• COVID-19 Restrictions – FAQs

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    COVID-19 Restrictions – Frequently Asked Questions

    Last updated 05 November 2020

    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 new lockdown?”

    When it comes to transport, the England wide lockdown beginning on 05 November will be similar to the previous national lockdown in March, so the requirements for you, and the safeguards you need to put in place are likely to feel familiar to you.

    For example, essential journeys are still permitted and an explanation of reasons for taking an essential journey can be found in section 11 of the new guidance. Any journeys that you run must be done safely and in-line with wider guidance so it’s important you feel that you have all of the relevant control measures in place before you operate a journey. You can find CTA’s advice on running your services here.

    You can of course run many of the new services you may have undertaken during the first national lock-down in March including safely delivering food and prescriptions, as well as keeping in touch with passengers over the phone.

    • “I operate a volunteer car scheme. We stopped operating during the first national lock-down but have since re-started. Did other car schemes keep running through the last lock-down, and are we still able to operate services?”

    Many car schemes have been in a position where they had to pause their operations during the first national lock-down for many reasons, including having volunteer drivers who are at higher risk. However, during the first lock-down, some car schemes were able to carry on operating – taking passengers to essential medical appointments as well as completing food and prescription deliveries.

    Under the new lock-down measures from 05 November the guidance states that people can and should still take journeys for a number of essential reasons which can be found in section 11 of the new guidance.

    The guidance also discusses car sharing (which is the closest guidance there is for voluntary car schemes) and states:

    “It is difficult to socially distance during car journeys. You should avoid sharing a car with someone from outside your household or your support bubble unless you can practice social distancing. You can reduce the risk of transmission by:

      • 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”

    With all of the relevant risk assessments and control measures in place, as it stands essential journeys would still be allowed to operate during the coming lockdown.

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

    • “What is the UK Government’s guidance on shielding during the new national lockdown in England?”

    The latest guidance from the UK Government requires shielding for those who are classed as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’. Any passengers who are deemed clinically extremely vulnerable should have received a letter informing them of the need to stay home and to avoid all non-essential travel. This includes not going shopping or visiting pharmacies. You can still support these passengers by maintaining contact for their emotional wellbeing, and offering food and prescription deliveries where possible. You are also still able to offer transport for essential medical appointments provided that you have the relevant risk management procedures in place.

    The UK Government’s full guidance on shielding for those who are clinically extremely vulnerable can be found here.

    Other instances in which any passenger should not use your services include if they:

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    FAQs for Scotland

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

    On Monday 02 November, Scotland’s tiered coronavirus response system came into effect with five tiers denoting different levels of restrictions. 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:

        • Travel for work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, but only where that cannot be done from your home
        • Travel to school, college, or university where teaching is not provided remotely
        • To and from Level 3 areas but not Level 4 – travel for under 18s sport
        • Travel for essential shopping only where it is not possible in your local authority area – you should use on-line shopping or shops, banks and other services in your local area wherever you can
        • Travel for healthcare, childcare and other essential services, including recycling, but only if they are not available in your local area
        • Travel to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person
        • Travel for shared parenting or travel between the two parts of an extended household
        • Travel to meet a legal obligation, including attending court or satisfying bail conditions, or to participate in legal proceedings
        • Travel for essential animal welfare reasons, such as feeding a horse or going to a vet
        • Local outdoor informal exercise such as walking, cycling, golf, or running (in groups of up to 6 people from no more than 2 households) that starts and finishes at the same place
        • Travel locally (within around 5 miles of your local authority area) to reach a place to take exercise outdoors
        • Travel for weddings, civil partnership registrations, funerals and other “life events” (such as bar mitzvahs and christenings)
        • If you are a minister of religion or worship leader travel to your place of worship
        • To or from Level 3 areas, but not Level 4 – travel to your normal place of worship
        • Travel to give blood at a Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service collection session
        • Travel to transit through Level 3 and 4 areas by road or public transport if your journey begins and ends outside such an area
        • Travel to move house
        • Travel to avoid injury, illness or to escape a risk of harm.
    • “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 now the firebreak lockdown has ended?”

    The firebreak lockdown  in Wales ended on Monday 09 November and new guidance from the Welsh Government is now in place.

    The current guidance on transport for operators in Wales states:

    “There are no travel restrictions in place within Wales. However, we are asking everyone to think carefully about the journeys they take and the people they meet. We should all think carefully about where we go and who we meet because the more places we go and the more people we meet, the greater the chances there are of catching coronavirus. In particular it is also sensible to avoid travelling to and from areas with a higher incidence rate if you can.”

    More information can be found in the Welsh Government’s guidance for transport operators here.

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    FAQs for Northern Ireland

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

    On 16 October, 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.

    The regulations do specify, however, that individuals are able to travel “for recreational purposes to outdoor open spaces such as parks, forest parks and visitor attraction” and that “town centres remain open for business.”

    You can find more information on the restrictions here.

    • “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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