Motorists worried about getting an MOT because of the coronavirus crisis, have been handed a six-month reprieve.
The government has granted car owners a six-month exemption from MOT testing.
However, it won’t come in until Monday 30 March which means vehicles due an MOT before then must still take it.
The exemption “will enable vital services such as deliveries to continue, frontline workers to get to work, and people get essential food and medicine,” the government said.
The exemption will apply to cars, motorcycles and vans, but the government warned that vehicles must be kept in a roadworthy condition.
Garages will remain open for essential repair work while drivers will face prosecution if they’re caught driving unsafe vehicles.
“We must ensure those on the frontline of helping the nation combat COVID19 are able to do so,” said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.
“Safety is key, which is why garages will remain open for essential repair work.”
The Department for Transport said the move won’t hit any insurance claims during the period because they will be effectively extending MOT certificates meaning they will remain valid for insurance purposes.
The new law will be introduced on 30 March when it will come into immediate effect for 12 months.
It is not being introduced immediately because the government said it must ensure regulations are legally sound before coming into force.
That means there will be a short consultation with key organisations before next Monday.
However, drivers will still need to get their vehicle tested until the new regulations come into place if they need to travel.
However, if someone is unable to get an MOT that is due because they are self isolating, the Department for Transport said it is working with insurers and the police to ensure people are not unfairly penalised for things out of their control.
Practical driving tests and annual testing for lorries, buses and coaches have already been suspended for up to three months.
The RAC said the move was a positive one, although drivers must remain responsible.
“We are in exceptional times and that calls for exceptional measures like this,” an RAC spokesperson said.
“But it’s vital every driver remembers the roadworthiness of their car is their responsibility. If they know it’s got problems or was likely to fail its MOT they should not be driving it.”
At MOT centres across the country, extra precautions have already been put in place to protect customers and workers.
At National Tyres and Autocare, for instance, staff routinely wear protective barrier gloves, fit seat covers and use floor mats before working on customers’ vehicles.
Meanwhile, technicians work on ramps that are suitably spaced apart and customers do not need to interact with staff in the workshop’s space.
“Our customers have been asking if they still need to MOT their vehicles and, of course, it’s vital that everything is maintained and kept roadworthy, so today’s announcement that MOTs will be exempt for the next six months is welcome news for everybody,” said Michael Bourne, marketing director at the firm.
“We all recognise our role to stop the spread of germs, while keeping key workers on the road and able to do their jobs,” he said.