/03/2020 at 19:16

hissingsid    on 18 March 2020

What happens when the MoT and annual service are due?
Will the garage collect the car and return it when done?

Polly Wilson    on 19 March 2020

Yes they probably will if you explain you are at high risk. They will still want your business.

shauncwalsh    on 18 March 2020

This is only advice, the over 70's are free to ignore it if they want, drive your car, refuel, buy food, whatever you want.

Stephen Sparrow    on 19 March 2020

Where is this “advice” written down?

Terry W    on 19 March 2020

It is quite clear from the above that people prefer rules and seem incapable of a bit of common sense.

Filling up with fuel - almost by definition you are remote from others doing likewise. If really concerned about getting out of the car:

(a) go at unsocial hours - eg: 3.00am when no one else is likely to be there
(b) go to a pay at pump garage to avoid contact with cashier
(c) wipe hands with hand sanitiser before getting back in the car

Or perhaps some just enjoy finding problems and not solutions!!

Richard Hannam    on 19 March 2020

Except that you have to touch the pump.

Colin Anthony Lambert    on 19 March 2020

Except that you have to touch the pump.

Get a box of 100 latex gloves from Screwfix for£7.00. So simple!!

jchinuk    on 20 March 2020

All the garages around here provide free gloves, in a dispenser, next to pumps for those using the diesel pump.


Tow Bar    on 19 March 2020

I am going to refuel at pay-at-the-pump stations and wear disposable gloves to avoid contamination from the pump handles and key pads. Should be fine.

Richard Hannam    on 19 March 2020

Still a potential problem removing the disposables.

willybee    on 19 March 2020

What complete rubbish. The spokesperson from the PHE is an idiot. I am not a 'patient'. I am a healthy older person. Does this stupid person mean to tell me that I can't drive into the Cotswold countryside, get out of my car and go for a solitary walk. Just let him try and stop me.

Edited by willybee on 19/03/2020 at 17:52

Polly Wilson    on 19 March 2020

I agree! Just got to be sensible. We all need fresh air and exercise.

Ageing Geek    on 19 March 2020

You may be healthy

You may be full of self-righteous confidence

But choosing not to follow the medical recommendations, and therefore putting other people at risk, is desperately selfish

Colin Anthony Lambert    on 19 March 2020


You may be healthy

You may be full of self-righteous confidence

But choosing not to follow the medical recommendations, and therefore putting other people at risk, is desperately selfish

I am NOT being selfish. I am fit and therefore pose NO DANGER to ANYONE I am protecting MYSELF from infection.

IF I become infected then of course I will self isolate.

Edited by Colin Anthony Lambert on 19/03/2020 at 19:24

Ageing Geek    on 19 March 2020

But you will have absolutely no idea if you have been infected until 5 - 7 days after you have become infectious!

Or do you dispute that too?

Mr Nexus    on 19 March 2020

You may be healthy

You may be full of self-righteous confidence

But choosing not to follow the medical recommendations, and therefore putting other people at risk, is desperately selfish

What a load of cock. The 'medical recommendations' you mention are completely overblown - do you believe everything you are told? Putting people at risk - this is the kind of paranoid t*** that we're being fed in the hope that we'll believe it'll make any difference at all. Chances are a good many of us have had the virus, passed it on, and have died, got very ill and/or recovered. The virus will run its course regardless of the 'measures' that have been put in place, and are only being implemented to show that governments are 'doing everything they can to protect us'. Like flu, Covid-19 will hasten the deaths of some people, this is a normal, natural part of life. We should think ourselves lucky that we live until 70/80 rather than think we can go on forever. Crisis, there is no crisis save what the government has created.

Colin Anthony Lambert    on 19 March 2020

WILLYBEE said......What complete rubbish. The spokesperson from the PHE is an idiot. I am not a 'patient'. I am a healthy older person. Does this stupid person mean to tell me that I can't drive into the Cotswold countryside, get out of my car and go for a solitary walk. Just let him try and stop me.

HEAR HEAR! Large fine or prison before I stop doing.......

Walking dog on beach. Hardly anybody about.

Wearing latex gloves when shopping, once a week at 06.00 and buying petrol.

Never touch door handles (other than my own) always wear latex gloves on touch screens, door handles. etc, etc

Driving 40 miles to see my girlfriend.

I don't go to pubs, restaurants or ANY shopping other than food and petrol.

