It’s been several months of severe lockdown, but here in the UK, measures are beginning to ease as the country seeks to get going again. It means that people are going to be travelling further afield than before – but Covid-19 hasn’t gone just yet, so it’s vitally important that people remain safe.
We’ve put together a guide of ways to keep yourself and others safe if you do need to hit the road. If you’d like to know more about the current guidelines on coronavirus, then first check out the government’s page here.
If you’ve got symptoms, stay at home
As has always been the case since the coronavirus pandemic started, if you’re showing symptoms it’s imperative that you stay at home. Symptoms are:
- A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
- A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal
If you have any of these symptoms, stay at home and do not travel. You also need to get tested – and anyone you live with needs to get tested too. They can be organised via the NHS website or through drive-through testing centres.
Be careful when filling up
Plenty of drivers fill up with fuel before heading out on a longer journey. And while we wouldn’t suggest that avoiding petrol stations is a good idea (you’re going to need fuel eventually) it’s best to be on guard to the risks that filling up with fuel pose.
Since fuel pumps are touched by hundreds of people each day, it’s best to wear gloves when using them. These are provided at fuel stations. In addition, we’d advise using an antibacterial hand gel both before and after use.
In addition, a lot of fuel stations give the option of paying by card, while some even have smartphone apps where you can put through a fuel payment. We’d advise using these if you can, as they minimise the amount of potential contact with other people at the petrol station.
Pack water and food beforehand
It’s a good idea to pack some water and food for the trip before a longer trip, as it’ll mean you won’t have to enter shops or restaurants in order to eat or drink. Though there’s little evidence to suggest that the virus can be transferred on food packaging, this step does reduce your exposure to other people.
That said, if you follow government advice, maintain social distancing measures from other people and dispose of any packaging straight afterwards, if you feel safe to go into a shop then you can do so.
Wipe down the key touch points of your car
This advice is the same as it was during the middle of lockdown – if you need to use your car, it’s worth first wiping down the key touch areas such as the steering wheel, gearlever, armrests and major switches with antibacterial wipes.
This is particularly important if you’ve been out and about, as germs can transfer onto these key areas and remain for some time. For more information, check out our guide on how to deep clean your car here.
Don’t drive tired – service stations are open
As always, if you’re heading further afield then it’s vital that you remain alert and focused at the wheel. Many accidents are caused by driver fatigue and this is particularly relevant for those who are doing longer journeys.
Remember, major motorway service stations are now open, so if you feel tired, stop and take a rest. Service stations are implementing strict social distancing measures, with one-way systems throughout the sites helping to ensure that people are spaced out. Though many of the restaurants are now open, several shops and outlets are likely to be closed.
Leave your car’s windows open for a short period after your trip
There’s considerable evidence to suggest that the coronavirus struggles to survive in fresh air, so crack the windows of your car for a few minutes both before and after your trip. Of course, if you’re going to do this then it’s worth being nearby to ensure that your car remains safe while the windows are left open. It’s why government advice stipulated initially that people could only meet up outside, as the likelihood of transmission between people is much lower in fresh air.
Doing so may reduce the chances of virus contamination within the car.
Wash your hands
As ever, washing your hands is one of the most effective ways of reducing the transmission of the virus. Give your hands a good scrub both before and after your journey with plenty of soap and water. Though it can be tempting to use lots of specialised cleaning products when washing your hands, soap and water is more than up to the job – wash them thoroughly and for a good amount of time. Singing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice while washing your hands is the recommended time.