• COVID-19 Restrictions – FAQs

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    COVID-19 Restrictions – Frequently Asked Questions

    Last updated 06 January

    Guidance from the UK Government, Scottish Government, Northern Ireland Executive and Welsh Government is no longer consistent. With lockdowns and different tiers of restrictions in place across the UK, each operator should ascertain if a journey is permissible in their local area.

    You can quickly find the latest information for each nation, as well as our in-depth guidance on running your services safely, on our main guidance page here.

    This page contains some frequently asked questions about what current restrictions mean for members in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. You can click the links below to jump to the country you’re operating in.

    Once you’ve taken a look at the rules and guidance in your area, you can click here for CTA’s advice on what to consider when running any services in the current environment.


    FAQs for England

    • “What services can I operate under the current restrictions?”

    The guidance states that “you must not leave your home unless you have a reasonable excuse. The list of reasons you can leave your home and area include, but are not limited to: 

      • work, where you cannot reasonably work from home 
      • accessing education and for caring responsibilities 
      • visiting those in your support bubble – or your childcare bubble for childcare 
      • visiting hospital, GP and other medical appointments or visits where you have had an accident or are concerned about your health 
      • buying goods or services that you need, but this should be within your local area wherever possible 
      • outdoor exercise. This should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel a short distance within your area to do so if necessary (for example, to access an open space) 
      • attending the care and exercise of an animal, or veterinary services”

    For more information on what a ‘reasonable excuse’ includes click here.

    This means that you are still able run journeys taking people to essential services such as hospital, GP and other medical appointments and to buy goods or services from premises that are open, including essential retail.  

    You can, of course, also continue to run services you may have started to operate this year including delivery of food and prescriptions. You can find the UK Government’s transport guidance for operators here.

    Guidance also states that “if you need to travel you should stay local – meaning avoiding travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live – and look to reduce the number of journeys you make overall.” 

    Always make sure your journeys are safe and COVID secure and that any trips you run adhere to the guidance. 

    • “I operate a volunteer car scheme – are we still able to operate services?”

    The current guidance from the UK Government on car sharing, which is the closest guidance there is for voluntary car schemes, states that “it is against the law to leave your home to travel unless for work, education or other legally permitted reasons”.  

    Car sharing is not permitted with someone from outside your household or your support bubble unless you’ve got a ‘reasonable excuse’ to undertake that journey. For more information on what a ‘reasonable excuse’ includes click here.

    This means that you are still able run journeys taking people to essential services such as hospital, GP and other medical appointments and to buy goods or services from premises that are open, including essential retail.  

    You can, of course, also continue to run services you may have started to operate this year including delivery of food and prescriptions. You can find the UK Government’s guidance on car sharing here.

    When operating car sharing journeys, you must make sure that you adhere to the guidance, which states that:  

    “It is difficult to socially distance during car journeys. Where it is essential to car share, you can reduce the risk of transmission by: 

      • sharing the transport with the same people each time 
      • minimising the group size at any one time 
      • opening windows for ventilation 
      • travelling side by side or behind other people, rather than facing them, where seating arrangements allow 
      • facing away from each other 
      • considering seating arrangements to maximise distance between people in the vehicle 
      • cleaning your car between journeys using standard cleaning products – make sure you clean door handles and other areas that people may touch 
      • asking the driver and passengers to wear a face covering” 
    • “What is the UK Government’s guidance on shielding during the new national lockdown in England?”

    Under the reintroduction of the national lockdown, there is still extra guidance in place for those who are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable. Government advises the clinically extremely vulnerable to begin shielding again, and letters have been/will be sent to individuals with advice on what this means for them. 

    You can find the Governments’ advice for staying safe if you are clinically extremely vulnerable here.

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    FAQs for Scotland

    • “How does the current tier system in Scotland affect our ability to run services?”

    From 05 January, mainland Scotland will move from level 4 to a temporary lockdown, with new guidance to stay at home except for essential purposes. Some islands will remain at level 3. You can find the Scottish Government’s main coronavirus guidance page here and information on how the tiers apply to transport operators here.

    Tiers 3 and 4 have the strictest limits on transport, particularly on journeys entering different localities. For all intents and purposes, whichever tier you are in, you should continue to offer the safest service possible.  This means maintaining an appropriate distance in the vehicle and shared work spaces, operating enhanced cleaning procedures and having sensitive conversations with staff, passengers and volunteers about their safety accessing the service. 