I am not an idiot and certainly not ready to risk dying!

I am over 70.

Edited by Colin Anthony Lambert on 19/03/2020 at 19:18

Richard Hannam    on 19 March 2020

I guess it's possible to stay in the car, have someone fill it & then pay by app. The filling station chains should be offering this.

Vivien Barber    on 19 March 2020

These 'rules' are getting barmier and barmier. As a healthy 'older person' I give myself leave to ignore anything I don't deem appropriate. So today I went to have a puncture repaired, and shall go for the car's MOT next week, And then go for a walk.

Brian Sallows    on 19 March 2020

The idea is supposed to protect the group of people who would be most seriously affected by the virus,

xaghra    on 19 March 2020

I am a extremely fit and healthy older person and have enough Intelligence to know how to keep away for the risks outside the home,.I carry my Detox wipes and wear medical disposable gloves.

I visit my supermarket early, so very few people around ,and only buy what I need each week.

I also purchased all the family birthday cards for the year and stamps as well,and I agree with Vivien most of us are wise enough to make correct decision,as we did in 1953 when there was the Asian flu was around when 2 million people died worldwide,and we did not have all this panic buying by a lot of snowflakes.

Brian Sallows    on 23 March 2020

Of course we should all use common sense.

I had a bout of Asian flu in 1958, when an undergraduate , when it was dying out; but I was only 20, then .

But now.........we have worldwide TV , to see what the effect is across the world.

I will continue to buy fuel with latex gloves and enquire if I can pay using Apple Pay.

Dave Nothard    on 19 March 2020

Using the disposable gloves should work OK at filling stations provided you are extremely careful about which side of the glove is "dirty" when you don them and remove them. I used to practice this type of technique when I worked at Sellafield years ago, using the double glove routine: Invert one glove over the other by touching only the clean side of the cuff, then taking both off so that the dirty side contacts only the other dirty side.
Complicated, time-consuming, but safe.

Polly Wilson    on 19 March 2020

I use the plastic gloves regardless to stop the fuel and dirt getting on your hands. They are not always available in the outside dispensers therefore I ask in the garage and keep some in the car.

Ronj    on 19 March 2020

Does your proof reader know which month we are in, the 16th April is a Thursday in the near future whilst the 16th March is indeed last Monday!

Polly Wilson    on 19 March 2020

I am 69 yrs old and my husband is 78 and suffers from COPD emphysema and bronchiectasis. He has to have oxygen 15 hrs every day. The only thing that he can do and enjoy is a ride out in the car. I can “officially” go out and get shopping etc. But I am terrified as is my husband of catching the virus and passing it on to him. The people that are ignoring the government’s advice of not mixing socially are putting us at even higher risk. Even if you are an older healthier person think about those that aren’t. So the person, getting the puncture mended and going for MOT, may not know they have the virus pass it on to the man in the garage who then inadvertently passes it on to all the other customers. If we’re are all sensible and thoughtful of others we will get through this!

Pendleman    on 19 March 2020

Public Health England needs the smelling salts. That is ridiculous advise. Self isolation for over 70s is to protect them from those carrying the virus, not the other way round. On that basis I think they can sensibly judge what precautions they need to take when driving. Fuelling at a self service pump is not a significant risk, but not getting out certainly is to their mental health

Robin Sanders    on 19 March 2020

Mortality rate for 70 year olds with severe coronavirus is around 8% without underlying health conditions. Remember risk is a combination of likelihood of the risk occurring and the consequences of outcome if it does occur. Even a low likelihood but a high consequence is one you should try to avoid by taking measures to minimise the likelihood - disposable gloves is the most obvious way to reduce likelihood. Petrol pump handles are touched by a large number of unknown people over a short period and thus have a significant potential for being a means of the virus passing between motorists.

peter shirley    on 19 March 2020

it is the wrong way round, over 60s know more about survival than than under 40s and at the end of this crisis it will be the younger age group who will be needing mental health checks . not the over 70s.

barryb    on 19 March 2020


This is absolute TRIPE!!!!!!!!!!!

As long as I have no symptoms I will shop at the supermarket. I will walk if the weather allows but drive if it is wet or I need a bigger shop. I will observe all of the restrictions advised, washing hands, keeping a distance etc etc. I will not put any one , including myself at risk. The consequence of catching the virus is more serious to me, a fit 83 year old, than it is to the 'general public' so please do your thing and keep away from me.

