Lockdown Easing: Stay Local, Think Twice, Stay Safe

© Mark Glaister

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.

The common theme is to keep it local  © Mark Glaister
The common theme is to keep it local
© Mark Glaister


  • 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
  • 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.

Northern Ireland

  • 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.

Stay Safe!

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:

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30 Mar, 2021

Unless Scottish government update there website in next few days it's looking like once the stay at home law and associated travel ban ends on Friday, then stay local message will be guidance only. Hard to work out for sure if this is the case, Can wait and see if any update comes online in next few days, being guidelines would put Scotland more inline with Wales and England, importantly allowing people to visit friends and family living 5 miles outside there council area legally for potential first time in over 6 months.

30 Mar, 2021

You may be being a little optimistic:

2 April

lifting the ‘Stay at Home’ requirement and replacing it with a ‘Stay Local’ message (retaining the current, local authority-based travel restrictions for at least a three-week period)

AIUI the plan is to return to the protection levels system we had last autumn BUT with more stringent criteria for e.g. 7 day case rates per 100,000 population to determine which protection level a given local authority area falls in to. Last time I looked they were saying that for protection level 2 an area would have to have a 7 day case rate below 50 cases per 100,000 population. They also said that they were expecting most LAs to be at protection level 3 at the outset, which would mean that the five mile limit would still apply.

Note that the travel restrictions based on protection levels were specified in Coronoavirus regulations, so actual law not just advice:

I'm afraid it doesn't look like anyone in a level 3 or above area is going to be zipping off around the country any time soon - at least, not legally.

I'm p1ssed because Edinburgh was sitting at ~45 cases until very recently, but it's now jumped up to ~55 so bye bye to any chance of e.g. visiting any of the East Lothian beaches in the next few weeks. And, though I am doing my best to stick to the rules, I am getting royally bored with visiting the same old outdoor exercise locations week after week. There's only so many places you can go within Edinburgh or a five mile radius thereof...

30 Mar, 2021

I am definitely being optimistic, but it's the wording that is so poor, lifting stay at home requirement and replacing it with a stay local message. Regardless all seems a little uncessary now given what everyone has put up with over the last year and current positive situation the country is in.

30 Mar, 2021

What, a rolling seven day average of between 500 and 600 new cases a day, which is roughly where we were at the end of September when things really started to take off again? With vaccination rates down to about half what they were at the mid-February peak and only just over half the adult population so far vaccinated? And with the government the other side of the border already starting to talk about a possible "third wave"?

Yes, hospitalisation rates and deaths are declining - though ICU admissions are ticking up a bit - but TBH I'm not convinced that this is yet the time to start taking the collective eye off the ball. As I mentioned in my previous post, Edinburgh and a number of other cities are seeing not insignificant rises in the 7 day case rate. This thing spreads from person to person: those hotspots in West Lothian (and one that has appeared in Leith this last week) didn't arise spontaneously out of thin air. Stop people moving about so much, you help stop the disease spreading.

(Data taken from the Public Health Scotland Daily Dashboard:!/vizhome/COVID-19DailyDashboard_15960160643010/Overview)

30 Mar, 2021

Depending on your given value of "soon". From 26th April it's the intention that the travel restriction will be lifted entirely, regardless of tier. I wait with bated breath!

I moved to Edinburgh at the end of September, the pubs shut a couple of weeks later, then the climbing walls, then everything! 6 months has felt like a long time.

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