There is coverage today including BBC News Online of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG’s) guidance on access to open spaces. From today (13 May 2020) people in England can spend more time outdoors and enjoy a wider range of activities for any length of time, subject to social distancing rules.
Separately, the Today Programme (6:02am) featured a short factual package focusing on the concerns of the chief executives of two national parks over an increase in people wanting to spend time in open areas. In the government guidance out today, people are reminded to check first if facilities, such as car parks, are open to receive visitors, and when in the countryside to continue to follow the Countryside Code by respecting the local community and protecting the natural environment
Environment Secretary George Eustice said:
We know that spending time outdoors in green spaces and the countryside is important for our physical and mental wellbeing, especially during this challenging period.
Our updated guidance advises how to do this safely and I urge people to follow it, continuing to maintain social distancing in order to protect yourself and others.
From today you can now:
- spend time outdoors, including exercise, alone, with your household, or with one person who is not in your household as long as you stay two metres apart
- exercise more than once a day
- 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
- drive to outdoor open spaces, including beaches and beauty spots, irrespective of distance. 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
- 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
There are no restrictions on how far you can travel to get to the countryside. However, you cannot visit and stay overnight at a holiday home or second home.
The Cabinet Office has also published the following: Coronavirus outbreak FAQs: what you can and can’t do.