VEHICLE owners will be granted a six-month MOT exemption during the coronavirus crisis.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said drivers are being given a break to allow essential travel during the pandemic.

All cars, vans and motorcycles will be exempted from needing a test from March 30, though vehicles must be kept in roadworthy condition.

Mr Shapps said: "We must ensure those on the front line of helping the nation combat Covid-19 are able to do so.

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"Allowing this temporary exemption from vehicle testing will enable vital services such as deliveries to continue, frontline workers to get to work, and people to get essential food and medicine.

"Safety is key, which is why garages will remain open for essential repair work."

Legislation will be introduced on March 30, which means any vehicle requiring an MOT in the following 12 months will be given a six-month exemption.

In normal circumstances, vehicles must have an MOT on the third anniversary of their registration, and then every 12 months if they are more than three years old.

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Motorists can be fined up to £1,000 for driving a vehicle without a valid MOT in Britain.

AA president Edmund King described the change in policy as a "sensible solution" as many drivers are anxious about their MOT running out while in self-isolation.

He added: "Drivers should only use their cars for essential journeys throughout the lockdown and must ensure they keep their car in a good condition."

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, also supported the move, adding that in many cases drivers should not need a formal inspection to tell them there is something wrong with their car.

Insurance trade body the Association of British Insurers said its members "will not penalise you if you can't get an MOT".