by Countryside Alliance

Following the Prime Minister's announcement on Sunday 10th May, and the "recovery strategy" subsequently issued by the Government, we are updating our guidance for exercising in the countryside and using rights of way under the COVID-19 lockdown procedures issued by the Government. This guidance applies to England only. 

SAGE advise that the risk of infection outside is significantly lower than inside, so the Government is updating the rules so that, as well as exercise, people can also now spend time outdoors subject to:

  • not meeting up with any more than one person from outside your household; 
  • continued compliance with social distancing guidelines to remain two metres (6ft) away from people outside your household; 
  • good hand hygiene, particularly with respect to shared surfaces; 
  • and those responsible for public places being able to put appropriate measures in place to follow the new COVID-19 secure guidance.

From Wednesday 13th May it will be permissible to undertake:

  • exercise outside as many times each day as you wish. You will still not be able to use areas like playgrounds, outdoor gyms or ticketed outdoor leisure venues, where there is a higher risk of close contact and touching surfaces.
    • you can take part in other outdoor sports and activities, including fishing - on your own, with your household, or with one other person while adhering to social distancing rules
    • go swimming in either lakes or the sea as part of daily exercise provided that social distancing guidelines are observed - you cannot use public indoor and outdoor pools
    • all forms of water sports practiced on open waterways, including sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, rowing, kayaking, surfing, paddle-boarding and the use of privately-owned motorised craft (in line with the guidance issued by the relevant navigation authority) are allowed. You can continue to use towpaths for walking, running and cycling, being mindful of other users and people living in boats along the water
    • you can only exercise with up to one person from outside your household - this means you should not play team sports, except with members of your own household;
  • you may drive to outdoor open spaces irrespective of distance, so long as you respect social distancing guidance while you are there. However, you cannot visit and stay overnight at a holiday home or second home.
    • when travelling to outdoor spaces, it is important that people respect the rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and do not travel to different parts of the UK where it would be inconsistent with guidance or regulations issued by the relevant devolved administration.
    • you should travel in a private vehicle, alone or with members of your own household.
    • you should check first if facilities, such as car parks, are open to receive visitors and, when in the countryside, continue to follow the Countryside Code by respecting the local community and protecting the natural environment

There are no restrictions on how far you can travel to get to the countryside.

Please see the latest government guidance on social distancing. The Cabinet Office has also published the following: Coronavirus outbreak FAQs: what you can and can’t do.

Please be aware that if you are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19) or at risk of severe illness if you catch coronavirus, then you should stay at home. See the latest guidance from Public Health England.






We would also urge people to consider the following things when using public rights of way:

  • Gardens and farm yards – we must remember that some rights of way pass through or run adjacent to properties and those individuals may be self-isolating or shielding vulnerable people. It might be worth considering whether you can avoid those rights of way that pass close to people's houses, or through their gardens or farm yards.
  • Livestock - avoid using rights of way where there is livestock and you cannot practise social distancing. Farmers need to be able to care for their animals and they should not be put at risk of infection or be spending time disinfecting gates required to access livestock and ensure their welfare.
  • Dogs – keep your dogs under control and if you can avoid livestock -  even in ordinary times the distress and financial loss to farmers caused by dogs out of control is enormous. 

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