Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
The RSA is currently working, in consultation with my Department, on plans for the resumption of the range of public services and functions for which it is responsible, following the publications of the Government roadmap and, more recently, the National Return to Work Safely Protocol agreed by employer and trade union representatives - including carrying out risk assessments. As the Deputy will appreciate, the driving test raises particular problems in terms of compliance with the Protocol and in particular social distancing rules, as it requires the driver tester and the candidate to be within a two metre distance continuously for a period in excess of 20 minutes, in a very confined space which is not in itself a workplace under the control of the RSA.
I appreciate that the inability to carry out driving tests at this time is inconvenient to those awaiting such tests. On a very preliminary appraisal of the Protocol, car driving tests may have to be the last of the statutory functions, for which the RSA is responsible, to recommence in or after Phase 5 of the Government's roadmap.
Dates for the resumption of the RSA's services, and any special arrangements which will need to be put into place to allow for the provision of these services, will be determined in consultation with the relevant health authorities.
Driving lessons are provided by private companies which must also ensure that they can comply with the necessary public health requirements before they can re-open their businesses. However, I expect them to encounter the same difficulties as the RSA in terms of complying with the National Return to Work Safely Protocol.