TCCisTCC    on 19 March 2020

This sounds like government advice.

The over 70s may drive their cars but are not allowed to get out again.

That should ensure they complete their isolation period.

The Blond Buffoon may not have thought this through.

allan p rhodes    on 19 March 2020

Given that not many people have the interest of people over 70,especially governments who regard them as a nuisance and oncost, (Italy - let anyone over 80 ), then this is just another way of getting at this age group. When are people going to wake up to what is going on in this country/world? Fascist with a small f at the moment. Just see how may of these Orwellian "controls" remain in place once this is over. Another dystopian novel, Brave New World, is also frighteningly too near the truth. Soma anyone ?

David Raynes    on 19 March 2020

Just nonsense, the advice on social distancing for the especially vulnerable and over 70s, envisages careful travel on public transport. Obvious really, they might need to visit a medical facility. So clearly purchasing road fuel done carefully and with precautions like hand wiping or gloves is possible.

Advice here:

John Brants    on 19 March 2020

From Australia I heartily commend your indomitable spirit! ( I am 70).

Keith Peberdy    on 19 March 2020

Do these so called recommendations apply to the elderly MP's and
I suppose the House Of Lords will be shut then due to most being in the at risk group due to age.

jchinuk    on 20 March 2020

Most of the comments miss the obvious point, no one, politician or expert, has defined an exit strategy from the current policy. In China they isolated everyone, and the infection rate declined, but as soon as the restrictions stop the infection rate will soar, the virus is still there waiting to infect.

Until there is an effective vaccine (which would need to be given to everyone?) or anti-viral drugs these restrictions need to continue.

michael davidson    on 20 March 2020

buy an electric car and charge it at home

xaghra    on 20 March 2020

Same old remarks from the well off about electric cars. Most of us do not have that amount cash nor a place to charge it anyway ie terraced a petrol/diesel car is our only alternative

Allan G Kernohan    on 20 March 2020

A spokesperson for Public Health England told “Patients that are self isolating can drive their car as long as they do not exit the vehicle.”

This is about people who have the virus symptoms or are in a household where someone has the symptoms.
It is not about people over 70 who don’t have the virus.
I suspect the PHE person has either misunderstood the guidelines or more likely has been quoted out of context.

Over 70? You can drive, go for a walk, even buy stuff - unless you or someone in your household has the virus symptoms.

The above is not my interpretation, it is in the government guidelines.

Geoffrey Brightwell    on 20 March 2020

You are correct Allan, the main thing is if you are out and about is for you and children to keep your distance from other people whether you have the virus or not because they may have it or you could be a carrier with no symtoms.

jchinuk    on 20 March 2020

Just to point out that petrol is a pretty efficient antiseptic, but don't use it instead of alcohol as it's pretty toxic all around. Nothing nasty will last very long on the handles of fuel pumps, you are more at risk tapping in your PIN on the machine inside.

I wonder how many folk tuck into their Ginster's pasty after refuelling without washing their hands...

Hot buttered toast    on 20 March 2020

If you have friends or family who are ill with Coronavirus I hope they make a full and speedy recovery. If you are well, long may it continue.

Can I suggest a communal large G&T toast of "good health" to everyone at 8pm.

Nicholas Dixey    on 22 March 2020

I love this. Aged Britons in full cry. God help snowflakes on a night like this.
As this edition of Coronavirus Top Trumps goes, my old Dad is 94 next week, is still driving, thereby putting more people in danger than any virus outside of Porton Down. As he says, "Dying is what old people are for, it's what we're supposed to do!" He will carry on going to Waitrose for not very much until he just plain can't any more. Perhaps people who have heard a V1 cut out overhead tend to have a more balanced view of life.

Penumbra    on 25 March 2020

Colin Anthony Lambert
(( Driving 40 miles to see my girlfriend.
I am not an idiot and certainly not ready to risk dying))

You Sir are an idiot. How can driving 40 miles to see your girlfriend be socially responsible. The mind boggles!

flumff    on 25 March 2020

The above comments all seem rather irrelevant now, Wed evening.

   on 23 April 2020

Afternoon, trying to answer Question for my mum.
She is my Nans key worker and wants to take her for a drive, not to get out anywhere but stay in the car. Is this allowed, if so is it layed down anywhere?
Thank you

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