Is car sharing allowed under lockdown?
Since Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced changes to the lockdown restrictions in England many people have been preparing to return to work.
The PM has said that those who can work from home should continue to do so but he also urged those who cannot work from home to return to work.
In his speech on Sunday, May 10 and in government guidance issued since then people in England have been told to avoid using public transport if at all possible and encouraged to walk, cycle or use the car to get to work.
For people who own their own car it makes things fairly simple but for colleagues who usually car share with others it leaves a question of whether they can start doing so. Now the Department of Transport has issued guidance for those worried about car sharing during lockdown.
Can I car share?
According to the latest DfT guidance if you usually car share with someone from outwith your household you should try to find a different way to travel that minimises social contact. That could be using your own vehicle by yourself, walking or cycling.
However, it says that if this is not possible you are permitted to share a car with members of other households as long as you take steps to minimise the risk of infection.
This guidance only applies to England. In Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, restrictions mean you should still only travel for essential purposes such as to collect shopping or for medical reasons.
What precautions should I take?
If you are car sharing with a member of another household the DfT has suggested a series of steps you should take to lessen the risk of transmitting the coronavirus.
It recommends sharing with the same people each time and keeping to small groups.
You should ensure there is good ventilation, ideally by opening the car windows, keep journey times as short as possible and avoid physical contact between you and other passengers.
The guidance also suggests you try to face away from any other passengers and consider seating arrangements to put as large a distance as possible between each passenger.
You should be aware of the surfaces you or others touch. If people from different households use a vehicle, you should clean it between journeys using gloves and standard cleaning products. Make sure you clean door handles, steering wheel and other areas that people may touch.
The DfT guidance also says that wearing a face mask could be “marginally beneficial”. It emphasises that the masks will not protect an individual from catching the virus but could prevent them spreading it to other people in the car.
Easing public transport pressure
The DfT document comes as millions of people in England begin to return to work but public transport such as buses and trains are limited to 10 per cent of capacity to maintain social distance.
To help lessen the pressure on public transport the DfT has said commuters should consider all other forms of transport ahead of public transport. It has also recommended those using buses and trains should consider travelling at off-peak times, using quieter routes and said they should avoid physical contact, face away from other passengers and touch as few surfaces as possible.