Driving tests in Northern Ireland will be suspended for three months from today, it has been announced.
From 5pm today all driving tests will be put on hold due to the coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak.
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon made the announcement this morning.
She said: “Keeping communities across the North safe at this concerning time is a priority for me. I understand that this will cause inconvenience to customers and businesses, but it is the right step to take given the public health advice concerning social distancing and given the personal nature of the driver testing service.
“Driving examiners are in close proximity to members of the public, in a confined space, for up to 40 minutes on each driving test. I know this is a time of great uncertainty for people and I want to assure affected staff that they will continue to be paid a salary. We will also continue to engage with the local sector and keep them informed as the situation evolves.”
The suspension of driving tests will run for three months until Monday 22 June 2020, but this will be kept under review. Minister Mallon emphasised that those customers who have a driving test scheduled during this period will have the test rescheduled or the customer may apply for a refund.
Minister Mallon continued: “DVA will issue clear instructions in the coming days advising candidates of next steps and updates around the re-starting of driving tests and details will be published online on nidirect.
“We are experiencing an unprecedented and fast-evolving situation. In line with the current guidance, it is necessary to adopt these measures to protect customers, staff and to allow the DVA to prioritise essential services. These measures will be kept under review and updated as necessary.
“Where there are exceptional circumstances, for example, for emergency workers and essential service drivers needing a driving test, the DVA will make all reasonable efforts to accommodate these customers.
“I would also encourage the public to continue to do what they can to delay the spread of the virus and follow the latest advice from the Public Health Agency. I know this is a frightening time for people I want to reassure them that within my Department and working with all government departments, we will continue to do all we can to keep people safe.”
Further information about the suspension of driving tests and how to apply for an emergency driving test will be provided over the coming days.