Coronavirus: Government relaxes COVID-19 driving rules

Published 11 May 2020

Millions of drivers have been given the green light to use their cars again after the Government began easing coronavirus lockdown rules in England.

From 13 May, drivers will be allowed to use their cars to visit outdoor public spaces without any limitation on distance. However, while the new rules will allow millions of cars on to England's roads, drivers have been urged to plan their trips carefully to ensure public spaces, like national parks, are open and prepared for visitors.

>>> How to get your car back on the road post-lockdown

The guidance has been published as part of the Government's new Staying Alert and Safe rules. The guidance applies to people in England only, with separate rules and legislation in place for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Car owners have also been given the green light to use their cars for commuting in England, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging the public to return to work (if they are unable to work from home) and avoid public transport.

From 13 May, the Government will also allow garden centres and some outdoor sports facilities in England – such as tennis courts, golf courses and bowling greens – to open, but people should use these alone or with members of their household while keeping two metres apart at all times.

What do the new COVID-19 rules mean for me? 

If you are fit, healthy and under the age of 70 you will be allowed to drive to work or use your car to visit open public spaces from 13 May. The rules affect drivers in England only, with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland continuing their respective 'stay at home' lockdowns.  

Can I share my car with someone else? 

Only if they live in your household. You should not share your car with anyone who lives outside your home.

Can I take my car out for a day trip?

Yes, from 13 May drivers in England are permitted to use their cars for day trips to public spaces. However, it's prohibited to stay or visit another home for a holiday or any other purposes.

Has the Government eased social distancing advice? 

No, the advice is to keep two metres apart from anyone who is not part of your household. The Government also told the public to wear face masks when in enclosed spaces that do not allow the permitted distancing of two metres, such as shops or supermarkets. 

What do the new rules mean for the over-70s? 

If you are over 70 or classed as clinically vulnerable to COVID-19 then you are advised to stay at home as much as possible and only go out for essential journeys to buy food or medicine. Likewise, people with serious underlying health conditions who are clinically extremely vulnerable are advised to stay at home and rely on friends and family for basic essentials. 

How long will this guidance be in place for?

The Government has said the measures set out will be kept under review and formally revisited on 31 May.

How will the police enforce these rules? 

If the police believe that you have broken the law then an officer may issue you with a fixed penalty notice of £100 (reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days), an increase of £40 from the previous £60 fixed penalty amount. If you have already received a fixed penalty notice, the levels of fine for further offences can increase to a maximum of £3200.


hissingsid    on 11 May 2020

So the over 70's are still advised, but not compelled, to continue to stay at home as much as possible. This is a manifestly unfair generalisation, and could be construed as age discrimination. Many over 70's are fitter and healthier than overweight smokers in their 40's and 50's.

terryw    on 11 May 2020

hissingsid: I couldn't agree more. I am well past 70 and intend to go and play golf on Wednesday at my club which is 10-15 minutes drive away. I shall be very annoyed if interrogated by the police as it's golf that has meant that I am fitter than most 50-somethings!

nomdeplume    on 11 May 2020

10-15 minute drive away? Is that with an iron or a wood? ;@)

jchinuk    on 12 May 2020

I shouldn't worry, the police will be too busy managing the queues at garden centres on Wednesday!

AQ    on 11 May 2020

If the over 70's are considered sufficiently fit or safe to drive out to do the shopping, then why should this change if wanting to drive out for other reasons ?

   on 11 May 2020

So far this completely Unfair to the over Seventy, Especially if the over 70 Are very fit and well,
They should have same rules to the other population in England,
As Want to get back to my part Time work, Which very Necessary. To my Financial. Income,
As Iam struggling , As Iam not getting any help want some ever. So I just need to get back to
Earn some money.

Nick Bishop    on 11 May 2020

The police can fine you if you’ve broken the law...but staying at home for the over 70s is only advice.

Gordon Sewell    on 11 May 2020

As I live in the Lake District we will be inundated by people from 100 miles away invading and putting at risk our aging population. 100 people were fined over the weekend for non essential travel, Boris has opened the flood gates.

VINCENT MILLARD    on 12 May 2020

As I live in the Lake District we will be inundated by people from 100 miles away invading and putting at risk our aging population. 100 people were fined over the weekend for non essential travel, Boris has opened the flood gates.

