UPDATE, 17 July 2021: Under tighter restrictions announced today until 30 July 2021, new-car showrooms in Greater Sydney and surrounding lockdown zones will be forced to close their doors and switch to "click and collect" deliveries and handle sales enquiries via phone, email and online.
However, parts and service departments are allowed to remain open given motor vehicles are an essential form of transport and help keep people off trains and buses.
An urgent bulletin issued by the Australian Automotive Dealers Association (AADA) on the afternoon of Saturday 17 July 2021 – after receiving the NSW Government's latest advice – clarified what the latest lockdown means for car buyers.
UPDATE, 16 July 2021: As the NSW Government extendedstay at home orders for at least another two weeks, police advise they are sending highway patrol officers from metropolitan Sydney to the fringes of the lockdown zone.
Deputy Commissioner Gary Warboys told The Sydney Morning Herald police will be deployed on the outskirts of Sydney to help enforce the travel ban between Greater Sydney and regional NSW.
He said police were well versed in distinguishing the difference between people with a genuine reason to be on the road, and those who were trying to leave the perimeter for trivial reasons.
Above: A highway patrol car with a call sign from south-west Sydney stops a vehicle while on deployment near the regional city of Bathurst this week. Source: NSW Police Facebook page.
“We have spoken a lot about people moving outside Greater Sydney and trying to disguise that in some sort of business trip when it is really a holiday,” Deputy Commission Warboys told The Sydney Morning Herald.
He said some motorists had attempted to “provide police with excuses as to why they have been found outside Greater Sydney, and have a caravan they are towing or camping gear with them.”
Above: Police stop a resident from Sydney's north-west on the Hume Highway south of Campbelltown this week. The driver allegedly refused to provide his details – despite being required to do so by law – and was taken back to Camden Police station for further questioning. Source: NSW Police Facebook page.
Our rolling coverage of Greater Sydney lockdown restrictions – and how they affect motoring – is listed below:
10 July 2021: New conditions imposed indefinitely by the NSW Government for the Greater Sydney lockdown zone include not travelling beyond your Local Government Area or beyond a 10km radius from your residential address, other than in exceptional circumstances.
The updated NSW Government website says: "If you must leave home, stay within your local area. Do not travel outside your local area if you can avoid it."
The NSW Government website has a widget that displays the 10km radius from an address after it is typed in.
Having contacted the NSW Chamber of Business, CarAdvice has been told car dealerships and car servicing outlets can remain open, however the advice is to call ahead and check hours of operation and any conditions those businesses may have.
Furthermore, car dealers understand as much of the sales process as possible must be done via email (such as using e-signing for finance applications), but you can attend the dealership to collect the car. Browsing to look at a car is technically not allowed, under the new "no browsing" rules.
Carpooling between non-household members is not allowed, and only one person per household each day may leave the home for shopping, reports The Sydney Morning Herald. Food businesses can open for takeaway only.
The four reasons you can leave your home include:
- Shopping for food or other essential goods and services (one person only).
- Medical care or compassionate needs (only one visitor can enter another residence to fulfil carers’ responsibilities or provide care or assistance, or for compassionate reasons).
- Exercise with no more than two people (unless members of the same household).
- Essential work, or education, where you cannot work or study from home.
Original story published on 28 June 2021 below:
With lockdowns in place for Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Wollongong and the Central Coast for two weeks (as this article was published) to stop the spread of the coronavirus, there are restrictions on vehicle movement.
Interstate and regional travel is banned (with fines up to $1000 for breaching a public health order and leaving lockdown areas), which has come at a frustrating time for families preparing to enjoy the school holidays.
However, you can use your car within the lockdown areas in certain situations.
Note: The information in this story has been gathered to the best of our ability at the time of publication – 28 June 2021, within the first few days of Lockdown Two.
This article is not a legal document, the advice is general in nature, and the conditions are subject to change.
Unlike recent lockdowns in Greater Melbourne which restricted travel to within 25km of your home address, there is currently no specific distance limit imposed on how far you can travel within Greater Sydney and surrounding areas for essential goods and services during the current lockdown phase.
According to information published on a NSW Government website, residents who live in Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Wollongong and the Central Coast are allowed to travel within these areas for the following purposes:
- Obtain food, goods, and services for personal needs or for the household (including for pets);
- Travel for work or education if it’s not possible to do from home;
- Travel outside your council area (known as a local government area) if the food or goods and services are not available in the local government area you live in;
- Travel for medical reasons or as a carer for a friend or family member;
- Travel to attend a wedding or a funeral (though limits on the number of attendees apply);
- Travel to provide emergency assistance or to avoid domestic violence;
- Travel to move to a new place of residence;
- Travel to undertake legal obligations;
- Travel to avoid injury or the risk of harm.
However, a warning on the NSW Government website clearly states: “Taking a holiday is not a reasonable excuse” to travel.
NSW Police have published on social media photos of highway patrol cars preparing for deployment on major highways out of Sydney.
Face masks are compulsory on buses, trains, taxis and share ride services such as Uber, and when grocery shopping or attending any indoor venue or office.
Can I buy a car?
Yes, for now, you can buy a new or used car because transport is deemed essential, however this could change if restrictions get tougher. Be sure to check-in via a COVID app so contact tracers can find you if there is an outbreak at that location.
Can I buy a car from interstate?
For now, interstate travel is restricted (check with authorities in the destination state or territory) and visitors may be refused entry or be required to quarantine.
If buying a car from interstate you may need to consider having it sent by a car carrier.
Can I get my car serviced?
Yes, for now, you can get your car serviced because transport is deemed essential, however this could change if restrictions get tougher. Be sure to check-in via a COVID app so contact tracers can find you if there is an outbreak at that location.
Can I drive to the snow?
Can I go for a drive with a friend or to clear my head?
UPDATE 7 July 2020: No, carpooling is now not allowed except with someone from the same residence.
At the start of the lockdown on 28 June 2021 when there were fewer restrictions, we reported:
This is open to interpretation, but based on our reading of the NSW Government guidelines as this article was published, you and one or more friends can travel together in a car to obtain essential goods or services, seek medical help, or for one of the other reasons listed above.
But we suspect police would take a dim view of unnecessary travel, and you could face a $200 on the spot fine if your reason for travel was not for one of the above exemptions.
Can I refuel my car?
Most petrol stations are open but your car can only be used for essential reasons such as those listed above. Be sure to wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth when going into the service station to pay for fuel.
Be sure to check-in to the service station via a COVID app so contact tracers can find you if there is an outbreak at that location.
Can I wash my car?
There’s no mention of not being allowed to wash your car on your own private property according to the information we read as this article was first published on 28 June 2021.
At that time, we saw some hand car wash locations in Greater Sydney remain open in the early days of Lockdown Two, while others were closed.
We suspect the closed car wash locations had shut their doors due to the slowdown in business.
One hand wash operator we spoke to on the first day of Lockdown Two said car cleaning was regarded as an essential service (to sanitise vehicles, including some government vehicles that we witnessed being cleaned).
However, some car wash outlets were obliged to close during Lockdown One (in early 2020) due to their location.
Please check, as this could change as lockdown rules become more strict.
The above information has been gathered to the best of our ability at the time of publication – 28 June 2021, within the first few days of the second Greater Sydney lockdown.
However, this article is not a legal document, the advice is general in nature, and the conditions are subject to change.
Please consult the NSW Government website (and the websites for other jurisdictions if relevant) for the latest information regarding travel restrictions in, to, and from NSW during Lockdown Two.