Coronavirus and Walking
The current outbreak of the Covid-19 Coronavirus has many people rightfully worried.
With talk of self-isolation, social distancing and the banning of gatherings, should we be going out walking?
The simple answer is - yes, - but only in your local area.
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 - 23/3/2020.
Providing you are free of the symptoms of coronavirus, the current advice is that being in the outdoors is as safe as any place at the moment - actually, it's possibly safer.
That's because it is believed that coronavirus is transmitted via touching infected materials or people. It is not thought the virus is passed on through the air. So being outdoors away from other people is one of the best things you can do to reduce the spread of the virus.
In the light of the increasing pace of the virus, Government advice from Monday 23rd March 2020 states
YOU SHOULD STAY AT HOME
YOU SHOULD STAY AT HOME
You can leave the house for one form of exercise a day,
for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household.
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.
Should you avoid walking in groups?
In light of the most recent guidelines issued on Monday 23rd March 2020, you can only walk with members of your own household.
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
However, because the current thinking is the virus is not airborne, you are able to go outside in your own garden providing you stay at least 2 metres (about 3 steps) away from your boundary.
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.
Should I go walking using public transport?
No. The official advice is not to use public transport unless you absolutely have to. Keep public transport clear for those who using a bus, train or tram is their only means of travel.
Our advice in the current situation is to #StayLocal.
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.
As much as we can, we'll continue to be making 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 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