Key workers have been told that they are not allowed to take driving lessons or tests during the current lockdown in England.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), which oversees instruction and testing across Britain has confirmed that no practical or theory tests will be taking place until December 1, including for those in crucial roles.
During the first UK-wide lockdown, a general stop was put on driving lessons and tests but an exception meant that key workers, such as those in healthcare, were still allowed to have professional lessons and could book an emergency driving test through the DVSA.
This time around, with the lockdown lasting four weeks, the DVSA has said that all lessons and tests have been stopped, with no exceptions.
📣National restrictions in England 📣
Driving tests and theory tests in England will be suspended from Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December following the new national restrictions put in place by the Government.
— Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (@DVSAgovuk) November 6, 2020
Following an initial announcement that instruction and testing was to stop from November 5 until December 2, many key workers were left questioning whether the changes applied to them. The DVSA has since confirmed that theory and practical tests will not go ahead for key workers, stating: “Given the short period of time the new restrictions will be in place, we will not be offering a critical worker priority service. We will keep this under review.”
It said that anyone, including critical workers, whose test was scheduled for the period covered by the lockdown will automatically receive a new test date.
The move has angered many learners whose tests had already been affected by the first lockdown and problems with the booking system in September.
Responding to the announcement, Tom Hixon, head of instructor support at Bill Plant Driving School, commented: “It is naturally frustrating for those key workers who did have driving lessons or tests planned that they'll have to delay being able to drive and contribute to their local community.
Given the short period of time the new restrictions will be in place, we will not be offering a critical worker priority service. We will keep this under review.
— Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (@DVSAgovuk) November 7, 2020
“During the first lockdown earlier in the year, we were proud that our driving instructors were able to teach and pass so many NHS Doctors, carers and key workers. Sadly, the DVSA has confirmed that this will not be the case during the current, hopefully short, lockdown.
“We know it’s frustrating for all who have had driving lessons and tests cancelled or paused, but thankfully four weeks will go by pretty quickly and they can soon get back behind the wheel and work towards gaining their full driving license.
“There is a current backlog both in driving lessons and tests, so the sooner we can get back to teaching the better. Passing your driving test is as vital and a pivotal life event as it has ever been!"