As lockdown begins to ease in each of the devolved nations on different dates and in different ways, many of us will be heading out for the first time, staying local and climbing and walking with a limited number of people and partners. Here's a brief overview of how the latest and upcoming changes affect outdoor recreation, plus a video from the BMC emphasising the importance of exercising extra caution as many take their first steps on rock after a long layoff.
- From today (29 March), Stay at Home orders are lifted and the message shifts to 'Stay Local', 'local' not being defined in terms of a legally specified travel distance. Climbers and walkers should avoid popular honeypot locations if possible to avoid overcrowding.
- A maximum of 6 individuals from different households - or an unlimited number from two households - can meet outdoors. No indoor socialising is permitted, exceptions aside.
- Overnight stays are not permitted for recreational purposes; excursions must be daytrips.
- Car sharing is only permitted in households or bubbles, but this may change shortly. Check the advice from gov.uk.
- Organised sport in groups (club, instructor or National Governing Body) is permitted and exempt from outdoor gathering group size restrictions, provided that the activity follows overarching COVID-19 guidance from government and from the BMC. No legal travel limits are applicable to these groups, but overnight stays are not permitted.
Cross-border travel: government guidance suggests that cross border travel for the purpose of recreation and exercise is not permitted. From 12 April, cross border travel within the UK may be permitted again, depending on guidance and legislation outlined by the various countries.
The BMC say: 'Again, as with our advice for individuals, we encourage organised groups to act responsibly and keep group sizes to a minimum wherever possible, as well as minimising travel.'
Whilst the legal requirements are now more relaxed for our activities outdoors, it is worth re-emphasising the need to be responsible and respectful in the way you carry out your activities, not only from a COVID perspective, but also in terms of looking after the places we love and respecting the people who live there.
- Wherever possible, try to avoid popular locations where increased numbers of visitors could result in parking problems and make social distancing difficult.
- Always have several backup options in mind in case your chosen venue is too busy.
- Public transport holds an increased risk of transmission so avoid this wherever possible at this stage.
- On 27 March, the Stay Local rule ended and unlimited travel within Wales is now possible, but only for those resident in Wales.
- Cross-border travel is not permitted for recreation and exercise, only for listed exemptions.
- 6 people from two separate households are permitted to meet outdoors.
- Organised adult activity meets, including those organised by clubs, are still not permitted.
- Self-contained holiday accommodation can re-open but only for single households and only for people living in Wales. Some campsites are open for self-contained campervans or motorhomes.
- Overnight camping in popular car parks or on the roadside is restricted by bylaws in some areas (e.g. in Pembrokeshire).
- Since 12 March, up to four adults from two different households are now able to meet in any outdoor space, including in private gardens - an increase from two adults from two households.
- Outdoor non-contact group sports for people aged over resumed on 12 March.
- From 2 April, a Stay Local rule (retaining the current, local authority-based travel restrictions for at least a three-week period) and Stay at Home regulations will be lifted.
- The Scottish Government hopes to lift all restrictions on journeys in mainland Scotland on 26 April.
- Gatherings of people outdoors in public parks and spaces are limited to 10 people from two households, which includes children under 12 - although exemptions apply such as support bubbles.
- Golf and other outdoor sporting activities can resume.
- From 1 April, people can take exercise with another household, limited to 10 people from two households.
- From 12 April, the Stay at Home message will be relaxed and sports training can resume, limited to 15 people.
A few seconds spent on a Partner Check could save your life
Choose an easy route to start with
Keep your brake hand low when belaying
Respect the Rock
Be COVID safe
Read the article published by the BMC and watch their video below: