Driving tests and driving instruction has been cancelled for four weeks as of 6pm this evening.
A letter sent to all driving instructors within the last few minutes read:
TO ALL APPROVED DRIVING INSTRUCTORS AND APPROVED MOTORCYCLES INSTRUCTORS
You will have seen in the media that the Executive has clarified that driving instructors are to be included on the list of close contact services and therefore those businesses must close this evening for the next 4 weeks in order to help stop the spread of COVID 19. I know that this will be of huge concern to you, given that you have taken considerable steps to deliver your services safely.
Like other close contact services which have been closed, you will be able to avail of financial support schemes being put in place during the time that they are closed. Information about those schemes can be found at www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/coronavirus-localised-restrictions-support-scheme – this scheme is being extended to all areas from Monday 19 October.
Given this decision, Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has confirmed that driving tests will also not take place over this period of increased restrictions. We know that this will cause considerable inconvenience and frustration for you and for your pupils, given that the high demand we have already seen from the previous lockdown period. However, this decision has been taken in order to protect lives and prevent our health service from becoming overwhelmed.
Customers with tests booked within the next 4 weeks, will now have their appointments cancelled and refunded. We will contact those whose driving tests are to let them know how they can reschedule their appointments. And we’ll also let you know what your pupils will need to do.
We are planning to open up the booking system for February for these impacted customers only. And further appointments will be made available in November, December and January as we work to increase capacity by recruiting additional examiners. These slots, when they are released, will also only be available to these impacted customers. We are also conscious that some key workers may be within this group and we will be setting up a process to give them priority appointments and we will contact these customers directly.
We know these are worrying times for you all, and will continue to work with you over the coming weeks