Police officers have charged a driver with breaching Covid-19 lockdown restrictions after they travelled 100 miles to buy a used car.
The incident was reported on Twitter by the Central Motorways Policing Group (CPMG) after a Mk7 Volkswagen Golf GTI was stopped at Junction 6 of the M6 near Birmingham, allegedly having travelled from the north-west of the country.
The car was initially stopped as officers had information about "other possible offences" before the "Covid-19 breach then came to light". The force tweeted that "a private car swap deal isn't a good or lawful reason to be out at 10pm," having issued the driver with a court order.
The incident shines a light on what is generally considered to be a grey area when it comes to the new lockdown rules. Car dealerships have been allowed to remain open for click-and-collect transactions, and travel for essential purposes is permitted.
A good looking Golf but a 100 mile round trip to pick it up in a private car swap deal isn’t a good or lawful reason to be out at 10pm. Reported to Court for #COVID19 offences #StayHome 23108 pic.twitter.com/yAa5Iy5B7f
— CMPG (@CMPG) January 8, 2021
Responding to comments on its tweet, CPMG said that it couldn't disclose why the vehicle was initially stopped and directed people to the official government guidance for further queries about what types of travel are permitted during lockdown.
A CPMG spokesperson told Car Dealer magazine: "While it's not necessarily a breach of Covid-19 rules to buy a replacement vehicle if required for essential travel, a car swap isn't deemed appropriate during the current lockdown restrictions, where essential travel only is permitted."
The government has issued no specific guidance with respect to private car sales, mandating only that travel is only permitted for work if it can't be done from home, essential shopping trips, exercise and medical purposes. All should be undertaken as locally as possible, according to the guidance.
The traffic stop incident comes days after Derbyshire Police issued £200 fines to two women who had driven five miles in separate cars to walk around a reservoir. The pair criticised the officers involved for their "intimidating" approach, and the force said yesterday that it would conduct "an urgent review" into the fines in light of new guidance.