People from different households will be able to car share under new government lockdown advice – but will have to keep the windows open and not look at each other.
Under the latest government advice, people in England who cannot work from home are being encouraged to return to work.
However, they are being urged to avoid public transport and walk, cycle or drive instead to lessen the chances of spreading the coronavirus.
Now, the Department for Transport (Dft) has now said that car sharing schemes could be an acceptable alternative in England to help reduce the strain on public transport.
What does the guidance say?
In new guidance it says that people who usually car share with members of another household should try to find an alternative method of transport – walking, cycling or using their own car – but if this is not possible they can car share but should take precautions to protect themselves from infection.
Among the key advice is keeping car sharing groups small, cleaning the car regularly and making sure there is good ventilation.
The DfT guidance says: Where people from different households need to use a vehicle at the same time, good ventilation (keeping the car windows open) and facing away from each other may help to reduce the risk of transmission.”
It also advises keeping car sharing groups to the same people each time, avoiding physical contact with them and keeping journey times as short as possible. You should also consider seating arrangements to put as large a distance as possible between passengers.
Frequent cleaning and face masks
If you are sharing a car with other people you should be aware of the surfaces you and others touch, and 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 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 anyone who has it but not displaying symptoms from spreading it to other people in the car.
Where is the guidance applicable?
All the guidance on car sharing 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.
Pressure on public transport
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.