    As part of their guidance, the Scottish Government have issued a list of exemptions for tiers 3 and 4 where individuals are able to make essential journeys, but they stress these are not to be used as loopholes. The exemptions are: 

    Exceptions for travel from home (Mainland Scotland and certain islands) (Level 4 areas with Stay At Home restrictions in place)

      •  travel for work or an activity associated with seeking employment, or to provide voluntary or charitable services, but only where that cannot be done from your home.
      • travel to school – when not being undertaken remotely – (including travel to or from boarding school), college, or university (for example to or from home at the start or end of term). This includes travel for home education, training, school day trips or for other essential purposes connected with a course of study.
      • travel for essential shopping, including essential shopping for a vulnerable person. However, you should use online shopping or shops, banks and other services wherever you can and within your local authority if possible.  
      • travel for healthcare, including: audiology; chiropody; chiropractic; dental; ophthalmic; and osteopathic services; services relating to mental health; and testing and vaccination services. 
      • travel for childcare or parental support services 
      • travel for essential services, including:
        • social care 
        • accessing day care centres 
        • services provided by the Department for Work and Pensions 
        • services provided to victims (including victims of crime) 
        • asylum and immigration services and interviews 
        • services of a charitable or voluntary nature such as food banks 
        • waste disposal or recycling services, and again within your local authority area unless such services are not available there. 
      • travel to provide care, assistance, support to or respite for a vulnerable person. 
      • travel to participate in or facilitate shared parenting or between two parts of an extended household. 
      • travel to meet a legal obligation including satisfying bail conditions, to participate in legal proceedings, to comply with a court mandate in terms of sentence imposed or to register a birth. 
      • travel for attendance at court including a remote jury centre, an inquiry, a children’s hearing, tribunal proceedings or to resolve a dispute via Alternative Dispute Resolution. 
      • travel for essential animal welfare reasons, such as exercising or feeding a horse or going to a vet. 
      • local outdoor informal exercise such as walking, cycling, golf, or running (in groups of up to 2 people, plus any children under 12, from no more than 2 households) that starts and finishes at the same place (which can be up to 5 miles from the boundary of your local authority area).  The number of periods of exercise are not limited. 
      • travel to attend a marriage ceremony or registration of a civil partnership. 
      • travel for gatherings related to funerals or for compassionate reasons which relate to the end of a person’s life. This includes the scattering of ashes, but not post-funeral events, such as wakes. 
      • if you are a minister of religion or worship leader, travel for the purposes of leading an act of worship. 
      • travel to donate blood. 
      • travel to transit through a Level 3 or 4 local authority area by road or public transport if your journey begins and ends outside such an area. 
      • travel in connection with moving home (including viewing a property), or for activities in connection with the maintenance, purchase, sale, letting, or rental of residential property that the person owns or is otherwise responsible for.  Travelling for the purposes of undertaking maintenance on a property other than your main residence should not be used as a pretext for a holiday.  You should not stay longer than for the length of time required to undertake the necessary work. 
      • travel to avoid injury, illness or to escape a risk of harm, or support someone that is doing so. 
      • for those involved in professional sports, travelling to training or competing in an event. 
      • to visit a person receiving treatment in a hospital, staying in a hospice or care home, or to accompany a person to a medical appointment. 
      • travel to register or vote in an Scottish or UK Parliament, Local Government or overseas election or by-election, including on behalf of someone else by proxy. 
      • travel to visit a person detained in prison, young offenders institute, remand centre, secure accommodation or other place of detention. 
      • travel to facilitate the formation of an end of term household, where either or both of the student or the other household which will make up the end of term household live out with the same area. 

    Exceptions for travel out of or to Level 3 (islands): 