I absolutely agree! We live in EK and have already had all sorts of strangers through, we have one of the largest Aging populations in the UK!

Mind you with 50 MPH Northerly winds coming off the North Sea, I can't see many folks wanting to go to the Seaside!

Flak-Magnet    on 11 May 2020

Your age puts you in the category where 15% die of C19 no questions asked. Basically that's the same probably you have with a loaded revolver playing Russian Roulette, a 1 in 6 chance of the chamber being loaded. If you've always fancied your odds at beating Russia Roulette go ahead and mix freely. If not, stay inside until this thing has passed.

Edited by Avant on 12/05/2020 at 11:57

edward1    on 11 May 2020

What do you mean by "passed". Do you mean when we have all been vaccinated against it or have caught it, survived and hopefully developed a lasting immunity?

Corona virus is not like a big black cloud that will float away over the horizon and leave us safe. It could well be here to stay and could even mutate into something else as viruses are capable of doing!


jchinuk    on 12 May 2020

There are 12 strains already identified in the UK, it has mutated.

The argument that Over 70s are "at risk" is spurious, the BAME community has a far higher chance of dying through Covid-19, yet I can't see the Government tell that minority to stay at home!

Edited by jchinuk on 12/05/2020 at 08:07

VINCENT MILLARD    on 12 May 2020

There are 12 strains already identified in the UK, it has mutated.

The argument that Over 70s are "at risk" is spurious, the BAME community has a far higher chance of dying through Covid-19, yet I can't see the Government tell that minority to stay at home!

The main reason for the BAME being at most risk is that They are our ANGELS and on the front line! If you look at the occupations of the deceased they were nearly all Working and on the front Line. Looking after US in one way or another.

Stay Safe and keep our ANGELS Safe!

rpjjuk    on 11 May 2020

Does this mean that I can't go shopping as I am over 70? This is the only means I have to get around and do shopping for my wife.

jchinuk    on 12 May 2020

No it does not, if I understand "Boris-speak".

Malcolm Duff    on 11 May 2020

Wait until you are over 70 and if there is a similar lockdown,maybe then you won,t have this selfish holier than thou attitude

Phobie's Dad    on 11 May 2020

I think many people are over looking the fact that these lockdown restrictions are not only in place to protect yourself but also to reduce spread of the virus to others, especially when you may have contracted Covid 19 and may not be showing symptoms.

MJJ    on 11 May 2020

so Flax-Magnet wants to discriminated against the fit and healthy 70+ fortunately the Govt rightly disagrees with him which is why it is only advice Why is then that young ultra fit people have died. If you keep to the rules you will be safe,break them and you will suffer the consequences of course that is your prerogative,just don't pass the virus on

Edited by MJJ on 11/05/2020 at 21:28

c Reed    on 11 May 2020

Once upon a time, the phase "old Age" was used to indicate a person had a certain number of years.

Now the phase "old Age" is being used to catagorise everybody over a certain number of years is an old crock on his or her last legs and should be locked up (I mean placed in protective custody)

This to deny the freedom that many of us oldies have actually fought for. The measure is designed to save the political agenda that surrounds the NHS.

Yes, we should protect the NHS, from the politicians. b***** disgraceful.

   on 11 May 2020


paul mack    on 11 May 2020

Well, what a surprise that we have the ‘old’ chestnut raising its ugly head that the over 70’s should stay indoors Flax-Magnet?

Your analogy to C-19 and Russian Roulette is laughable and similar to the trouser dropping ‘Expert’ who’s track record is to say the least unbelievable, also Flax-Magnet, there is FACTUAL evidence of the Ethnic origin having suffered AND are MORE at risk than dare I say the ‘over 70’s.

And finally, the ‘stats’ also say that MEN in general are more likely to contract the disease!

So, maybe you need to join us over 70’s and keep everyone safe.

The more important point here is to ensure we all come out of this safe and well and are able to enjoy living no matter who you are.

