What does the new lockdown mean for British motorists?

England has gone into a full national lockdown today (5 January 2021), joining Scotland and much of Europe. So what does this mean for motorists and car buyers?

Car drivers may be unsure of the restrictions affecting vehicle usage, while would-be car purchasers will be deciding whether or not to put their commitment on hold until spring, when it is said restrictions could ease if case numbers sufficiently decline. 

The government is taking drastic action to prevent social gathering and unnecessary contact, so the rules coming into place are comparable with those we saw in March 2020, and stricter than those imposed in the second lockdown two months ago. 

To that end, there are a number of new rules coming into force that dictate what you can do with your car, how you can maintain it and whether you can buy a new model. 

Here is a rundown of the measures affecting motorists across Britain.

Can I still buy a new car?

Some non-essential retailers in England have been allowed to remain open as of 0001 on 5 January, although only to operate a click-and-collect and delivery service. 

Car dealers can once again continue to offer a click-and-collect service, while operating a contactless delivery service. Showrooms, however, must close their doors, and tightened travel rules mean test drives will not be allowed to take place. 

When it comes to collecting a pre-purchased car, the dealer will have to sanitise the entire vehicle – including the keys – and will take measures such as offering walk-through videos rather than in-person demonstrations.

The rules in Scotland are similar, with that country’s lockdown forcing all non-essential businesses to close their doors, but allowing them to trade on a click-and-collect basis. 

Wales has been under a national lockdown since 19 December, and is likely to remain in this state until at least the end of January. All non-essential businesses have had to close completely, including car dealerships, but cars can still be ordered and collected. 

Can I buy a used car?

Used car dealers in England are subject to the same rules as their new car counterparts, meaning they can remain open if they trade according to a contact-free, closed-showroom model. 

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