Coronavirus and Walking - Walks Around Britain

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Coronavirus and Walking
The current outbreak of the Covid-19 Coronavirus has many people rightfully worried.
With more lockdown measures on a national and regional scale, here's the current rules regarding walking.
And how to keep as safe as possible.
The team at Walks Around Britain have read through many papers and research to find what we believe to be the current situation regarding Coronavirus and the outdoors.  This feature provides our best interpretation of that research, but we are not medical practitioners.  Last updated - 3/1/2021.

As of 3rd January 2021, all the devolved nations of the UK - England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have different rules and guidelines across tiers, levels and lockdowns, and this means different allowable activites in different parts of the country.
If you live in England...

Where and who you can walk with in England depends on which Tier you live in.

In Tier 4

  • You can only go walking with one other person who is not part of your household or support bubble - whilst always maintaining 2 metres physical distancing.

  • You should remain as local as possible and not travel outside of your Tier area.

  • You should not use public transport

In Tier 3

  • You can go walking with up to six other people who is not part of your household or support bubble - whilst always maintaining 2 metres physical distancing.

In Tier 2

  • You can go walking with one other person who is not part of your household - whilst again maintaining 2 metres social distancing at all times.

  • You must observe social distancing rules at all times - so stay 2 metres away from other people apart from members of your household.

  • You can go walking with one other person who is not part of your household - whilst again maintaining 2 metres social distancing at all times.

  • You can go out as many times as you like - you are not limited to one form of exercise a day.

  • You can stop whilst exercising now to sit and enjoy the fresh air, picnicking, or sunbathing.

  • Day trips are now allowed to any part of England, provided you can maintain social distancing from other people not in your household.

  • As hotels, bed & breakfasts and campsites are all closed, any trips to go walking need to be of a sensible distance to allow you to return home.

  • Many car parks, toilets and shops - as well as all cafes and pubs - will be closed, even in popular walking areas - so travelling a fair distance for a walk on the hill could be a challenging propostion.

  • Mountain Rescue teams are all made up of volunteers, many of whom work in the NHS and other frontline professions, so they may not be at the strength they would usually be.

  • These lifted guidelines only apply to England.  So you can not travel into Wales or Scotland and go walking, as their rules are currently different.

For more information about England's guidelines, click here.
Some Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions...
Is it safe to walk outside?

Walking outside is as safe as anywhere else at the moment.

In fact, it’s safer to be outside than inside with crowds when it comes to disease transmission.  This is because when people congregate together and someone sneezes or coughs, droplets get onto objects and surfaces that other people touch, and then eventually those people touch their face.

The best advice for walking right now is to go out and walk with members of your household and enjoy the outdoors.  Remember to #StayLocal - don't travel very far from your home.
Should I avoid touching gates?

The latest information with the coronavirus is that it does not last as long on objects outside because of the exposure to sunlight.  The effect of viruses on surfaces is rapidly diminished by the presence of Ultraviolet light (UVA) and sunlight is a source of a lot of UVA light.

You can minimise your risk by walking in areas without gates or stiles - or by walking in less popular areas.  That way, the surfaces and objects outdoors should have little virus on them.

However, the issue is if someone coughs into his or her hand immediately before touching a gate, and then you touch the gate after them.  Therefore, if you have to touch a gate immediately after someone else, do not touch your face after.  Or use a glove, sleeve, or elbow - and then wash that item on your return home.
Can you go walking in groups?

No.  In Wales and Scotland, the police have the powers to stop groups of more than two people from meeting.  In light of the guidelines issued on Monday 23rd March 2020, you can only walk with members of your own household.

In England, you now can go walking with one other person who is not a member of your own household, providing you all maintain social distancing of 2 metres away from them.

And don’t forget to wash your hands when you get back home.
Can you go for a walk if you are self-isolating?

No.  The current advice from the UK Government is if you have any symptoms of coronavirus infection, however mild, do not leave your home for 7 days from when your symptoms started.  If you live with others and you or one of them have symptoms of coronavirus, then all household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill

You do not need to call NHS 111 to go into self-isolation.  If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days, contact NHS 111 online.  If you have no internet access, call NHS 111.  For a medical emergency dial 999.

Can coronavirus be spread through sweat?

According to the most recent information, transmission of the coronavirus happens between people who are in close contact with one another (about two metres or six feet) and through respiratory droplets, produced through a cough or sneeze - not sweat.
How can walking help with Social Distancing?

  • Always keep 2 metres or six feet away from others you don't know

  • If the place you have gone to exercise is busy, go somewhere else.

  • Perhaps try to go on a different day at a different time.

It is still possible to go walking if you #Stay Local.
Can I catch coronavirus from dogs?

There is no evidence that you can catch coronavirus from dogs or other pets.

The virus is most commonly passed from person to person through coughing and sneezing.  We know the virus can live on surfaces for some time, depending on the type of material, temperature and other factors - so in theory it could live on fur or pet hair.  However, there’s currently no evidence that companion animals can spread Covid-19 to people.

It’s best to follow standard good hygiene practices, such as regularly washing your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water, especially after handling or feeding your pet.  It's also possibly wise to reduce your contact with other dogs you don't know.
Should I go into a pub, cafe or tearoom after my walk?

All pubs, cafes or tearooms have now been ordered to close.
Can I go walking using public transport?

Yes.  Public transport operators have been taking the safety of their passengers very seriously and buses, trams, undergrounds and trains are now back to in some cases a full pre-Covid-19 timetable.

The previous advice to only use public transport unless you absolutely have to and to keep public transport clear for those who have it as their only means of travel, has been removed.

Wear a mask at all times whilst travelling on public transport, and follow any on-board signage as to where it is possible to sit.
Personal message from Andrew
We're all worried about the implications of this virus - on our family, friends and on the people we know.  It's particularly worrying for a company like ours, whose mission - and indeed survival - is based on helping and inspiring people to get outside and walk.

All the evidence at the moment suggests getting outside and walking is probably the best thing we can do.  We all know how good getting outside is for us - and with our everyday lives forced to change because of this virus, for no matter how short a time, going for a walk is probably more important than ever.

We've been continuing to be make new Walks Around Britain programmes.  The production team have decided that we'll carry on for as long as possible making programmes - until we either become ill or are forced to stop by Government advice.  The backroom team at WAB work remotely from home most of the time anyway, so normal service will be maintained as much as possible.

So, for as long as you are symptom-free, do keep getting outside - in your wider local area.  Walking in the fresh air and wide open spaces remains one of the safest things you can do.  Do buy a walking guide book or two and support the freelance writers who write them, the publishers who publish them and the independent book shops who sell them.

And please consider subscribing to our on-demand site Walks Around Britain+, where you'll be able to watch all the editions of Walks Around Britain whenever you want... and help us in what is a very challenging time for us - as it is for us all.

Keep yourself and your loved ones safe as much as you can.  We'll get through this.

All our best wishes
Andrew White and the Walks Around Britain team
For the most up-to-date information, please visit the NHS website and the World Health Organization (WHO) regularly.

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