Following the latest announcement from the UK Government, driving lessons (which had been suspended since 23rd March) will continue to be suspended for at least the next three weeks (until mid May).
The principle guidance for everyone has been to stay at home and, if it is essential to leave home, to maintain social distancing (of 2 metres) from people not in your household. As driving lessons are not essential and cannot be performed with a distance of 2 metres between people in a car, driving lessons cannot take place (although there are exceptions for key workers, especially NHS staff). It is important to note that practising your driving skills (e.g. with a parent) is NOT permitted at this time. Although you can be within 2 metres of a member of your household (as long as neither or you are showing symptoms of the coronavirus), driving lessons are considered a non essential activity outside the home (and, in the event of a car breakdown or accident, can divert emergency services away from more critical activity). The Police are likely to stop any car displaying L Plates (I’ve already read about one such incident on the BBC News website and another on the Browtowe Police Twitter page).
When restrictions are lifted, it is likely to be done so gradually and will probably still include some form of social distancing. Due to the confined space and recycled air within a car, it is impossible for two people to be 2 metres apart during a driving lesson. Given this, it could be that driving lessons will remain suspended for even longer (possibly at some point between June and September). Please note that, while DVSA has suspended practical driving tests until mid June, this may be extended.
It is really important to recognise that the coronavirus (Covid-19) will not suddenly disappear, so the risk of catching the virus will still remain (until a vaccine is available). With that in mind, when driving lessons do eventually resume, I will continue with and strengthen some of the mitigating actions that were introduced by myself, at the end of February, such as:-
1. Avoiding lessons while the learner or instructor is displaying ANY symptoms of ANY virus (however minor)
2. Continuing a routine of washing hands immediately before and after lessons
3. Disinfecting controls in the car between lessons (with a deep clean of the car’s interior at the end of the day)
4. Reviewing the timing of my lesson slots (to spread out lessons a little, to provide me with a little more time between lessons to enable the extra cleaning activity)
5. Looking towards the windscreen when talking to each other (rather than facing each other)
6. Keeping windows open during lessons (to reduce breathing in recycled air)
7. Considering the use of face masks (there is still an international debate about the pros and cons of using masks)