James Banks    on 11 May 2020

This is the exact wording from web site. It does not say anywhere that over 70's are advised not to drive any distance, merely that they should take 'particular care'. ....................................... It remains the case that some people are more clinically vulnerable to COVID-19 than others. These include those aged over 70, those with specific chronic pre-existing conditions and pregnant women.26 These clinically vulnerable people should continue to take particular care to minimise contact with others outside their households, but do not need to be shielded. .......................................... As a 72 year old, moderate drinker who has never smoked, is not overweight, has no underlying health conditions and until the lockdown was still playing squash 3 times a week I think I am sensible enough to take 'particular care'.

Edited by James Banks on 11/05/2020 at 22:42

   on 12 May 2020

What about if your under 70 and have underlying health conditions but not in the catergry of extremly vunerable ?

smitham    on 12 May 2020

Ridiculous!!!!!!!!!!!I am 74 and regularly cycle 150 mls per week in the Lake District where I live, even over the moiuntain passes. How many 20 year olds do this. I also have a full gym set up in spare room at home which I use when the weather is too bad to get out. The BIGGEST RISK is the stupid rule that people can now come to the National Park, which is experiencing one of the highest rates of infection of Covid 19 in the country but we do not have the medical facilities that other parts of the country have.



G. Eddon    on 12 May 2020

The virus is still here and is still spreading. Other countries locked down before the UK. Despite that, as they eased their lockdown, their infection rates increased. The same will happen here. We will have the second wave of infected people.

We know that no matter what your age, you can catch it. We have seen that you either survive and recover fully, survive but are left with other longer term medical complications, or die.

Being locked down has at least given us time to learn how it spreads, so we now know how to protect ourselves

Obviously the more you go out, the more you risk catching it and spreading it. We know the virus can survive on most surfaces and you can catch it from any contaminated thing you touch. That includes petrol pumps when you fuel your car. It can even be brought home on your clothes and on the soles of shoes.

As more people go outside and go back to work, we will certainly need to be alert. Be very alert!

Edited by G. Eddon on 12/05/2020 at 09:58

   on 12 May 2020

I am 72 and fitter and healthier than my friends who are younger I take no medication ,out of the closest ones who are 65 and younger 2 have diebeties one has health problems two have husbands with cancer can you tell me who should be staying in the most me or them ?

conman    on 12 May 2020

over 70's are being put at risk by the government by refusing to renew their driving licences or renewing if you have had one suspended for medical reasons Because you are not a priority on the DVLA's list. These are just the people we want to protect and are having to travel unnecessarily on public transport, the government has said don't use public transport if possible. I encourage anyone in this position to contact your MP. if this affects you or a member of your family.

Edited by conman on 12/05/2020 at 12:34

Mr Nexus    on 12 May 2020

Just go out an enjoy your lives. If you are more at risk over 70, then surely you'd want to do the things you want to do rather than wait at home worrying about catching the virus. Let's face it, our lives are finite whatever our age. For me, I don't like tourist spots, but I do like motorcycling. I'll be riding wherever I can, not coming into contact with anyone and, when getting petrol, I'll have shades and a balaclava on anyway. By the way, I've had the virus and am just getting back on my feet after six weeks - I'm reasonably fit and middle aged with a bit of an underlying medical condition. My advice, just be careful and sensible when enjoying yourself. Paranoia and worry will only screw you up more than the lockdown.

Corporate Gypsy    on 12 May 2020

According to an article on the BBC website today...."Sunday's announcement of how lockdown rules could be relaxed in the coming months in England from Prime Minister Boris Johnson did not distinguish between different age groups." this is in stark contradiction to the headline shown on Honest John. Unless he knows something the BBC and the Government doesn't, I think it best to stay with what he knows best, motoring topics.

paul mack    on 13 May 2020

100% agree with comments from Corporate Gypsy re ‘Headlines’
There is more than enough daily fear factor articles in the media without HJ adding to the fire.

I joined HJ for all things Cars, nothing else.

aethelwulf    on 13 May 2020

Too many experts with so little knowledge seems to sum up the whole situation.So in that case we use our common sense which as has enabled me ti survive to almost 73 years old driving cars , motorcycles , swimming and sail boats and yachts.

JOHN STORRY    on 19 May 2020

Two quotations that i think are apt at this time of turmoil.

"Better to die on your feet that live on your knees" and

"Rules are made for the guidance of wise men and fools to follow"

They shall certainly influence my behaviour regarding lockdown while still mindful of my responsibilities to others. I am just turning 80.

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