Coronavirus: Driving lessons to resume in England from 4 July

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image source, PA Media

Driving lessons are to resume in England from 4 July, House of Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg has announced.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency will write to driving instructors later setting out plans to restart driving tests and resume lessons safely.

Mr Rees-Mogg said he wanted to help instructors "return to life that is as close to normal as possible, as quickly and fairly as possible".

There will be a "phased approach to resuming practical testing", he added.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will set their own rules for the return of driving lessons and tests.

When asked what advice will be given to instructors on resuming work safely, the DVSA told the BBC that "more details will be provided in due course".

Speaking at Business Questions in the Commons, Mr Rees-Mogg said: "From the 4 July I am happy to say that people will be able to take driving lessons on a motorcycle, or in a car, lorry or bus and there will be a phased approach to resuming practical testing so learners have the opportunity to practice before taking a test."

He added the industry should return "in a way that avoids a second peak in infections".

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps later added: "Driving lessons and tests are vital in helping people get to work and visit loved ones, and provide the skills for a lifetime of safe driving.

"As the country recovers from Covid-19, we can now open up our services to help get the country moving again."

How will driving lessons work with social distancing?

AA Driving School, which also runs the British School of Motoring, said it was advising instructors that they should "thoroughly" clean vehicles before and after each lesson, "paying particular attention to areas of the car that are touch points, such as door handles." Other measures for instructors include:

  • Wearing clothes that cover arms and legs
  • Wearing face coverings and disposable gloves (to be changed after each lesson)
  • Keeping windows down throughout the lesson

Pupils will also be asked to wash their hands before each lesson and wear a face covering.

The AA said it considered the use of plastic screens, like in taxis, but said it was "imperative" that instructors could reach the steering wheel in an emergency, which was not possible with a screen.

Sarah Rees, managing director of AA Driving School, said the decision was a "welcome relief for the thousands of people in England" wanting to learn to drive, and the beginning of the end of "an incredibly challenging time" for instructors.

She added, however, that instructors in other parts of the UK - where a return date was yet to be set - were "being left in limbo".

'Long overdue'

Graham Quail, 52, owner of Quail's School of Motoring in Wirral, said the move was "fantastic news" and "long overdue", adding that the lockdown period had been "hard" for staff.

The driving school, which employs 17 instructors providing lessons in Wirral and the surrounding areas including North Wales and Liverpool, was effectively forced to close during lockdown - bar teaching a few key worker students who needed to take a test for their jobs.

Mr Quail said the school has had systems to curb the spread of coronavirus in place "since before lockdown" - such as cleaning vehicles before and after lessons, and providing face masks and gloves for instructors and students.

But it is now "eagerly awaiting" official guidance from the DVLA for resuming lessons.

image source, Quail's School of Motoring
image captionGraham Quail said students and instructors will be asked to let the driving school know if they feel unwell ahead of a lesson

"We're looking forward to restarting," said Mr Quail. "We're going to make sure that all our students are kept safe and hopefully get people driving again."

He added that resuming lessons would also help those looking for work amid the coronavirus crisis. "A lot of our students come to us because it's necessary for a job so I hope it will help kickstart this for them," he said.

Driving lessons and tests have been suspended since March. However, there have been exceptions, with some key workers being offered both lessons and the opportunity to apply to the DVSA for an emergency test.

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