      • travel for work or an activity associated with seeking employment, or to provide voluntary or charitable services, but only where that cannot be done from your home. 
      • travel to school – when not being undertaken remotely – (including travel to or from boarding school), college, or university (for example to or from home at the start or end of term).  This includes travel for home education, training, school day trips or for other essential purposes connected with a course of study. 
      • Travel for under 18s organised activities and sport. 
      • travel for essential shopping, including essential shopping for a vulnerable person. However, you should use online shopping or shops, banks and other services in your local authority area wherever you can.  
      • travel for healthcare, including: audiology; chiropody; chiropractic; dental; ophthalmic; and osteopathic services; services relating to mental health; and testing and vaccination services. 
      • travel for childcare or parental support services. 
      • travel for essential services, including: 
        • social care 
        • accessing day care centres 
        • services provided by the Department for Work and Pensions 
        • services provided to victims (including victims of crime) 
        • asylum and immigration services and interviews 
        • services of a charitable or voluntary nature such as food banks 
        • waste disposal or recycling services, when services are not available in your local authority area. 
      • travel to provide care, assistance, support to or respite for a vulnerable person. 
      • travel to participate in or facilitate shared parenting or between two parts of an extended household. 
      • travel to meet a legal obligation including satisfying bail conditions, to participate in legal proceedings, to comply with a court mandate in terms of sentence imposed or to register a birth. 
      • travel for attendance at court including a remote jury centre, an inquiry, a children’s hearing, tribunal proceedings or to resolve a dispute via Alternative Dispute Resolution. 
      • travel for essential animal welfare reasons, such as exercising or feeding a horse or going to a vet. 
      • local outdoor informal exercise such as walking, cycling, golf, or running (in groups of up to 2 people, plus any children under 12, from no more than 2 households) that starts and finishes at the same place (which can be up to 5 miles from the boundary of your local authority area).  The number of periods of exercise are not limited. 
      • travel to attend a gathering which relates to a marriage ceremony or civil partnership registration. 
      • travel for gatherings related to funerals or for compassionate reasons which relate to the end of a person’s life. This includes the scattering of ashes, as well as post-funeral events, such as wakes. 
      • if you are a minister of religion or worship leader, travel for the purposes of leading an act of worship. 
      • travel to attend your normal place of worship. 
      • travel to donate blood. 
      • travel to transit through a Level 3 or 4 local authority area by road or public transport if your journey begins and ends outside such an area. 
      • travel in connection with moving home (including viewing a property), or for activities in connection with the maintenance, purchase, sale, letting, or rental of residential property that the person owns or is otherwise responsible for.  Travelling for the purposes of undertaking maintenance on a property other than your main residence should not be used as a pretext for a holiday.  You should not stay longer than for the length of time required to undertake the necessary work. 
      • travel to avoid injury, illness or to escape a risk of harm, or support someone that is doing so. 
      • for those involved in professional sports, travelling to training or competing in an event. 
      • to visit a person receiving treatment in a hospital, staying in a hospice or care home, or to accompany a person to a medical appointment. 
      • travel to register or vote in an Scottish or UK Parliament, Local Government or overseas election or by-election, including on behalf of someone else by proxy. 
      • travel to visit a person detained in prison, young offenders institute, remand centre, secure accommodation or other place of detention. 
      • travel to or from a level 3 area or the purposes of driving lessons or taking a driving test. 
    • “I run a community car scheme – are there extra restrictions on our services?”

    Yes, the most prohibitive regulations relate to sharing cars, as this has been recognised as a factor in the spread of the virus in Scotland. If you are in a tier 3 or tier 4 area, you must follow the transport guidance for those areas as detailed above. However, the guidance for car sharing applies to people in all five tiers. The guidance states that: 

    You should avoid sharing a vehicle with people who are not members of your household or extended household as much as possible.  If you have no other option, you should: 

      • Keep to small groups of people up to 6 at any one time 
      • Keep your distance and take care entering and exiting the vehicle 
      • Sit as far apart as possible in the vehicle, avoiding face-to-face 
      • Maintain good ventilation by keeping the car windows open 
      • Wear a face covering, unless you are exempt 
      • Clean your hands before and after your journey 
      • If the vehicle is your responsibility, clean the door handles and other areas that people touch 
      • If you regularly share transport whether it is a car or minibus or other private vehicle, try and share with the same people each time. 

    You can find CTA’s advice on operating community car schemes safely here.

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    FAQs for Wales

    • “What services can I operate under the current restrictions?

    On 19 December, further restrictions were announced, bringing forward the planned “tighter restrictions on household mixing, staying-at-home, holiday accommodation and travel”.

    This means that people should not travel “unless [they have a] reasonable excuse.” For more information on what a ‘reasonable excuse’ includes click here.

    You can find the Welsh Government’s guidance for operating public transport here. 

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    FAQs for Northern Ireland

    • “What services can I operate under the current measures in Northern Ireland?”

    On 26 December, additional measures were introduced in Northern Ireland. The current regulations state that you should avoid all unnecessary travel. You can find the Northern Ireland Executive’s coronavirus guidance here and details of the restrictions here.

    Deciding what is necessary is something you should talk with your passengers about, and consider options for bringing what they need to them, like food or prescription drop offs.

    • “What will happen after the current measures are due to end?”

    At CTA, we don’t know what action will follow the current measures, but we’re committed to supporting our members during the pandemic and will update this website as changes emerge.

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